Chicago: On Being a Veg-Head in a Town Full of Beef

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Judging from my casual perusal of various restaurant menus during my most recent work trip to the Windy City, Chicago foodies remain dedicated to meat. At most of the places I visited, there’d be a nod to the vegetarian set, typically with some sort of farro offering, with beef and other meats taking up the bulk of an entree list. This is what makes the Brawny Sherpa so gleeful about going to Chicago: He can head to Gibsons while I’m sitting in beige conference rooms.

Secure reservations before heading to the Green Zebra in Chicago. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Secure reservations before heading to the Green Zebra in Chicago. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

We escaped one evening to West Town, though, and were delighted to get reservations at the Green Zebra, a mostly vegetarian, somewhat vegan restaurant. Celebrating a major life event (a milestone birthday of mine), we indulged in the tasting menu with beverage pairings. My favorite that evening was the braised red thumb potatoes with garam masala paired with Dynamo Copper Lager. Running a close second was the sweet pea and garlic ravioli. I especially liked our server’s descriptions of the spirits accompanying each plate. I’ll confess to just not being a big fan of ramps, and was grateful that my helping, as with all of the offerings at Green Zebra, was a small plate. A no-thank-you helping was just enough for me. Good for my soul, and good to be done with it. I am grateful, though, to have been introduced to Prosecco, which was coupled with those grilled spring ramps.

The Bashful Adventurer enjoying the tasting menu at Chicago's Green Zebra.  Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The Bashful Adventurer enjoying the tasting menu at Chicago’s Green Zebra.
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

I would definitely go again. The Brawny Sherpa, of course, is still of the view that if he’s spending $200, a steak should be involved, but for me, the Green Zebra was a delightful birthday treat.

—Lori Tripoli

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