My Chicago trip was super quick, and I didn’t end up having time to go out for lunch at all, so I was limited to one fun vegan dinner. I’ve been hearing about the Chicago Diner for years, so naturally I had to go there.
It was my first time ever in Chicago (I’m not counting all the times I’ve changed planes in the airport), and I lucked out with absolutely gorgeous weather. Sunny and warm. The hotel was right on the water. A river of some kind? A canal? I’m completely ignorant about everything to do with Chicago. I had to ask to figure out what lake we went by on the way to the Chicago Diner from the hotel!
Chicago impressed me, I’ll be honest. There were so many people on bikes, and bikes locked up outside luxury apartment buildings and fitness centers and movie theaters and stores and … well, everywhere. It was clear that bikes were a part of the life. The drivers of cars, from what I could tell, weren’t agitated about it either. It was just part of the life.
I saw only one person lycra’d up on the bike, which was also exciting for me, because it makes biking more real and functional, and something you do to get places, rather than just something you do to ride a race.
So there was the biking. And along that huge lake (Michigan, as I learned) there were paved paths, wide enough that pedestrians and bikes didn’t have to compete for real estate. And a beach!
If I had more time, I’d have rented a bike and wandered the city. I think it would have been a lot of fun.
But I didn’t have that kind of time, so most of my whirlwind sightseeing was after dark, in a taxi, to and from The Chicago Diner.
When I walked in, there was that immediate warmth that comes from a place that’s well worn, with the edges smoothed out by years of use, casual but quirky. I sat at the counter because the tables were pretty much all full, and after my lunch that can only be called A Giant Plate of Plain Lettuce (which actually tasted a lot better than it sounds, because the lettuce was really good), I was hungry. I didn’t want to wait for a table. And I got to chat with one of the wait staff as well as people who came in to order take out.
I didn’t do much decision making when it came to that extensive menu, I just asked for recommendations and favorites. I had the sweet potato quesadilla, which had spiced black beans and spinach, but I had it without the cheese, even though they had vegan cheese. I just wasn’t really in the mood. So it wasn’t really a quesadilla so much as a sweet potato burrito! It was good. Comforting food more than exciting food, but I felt nourished and satisfied, and that was the point of the food, wasn’t it?
I had a mango margarita to go with it, and I finished the meal off with a raw cheesecake, which I have to say rocked my world. It was simply amazing. Everyone who said “the Chicago Diner is good, make sure you save room for dessert!” really gave spot on advice.
I’m going to have to go back someday and explore the vegan options in Chicago more thoroughly. I can easily see myself spending time exploring the city. Just…not in the winter.