Brunch is big here in Chicago. It’s the place where friends come to conversate, commiserate, and cope with mutual hangovers. If you’re vegan, you won’t be sipping on a bacon-topped Bloody Mary anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dig brunch. Here are a few brunch tips for vegans and vegetarians.
Make Your Presence Known
It doesn’t hurt to call the restaurant ahead of time if you’re a vegan heading out to brunch. If they know ahead of time, the kitchen might brainstorm special menu items for you. If you don’t call ahead, make sure you tell your server that you’re vegan. This way, they can let you know if any complimentary bread or appetizers are vegan-friendly.
A lot of restaurants will go out of their way to make things work for you if you’re the lone vegan in a busy brunch restaurant. They key is to make your presence known, and to ask a ton of questions. Are the hash browns cooked with butter? Do you have any coconut oil (it’s a yummy, cruelty-free substitute)? Are the English muffins made with eggs?
Use Your Imagination
Don’t forget that you can add or subtract things from most entrees, especially if the dishes are made to order. You can craft your own vegan brunch. Is there a breakfast scramble you’re dying to eat? Ask for it sans eggs and meat, and get the kitchen to add in grilled vegetables and fresh avocado. For dessert, order granola with soy milk or a bowl of fresh fruit topped with granola.
Pick the Spot
Yes, there are even brunch spots that have crafted menu items specifically for us vegans. Pick Me Up Cafe has a ton of vegan breakfast items that substitute tofu for eggs. At Handlebar, Chicago vegans can brunch on biscuits and seitan sausage gravy. Your meat-eating pals will even fall in love with some of the vegan-friendly options. Now, someone get me another mimosa.
(Pictured above: The Handlebar’s Migas, with blackened tofu, bell peppers, black beans and salsa verde, from Facebook)