|In case you can't tell, this says "Chicago Sept 20" No. I didn't do this, I just thought it ironic because Sept 20th is my birthday and we were in Chicago :)|
I've never been one much for tagging or vandalism of any sort for that matter, so this picture is not my work, but I did think it was ironic when I saw this on a wall in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago on September 21st.
We went to Chicago for the beautiful wedding of a good friend of ours. Last time we were in Chicago it was below freezing, and with the wind it was colder than anything I had ever experienced, but I still loved the magic of this city.
This visit was even more magical as we had our sweet baby girl with us, it was my birthday, and of course, the wedding. However, being the responsible vegan that I am, I can't go to any city without first doing some research on vegan hot spots in the local area. Especially these days, I am proud to say that vegan options and vegan restaurants are so much more abundant than even a few years back when I made the plunge. Last time we were in Chicago, we did make it a point to make it to the Chicago Diner, but this year, I wanted to experience something new, and that we did.
The first night we stayed in this awesome 3 bedroom apartment at an Urban B&B in Wicker Park.
This is the beautiful tree-lined street of our apartment. I loved it here, I could have stayed forever (if it didn't get so cold in the winter). It is a gorgeous neighborhood, rich with history yet buzzing with contemporary shops, restaurants and people. This was a very vegan friendly neighborhood, and the cool owners of the B&B were hip to all the cool vegan stuff in the area to check out, so they gave me great recommendations. I was super happy to find out that a Native Foods had just gone in a couple of blocks away. Native Foods is in SoCal, but I had never tried it and always wanted to. More on that in a bit.
Our first night there was my birthday, and I had gotten us a reservation at Karyn's On Green. All it took was a hot second of looking at their menu online before I knew it was the perfect place to spend my birthday. We went, and the decor was gorgeous, the people were uber friendly (due to lack of babysitting options, we brought our daughter, and were very nervous, but the staff made us feel right at home and welcomed her lovingly), but most importantly the food was awesome. Absolutely awesome. We started with chorizo and crab cake style sliders, but unfortunately those disappeared before they could be photographed. You will have to excuse the fact that these pics are a little dim, the ambience was great, but not ideal for food blog photography.
After that I had a Green Tomato Carpaccio and a Ethiopian Spiced Eggplant with Lentils and Squash Puree that was so packed with flavor, I sat there and savored every bite. It was perfect.
My favorite part however was the dessert which was a selection of housemade nut based ice-creams with raw "cookies" and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, all of which was adorned with a single candle burning in honour of my 30th birthday. The evening was perfect. A beautiful vegan meal in a gorgeous restaurant with a view of Chicago's finest skyscrapers, enjoying the company of my wonderful husband and my beautiful daughter. Not the roaring party of my twenties, but the maturity felt right, I wouldn't have changed it for the world.
The next day, we strolled amongst our Wicker Park/Bucktown neightborhood. We found a quaint italian coffee shop where we got espresso and a delicious breakfast sandwich of almond butter and jam on toasted ciabatta. Yum. It was warm and cozy for that un-seasonably drizzly September morning.
After a lovely morning cruising our neighborhood, we stopped into Native Foods and got food to-go to take to the Cub's game that afternoon. I wanted to order 1 of everything on the Native Foods menu, it all sounded so good. In the end we got Quinoa bowls- my husband's was a Mediterranean themed, and mine was a Moroccan themed bowl. I took a picture, but honestly it did not photograph well in the to-go box. But it was fresh and very flavorful. We each got a dessert and shared both- a brownie, and a strawberry parfait. Both were delish. We noshed on our treats while taking in our very first Cubs game. It was awesome. Later in our trip, I also enjoyed a visit to Karyn's Fresh Corner which was a grocery and cafe near Lincoln Park that was really nice.
All-in-all I found Chicago to be not just vegan friendly but a thriving vegan city. The Chicagoans are kind, down to earth and extremely friendly. It was a nice reminder that it's ok to slow down and enjoy the scenery a little. It's so easy to get caught up in the rat race, but when it's all said and done, it will be about the little things, the small moments in life, and how we treat one another and our world. I think this city is getting it right.