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Jun 30, 2009 07:59 AM

Cheap vegetarian eats in northern Chicago?


I'm visiting Chicago for a few days, staying near the Kimball Brown Line stop and later near the Thorndale Red Line stop. Any suggestions for cheap (< $10 for lunch, preferably, maybe a little more for dinner) food north of downtown? I'm vegetarian, but besides that, things I like are: - breakfast; - food I won't be able to get closer to home (I live on the West Coast). I'm suspecting there's not much intersection between vegetarian, cheap, and unique to Chicago -- any suggestions to the contrary?


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  1. >>I'm suspecting there's not much intersection between vegetarian, cheap, and unique to Chicago -- any suggestions to the contrary?<<

    The 2nd largest concentration of Indo-Pak shops and restauarants in North America is in Chicago. (And no, it is not second to ny or la.) Have fun checking out Devon Avenue when you are here.) I'd suggest a place called uru-swati. If you go there, you'll be right in the hood to walk up and down "da bomb" (Devon) as it's called.

    Among the many options for vegetarian fare, The Chicago Diner might also float your boat:

    Ethiopian food here as well. Haven't been to any of the Ethiopian joints in a few years, so I won't recommend any. There are plenty of purely veg options if you'd care to seek them out. I'm sure others will chime in...

    And oh yeah, how about pizza?

    6 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      Thanks! I've been to the Chicago Diner and liked it, but found it a bit overpriced.

      I lived in the Bay Area for 5 years, so WRT Ethiopian food I'm spoiled :-) When I said "I'm suspecting there's not much intersection" it's because people talk about Eastern European food that sounds delicious in principle but probably doesn't have much for me as a vegetarian.

      I don't need a purely veg restaurant, just one that will have a few veg things worth eating.

      Thanks for the recommendation of Devon Ave. -- I had no idea!

      1. re: leonard_neeble

        @gordeaux: I'm guessing the biggest concentration of South Asian places is in New Jersey?

        @leonard: I am a vegetarian who's not usually a fan of veggie hot dogs, but I like the ones at Hot Doug's and he even sells veggie corn dogs. And what's more Chicago than a hot dog?

        On Kedzie near Lawrence (a few blocks east of the Kimball station) you will find a bunch of Middle Easter restaurants. Not unique to Chicago, but lots of tasty vegetarian food at a good price.

        1. re: Miss Mimi

          It's actually Toronto or some other Canadian city.

          1. re: Miss Mimi

            There are enough Middle Eastern restaurants in the cluster along Kedzie from 4500 to 4900 north (Lawrence is 4800 north) that they specialize by ethnic group: Assyrian, Lebanese-Assyrian mix, Lebanese, Palestinian and Persian. Within OP's lunch budget constraint the best bets are probably Salam (4636 north) and Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen (4911 north) both of which have good veg food options but not much ambiance.

            More on Dawali at
            Somewhat older but still pretty accurate for Salam:

            Semiramis (4639-41 north) is quite a bit nicer, which is reflected in the prices, but could deliver a good veg dinner for around $15. Lebanese-Assyrian and BYOB. BYOB would be extremely unwelcome at Salam, where many of the female customers are in Islamic dress.

            The LTH thread on Semiramis is very long, covering posts from 2005 to a few days ago and has a lot of pictures:

            1. re: Eldon Kreider

              Another wonderful option in that neighborhood and ethnic theme is Noon-o-Kebab. Tough to choose between Noon-o-kebab and Semiramis, but do check both menus ahead of time to be sure you're meeting budget concern.

              Noon O Kabab
              4661 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

          2. re: leonard_neeble

            If you are not familiar with Devon, and you do like Indian foods/snacks/sweets, block off an hour or so. You will barely scratch the surface.

        2. If you want old-school hippie vegetarian, try Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park-- it's right off the Morse stop of the Red line. But, you might get enough of that on the West Coast.

          A short walk from either the Addison or Belmont Red line is the Pick Me Up Cafe-- They've got alot of vegan choices and they're especially good for breakfast and late night.

          I wouldn't waste my time with the Chicago Diner-- it's overpriced and unhealthy vegetarian, which defeats the purpose of eating meat free, in my opinion.

          1. "I'm suspecting there's not much intersection between vegetarian, cheap, and unique to Chicago"

            ah, the presumptuous snobby west coast. i'd almost forgotten you these past 9 months. since i returned from SF. good to see some things never change.

            indeed we do have cheap, unique, vegetarian food in chicago. here are some fantastic places for your stay in fly-over country.

            mana - small plate vegetarian spot. actually very SF, in my opinion. wine by the glass and veggie sliders. good stuff.

            handlebar - technically a bike messenger bar. also happens to have amazing veggie food. (and some fish). and seriously, some of the best fries in the city.

            earwax cafe - kind of an SF hipster vibe. not my favorite, but very popular here.

            i'd also second the uru-swati suggestion. good cheap place. for slightly more i've always loved tiffin and hema's kitchen. particularly the malai kofta at tiffin.

            there are a billion brunch places in town with interesting stuff. toast and bongo room are always popular for their stuffed french toast and whatnot. i also enjoy vella cafe quite a bit.

            italian food out the yin yang. same for mexican. and while SF is full of mexican, it tends to be of the mission variety which is a tad different than what chicago (and LA) has. my favorite is arturo's on armitage and western for cheap eats, but there are plenty of others.

            and if you decide to splurge, green zebra and charlie trotter's are two of the best restaurants for veggies you can find on the planet, imho.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bwan

              Handlebar makes us carnivores happy. It's great.