Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Chicago Diner

Location: 3411 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60657
The Chicago Diner on UrbanspoonChicago Diner on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
Having lived in Chicago for several years, I have had several recommendations to try this purely vegetarian restaurant.  Somehow, I kept pushing away The Chicago Diner and was only recently able to try this restaurant.  Upon walking in, you feel like you arrived in a TV show diner.  Metallic accents and that "kitchen feel" was what I first noticed.  After checking out the menu, I was surprised to see essentially every meat dish imaginable... turned vegetarian.  From traditional sandwiches like a philly cheesesteak to buffalo chicken wings, there is a reason why this restaurant has won best vegetarian restaurant several times.  The food is definitely tasty, but for true meat lovers, you can still tell that something is a little strange.  Personally, I thought the food was over seasoned... maybe they are trying to make up for the fact that they are using weirdly textured fake meat?  Regardless, the creativity was out of this world and the flavors were still all tasty.  If you are a vegetarian, this place should be added to your "must try list;" if not, definitely give it a try once.  My impression of the restaurant was good enough for a 4 mile rating--nothing higher because it just couldn't compare to the true meat dishes that I do crave.

What We Ate:

Dagwood Classic

One of my all time favorite sandwiches is corned beef deli specials.  These are usually piled high with meat.  At Chicago Diner, it is a little different... first of all, it is completely vegetarian, just like the rest of their menu.  The sandwich is made from marbled rye bread stuffed with corned "beef", sliced "turkey", and "bacon."  They add melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a thousand island dressing to complete the Dagwood.  When I first tried the sandwich, I was pleasantly surprised with the flavors; it actually tasted like a corned beef sandwich.  However, the consistency was way off... it was a little to mushy for my liking.  I choose sweet potato fries for my side, which were great.  Freshly fried and seasoned with a little salt.  Definitely something to try, but I probably won't order it again.

Philly Cheesesteak

My roommate chose the Philly cheesesteak sandwich... the first one for him, since he actually is vegetarian.  A hoagie roll is filled with sliced seitan (fake beef), grilled peppers and onions, and melted cheese.  For his side, he choose mashed potatoes with a vegetarian gravy.  I thought this sandwich was the best.  It actually reminded me of a cheesesteak because the thin meat consistency was very similar to the real deal.  And the melted cheese was the "icing on the cake."  I do wish it was much spicier, but maybe we should have spent the extra 50 cents for the giardiniera.  The mashed potatoes were had a salty gravy and the seemed closer to powdered potatoes than hand crushed.

The Titanic BLT Burger

The next best sandwich was chosen by my other friend.  The titanic BLT burger wasn't as large as I imagined, but it was still a great veggie burger patty.  It was topped with fake bacon, fried onion strings,  lettuce, tomato, and a chipotle sauce.  She chose mac and cheese for her side, which came out a little flavorless and sort of like a plastic consistency.  The veggie burger was good... but not the greatest I have had.  My suggestion is to turn this burger into Western Style--rather than chipotle sauce, serve it with a BBQ sauce since fried onions and bacon compliment BBQ sauce quite well.

Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich

My other friend decided on the spicy chicken sandwich.  Sounds safe right?  Well, she was wrong... this sandwich is made with a panko-cayenne breaded fake chicken patty.  It was served with ranch, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Unfortunately, this sucker was SPICY.  And spicy is an understatement.  It was easily the hottest chicken sandwich I have ever tried and the cayenne is not a pleasant spice for flavor.  In fact, it reminded me of a fried piece of bread just caked in cayenne.  I wish they changed up the pepper spice, or had more substance besides the breading.  She choose waffle fries which were standard but still tasty.  I wouldn't recommend this sandwich.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
DO:
- They do serve alcohol, so if you want to continue your Wrigleyville journey, this is a place to consider for food.

DON'T:
- This place is always packed... don't expect since its a purely vegetarian restaurant that it is easy to get a table.  Waiting is usually the norm.

How far would I walk for this food?



The Chicago Diner: Logan Square on Urbanspoon

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