With an afternoon free and hunger rumbling in our bellies, my boyfriend and I decided to check out the Chicago Diner in Logan Square earlier this week. The boy is usually pretty apprehensive about vegetarian/vegan places (he loves his meat! But don’t worry, I will show him the way…), so the fact that both he and I left fully satisfied and excited to returnwas a major bonus.
Chicago Diner has been around since the 80s (their tagline reads “Meat Free Since ’83″), however, their second location just opened in late November in Logan Square. Nearly all the items on their menu are local, coming primarily from nearby farms in Wisconsin. They don’t serve any artificial ingredients, their coffee is fair trade and organic, and they accommodate those who need to eat gluten free. Even more awesome is the fact that their commitment to sustainability goes even further than where their produce comes from. Both locations use eco-friendly doggie bags, green cleaning products, and FSC & Rainforest Alliance certified printer paper; their waste oil gets used for bio-diesel conversion, and the Logan Square location is LEED Gold certified. This restaurant is a prime model of how we should be developing sustainable businesses, both in the Chicagoland community and across the nation.
The location in Logan Square is modest, yet sleek. With tables outlining every corner of the dining room, customer seating is maximized to its potential. Artwork decorates the walls, including a lovely rendition of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” with Chicago’s skyline in place.
So, back to the menu. Within its pages is written, “If you are new to vegetarian dining don’t worry; The food & flavors are designed to be comforting, familiar and satisfying.” What a great assurance for non-veggies! Chicago Diner rises to the challenge of proving the worth of plant-based dining, and they succeed, without a doubt.
My lunch consisted of the Soul Bowl (seasoned quinoa, blackened tofu, chimichurri sauce, charred balsamic brussels, mashed sweet potatoes, black beans, and avocado), a side of “bacün,” and a chocolate chip pancake. It was enough food that I felt satisfied and had leftovers for the next day (and yes, they tasted just as good). The boyfriend had the BBQ Bacün Cheezeburger (the signature housemade veggie patty with seitan bacün, tangy BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, & melted cheese). Let me tell you: I am still thinking about the bite I had of that burger. It is delicious enough to change the mind of any non-veggie believer. Indeed, plant-based meals can taste just as (if not more) yummy as meat meals.
Service was prompt, and our waitress was super friendly, especially while assisting us in selecting our meals. I loved that my water glass was never empty, and that the staff seemed genuinely happy to be there.
All in all, I’m thrilled for this new addition to our local community. I’m looking forward to returning for many healthy (and guilt-free), delicious meals!
Chicago Diner has two locations: 3411 N. Halsted, Chicago 60657 and 2333 N. Milwaukee, Chicago 60647. Hours, phone numbers, and directions can be found here.