Birthday lunch at Chicago Diner Logan Square. Yeah, I know how to celebrate.
I know there are some people who hit a certain age and then start dreading their birthdays, but that is not me. I love birthdays and all of their trappings – cards in the mailbox, presents to unwrap, birthday dresses to wear, cake to eat… There is everything to like.
For my birthday last Friday, David and I decided to take a road-trip to Chicago. We were only in the Windy City for what amounted to 24 hours, but we made the most of our time there with some sightseeing, shopping, and of course, squeezing in as many tasty vegan eats as possible.
First stop, The Chicago Diner Logan Square.
The Chicago Diner is a veritable vegetarian institution in Chicago. They opened in 1983, and their Halsted location has been packed every time I’ve visited.
Chicago Diner Logan Square
Last fall they opened a second location in Logan Square, and my birthday was the second time I’ve visited that location.
It has an airy quality and less of a diner feel than the one on Halsted. I am particularly fond of their 3 dimensional variation of Starry Night (see above).
Packed with comfort foods like seitan wingz, nachos, biscuits & gravy, and country-fried (seitan) steak, their menu will take you back to late night diner treks with high school friends, lingering over fries and shakes and talking about play practice and Color Guard.
As if there was any doubt as to what I would order, I perused the menu for a while, and then said the inevitable… “I’ll take the Reuben.”
While my love list of reubens across the country grows ever longer, the Radical Reuben at Chicago Diner continues to be in the top five best reuben sandwiches.
It’s packed to the point of overflowing with corned beef-style seitan, grilled onions and peppers, vegan Thousand Island, two kinds of non-dairy cheese, and propped between two slices of marbled rye.
First I tried to eat this sandwich with my hands, and then I gave up and used a knife and fork, trying to get a little bit of everything into each bite.
It’s a good thing that this weekend also marked David and my ten year dating anniversary, because this is not a first date kind of sandwich. It’s every bit as mouthwateringly delicious as it is messy.
(Don’t have a trip to Chicago in your future? Grab the vegan reuben sandwich recipe.)
I ordered it with a side of kale, which was juicy and popping with the flavors of ginger and garlic.
David ordered the Tinga Street Tacos, one of the summer specials. The soft corn tortillas were stuffed with seitan and served with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
On the side was a cup of guacamole, refried-style black beans, and Mexican rice. I nabbed a bite of everything on David’s plate (you know, for research), and it was all spiced to perfection.
Finally, what is a birthday without cake?
At Chicago Diner on the week around your birthday, you can come in for a free dessert with your meal.
I had no problem picking out one of the new desserts on their list, the gluten-free and vegan Raspberry Mocha Cheezecake. One bite of this cake, and I had to just stop talking for a while, slow down, and savor it.
The dense chocolate and coffee cheesecake was rich and creamy with a layer of raspberry compote topping and a cookie crumb crust. The plate was drizzled with chocolate ganache and pillowy splashes of non-dairy whipped cream. After our heavy meals, my only regret was that even between the two of us we couldn’t polish it off.
Next time, maybe I’ll order steamed broccoli instead of the reuben. (I won’t.)