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News

1) In case you’ve been out of the loop, Chicago Soy Dairy is hosting an ice cream social from 2-5 this Sunday, October 9th at Logan Hardware (2410 W Fullerton).  It’s $5 for all you can eat ice cream while supplies last.

2) There’s apparently a new vegan friendly restaurant called Vegetarian Express on Halsted near Clark. The four people who have reviewed it on yelp have good things to say. I can’t wait to check it out! Have any of you been there yet?

That’s all I have for now. This week has flown by!

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News

– In case you’re out of the loop, California’s Native Foods vegan restaurant will be taking over Chicago in the coming months with locations in Wicker Park, The Loop and Lakeview. They’re currently hiring for their Chicago locations, so if you’re interested fill out an application here!

– Attention vegan culinary geniuses: Mercy for Animals and Chicago’s very own Upton’s Naturals will be hosting a Vegan Chef Showdown at the Funky Buddha Lounge (728 W. Grand) on Saturday, July 23 from 3-7pm.  Each chef or team must create a vegan dish using Upton’s seitan for the public to sample. The event is open to the public free of charge, though there is a $1 suggested donation for each sample, which will go to Mercy for Animals. Interested in competing? There’s a $25 entry fee and you must enter before July 7. E-mail  Nicole@UptonsNaturals.com to sign up! For more info check out the Facebook invite.

– Charlotte Cressey, Director of Community Outreach for Orange County People for Animals, will be presenting “How to Return to Wholeness” at Chicago’s MFA Advocacy Center (639 W Diversey Pkwy) on Saturday, July 9 at 2pm. For more information on this event and to RSVP, please email Kenny Torrella, MFA’s Chicago Campaign Coordinator, at KennyT@mercyforanimals.org

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Last Thursday, El Nuevo Mexicano (2914 N Clark Street, 773-528-2131) premiered their new vegan menu with a benefit for Mercy for Animals. Nick and I were so excited we made a reservation a week in advance in order to make sure we’d get to try it out.

El Nuevo Mexicano, is a small restaurant which has been serving Mexican food in Lakeview since 1983. I had never been there until last week, because my family typically went to the Little Village to get Mexican food when I was growing up, so I wasn’t sure what to expect (other than that their vegan menu would include Daiya cheese and Upton’s Naturals seitan). Since we knew we would be reviewing the place and part of the proceeds were going to charity we decided to go all out and get an appetizer, 2 entrees and a dessert.

Appetizer:

Botana Combinada

We chose the Botana Combinada, which consists of two flautas filled with Upton’s chorizo, carrots and potatoes served with guacamole. It was delicious! I liked it so much I wasn’t entirely sure I’d made the right call not ordering the Flautas de Verduras con Papa y Chorizo Vegano as my entree (next time!). The flautas were flavorful and they weren’t bathed in grease, which can often be the case. The guacamole was fresh and we had an abundance of tortilla chips and salsa to finish off what we didn’t eat with the flautas.

Entrees:

Enchiladas de Vegetales en Salsa Bandera

I ordered the Enchiladas de Verduras en Salsa Bandera, which consisted of three corn tortillas stuffed with grilled peppers, mango, plantains, pico de gallo and Daiya cheese covered in chipotle and tomatillo salsas, served with rice and a salad made of fresh greens, jicama, strawberries and mango drizzled with a vinaigrette. I was not disappointed with my choice. I am not someone who shies away from mixing sweet and savory foods or sweet and spicy foods, if you are then this may not be the best entree for you to order. However, neither flavor overpowered the other, which is often what turns people off to such combinations and together the fruits, vegetables and salsa made a unique, healthy, delicious meal, which I look forward to eating again soon.

Fajitas Vegano Pt 1


Fajitas Vegano Pt 2

Nick, ordered the Fajitas Vegano, which consisted of sauteed onions, peppers and seasoned soy strips, served with quinoa, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and warm corn tortillas. His entree was almost enough food for two people. He asked for the quinoa, which was seasoned like Spanish rice (yum!) instead of rice. After trying my entree and our appetizer he was a bit disappointed with the fajitas, because though they were good, he wasn’t blown away by them. He was scared away from some of the other entrees, because unlike me, he’s not really into fruit, so the idea of eating entrees which mixed fruit andspicy/savory things was a bit daunting, so he went with the safe choice. What he got was something we could have easily made at home, though, I had never thought of preparing quinoa like Spanish rice.

Dessert:

Chimichangas de Camote en Chipotle Durazno Salsa

We decided to split a dessert, because, Nick’s, entree was so large he wasn’t able to finish it all. At the time the only vegan dessert available was the Chimichangas de Camote en Chipotle Durazno Salsa, so we went with that. The chimichangas were flour tortillas filled with mashed sweet potatoes, served with a scoop of vegan ice cream and drizzled with warm peaches, chipotle powder and raisins. The chipotle powder gave the dessert a little kick and the neutral flavors of vanilla ice cream and sweet potatoes went nicely with the spiciness of the chipotle and the sweetness of the peaches.

Overall it was a very pleasant dining experience. The wait staff were friendly and attentive, never letting our water glasses go dry. The restaurant was cozy and not too loud, and the food was delicious. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more of the vegan menu. Though, we made a reservation, they are not required as the restaurant is pretty casual. Entrees range from $12-$15, which means it won’t be a weekly joint for us, but it also means it’ll be the kind of place we visit more than twice a year.

According to their Facebook page, El Nuevo Mexicano, will be adding/changing items offered on the vegan menu periodically, so check back often to see what new delicious treats are being offered! For those who are interested, they also offer drink specials 5 nights a week and can be booked for parties. Just remember to ask for the Vegan Menu.

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The Mixing Bowl Bakery, will be selling vegan chocolate peanut butter whoopie pies, strawberry shortcake cupcakes, and mint chocolate chip cupcakes at Bon Bon: Vietnamese Sandwiches (2333 W North Ave., 773-278-5800), this Saturday, May 14th! Part of the profits will be donated to Mercy for Animals. Stop by to indulge your sweet tooth while supporting a new vegan venture and helping a good cause. If all goes well, we may be seeing more of The Mixing Bowl Bakery’s delicious treats around here!

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Earwax Cafe

So far 2011 has not been a good year for vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Chicago what with Life on Mars and Veggie Bite closing. The latest casualty of the recession appears to be Earwax Cafe (1561 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 773-772-4019). According to the Wicker Park Bucktown Indsider’s Guide, Earwax will be closing it’s doors for good after 20 plus years of business on Feb 28, 2011.
Earwax Cafe seems to polarize people almost as much as Soul Veg does, I’ve always been a fan of both establishments, though, and am sad that I’ll be eating my last meal at Earwax this week.
If you’re also a fan, make sure you stop in and show the staff and owners your support this week.

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This week Veggie Bite (1300 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL) closed it’s doors.  I spoke to Sylvia, one of the owners, and it sounds like Veggie Bite will still be around in some shape or form (like at your local grocer perhaps?) and they may even return to the restaurant business at some point in the future.

I’m sad to see them go. I will miss the chix-free nuggets and their shakes. Here’s to hoping they make a comeback soon! In the meantime, they’ll be keeping their facebook page up, so check there often for updates.

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Move over Whole Foods, Ian’s Pizza in Wrigleyville is getting in on the vegan pizza by the slice game:

Chicago, IL – December 6, 2010 – Ian’s Pizza Wrigleyville has announced a vegan pizza by the slice line-up to its pre-made offerings every Thursday night starting January 6th, 2010, from 5:00pm-10:00pm.

“We recently participated in World Vegan Week along with three other Chicago restaurants,” said Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau, Ian’s Pizza Wrigleyville General Manager. “We had such a positive response — from customers and from staff — that we wanted to keep a focus on vegan pizza in an ongoing way. It seemed the best way to do that would be to offer a variety of vegan slices in the window at a certain day and time.”

So for the next two months, starting Thursday, January 6th from 5pm-10pm, Ian’s Wrigleyville will be offering at least one of its four main vegan pizzas by the slice in the window, ready to eat in two minutes or less.

“We can’t guarantee which pie (or pies) will be in the window,” said Michael Wood, Assistant Manager. “It will be one of four choices — the vegan Florentine, the three-veggie, the chicken seitan taco, or the pepperoni/sausage seitan. But it will be at least one, and possibly more.”

For the past year and a half, Ian’s Pizza Wrigleyville has had vegan ingredients on-hand to make whole pies, but this is the first time (except for the recent World Vegan Week) when they’ll make sure to have vegan pizza ready to heat in the window. Ian’s uses Chicago Soydairy’s Teese Vegan Cheese, Upton’s Naturals Chicken and Sausage Seitan, and Yues’ Soy Pepperoni.

Ian’s Pizza By the Slice opened its first restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin in 2001. Known for its unusual toppings, high-quality ingredients, and late-night crowds, there are now four locations. The third location, Ian’s Pizza Wrigleyville, opened at 3463 N. Clark Street in July 2008.

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