Tag Archives: Wormhole

Chicago-grams: The Summer of Seitan

I’m pretty sure Chicago has the most meaty vegan food of any town in the Union. I love it. This time I was back for my sister’s wedding reception. In between getting ready for the Skup Svatova (our Serbian bridal pre-party) and catching up with tons of family I still managed to squeeze in tons of tasty vegan food. I started the trip on a rough note, there were storms at O’hare and my plane was 16 hours late getting there. After spending 8 hours on the plane I thought it couldn’t get worse, until I saw all the folks passed out and set up like a refugee camp in the terminal at 4 am. I’ve been there before. I was so happy I was able to sleep in a bed.

The next day I woke up starved and headed straight for Native Foods because my sister had told me that they had a muffalata on special. As a life-long olive fanatic the muffalata has long been my favorite sandwich and I was sad they didn’t have any vegan versions in New Orleans! It was great but probably not quite as good as the one you can get here in Austin at Unity Vegan Kitchen. The best part was when the waiter asked if I wanted ranch dressing for my fries, I used to love that and it was so nice to just say yes since Native Foods is 100% vegan. Their Italian seitan was delicious and thinly sliced, I think it just didn’t have the sheer number of olives that I require.

Later that night I had another Italian sandwich at Santullo’s that was really good too! Wicker Park has gotten ridiculously vegan friendly in the last 5 years or so. It’s such a big difference from when it was just Sultan’s Market, now you can eat just about anywhere and have several awesome vegan choices. When my friends Sandra and Adrian got in the next day Sandra wanted to go directly to Handlebar and so we did. I got the Pepita Tofu Scramble which had fried onions on top and actual green vegetables. I also had a beermosa!

The best part about this trip to Handlebar was that they had tons of amazing Star Trek Art up on the walls.

Later we went down to the Wormhole for coffee. I was sad that I missed the vegan doughnuts again but happy to show Adrian all their 80s memorabilia. 

For a wedding present, Sandra, Adrian, and I decided to make cupcakes for the reception. I don’t think I’ve ever even double batched cupcakes and this time I made 141! We made Golden Vanilla with a fresh blueberry topping and Pineapple Right-side Up Cupcakes, both from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World. They were a hit!

After a long night of baking I was so pleased that there were ton’s of places still open to eat. We set out for Dimo’s pizza since I read they had a vegan option. I had no idea though, that their vegan options were going to be so over the top! When I asked what slices were available and they told me BBQ chicken, Philly Cheesesteak, and several others I couldn’t believe it! Chicago is amazing! My BBQ pizza even had french fries on it!

We ended up getting a hotel in Greektown and I was surprised to find that Karen’s on Green was right around the corner. The next afternoon we headed there for brunch and I was pretty excited to order Belgian Waffle sliders that had tofu eggs, seitan bacon, and almond cheese. I wanted the waffle to be a little crispier and the home fries were too oily but other than that it was a great sandwich. Their tofu egg is amazing, it’s not at all like a scramble. I wonder how they make it.

The reception was crazy fun. We danced all night and Sandra learned how to do the traditional Serbian Kolo dance. I was up way too late and so hungry by the time we got to my all-time favorite restaurant, the Chicago Diner, for brunch. When I saw they had chicken and waffles on the menu, served with peaches, I couldn’t resist! In fact, I don’t think I considered resisting. It was so freaking fantastic. I did wonder if I could also have a milkshake and decided against it.

After that I don’t think I needed to eat again the rest of the day but I grabbed a Upton’s Sandwich at the Go Grocer for the trip home. The Leftover wasn’t as good as the Aurora but I was sure glad I had it! I wish some of our awesome Austin places would stock the grocery stores with sandwiches, mac & cheese, and BBQ like they do in Chicago. It’s so nice when you are in hurry.

I’ll be back up there next month for my cousin’s wedding so I think by the end of the summer I’ll get to try every single Upton’s sandwich. Maybe I’ll even make it to the breakroom, I have to try the Elvis which has Bacon Seitan with sunbutter and grilled banana on multigrain bread.

Drove to Chicago…

The dogs love summering in Illinois and now that I have a functional vehicle we decided it was high time they get a vacation away from their hard life of snoozing and standing at open doors deciding if they want to go in our out.

After the long car ride filled beagle antics we finally got to the city late and went to Handlebar for some nachos and fried pickles to share and I got the buffalo po’boy.

I think the garlic mashed potatoes were my favorite part, The next day after discussing where to brunch FOREVER I finally said the words “Chicago Diner” enough times to make it happen. Once I got there I was a like a vegan at the Chicago Diner and my sister kept telling me to calm down. We went to the new location in Logan Square and I was thrilled by the new digs, plus it was easy to get to and no wait!

The first thing I did was order a shamrock shake because HEAVEN!

Then I tried to decide if we needed poutine and wings. I am glad we got both cause they were so freaking good. The wings at the Chicago Diner are the best I’ve ever had, everyone loved them.

It was my first time trying poutine and I was so excited that I just took a blurry picture that I will only link too and dug right in. Your imagination will be enough anyway, french fries, cheese sauce, gravy, and bacon will either sound disgustingly awful or disgustingly awesome depending on where you fall on the spectrum but I loved it! When I found out a food truck in Austin called Potato.A just just opened I even wrote them and asked for a vegan version so we can have it all the time. It turns out they are super nice and are going to look into it! Poutine for everyone! I think I had a chicken sandwich too but I couldn’t eat more than a bite at that point before wrapping it up to taking it home. We went shopping on Milwaukee and I picked up some new galaxy leggings only to find out that my Star Trek wine had simultaneously arrived to match my outfit!

The next day I was so tired that the most I could do was Native Foods takeout. Lucky for us Lana lives just a couple blocks away so I got the soul bowl again. It’s totally become my go to after partying too hard in Chicago. It’s the perfect take out! Rice and beans, lots of veggies, and ranch, barbecue, and chicken skewers to make the whole thing exciting.

The next morning we went out to Hash Chicago and I asked for the Humboldt veganized-  hashbrowns, hominy, black beans, soyrizo, salsa, fried plantains, and avocado. I have to make this combo into a tofu scramble at home because it was great. I love hominy and I think I only ever use it in posole.

Later that day we had the thrill of taking the dogs to Dog Beach! I had been telling them about it for ages but they are dogs so they didn’t know what I was talking about. It took forever  for us to find parking but when we did and Dinger got on that sand and started running my heart melted. He loved it!

He ran right up to the water to get a drink and then the wave came at him and he JUMPED BACK. He was not happy about that at all it was so funny.

Dog beach is pretty much the most hilarious place on earth. I think it’s the most dogs I have ever seen at one place and they are all having a blast. Unfortunately so many people were enjoying food on the beach that there was no way I could let the beagles off leash even though it is fenced off. If there is a scrap of food my dogs will find it, even if they have to go through your bags to get it.

On our last morning in the city I walked down with Dan to get coffee at Wormhole– where he had gotten coffee every single day- and snapped the requisite smurf & succulent instagram which then someone later informed me on that Wormhole has vegan doughnuts! I didn’t know, they aren’t labeled!!!! What a complete and total nightmare, to have doughnuts that close and not even know, it kills me.

I stopped at Native Foods one last time before hitting the skyway to Indiana and tried the Indo Bowl, I really liked the seasoned tempeh, fresh vegetables, peanuts and rice noodles. I wish Native Foods were along every interstate in the country.

Dinger and I stopped to visit my Dad and we took a little trip to the Indiana Sand Dunes where Dinger was no longer impressed by the beach- been there done that. My Dad showed off by climbing on the lifeguard chair.

They took us to a cute restaurant in Valparaiso, Meditrina Market Cafe where I got a really nice Mediterranean pita pizza.

I learned that Valpariaso is also the home of Orville Redenbacher 

Dinger and I drove to Merrillville to visit more family and then down to Springfield to reunite with Willow and Dan and stop at our favorite Thai Restaurant.

The next day we were off again headed west.

In a couple of weeks I’m flying back to California so if it’s quiet around here that’s why. I really want to bring Dinger on the plane, I hope I can figure out how to make it happen!