Chicago’s Best…

Natalie in Miami

Taken in Miami. Ha ha... sorry!

I just spent a week in Miami covering the South Beach Wine and Food Festival and would you believe I nearly starved? The lines are long, portions are tiny and surprise, surprise – America’s top chefs are not concerned with being veggie-friendly. I did manage to find a pretty killer grilled cheese joint called MLT that sustained my life for my last two days in Miami with their truffle fries and over-the-top sandwiches, but other than that, I was a bit lost. (Full disclosure: I was so tired one night I ate French fries in the bathtub to save time so I could go to bed as quickly as possible.)

Thanks to my Florida-based friends I did find up one or two places that hit the spot, and I also spent a lot of time telling Miami vegetarians I ran into where they should eat when they come to Chicago. In fact, I have an email saved that I update and send to people whenever they ask me about things to do when visiting my fair city. After a quick poll of my Facebook fans, I decided to run some “Best of Chicago” posts here to hopefully make your visit to Chicago less hungry and crabby than my visit to Miami was. You’ll find them all categorized as Chicago’s Best on the right hand side of the site once I start posting them.

Here’s what I have planned so far – Chicago’s best:

  • Veggie Eats
  • Sweets & Snacks
  • Stuff to Do

What else do you guys want to see? Leave your suggestions in the comments and I’ll randomly choose one of you (with a US address) to win a care package containing my Internet-famous whoopie pies! I’m choosing a winner 3/6 so think fast!



  1. I’m pretty sure I can get you to make whoopie pies anyway, but I have a couple of ideas: best coffee spots (not really snacks, right?), best stores to find something strange/unique/fun.

  2. Pizza, coffee shops, food specialty stores (or unique food stores), pop culture related dining establishments/dishes

  3. Chicago’s best “cooking misc” – like the best places for spices, pots/pans, etc. All the things that help make cooking happen!

  4. Best pizza, best breakfast joint, best place to get ink. Please!

  5. I’ve spent zero time in Chicago, and I’d love to give it another shot at some point. Best museums? I’m kind of a nerd. Bookshops (and I suppose miscellaneous indie shops, as well!)?

  6. Best alleyways, best architecture, best sites of historical interest (the more corrupt/haunted, the better).

  7. I would love to Chicago’s Best Museums. Chicago’s Best Bookstores. Chicago’s Best Comic Book Shops, Chicago’s Best Indie Shops.

  8. Best tattoo shops :) I always like to get a little something when I am somewhere new.

  9. Comic book shops, record stores, and coffee are always great too. My favorite things in Chicago are Pick Me Up Cafe, the Chicago Diner, and Quimby’s! Native Foods also ranks highly on the list.

  10. Best coffee (and just coffee, not fancy ones). Best bookstores and best place to shop with a teenage girl and your favorite place to enjoy in your city!

  11. Any good thrift shops? I love finding unique things, and sometimes “remaking” clothes into something special of my own. AND I love a bargain!

  12. nooo! I am coming to Chicago tomorrow, it’s going to heartbreaking to see all this awesome info published *after* my trip!

  13. Please not best thrift store– I have enough people to fight!! How about locally sourced shops/groceries. As a vegetarian I always visit the grocery when I travel and it’s great to try things that are locally produced. City Provisions comes to mind, but I will keep an eye on your list. Also, I agree with the bookstore/comic shop suggestion. A list of the diy festivals would be cool too.

  14. Seeing where the best place is to get a good cup of jo and the fun places to find unique clothes!

  15. Venues!
    For small shows and stuff, are there neat hole in the wall places where bands play? If I ever visit Chicago that would want to be something I know.

  16. The Chicago Diner on Halsted. Vegetarian food.
    Fritz Pastry- they have vegan doughnuts
    miko’s italian ice on Damen

    Gorilla Tango Theater
    American Science and Surplus. lots of fun just to shop in here.

  17. How about good drinks (coffee or tea house, wine, or spirits)?

  18. best cheesey tourist destinations that are actually worth seeing.

  19. a few ideas:
    best falafel/middle eastern food
    grilled cheese/ salty snacks
    budget friendly
    not budget friendly

  20. Best falafel
    Best tiki bar
    Best film noir venue
    Best indie comedy club

  21. Best things to do/places to go for free
    Best fairtrade/”ethnic” outlets
    Best European (esp. English… :3) food
    Best outdoor pursuits (climbing, walking etc) areas/outlets
    Best place for virgin cocktails? If you have them over there, heh.

    PS I’m not in the US (surprise!) so I can’t be in the running for the prize, so I did this out of… The kindness of my heart :3 x

  22. I’d say split the “Stuff To Do” into Under 21 and Over 21 (or kids and adults, whatever, yknow?). Things I was up to while I grew up near Chicago and things that my cool single mom did were entirely different!

  23. Two places I really like in my neighborhood are Logan Hardware and Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur. Logan Hardware is a very cool record shop with a very cool arcade museum in back, you can play all these old arcade games. Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur offers a lot of veggie/vegan options and they offer burritos literally the size of your head.

  24. Oh and the best craft shops and haberdasheries!

  25. Best places to party hard.

  26. Chicago’s best tattoo spots! Or places to get your arts n crafts on. Or maybe festivals (Taste of Chicago type stuff).

  27. Best ice cream shops, antique shops, smoothie joints, best places to see a view of the city. :) Coming to Chicago in a couple of weeks for the first time, I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

  28. How about the best places for teens to learn to bake!! I have a 14yr old daughter Reanna who loves to bake and has taken cooking classes around town but they are all geared toward real young kids or for adults, and they are mainly for cooking not baking. I would love to help her in her love for baking and get her some real hands on experience. I know she could turn her passion for baking into a great career if she could get a early start now. Soo please if anyone knows of any feel free to e-mail me. Thanks! 😉

  29. Record shops/comic shops/bookstores/theaters. Just some cool hang out spots I guess

  30. Ooh! How about “Best Places To Get In Trouble”!!!

  31. Best Jazz Lounge
    Best Off The Beaten Path
    Best Coffee Shop (definitely!)
    Best Thrift Store (favorite idea)

  32. I’d love to see the best tourist traps–the places the guide books tell you to go that are actually worth visiting.

  33. Best…
    Park bench, comfort food spot, place to people watch, baked item/where to find it, culturally authentic dish. The list could go on.

  34. Best restaurant that no longer exists

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