The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on July 11, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Sasha Keenan

Since 1983, The Chicago Diner has been Chicagoland’s 100% vegetarian comfort food hub, serving up vegan shakes and juicy plant-based burgers. All menu items are vegan or can be made vegan, and many menu items are available gluten free.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into The Chicago Diner was the stylish yet grungy ambiance. With brick walls, dim lighting, and a giant red marquee that reads ‘Meat free since ‘83,’ it was obvious to me that I had found myself in a hipster haven. Every customer looked relaxed and happy with giant plates of mouthwatering food in front of them.

My waitress was bubbly and helpful, and it was clear to me that she knew the menu well. Since I had a tough time narrowing my options down because everything sounded delicious, she was happy to give me a few recommendations. I ended up ordering a strawberry milkshake, Cajun black bean burger, and a cinnamon roll.

The vegan milkshake with soy based ice cream came out within five minutes in an old fashioned soda fountain glass topped with non-dairy whipped cream and a cherry. I was thrilled to find it tasted as good as it looked, if not better. It wasn’t overly sweet and tasted like fresh strawberries as opposed to strawberry syrup. Although I tried my best to enjoy the milkshake slowly, I would be lying if I didn’t admit it was gone within minutes.

My burger was ready within 15 minutes, and was also an impressive sight: a crispy black bean patty topped with onion, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, jalapenos, (vegan) “cheddar,” and creole mustard and paired with waffle fries. While the burger was not reminiscent of a meat product like some of the other menu items are intended to be, it brought together a perfect combination of flavors and textures.

I certainly saved the best for last. I’ve always loved vegan cinnamon rolls, and Chicago Diner blew me away with theirs. First of all, it was giant, but I’m not complaining because that meant I was able to bring some home for later. The outside was slightly crispy, the inside irresistibly gooey and flavorful, the whole roll slathered with creamy frosting. The leftovers tasted just as good.

My meal was on the pricier side, but I did order a lot of food. Overall, The Chicago Diner’s prices are reasonable considering the quality and portion sizes they offer. While The Chicago Diner is the perfect place for herbivores to indulge, even meat-eaters would be thoroughly impressed by this gem of a restaurant.

For more info on The Chicago Diner, see

For information on other vegetarian/vegan restaurants, see

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