The first full day in Chicago, Illinois on my own started at West Town Bakery & Diner, a spacious eatery with that ol’ diner feel… and a stocked bakery case with vegan delights. Breakfast was in order, and a sweet one at that.
Sweet indeed. The Vegan S’mores Pancakes: Dark chocolate pancakes topped with Dandies vegan marshmallows (Chicago represent!), chocolate sauce, and graham cracker crumbles. And maple syrup, which seemed out of place briefly until I tried a bite. The thing is, these pancakes were deep dark chocolate pancakes, maybe even a little bitter… and they had a lovely exterior that had a hint of salt from the pan-fry. Maple syrup made them even more fantastic.
Pile of chocolate, please!
Even though I had just eaten chocolate pancakes, I still just had to get something at the bakery counter. There were many vegan items, from cake balls (pictured), to donuts, to cupcakes, etc. All identified by a white sign (as opposed to the beige). Perfect way to identify them for vegans while not scaring away food-ignorant omni’s who still think “vegan” is indicative of “not good.” Anyway, the counter man was especially sweet as he gave me a vegan cake ball free of charge!
It was time to return to the loop in the daylight hours. The place was swarming with tourists. Taste of Chicago, a very popular food festival where a slew of area eateries set up in Grant Park, was going on… but there was like no vegan representation! Not even with any of the food trucks! C’mon, Chicago. Anyway, I was back at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. I like this thing.
People all scrambled up.
Can you spot me?
Trying my best at a selfie. Look, I’m covered in smeared handprints.
I resisted checking out the Skydeck at the very handsome Sears Tower, as it had a 90-minute wait. And I am also resisting calling it its new name, Willis Tower.
I also checked out the Married… with Children fountain (formally known as Buckingham Fountain.)
Lunch was calling my name after a long afternoon of sightseeing. I headed to the all-vegan Kitchen 17 for their award-winning Seitan Gyro. I had high expectations and they were exceeded.
The vegan gyro version included their delicious housemade seitan, housemade tzatziki, tomato, cucumber on a warm, fluffy greek flatbread. It was outstanding. Definitely on my top 10 sammies! It was so good I was able to phase out the loud conversation about the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
What made it spectacular was that housemade seitan. It was not tough or dry; it was cut thin; it had flavor. These are the three requirements to good seitan. And housemade is always a huge plus. In fact, so many eateries have housemade seitan in Chicago. It is truly impressive. And it’s nice that the others, for the most part, get their seitan locally from Uptons Naturals.
Dinner time. I hit Dragon Lady Lounge, a vegan Korean and Latin fusion kitchen and bar.
I got the Kim Chi Vegan Hotdogs: two spicy housemade vegan meat dogs (infused with kim chi), onion, tomato, cucumbers, avocado, vegan mayo, ketchup and mustard, on a hot dog bun. Served with scrumptious seasoned fries. The dogs were very good. And the variety of fixin’s, just what I needed. It hit on all the taste buds. I ate quickly and quietly and headed back to my room. I was beat! One more day and I’ll be home sweet home!