This weekend David and I took a day trip with our friends, Ashley & Adam. The ultimate destination – Pig Minds Brewing Company in Machesney Park, Illinois. While there are lots of vegan-friendly bars in places like Southern California, Pig Minds is unique in that it’s a brewery with a 100% fully vegan menu.
David and I had visited a couple of months ago, and we were eager to go back with Ashley and Adam since they are big brew pub fans. Adam even brews his own. When we arrived, it was only around 4 pm. So we planned to linger for a while and have some appetizers before ordering dinner.
Since we were with a group this time, we could sample many more appetizers than when David and I were there on our own. There are only so many snacks two people can eat! This time, as you’ll see, that wasn’t an issue.
We started with wingz (shown above), which come in a choice of flavors – mild, hot, sweet chile, or house BBQ. I chose hot. They came with a ranch dressing that had a wonderful tangy zip. The wingz were easily one of the group favorites.
Another favorite of the night – krab cakes made with hearts of palm and topped with sriracha aioli and avocado. They were deep-fried and had a terrific flavor that wasn’t too fishy. Most of the appetizers were well-portioned for a group, but these came with just two to split. It would be nice if they made several smaller cakes instead, so that they could easily be divvied up.
When I saw another table’s order of nachos, I had to add them to our line-up as well. The heaping nachos were topped with chili, cashew queso, olives, jalapenos, onions, and more. The endless nachos just kept going.
I’d been looking forward to trying the poutine. However, there were loads of sliced mushrooms that made it hard to easily scoop them up with fries. It was a bit more like seasoned sautéed mushrooms in a sauce over fries than a mushroom gravy. A smooth, blended gravy would be easier for snacking.
By this point, Ashley and I were well past full. We had no room for dinner or the brownies I’d heard so much about. However, David pushed on, eager to have the beer-battered chikin’ sandwich he’d been thinking about since his last visit.
Adam ordered one of the specials of the night, Phish tacos made with Gardein fishless filets, shredded cabbage, and roasted jalapeno-lime aioli.
And how about the beer? The selections were enjoyed all around, and even managed to impress the beer aficionados. I am not a big beer drinker, but the raspberry beer with a fruity edge was perfect for my palate.
All night long, Pig Minds was bustling. There was a teenaged couple enjoying a Homecoming date, families with babies and young children, older couples, along with your more typical bar crowd. It was great to see a vegan business booming with a wide array of people. In fact, I read that 90% of their customers aren’t vegan.
I would love to see more places like Pig Minds pop up as it’s great for vegan advocacy to show that “vegan food” can be playful, unintimidating, and fun.
To see more vegan options in Illinois, check out my Illinois travel page.