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I’ve got good news, and I’ve got sad news.  What do you want to hear first?

The good news? OK!

First, let’s all give a little cheer for Amy of Tiramisu, Mom! (a fellow Chicagoan & Blogger) the winner of my Veggieversary Giveaway.  I hope she enjoys her subscription to VegNews magazine as much as I love mine, not to mention the Vegan Chocolates she’ll be receiving!

 

Now, it’s time for the sad news:

Two of our BEST FRIENDS in Chicago have moved away!!!  

It’s not an entirely sad situation – Krin & Etan have a great life ahead of them in Ann Arbor (and Mike and I can’t wait to visit!), but still, it’s the end of an era.

Thankfully, we were sure to spend plenty of quality time with them this summer before their big move.  From drinks at Acre, dinner at Sushi Samba, and a couple board-game nights at Guthrie’s Tavern, we truly did have a great summer together.

 

But the tastiest of all was our night out, along with our friend Jorge, at the Chicago Diner.

The Chicago Diner is a classic.  Locals and Tourists alike flock to this place.  It won VegNews’ “Favorite Casual Vegetarian Restaurant” award in 2011.  And this past summer, Lady Gaga even ate here.

In my opinion, there are far better Vegetarian options in Chicago. But for a fun night of comfort food and conversation with friends, Chicago Diner is the place to be.

There’s just something special about this place that can’t be denied:  This vegetarian restaurant is a TRUE Diner.

Burgers & Fries? Check!

Comfort Food? Totally – and with plenty of Cheeze!

Serious Brunch? Yes – bring on the Bacün!

Milkshakes & Mile-High Cakes? The best!

Plus, this place also boasts a wonderful back-patio in the summers, plenty of cocktails, and several Gluten-Free options too.

The down-side?  

  • Chicago Diner can get very crowded.  On the night we went, after a bit of a wait, 5 us crammed into a very tiny booth.  And if you go in the winter, be sure to dress warmly.  Due to limited space indoors, I’ve waited outside for a table in below-freezing weather before.
  • While some menu items are 5-star flavor explosions, other menu items are just plain good.  Don’t set your expectations too high, and ask for recommendations when ordering (or try some of my recommendations below).
  • And lastly, I’m pretty sad that the red lampshades made my photos look a little crazy.  I promise neither we, nor our food, had ridiculous sunburns during this meal.

To start off, I stuck with water, but I couldn’t resist stealing sips of Etan & Mike’s drinks.  A Margarita or Organic Rootbeer with your diner food? Perfect pairings!

 

Our entire table shared an order of the Seitan “Wings” with Vegan Ranch.  These were delicious and every last bite was quickly gone.

My favorite entree of the evening was Mike’s Sweet Potato Quesadilla with seitan, black beans, cheeze, spinach and salsa.  It was loaded with generous heaps of mashed sweet potatoes, spiced like the ones served at Thanksgiving Dinner.  Mike, however, felt differently and wished the quesadilla was more savory than sweet. To each his/her own!

I ordered the Gyros with sliced seitan and vegan tzatziki on a pita.  This was absolutely delicious.  The Seitan was especially juicy and flavorful, and the sauce was rich and creamy. Definitely not a diet food!

Etan ordered the Country Fried “Steak” of breaded then fried Seitan with Country Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, and Beans.  This was every bit as comforting as it sounds, though probably not worth the calories.

Our table also had a Quesadilla with Nacho Dip (one of the Menu Specials) and a Bacün Avocado Wrap.  Both were good, but nothing special.

In order to save room for dessert, half of Krin’s wrap went into a to-go box.  I’m a bit of a tree-hugger, so I can be very judgemental about a restaurant’s boxes. I sometimes think of the ‘To-Go’ Box as a final ‘Test’ I give a restaurant at the end of a meal.  A Styrofoam box could ruin the best meal of my life.  Or in Chicago Diner’s case, a cardboard box can make me grin from ear-to-ear.  Good job, Chicago Diner!

Chicago Diner is so famous for their Vegan Cookies and Cakes that they actually sell them at Chicago-Land Whole Foods Markets.

 

But the real highlight of Chicago Diner is their milkshakes.  No visit to Chicago Diner is complete without one.  Seriously. Don’t ever leave without one…

…Preferably one of the Vegan Peanut Butter – Cookie Dough Variety.  A few years ago, this earned a spot in my life for Best. Milkshake. Ever.  No shake has ever come close since.  We even have a special memory about the face Krin made a few summers ago when she had her first taste of one.  Her eyebrows went so high, I thought they might fly off!

On this trip we also ordered a Mint-Chocolate Chip Shake, which was super tasty, though it was the PB Cookie Dough Shake that we were all fighting for.

I wish I had thought to raise a toast with our empty Milkshake glasses to our dear friends.  

Krin and Etan, thanks for all the memories, and here’s to many more memories & visits to come!

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Good news for Chicago Diner Fans:  A 2nd Location will soon be coming to Logan Square!

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Upcoming Event: Chicago Vegan Mania

If you’re local, be sure to mark your calendar for Saturday, September 29th for the 2012 Chicago Vegan Mania.

I had an amazing time at last year’s event, and this year’s promises to be even bigger & better!

The line-up of Speakers & Chef Demos is not to be missed, plus there will be dozens of vendors and a Vegan Food Court.

I hope to see you there!

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I’d love to hear from you!

What’s your favorite vegan/vegetarian comfort food?