Markets and food halls– a veggie friendly guide

Chicago French Market, Revival & Latinicity

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Vegans, vegetarians, plant-based eaters and veggie enthusiasts across the city celebrated when Chicago started 2018 as the third friendliest city in the world for vegans and vegetarians. In an international ranking by Meetup, the ChicagoVeg Meet- up group earned the city the third highest spot worldwide, coming in only behind
New York and London.

ChicagoVeg, also called Chicagoland Vegetarian, Vegan, & Raw Foodist Community, has close to 6,000 members and hosts more than 30 events every year. Each event helps members explore new dining options, learn new recipes and connect with like-minded eaters.

On April 21, the group converged on the Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton. Located in the West Loop, the indoor market is a quaint, charming food hall with an eclectic mix of dishes, desserts and drinks. On the Saturday afternoon, the group hosted a “food tour” of the market, offering discounts and suggestions for the variety of vegan and vegetarian options the market features.

Attendee and co-host Denice Shuty shared her discovery. “I came upon the French Market one day in the Loop doing my typical Google search for ‘vegetarian restaurants near me,’” she said.

“When I got there, I couldn’t believe how many artisan food stalls there were—and
so many vegan/vegetarian choices.”

For those looking to start off with some fresh fruits and veggies, The Loop Juice
was a great first stop. This juicery’s menu features more than a dozen juice combinations, blended right before your eyes, and a mouthwatering menu of “smoothie bowls”—a blend of chilled fruit served in a bowl, topped with everything from agave nectar and shaved coconut to seasonal fruit and granola.

As the group ventured further into the market, David Costello, who started a vegan diet just one month ago, said he was enjoying the opportunity to explore some new dining options downtown.

Costello came from Evanston with his friend, Matthew Johnson, who recently switched to veganism as well. Both converted to veganism after watching the documentary “What The Health” on Netflix and becoming concerned about their health and the environment.

Raw at the Chicago French Market. Photo by Taylor Hartz

David said he was happy to find restaurants in the French Market that fit his new lifestyle and especially enjoyed eating at Raw, where he got a sampler of dishes including vegan ravioli and burgers.

At Raw, every item is plant-based and vegan. The “grab and go” style eatery has more
than 100 menu items “on a spectrum from really dense green juice to tiramisu,” said
co-owner Carol Jones.

Jones and her partner opened Raw eight years ago with the idea to sell easy-to-find vegan options. “Basically everything we make has a convenience factor,” Jones said, encouraging customers to buy in bulk as their entree selections stay fresh for up to five days.

At the Revival Food Hall, 125 S. Clark St., New Eastsiders can find a similar dining destination closer to home, with a modern market-style spot that features more than a dozen vendors.

The food hall garnered praise from Donna Lee, owner of Brown Bag Seafood Co.,340 E. Randolph St. “It’s a super lively, fun place that’s very fast paced, and there are options at every single shop for vegans and vegetarians,” she said.

Brown Bag Seafood Co., which originated in New Eastside, has a new location in the Revival Food Hall that specializes in Veggiebox and Powerbox—vegetable grain blends of brown rice, quinoa or wheat berry as well as salads that can all be served vegetarian or have a choice of fish added.

Black Dog Gelato at Revival. Photo by Taylor Hartz

Lee’s recommendations include the salads at Union Pizza and of course the Veggiebox at Brown Bag, but her favorite is Farmer’s Fridge. “When I’m eating vegetarian I really like their avocado toast,” Lee said.

If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, check out Black Dog Gelato for flavors like goat cheese cashew caramel, fresh strawberry or vegan blood orange or raspberry sorbets.

Latinicity, 108 N. State St., has a similar feel to the French Market, with a latin spin. The Latinicity food hall and lounge features eight innovative kitchens, a Mexican restaurant, a cafe and a full bar.

For a sweet vegan dish, try the plantains from Saladero Latin Grill, while vegetarians can opt for the corn empanada served with fresh, delicious guacamole. Ensalata offers a full make-your-own salad bar with a variety of ingredients, while Machefe Taqueria gives customers the option to design-your-own taco, although the veggie blend has a bit of a kick and is not for those who don’t like spice. To incorporate more flavor, try adding fresh avocado or sliced pineapple to your taco.

Fried plantains, sweet potato tacos and a corn empanada at Latinicity. Photo by Taylor Hartz

For a final stop, Pueblo Mexican restaurant offers the best dessert at this hall with their red kuri pumpkin flan.

If you’re considering a lifestyle change to vegetarian or veganism, or are already abiding by a veggie-based diet, there are plenty of choices for dining out in Chicago’s food halls. To explore more options, check out one of the ChicagoVeg group’s monthly “dine-out” MeetUps, where members meet to try out a new restaurant. The group’s next event will take place on May 6 at Soul Vegetarian East on East 75th Street.

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