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 Post subject: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 2:08 am 
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Hi guys! I post in the where to eat thread, but I need some help from you!

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I just registered for a conference in early February and I am am so excited to visit Chicago for the first time! We are there for five nights but will probably only have two nights free enough to go out for dinner, and this thread is overwhelming!

I need at least one meal to be Ethiopian, that's not even up for debate. If I had to choose another place for the second night, what on earth should I go with? Chicago Diner, or...? Is there somewhere omni that we could go to with my boss? I don't think he will go with a fully veg restaurant, but other than that he's adventurous. We all love international food but can get so little of it in NS so that is more exciting to me than vegan wings and cheeseburgers, as exciting as those are (!). For the meal with boss it would be company-paid so we can do it up without money being an issue!

Our conference is at the Swissotel if that helps.

Oh and and my boss and husband are both winemakers, so there is a huge appreciation all around for excellent craft beers/ciders and good wine lists.

Also--any suggestions for hotels/air B&Bs near the Swissotel? Money IS definitely an issue there.


UPDATE: I think we are going to book the Swissotel because the conference rates are on par with anything I've found on air B&B or at other hotels. But I'm nervous because everything vegan-y seems to be pretty far on public transport. Please assuage my fears and tell me Chicago public transit is really easy? Is there anything cool near the Swissotel? Do any delicious places deliver to hotels such as mine? As you can see, I am most concerned with eating.

And now that Steffers has introduced me to Chao, I need to find the closest source to stock up on that as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:26 pm 
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We did an eating tour de Chicago last summer! Chicago Diner is worth a visit. We also really liked Karyn's Cooked - I thought they had a decent wine/beer list and a nice atmosphere. Native Foods, of course! Looks like Swissotel is pretty close to LYFE Kitchen which we went to a few times not so much because it's that great but because it's solid, open early, and accessible to that hotel strip along the river. They had a good tofu scramble breakfast wrap.

We took transit everywhere and found it easy and fast.

Have fun!


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:27 pm 
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Oh yeah, and we also got this pizza from Dimo's Pizza, the Philly Vegan, that I can't stop thinking about. Yummmm.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:13 am 
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Thanks!! It looks like Native Foods and Karyn's Cooked are pretty close to where we are.

I think I'll need to try to work in Ethiopian Diamond and the Chicago Diner as well.

Great to know about transit too! I'm so excited. I love conferences that randomly land you in cool cities you probably wouldn't otherwise visit.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:01 pm 
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Yeah, you're really lucky! There's some good eatin' in Chicago!

I thought I'd also mention that after looking at quite possibly every freakin option for accommodations, we settled on the River Hotel which we thought struck the right balance between relatively affordable but not college-y. Sounds like you've already booked but just in case!


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:18 pm 
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Chicago is super easy to get around but it's also VAST and forking COLD. It's very divided by neighborhood so all the Vietnamese places are together all the Ukranian places are together etc. The most vegan friendly neighborhood, I think, is Wicker Park but they are all going to be American, like Dimo's pizza has vegan mac and cheese pizza by the slice some days. Then across the street there are two other pizza places that have vegan cheese and Upton's meat, and the Native Foods is there too. The Chicago Diner is my all time favorite restaurant (though surely there is nostalgia at play) and it's super omni friendly. My mom was just talking about how they have her favorite reuban and she's usually pretty unhappy at vegan friendly places. (But she tries!). So I wouldn't worry at all about taking your boss there. Sultan's market is in Wicker Park too and everyone is pretty obsessed if you like falafel etc. I'd recommend a stop at Whole Foods on your way out of town. They have fun local products from Uptons and Soul Veg. I wish I could tell you about more non-American places but I rarely leave my sister's neighborhood when I go up there! Let us know if you find something exciting.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:22 am 
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It's far from downtown, but go to Ground Control!


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:10 pm 
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But message me when you're here and I'll bring you some beer to make up for what got (apparently?) lost in the mail.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:06 am 
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They never send it back?! Those damn Canadian customs officers!! Do you live in Chicago or closer to where you work? (Sorry, my knowledge of midwest geography is pretty weak)


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:54 am 
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I live about a 45 minute drive from Chicago.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:03 am 
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LazySmurf wrote:
Chicago is super easy to get around but it's also VAST and forking COLD. It's very divided by neighborhood so all the Vietnamese places are together all the Ukranian places are together etc. The most vegan friendly neighborhood, I think, is Wicker Park but they are all going to be American, like Dimo's pizza has vegan mac and cheese pizza by the slice some days. Then across the street there are two other pizza places that have vegan cheese and Upton's meat, and the Native Foods is there too. The Chicago Diner is my all time favorite restaurant (though surely there is nostalgia at play) and it's super omni friendly. My mom was just talking about how they have her favorite reuban and she's usually pretty unhappy at vegan friendly places. (But she tries!). So I wouldn't worry at all about taking your boss there. Sultan's market is in Wicker Park too and everyone is pretty obsessed if you like falafel etc. I'd recommend a stop at Whole Foods on your way out of town. They have fun local products from Uptons and Soul Veg. I wish I could tell you about more non-American places but I rarely leave my sister's neighborhood when I go up there! Let us know if you find something exciting.

Agreed!

Ethiopian Diamond is great. I go to Demera more because it's closer to where I live (and right by all the Vietnamese places...but I'm not sure more food would be the plan after an Ethiopian meal!), but they're both on the north side right off the red line. If you can only choose a couple of restaurants I'd pick somewhere like the Diner for a sit-down dinner (wait time would be less at the Logan Square location). Places like Native Foods and Sultan's, two of my favorites, are an easy trip and have really quick service or takeout. Either of those are great for trying out appetizers or splitting an entree, if you want to be able to cover more places. Santullo's for pizza.

Since you'll be in River North, all of the train lines are within walking distance, and public transit is easy. I haven't tried LYFE Kitchen yet and don't go to Karyn's often. Also close by is Do-Rite Donuts, which I haven't tried yet but, vegan donuts! I'd make a trip to the Kingsbury Whole Foods. It's quite an experience, and that will also take care of getting Chao cheese.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:33 am 
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My sister just told me that her favorite Bahn mi place in Little Saigon now has 4 vegan options and I thought I'd mention it cause now I'm dying to try them on my next trip. Veggiebeef with mango sauce got my attention.

It's called Ba Le on Broadway.

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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:34 pm 
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1. This news of vegan things at Ba Le is very important, and I can't believe I missed it.
2. Ethiopian Diamond or Ras Dasshen are my favorite Ethiopian restaurants.
3. I haven't tried Lyfe Kitchen yet, but VeggieNextDoor has, and she likes it a lot. Seems like it could be good for omnis who can't be convinced to go to the Diner. Here's her blog post about the location in Evanston: http://www.veggienextdoor.com/lyfe-kitchen/


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:31 pm 
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Ethiopian Diamond is my faaavorite place in all of Chicago! Shimbra assa (chickpea dough in a delicious berbere sauce) is especially good, in my opinion. They have plenty of meat stuff but all their vegetarian stuff is vegan.

For craft beer and somewhat foodie type omni and vegan friendly food, you could try Revolution Brewing. I don't know about more wine-specific places...Pastoral Bar has really amazingly delicious wines, but back when I went (during their first week- I worked on a clay plaster installation on their ceiling) everything was pretty much just cheese. It looks like their menu has expanded a little bit since then, and they have a couple vegetable dishes, but I would call ahead if you want to eat there and see if any of it is vegan. They have a specialty shop next door with a sandwich counter, which has a couple of explicitly vegan things; while I was working there I ate these really delicious marinated white beans on a salad with smoked almonds every day for lunch that was delicious, they also have a sandwich that is labelled vegan on that menu. Maybe they would get you something from the specialty shop if there's nothing vegan available at the wine bar? There's also a delicious greasy American Chinese place next door called Yummy Yummy, with the best soy-gluten meats and a delicious taro shake, that also has omni stuff. It's not fancy but you could maybe go have some soy-gluten greasy delicious stuff and then go have fancy wines after.

Also if you're in the mood for Indian, there are a ton of choices on Devon, including an all-vegan buffet place called Arya Bhavan.

If you have some time to spare, one of my other favorite places is Amitabul, which is an all vegan Korean restaurant, but it's kind of way out there by public transit; they have a great kimchi noodle soup and a sesame leaf-maple dish with brown rice cake things that I looove.

If you go to the Native Foods in the West Loop on Clinton or the one at Jackson and Clark, which are both not too far (in Chicago terms) from where you're staying, you can admire the murals I painted!

Other Loop vegan-friendly options are I Dream of Falafel, which has a bunch of unexpected vegan options and which I thought was pretty good. Not as good as Sultan's, but a good quick downtown lunch. I've never been to Hannah's Bretzel but I know they have a couple of vegan things on the menu as well.

I definitely think Chicago Diner is worth going to and I've definitely gone there with meat-eaters who were impressed and enjoyed it. I also really like Ground Control (I'm biased though because it's 3 blocks from my house) and Handlebar.

Now I want to go to this Ba Le.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:38 pm 
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One of my best friends is the pastry chef at Revolution -- she was working on a vegan cheesecake last time I talked to her. They always have a vegan dessert and an entree or two, but not a ton. I really love their beer (and they have cocktails!).


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:17 pm 
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It's true, they don't have a ton of vegan options, but that plantain and smoked tofu sandwich is so good I don't mind! Also I didn't even know they have vegan dessert options. It's like every time I look in the Chicago thread I learn about some new vegan stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:04 pm 
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She actually complains a lot about "having to" invent a vegan dessert. I'm like, "Why are you complaining to me? You know I don't have your back on that one."


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:11 pm 
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This is all so exciting, thanks guys!!!

If anyone wants to meet at the Chicago Diner or Ethiopian Diamond I am definitely planning trips there. e_c, I will also try to go see your murals at Native Foods!

I'm scared my boss is going to want to hang out all the time and he'll choose craft beer-type places that are expensive and boring for vegans, but I told him all about Ethiopian food today (this man has lived all over the world--how does he not know about Ethiopian?!) and he's willing to try it. I have a lot of great info here for planning--thank you!

Ba Le sounds pretty tempting, as does everything else.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:04 pm 
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You might also want to check out the foodie-type places thread for more boss-appealing options that also have vegan dishes. (Especially for when the boss is paying.) Also, liquor licenses in Chicago are tough to get...which means lots of vegan friendly thai and indian restaurants in Chicago are BYOB, so you can get whatever awesome craft beer and bring it with!


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:59 am 
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If I meet you somewhere, I am guaranteed to talk to you in the voice of the narrator on The Curse of Oak Island. No one else I know watches it, so I can't do it to anyone else!


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 5:06 pm 
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EmJaeDee wrote:
1. This news of vegan things at Ba Le is very important, and I can't believe I missed it.
2. Ethiopian Diamond or Ras Dasshen are my favorite Ethiopian restaurants.
3. I haven't tried Lyfe Kitchen yet, but VeggieNextDoor has, and she likes it a lot. Seems like it could be good for omnis who can't be convinced to go to the Diner. Here's her blog post about the location in Evanston: http://www.veggienextdoor.com/lyfe-kitchen/



Thanks, EmJaeDee! I do like LYFE, especially their River North location. The food there is fresh & healthy if you're wanting a lighter meal after a few days of indulging. If you want true comfort food though, I find myself craving Native Foods a lot more often.

I second the recommendation for the Kingsbury Whole Foods Market. I could spend hours there!


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:12 pm 
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Hollie wrote:
If I meet you somewhere, I am guaranteed to talk to you in the voice of the narrator on The Curse of Oak Island. No one else I know watches it, so I can't do it to anyone else!

That would be incredibly SIGNIFICANT.

I'll meet you at the money pit. Bring corn.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:19 pm 
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I'll be wearing a dress made of coconut fiber.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:55 am 
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I forgot to tell you (I can derail my own thread, right?) I met a couple dudes who work on the show at a beer and food festival last week. They've aired the season finale (spoiler alert, not that exciting) but the brothers are still there but taking a break for the winter. I begged for product placement, haha.


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 Post subject: Re: Help me with my Chicago Plans
PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:07 am 
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electric_claire wrote:
liquor licenses in Chicago are tough to get...which means lots of vegan friendly thai and indian restaurants in Chicago are BYOB, so you can get whatever awesome craft beer and bring it with!

last time i was there i noticed that (i.e. we drank like fish once we figured out we could BYO almost everywhere, since we were using public transport) and wondered why. makes sense!

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