Choosy feminist foodies know: It’s the Rebellion that makes it taste so good. From ‘Goats’ to gelato, portobella melts to pastries, here are our picks for some of the city’s most inspired eats from women-owned restaurants.
The Chicago Diner
Owners: Marshall “Mickey” Hornick & Chef Jo Kaucher
As a vegetarian for more than 15 years, I have visited countless restaurants in search of the best meat-free meals, only to keep coming back to one of the finest establishments right here in the Windy City, The Chicago Diner. Along with her co-owner Marshall “Mickey” Hornick, Chef Jo Kaucher has revolutionized the vegetarian dining experience with innovation, artistry and incredibly delicious food.
The Radical Reuben (pictured above) alone is worth the trip to one of Chicago Diner’s two locations – on Halsted or in Logan Square – but the item that I truly crave is the Carrot Cake Shake. Made from all natural ingredients, this scrumptious vegan dessert is rich, creamy and cruelty-free. The dried bits of the restaurant’s homemade Carrot Cake mixed throughout the drink are so mouth-watering that I’m already dreaming of my next visit by the time I take my last sip.
People who eat everything don’t feel like they are missing out on meat with filling offerings including the Cuban Sandwich – made with grilled, marinated seitan – or the Portabello Truffle Melt topped with white truffle aioli and Teese Vegan Mozzarella. Gluten-free options are also available for diners who don’t eat wheat.
No matter what your diet may be, you won’t feel restricted in any way at The Chicago Diner. Keep up with specials and events on Facebook and head over to VeggieDiner.com for menus, FAQs and more information.
—By Laurie Fanelli
Black Dog Gelato
Owner: Chef Jessica Oloroso
Kind of eater I am: With respect to food, I will try almost every once. I have enjoyed everything from coagulated pigs’ blood to roasted guinea pig.
Why I love this place: The gelato is the best in the city. Black Dog always has the most unusual and creative flavors. It’s locally owned and everything is freshly made. When they run out of a flavor, they run out (though you sometimes can buy yesterday’s gelato in pints). Black Dog is the perfect place to go on a hot summer night with a slight breeze. Outside the Ukrainian Village location, there are park benches where you can eat your gelato and pet the passing dogs. It’s a proud little neighborhood institution.
A not-to-miss dish: My absolutely favorite gelato is the “Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel.” However, it’s very popular and so it runs out quickly in a night. The “Blueberry French Toast” and the “Strawberry Balsamic” are also delightful. It’s not really the place to go if you want a simple chocolate or vanilla.
Fun fact: Oloroso named the gelato after her black dog Kaya. It might also explain why it’s a popular spot for people with their dogs.
–By Elisa Shoenberger
The ‘Goats’ by Stephanie Izard
Owner: Stephanie Izard
Chef and entrepreneur Stephanie Izard just opened her third Chicago restaurant, Duck Duck Goat, which offers upscale Chinese cuisine. It opened this March with positive reviews from the Chicago Eater and the Chicago Tribune.
Winner of Bravo’s Top Chef (2008), James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Great Lakes (2013), and named one of “Food & Wine Magazine”’s “Best New Chefs” in 2010, this Chicago-based chef balances national clout, globally-influenced cuisine, urban chic and diner cultures, and a hint of the farm.
In 2010, Izard opened the Girl and the Goat with her business partners Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm of BOKA Restaurant Group. The West Loop restaurant features a “family style menu of tasty, bold flavored foods with global influence,” and was named the Best Restaurant of the Year in 2010 by Eater National, The Chicago Tribune, and Time Out Chicago. Just across the street, Izard’s Little Goat Diner includes a diner, coffee shop, bread shop, and bar.
What seems to make this particular chef Rebellious is her ability to richly grow her private and professional life simultaneously. In an interview for Pursuitist, Izard mentions that “as a woman it can be an even bigger challenge to balance family with career,” but she just managed to open a new restaurant while expecting her first child.
–By Jera Brown
Owner: Chef Sophie Evanoff, who says, “No one should be denied great pastry!”
Kind of eater I am: Vegetarian
Why I love this place: Enjoy the atmosphere and menu of a French-inspired patisserie without jet-lag. They also serve afternoon tea at the Lincoln Park location.
Not-to-miss dishes: Traditional French pate de fruit (for vegans) and gluten-free options such as Tiramisu (mascarpone mousse, coffee cream, espresso-soaked chocolate flourless cake) and Violeta (pictured above: macaron shells, lime curd, vanilla mousseline, fresh blackberries).
Fun facts: Vanille engages its customers with holiday challenges from creating your own Stud Muffin for Valentine’s Day to a Mother’s Day photo contest where you can win.
Lincoln Park, 2108 N. Clark Street (afternoon tea is served from Thursday through Sunday); Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton; Lakeview, 3243 N. Broadway.
–By Janet Arvia