By Loong Chen
Chicago is a lively restaurant city with no shortage of dining options by cuisine and by budget. Likewise, many restaurant patrons have dietary preferences, restrictions and even allergies (“Is there peanut oil in your Pad Thai?”). The omnivores and the pescetarians, the raw vegans and the gluten-free, can we all be satisfied at the same table for a meal? Yes! Follow these guidelines, gather your friends and celebrate at a restaurant among my top picks reviewed here and online at illuminechicago.com.
More local chefs are showcasing vegetables as main courses, instead of as side dishes, and touting their responsibly sourced farm fresh produce and even in-house vegetable garden. Burger joints are offering new takes on the veggie burger and an expanding array of salads and sides.
Travel the globe.
Certain cuisines (e.g., Indian, Mediterranean, Italian) lend themselves more naturally to non-meat eaters and even offer something for most, if not everyone. A Middle Eastern café offers schwarma and kebabs for the meat lover and hummus, couscous and roasted vegetables for the vegan.
Tap the app.
The Chef’s Feed app highlights favorite dishes of some of Chicago’s most admired chefs, including Paul Kahan and Bill Kim. Taste Savant bills itself as the “opposite of Yelp.” It aggregates ratings from critics, bloggers, chefs and your friends, and offers curated recommendations. Tip: Use the vegetarian filter.
Call ahead or ask your server.
That tasty mussel dish with tomatoes and peppers may get its extra kick from chorizo. Most menus do not list a dish’s complete ingredients or methods of preparation. Staff can suggest modifications and substitutions to accommodate your dietary restrictions.