Vegan Comfort Food: Pick Me Up Cafe

There is a funky little cafe in Wrigleyville, the Pick Me Up Cafe, that I must have gone past at least 100 times throughout my years in Chicago.  Whether walking to a Cubs game, riding the 22 bus down Clark Street, running errands, or jogging to Yoga at Moksha, I always noticed the colorful sign and cute store-front as I went past.  I was so curious about this place, but since I was always on my way to or from somewhere, I never had a free moment to pop in.

However, after it was recommended to me by Vandana in conversation at the Mercy for Animals & Grub With Us event I attended, the Pick Me Up Cafe became a destination in itself for me.  It turns out, this little spot is so much more than the average cafe – it’s an off-the-radar Vegetarian & Vegan hot-spot thanks to a huge number of veggie options on it’s omnivorous menu.

On a recent Saturday, my friend Krin and I planned for dinner here, after the weekly Community Yoga class at Moksha down the street.  The restaurant’s interior was every bit as cute as the exterior and the service was friendly.  A Cubs game was in progress so the restaurant was mostly empty with just a few tables seated.  The restaurant’s vibe and comfort-food focused menu reminded me of a low-key version of The Chicago Diner, which always seems to have a huge crowd and very long waits.

We were pretty hungry and eager to try as much of the menu as possible.  As a starter, we decided to share an order of the Vegan Mac & Cheese.  We also opted to add Veggie Chili to our plate since I’d never had Chili-Mac before!  For comfort-food, this definitely hit the spot.  The ‘cheese’ was super creamy and based on the taste I’m about 99% certain it was Teese Cheese, made by a local Chicago company, although our server didn’t know for sure.

 

It took us forever to choose our entrees thanks to all the delicious options.  Krin eventually decided on a vegetarian burrito, marked on the menu as a customer favorite (I love when menu’s include recommendations).  It was so huge that a good amount of it wound up going in a To-Go box.

Based on several Yelp.com reviews raving about the Buffalo Tofu, I ordered the salad version.  I was bummed to find out that they didn’t have a Vegan Ranch dressing to go with it, but thankfully I am no stranger to spicy foods and thoroughly enjoyed my salad without it.  I asked for the Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side and it was delicious with the greens after I’d demolished the tofu.

By this point in the meal I was pretty impressed with the tasty vegan & vegetarian comfort food at the Pick Me Up Cafe, but the dessert blew everything else away.  Our server rattled off a list of amazing sounding desserts, mentioning that there was only one piece left of the Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake.  We didn’t waste any time thinking and sent him immediately to claim that piece for us before anyone else got it.

 

I’ve been trying to cut back on desserts since I find that most aren’t worth the calories.  Krin and I both agreed that this cake was one of those rare finds that is worth every. single. calorie.  The cake was moist and the Chocolate & Peanut Butter Frostings were incredibly rich with the perfect amount of sweetness.  When we were so stuffed we could barely eat anymore, we took a brief break and then went right back to savoring this heavenly dessert.

In fact, we both enjoyed all the food at Pick Me Up Cafe so much that we knew we’d better walk home.  So we did :-)

I’d love to hear from you!

What was your most recent splurge food?

How do you find balance after a splurge?

 

Stay Tuned: I’m working on some posts about my recent trip to Ireland!