I’m so excited to share with you my Chicago Travel Guide–complete with my favourite vegan and gluten-free recommendations along with things to do, quirky little stores to browse, where to sweat and where to stay. I’ve been to Chicago about 4 times now over the last 3 years and even in that short amount of time, the health and wellness scene has definitely grown.
The first time I visited Chicago, I remember thinking that all of the vegan food options were definitely on the heartier side than healthier. Don’t get me wrong, the food is delicious, and you’ll find some great comfort food like deep dish vegan pizza and plenty of meat substitutes if you browse the Chicago Happy Cow page, but for someone with a gluten-allergy and a preference for traveling healthy, these are my recommendations & spots I think are worth checking out!
E A T
Alice & Friends Vegan Kitchen – This all vegan restaurant was featured in a Michelin guide, offering vegan options for every kind of vegan. It’s vegan friendly of course, but also has gluten-free options, soy free, oil-free, and nut free food. It’s extremely allergy friendly, and has a great menu featuring some Asian inspired food. ,very allergy friendly, Asian inspired food. If you’re a vegan who has allergies or specific dietary restrictions, you won’t have issues at this spot!
Althea – Matthew Kenney, a very well known vegan chef just opened a new location in Chicago called Althea. His restaurants are some of my favourite vegan restaurants in the world because they don’t lean into fake meats or substitutes, but rather making plants taste absolutely delicious. This restaurant would make for a great dinner location or date. Fun fact: I also trained under the Matthew Kenney culinary school 🙂
True Food Kitchen – This chain restaurant is one of my favourites whenever I’m in Orange County, CA. It’s not fully vegan, but it makes a great spot to go with omnivorous friends, and has a great atmosphere for drinks and dinner. It’s fresh, seasonal, and every menu item I’ve tried has been flavourful and wholesome at the same time 🙂 It’s a classic!
Amitabul – Described as “spiritual vegan Korean food”, Amitabul is a healthy vegan restaurant founded by a Korean man named Bill. I personally like this spot because it’s different, and Korean inspired (nostalgic for me!) and also health-focused at the same time. Gluten-free friendly, great tofu options and really comforting Korean-ish food. Definitely a different experience and worth trying!
Fancyplants Cafe – Restaurant by a Vegan Iron Chef winner, with absolutely BEAUTIFUL food, and gluten-free options too. Great for special occasions or when you just wanna eat gooood.
Native Foods – Another fast casual all vegan restaurant. There are gluten-free options, but you’ll also find more plant-based alternatives like cheeses and mock meats. They have great homemade tempeh and everything from burgers to buddha bowls. A solid choice if you ever find yourself in need of some quick vegan food.
Left Coast – This spot offers açai bowls, smoothies, quick bites, lattes (and matcha) as well as some hot food items. I’ve only had the smoothie bowl as far as food goes, but my native Chicago friend Addie recommended the curry with added tofu. They have a gorgeous restaurant/cafe space where you can sit and enjoy your food. They also have several plant based milk options for your lattes and matcha, but I would ask for the matcha unsweetened. I forgot to, and it was V E R Y sweet!
Kalish Vegan & Chicago Diner were also recommended to me, but didn’t have too many great GF options.
/juice and cafes
Real Good Juice Co. – I ended up at Real Good Juice Co. every morning that I was in Chicago this trip. I go for their juices, their matcha lattes, and they also have a hot bowl bar and smoothie bowl counter. I recommend going to the River North location, as it has the full spectrum of offerings (food and juices) but also serves their Noyo Froyo–healthy vegan soft serve ice cream. Most, if not all of the ice cream blends are fully raw and vegan ingredient list and sweetened naturally. They also have vegan and gluten-free ice cream cones! Note: I recommend specifically asking for unsweetened matcha if you order their latte! It was good but sweetened, which I wasn’t expecting.
Chicago Raw – A little fully raw vegan spot offering salads, main meals, a made to order smoothie bar and raw desserts. I used to come every time I was in Chicago, and love their desserts, but the only thing to keep in mind is that prices are on the higher side, and everything is packaged in or served in single use plastic already.
City Press – Raw vegan and organic cold pressed juices and glass bottles! This is a great place to grab a juice pre or post flight or smoothies packed with superfood ingredients.
Infiniteus Rocks + Juice – A funky juice shop that offers superfoods and juices/smoothies served in glass bottles with beautiful art on them. I noted this place because it also has some crystals in the shop and has a very spiritual vibe to it. A fun place to check out! Not your avg juice spot.
Juice Rx– One more juice option 🙂 What can I say, Chicago has your juice needs covered!
Oromo Cafe – This cafe serves homemade vegan milks galore from pistachio milk to beautiful blends of nuts and seeds. They also offer smoothies and have a big focus on superfoods. Think golden lattes and matcha, plus adaptogens and baked vegan goods.
Sawada – I initially visited Sawada Matcha, which was a branch of Sawada Coffee, because it was one of the few places that had good matcha. I’d highly recommend their matcha. They do beautiful latte art, have several plant milk options and if you do drink coffee, I’d recommend the Military Latte which is one of their most popular and is visually so so stunning! Hands down the spot to go for matcha.
S W E A T
SolidCore – If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I go to SolidCore once a week, and it NEVER gets easier. It’s definitely one of the most challenging, muscle targeting workout studios around, but it’s also low impact and won’t leave you drenched in sweat. At first glance it looks similar to pilates, because there’s a reformer machine involved, but don’t be fooled, this workout is a fast paced, core crusher and gets you to work the muscles that are typically more difficult to activate. In other words, you’ll wake up the next morning hurting in places you didn’t even know existed. This class is available to book on ClassPass!
Chill Chicago – Massage, meditation and yoga. Everything you need to chill out a little bit!
Studio Three Yoga – Offers interval training, cycling and yoga! I have personally only tried the yoga, and they offer many hot power flows, and also some beautiful candle-lit evening classes.
Shred 415/Sweat/Barry’s – All great circuit-like group fitness classes.
AIR Aerial Fitness – Something fun and different and a lot more challenging than you’d think. While the studio doesn’t seem to be aerial yoga focused, it does offer many fitness classes using aerial silks. Lots of upper body strength is required and it definitely engages the entire body.
E X P L O R E
Sprout Home – Indulge your inner plant lady. If you like plants, you’ll love this spot!
Millenium Park – I mean, you gotta see the bean when you’re in Chicago! I honestly considered skipping it on my first visit to Chicago and I’m so glad I didn’t. It exceeded my expectations. There’s something about a big reflective bean that is just so cool.
The 606 – An elevated park with great views, walking paths and running paths. Think New York City highline, but Chicago!
Humboldt House & Peach Fuzz – These shops stock products from local artisans and trinkets like crystals, sage bundles, pins, and ceramics. It’s the kind of shop that you need to enter with caution or accept that you’ll want to let your wallet loose. It’s woman founded and they also have a sister store Peach Fuzz just a few minutes away with children’s items too!
S T A Y
The Publishing House Bed and Breakfast – Beautifully styled rooms with eccentric decor, lofty spaces and very photographable. As the name would suggest, it’s a great place to get breakfast too.
Other fun hotels to check out include the Gray Hotel, Wheelhouse Hotel and Fieldhouse Jones.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and if you’re traveling anywhere else, be sure to check out my other travel guides for more suggestions like these!
Love & light,
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BY Remy • March 30, 2019
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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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