ALA Annual Visit: Eating in Chicago with Special Diets

Chicago offers a smorgasbord of delicious food options, even to those with dietary restrictions. While you should be able to find at least one option that fits your diet at most restaurants, a great thing about the city is that there are all kinds of people and we have restaurants for every taste. Here are some restaurants that specialize in vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, Kosher, or Halal options.  In addition to names and addresses, I’ve listed each restaurant’s distance on foot from McCormick Place.

Eleven City Diner, 1112 S. Wabash, 1.7 miles – Kosher

This Jewish deli serves up corned beef, pastrami, beef brisket, and lox.  For breakfast, try the Eleven City French Toast.  They also have several vegan/vegetarian options.

Chicago Curry House, 899 S. Plymouth Court, 2 miles – Halal

Chicago Curry House offers Nepalese and Indian cuisine, including a full buffet.  Try the momo and naan.  They also offer a large selection of vegetarian meals.

Jason’s Deli, 1258 S Canal St, 2.2 miles – Gluten-free, Vegan/vegetarian

This health food deli has both a vegetarian and a gluten-sensitive menu.  Their website also include a Special Diets Wizard that allows you to search for items without the common allergens of your choice.

Brightwok Kitchen, 21 E Adams St, 2.5 miles – Gluten-free, Vegan/vegetarian

The menu for this build-your-own stir fry restaurant contains no gluten, dairy, or peanuts.  It’s also a friendly option for vegetarian and vegans, who can easily pass on the meat.

Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, 1141 South Jefferson Street, 2.5 miles – Kosher

A classic Jewish deli serving corned beef, brisket, and latkes.

Galata Turkish Restaurant, 717 West Maxwell Street, 2.6 miles – Halal

Choose from a long list of mezes (“Turkish Tapas”) and dishes including kebabs and Turkish meatballs.  Certified Halal by the Chicago Zabiha Authority.

Native Foods, 218 S Clark St, 2.6 miles – Vegan/vegetarian

Native Foods offers quick, delicious, and environmentally-conscious all-vegan cuisine.  Many of their bowls, burgers, and sandwiches feature homemade seitan and tempeh mock meat.

Benjyehuda, 212 W Van Buren, 2.7 miles – Kosher

Israeli-inspired street food.  Come here for shwarma and falafel.

Ghareeb Nawaz Express, 807 West Roosevelt Road, 2.7 miles – Halal

According to zabihah.com, this Pakistani and Indian restaurant offers $25,000 to anyone able to prove their menu is not zabihah halal!  They offer quick and inexpensive meals, with dine-in or takeout options.

Protein Bar, 235 S Franklin St, 2.9 miles – Gluten-free, Vegan/vegetarian

Smoothies, burritos, and bowls full of healthy foods like quinoa, kale, and acai.  The menu indicates whether each dish contains gluten or if it can be made vegan/vegetarian.  There’s a wealth of options for all of these diets.

Mr. Broast, 1059 W Taylor St., 3.2 miles – Halal

Burgers and chicken with an Indian flair, all Zabihah Halal.

Lyfe Kitchen, 413 N Clark St, 3.4 miles – Gluten-free, Vegetarian/vegan

Gluten-free flatbreads and salads, and Daiya cheddar for those who don’t eat dairy.  Its many gluten-free and vegan options are all clearly marked on the menu.

Bebe’s Kosher Deli, 131 North Clinton, 3.5 miles – Kosher

Open weekdays inside the French Market.  Try the hot pastrami sandwich.  Certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

True Food Kitchen, 1 W Erie St, 3.6 miles – Vegan/vegetarian, Gluten-free

Here you’ll find healthy seasonal dishes on a menu with a large selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

MetroKlub, 733 W Madison St, 3.7 miles – Kosher

A deli and grill serving business lunches.  Located inside the Crowne Plaza Chicago West Loop.  Certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

Upton’s Breakroom, 2054 W Grand Ave, 6 miles – Vegetarian/vegan, Gluten-free

Upton’s Naturals manufactures natural foods with a focus on meat alternatives, particularly seitan.  This small vegan restaurant is attached to their factory and, in addition to seitan, features jackfruit and vegan ice cream.

The Chicago Diner, 3411 N Halsted St, 7.3 miles – Vegetarian/vegan, Gluten-free

This is pretty far from McCormick Place, but it’s so worth it!  Chicago Diner is my favorite restaurant in the entire city, and is famous among vegetarians and vegans.  They offer a wide selection of dishes, and features seitan, vegan cheese substitutes, and vegan baked goods and shakes.  They also have a sizable gluten-free menu.  This location is in the heart of Boystown, so stop by while you check out the Pride festivities.

For more information about kosher eating and other Orthodox Jewish matters, visit the Chicago Rabbinical Council website.

To learn more about Halal restaurants in downtown Chicago, visit zabihah.com.

About Kylie Peters

Kylie Peters is the Middle School Librarian at Geneva Public Library in Illinois. She is passionate about building relationships and community, social justice, comics, middle school literature, gaming, technology, and reader’s advisory. She writes about middle school literature at http://www.flashlightchronicles.com.
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