At the end of July, we went to Chicago for a couple of days for my birthday. For the longest time I have wanted to check out Pig Minds Brewing, an all-vegan brewery in Machesney Park, Illinois. So we made a little detour on our way to the Windy City.
Pig Minds is tucked away like a delicious secret, off of a main street in an industrial park. The inside looks like a lot of microbreweries with metal finishes and wood tables, but they’ve made the space uniquely theirs with artwork featuring pigs, including signs on the bathrooms with Porky and Petunia.
Since we arrived around 2 pm on a very hot day, I wasn’t feeling like guzzling a huge portion of beer. Luckily, they offer 5-ounce pours, which I kind of love. It gives an opportunity to sample without committing.
I got Satchel, a seasonal grapefruit ale, which gave a strong whiff of grapefruit as I breathed into the drink. Once taking a sip, it was mild, though, and didn’t overpower. David got HappiDaze, a blueberry California ale, which he really enjoyed and actually included a few fresh blueberries inside.
We started with an appetizer of tempura cauliflower. It was huge! We definitely needed at least two other people with us to finish it. Instead of being a thick batter, it was very light and kind of crackled as I bit into it. It was topped with a spicy chili sauce that gave a warming bite of heat. I’d definitely order this one again.
The main reason I’d wanted to visit Pig Minds was that I’d heard raves about their reuben in the comments of this post. The reuben is made with beer braised Soy Curls and sounds phenomenal. Sadly, when I placed my order the server said they were out of it. Such a bummer! I hadn’t paid much attention to the rest of the menu, because I’d been so certain on my order.
So while David placed his order, I quickly glanced at the menu and landed on Korean BBQ tacos. The tacos are also made with Soy Curls, which were marinated in a smoky marinade and topped with Napa cabbage and lime sour cream.
I realized while eating them that I’m really particular about Soy Curls. Unless I’m eating them in a soup or chili, I prefer for them to have a crusty chewiness about them. (The Vegan Diner smoky Soy Curls are my favorite at-home preparation.) These were squishy and wet with more smokiness than I’d prefer. I know the tacos are beloved amongst restaurant-goers, and so I’m probably in the minority here, but they weren’t my favorite.
David had the chikin’ sandwich, which is made with Gardein chick’n and then beer battered and panko crusted in house. It’s topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion and comes with a choice of sides. He ordered the sweet potato fries, which must have been from the largest sweet potato ever. They were enormous. I nabbed a couple of bites of the sandwich, and it was exceptional. We make Gardein at home, and so it seemed like it would be a known commodity. However, what they did with the breading really took it up a notch. He raved about this sandwich all weekend.
I look forward to visiting Pig Minds again in the future and sampling more of their menu. There was no room for dessert, but I’ve heard they are terrific. (You can read about the special brownie from Laura at One Girl, Two Cities.) The space is really cool, and I love the vibe of the place. If they had a location where I live, it would be such a fun place to go with friends and kick back on a Friday or Saturday.