Native Foods Cafe | Wicker Park/Bucktown | Vegetarian/Healthy | Restaurant
First Chicago location of the California-based chain of vegan restaurants.

Our Review

During a visit to the Native Foods in Wicker Park, a couple strolled by as I sat on the patio chomping down on a Chicago Dip Au Jus sandwich with peppered seitan. After peeking in the window and glancing at the menu, the guy finally remarked, “I don’t get that place.” Listen, dude, I understand. Though I’m vegetarian, vegan food seems like risky business in an age when bone marrow and pork cheeks rule. But supported by an accommodating, efficient staff, this Wicker Park spot has been bustling each of the three times I’ve dropped in, suggesting that Native Foods’ first foray east of the Rockies may well end up a successful one. Meat substitutes like tempeh, tofu, and seitan are worked into a menu that’s heavy on the sandwiches and wraps, but also features a variety of hearty bowls, like the impressive sesame-kale macro bowl and the soul bowl with southern-fried “Native chicken.” While many of the starters (chili-cheese fries, chicken wings, nachos, etc) are probably better at Chicago Diner, the Saigon roll and sweet potato taquitos are welcome distractions. Organic teas, a host of desserts, and a decent, semicheap beer selection are available as well. Other locations are at 1023 W. Belmont (773-5494904) and 218 S. Clark (312-332-6332).

Kevin Warwick

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