First off, vegan Chicago is epic. It was my first time to Chicago and I had a pretty awesome time. Shoutout to my friend Claire for taking me in and showing me the true Chicago experience! I went to house parties, Shakespeare in the Park, got some books at the amazing Newberry Library’s annual book sale, ate a lot of noms and drank some good coffee.
Public Transportation in Chicago
I found the public transportation pretty great in Chicago, so I opted to stash my car with some on-street parking and buy a week pass for the pub transit, “The L”. I tested out the metro and the bus while I was there and it all went pretty smoothly.
If it’s not the winter, Chicago also seems pretty bike-able. Lots of bike lanes about and I noticed that there was often indoor bike racks in the L stations:
Indoor racks in the “L” stations to store your bike, pretty cool!
Where to Stay in Chicago
My first few days I was working so I booked a cheap AirBnB (only $15 per night). If you’re not a member of AirBnB yet, check it out! AirBnB has been the cheapest and nicest option when I need a homebase for a bit, but plan to do my own thing. I’ve met a ton of interesting people so far, really helps give you a better feeling of what it’s like to actually live in the area you’re visiting. If you sign up through this link, you get a $25 credit to your account (and so do I, full disclosure), that’s enough for a free night or two some places!
I’ve been using a combination of Couchsurfing, AirBnB and cheap hotels (we’re talking $60 per night or less cheap) booked through Booking.com on this trip. Here’s a search box present to Chicago for Booking.com if you wanna give it a try. I like them because you don’t need to pay in advance and can usually cancel your booking up to one day before. Plus they do not only hotels, but also apartments, hostels, etc.
Vegan Cafes in Chicago
My first few days I was working so I set out in search of a good working cafe. Sip Coffee House, was possibly one of the best cafes for working I’ve ever been to. Lots of tables, tons of outlets, good coffee and a big back room away from the counter and ordering traffic. There were lots of other people working there so I didn’t feel guilty. Not a ton of vegan options, but they did have vegan cookies, granola bars and oatmeal.
This was my second favorite place I went to work, Atomix Cafe. Very laid-back atmosphere with booths, free wifi, outlets and lots of vegan options for food and baked goods. I got filter coffee and the bagel with vegan vegetable cream cheese that looked homemade. They also had a bottomless coffee options for a little bit more. Coffee was good!
After reading all the rave reviews about the blueberry bran muffins at Atomix, I had to try one of those too. It was delicious.
A vegan Chicago MUST. Of course I had to check out the Chicago Diner (two locations at Logan Square and Halstead Sreet) and get the Radical Reuben. After all the hype, I wasn’t sure if it would live up to my expectations, but holy crap, it totally exceeded them! The reuben was amazing, best I’ve had in my life. I personally wasn’t a big fan of their mac and cheese though, so next time I’ll just get fries or a salad as the side dish.
I packed up half of my reuben for later so I’d have room for dessert. I chose the peanut butter cookie sundae. This was incredible. I’m still dreaming of it. There is so much on the menu I wanted to try, especially brunch, so I’ll have to go back to Chicago sometime!
Vegan-Friendly Events in Chicago
My friend took me to the Glenwood Sunday Market on the North side of Chicago and it was great. It wasn’t super big so it wasn’t that overwhelming, I only had to decide between two stands where I could buy my tomatoes. They had an empanada stand too and one of the options was vegan, yum!
Vegan empanada from the Glenwood Sunday Market
There was also a stand called Phoenix Bean that sold all different types of homemade tofu plain and in marinades, it was epic. A bit pricey at about $8-9 for a container, it tasted amazing. We got a delicous marinated tofu and served it over cous cous, farmer’s market tomatoes and lettuce mix for lunch. Yum.
Some other great stands at the market sold vegan chocolates, cold-brewed coffee with almond milk, baked goods with alternative flours and there was even a local distillery called Koval.
If you’re there at the right time and are into books, check out the Newberry Library‘s annual book sale. It was epic.
Yoga in Chicago
Try Nature Yoga on West Division in the Ukrainian Village. I dropped into a Hatha Yoga class here and quite enjoyed it. Friendly people, nice space and free peppermint tea afterwards.
Grocery Shopping in Chicago for Vegans
I went to the largest Whole Foods I’ve ever been to in my LIFE in Chicago. The Lincoln Park location is apparently the 3rd largest Whole Foods in the WORLD after London and Austin. They had guacamole as a sample, I was pleased. We bought vegan cookie dough balls and eat them all without baking them into cookies, don’t judge.