Vegan Dining in Chicago (land): Karyn’s on Green and Borrowed Earth Cafe

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by JL Fields on September 7, 2012

Happy Friday!  I’m back from a quick business trip to Chicago (land) and wanted to share a few of my delicious vegan adventures!

First up, the airport.  I love CIBO Express. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram you know that I’ve been raving about (and sharing photos of) the vegan – often macrobiotic – whenever I travel.  I flew out of La Guardia and grabbed this in the United terminal.

I was particularly glad I purchased a hearty lunch because after we pushed back from the gate we sat on the runway for nearly an hour. By the time we were in the air it was lunchtime in both timezones and I was prepared. I landed and was able to get right to work – no need to grab lunch anywhere.

Later that night I met my friend Julia, who blogs at The Snarky Vegan,

for dinner At Karyn’s on Green in the West Loop of downtown Chicago. A super-swanky restaurant.

By the time we left the place was hopping with large groups at tables, every seat taken at the bar, and live music going full-force.

Yep, Karyn’s on Green is making vegan sexy.  Well into the meal Karyn herself stopped by our table to check in on us.  She asked how long I have been vegan (2 and /2 years) and she said “I have been vegan for 43 years.” To which I replied, “YOU are making vegan sexy!” She is. Trust me, she is!

Julia and I came to an understanding early on in the ordering process: go big or go home.

We went big.

The Maki Roll was colorful, crunchy and just right (which makes sense, as Karyn has a raw restaurant further north).

I wanted to love the Fried Green Tomatoes but I didn’t. I liked them but they fell a little flat.

My entree, the Barbecue Seitan (with cornbread stuffing and braised collard greens) was out of this world.  (Long time readers know I’m cuckoo for the gluten!)

Julia ordered a pasta which she found so-so but the sides we ordered, you know “just to try”, were quite good.

The sauce surpassed the actual Hush Puppies in taste.

The Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, however, blew both of us away.

Overall, this was a fantastic dining experience. The vibe of the place is energetic.   The food is inventive and comforting.  I am so pleased that I had the chance to dine at Karyn’s. I am also pleased that Julia lives locally and could enjoy the leftovers the next day! (Be sure to check out Julia’s review of Karyn’s!)

The next day started with an early breakfast meeting at the hotel. I opted for the oatmeal (confirming that it was made with water, not milk, when I ordered) with sliced banana.  Fine but not photo-worthy (and, um, it was a business meeting).

I had a lunch meeting with a man with whom I had only worked via email and phone.  In one of our calls I said “let’s get to the meat of the issue” and then, like a fool, went on to say “Oh, I can’t believe I said that! I’m a vegan” and immediately winced. Until my colleague (client) said “What? You’re a vegan? I am, too!”  Woo Hoo!  So we chatted for quite some time about our vegan journeys (I did not bill the client for that convo, promise!).

He picked a raw, vegan restaurant near the office for our meeting and I took photos because I confessed that I was a vegan blogger!

Borrowed Earth Cafe is in Downers Grove, a western suburb of Chicago.

I had the Earth Burger, which comes with root vegetable “fries” (and raw ketchup) and a small kale salad.

My colleague enjoyed his “regular”, the falafel plate.

This was some of the best food I have ever had at a raw restaurant!

From there, I was off to the airport where I grabbed some overpriced grapes to snack on during the flight.  A few hours later, in New York, my husband met me at the door with a glass of wine.  He quickly prepped a Tofurky Italian Sausage with a side of raw veggies for my dinner.  I had a mighty tasty 36-hours!


Karyn's on Green on Urbanspoon

Borrowed Earth Cafe on Urbanspoon

  • Julia

    ha!! I LOVE the dungaree planters outside Borrowed Earth! I will have to get out there to try that place.

    • JL

      You must, Julia!

  • Chicago is one of my favorite cities, but I haven’t had a chance to get to Karyn’s yet – I’ll have to do that next time I’m there!

    Make sure you let me know if you’re ever in Minneapolis!

    • JL

      Count on it, Ashley!

  • jesse o

    I’ve only been to Karyn’s once but I really liked it.

    • JL

      Can’t wait to try her other places!

  • Love Karyn’s On green! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • JL

      SO good. I was excited to meet Karyn, too. She’s a dynamo!

  • Looks like a delicious trip! I had a short lay-over at O’Hare a few weeks ago and was so excited to find CIBO. I totally loaded up for the remainder of my flight 🙂

    • JL

      I squeal when I see a CIBO!

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