I’ve written about my love for Upton’s Naturals bacon seitan before, and I’ve enjoyed their other seitan stylings, which are terrific on pizzas, sandwiches, and in tacos. So when I heard that Upton’s was opening a small vegan café called Upton’s Breakroom adjacent to their new seitan-making facility in Chicago, I was eager to visit. I sent a message to them on Facebook a few days before my birthday trip to the area and was informed that my timing couldn’t have been better. They opened that very week, just a couple of days before my husband and I were heading to the Windy City.
Once we got to Upton’s Breakroom, we were a bit confused if we were in the right location, because the place was so new there were no signs on the building or door. However, through the window I saw a stack of pamphlets on the topic of vegetarianism and knew we were in the right place. On one side of the building there are floor to ceiling windows, and we could see their moustache-emblazoned icon proudly decorating the wall like their own version of T.J. Eckleburg.
The vibe of the eatery is clean and very casual with just 3 or 4 tables for dining in. Their small menu features their signature seitan in various flavors, in addition to one tempeh sandwich. Customers order at the counter, and then foil-wrapped sandwiches are brought to the table.
We placed our orders and then squeezed into the last open table while we waited for our sandwiches. In no time at all, they were brought to the table, hot and freshly prepared. Because my sauerkraut cravings cannot be dampened, I ordered their Pastrami Sandwich. It’s made with their housemade pastrami seitan, which is not available in stores (just by wholesale), spicy mustard and sauerkraut, and served on marble rye. The peppery and salty seitan sandwich was tangy and filling.
If there’s anyone who loves Upton’s bacon seitan more than I do, it’s my husband, David. He ordered the BLT and added avocado for two dollars more. The smoky BLT is made with the usual lettuce and tomato and is typically served with housemade mayo as well. However, since David is not a mayonnaise fan, he ordered it without. I liked David’s sandwich even more than my own and found myself wishing I’d added avocado to my pastrami sandwich as well, because as we all know, avocado makes everything better.
The next time I visit Upton’s Breakroom, I’d like to try their fried bacon mac, which is their housemade macaroni and cheese fried on the grill with bacon seitan. The person who was seated next to me was eating a small bowl of it, and it looked very inviting.
If you should find yourself in Chicago looking for a quick, tasty, and inexpensive lunch option, Upton’s Breakroom is worth checking out!