Let’s face it. Our sweet home Chicago is not known for health food. We are much more famous for our hot dogs and gluttonous deep dish pizza. I recently visited Phoenix, Arizona and was thrilled by all the healthy, organic eateries there were to choose from. Let’s hope one day Chicago will be known as the healthy restaurant capital of the Midwest, but, in the meantime, here are 30 great options for you to try.
This bucket list of “good for you” restaurants in the Chicago area features restaurants with options for the most common dietary restrictions gluten-free and dairy-free. Here’s to many more healthy places coming to Chicago in the near future.
1. The Amazing Kale Burger (741 Howard St, Evanston, IL 60202)
The menu here is centered around, you guessed it, The Amazing Kale Burger, and that’s okay, because it is amazing. You can find the kale burger at farmer’s markets and small grocers, but I recommend visiting this great lunch counter in Evanston. Order a souped-up kale burger with a delicious organic, local side. Talk up the owner, he is super friendly and knowledgeable.
2. Amitabul (6207 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646)
This Asian vegan restaurant is on every healthy Chicago food list out there. The menu features “healing noodle soups.” You don’t get much healthier than that. Located on the far Northwest side of the city in Norwood Park.
3. Be Leaf (29 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606)
Most of the food at this salad restaurant in the loop is vegan and gluten-free. They also serve hormone-free meat and wrap. They have six homemade gluten-free, vegan salad dressings. Six! Plus you an feel good about what you are eating, because the company has a commitment to locally sourced food and sustainable practices.
4. Blind Faith Cafe (525 Dempster St, Evanston, IL 60201)
A long standing vegetarian cafe in Evanston with tons of vegan and gluten-free options. You'll love the pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff. Blind Faith has a green restaurant certification for sustainable sourcing, composting, recycling, and conserving energy, among other things.
5. Cassava (3338 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657)
Cassava is a dedicated gluten-free facility, which makes it a great option for people with celiac disease. The menu consists of gluten-free empanadas, cassava rolls, grass-fed beef chili, and smoothies. Get this, the cheese is also grass-fed and they only use coconut oil. Can't get to Lakeview? You can buy frozen empanadas at all Mariano's and many Whole Foods locations.
6. Chicago Raw (51 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654)
Everything on this menu looks doggone amazing. Raw food is basically guaranteed to be healthy. Everything is 100% plant-based and uncooked. Go online and scroll through the menu. You will not believe so many delicious things can be made raw.
7. The Chicago Diner (3411 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657 and 2333 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647)
Serving vegetarian food in Lakeview since 1983, the diner recently opened a second location in Logan Square. The Chicago Diner is synonymous with vegetarian food in Chicago. They also have a separate gluten-free menu.
8. Cookie Bar Gluten-Free Bakery (1746 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640)
This Ravenswood bakery is as healthy as it can get with gluten-free and dairy-free options. Perfect for special occasions. Pick up a small treat or an entire cake. Birthday celebration here I come.
9. Defloured: A Gluten-Free Bakery (1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640)
Similar to above, located in Andersonville. You can also buy their tasty flourless treats at many Whole Foods locations and other outlets. Can I have two birthday celebrations?
10. Earth’s Healing Cafe (1942 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613)
Featuring organic superfood smoothies. The owners see their smoothies as medicinal and use no sweeteners, so it’s very good for those of us that try to eat sugar-free, as well.
11. Farmhouse Chicago (228 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60654)
Farmhouse Evanston (703 Church St, Evanston, IL 60201)
Both Farmhouse locations are perfect for a farm-to-table date night. Good ambiance and creative made-from-scratch recipes. Also, good for craft beer lovers.
12. Goddess and Grocer (6 Chicagoland locations)
This healthy restaurant and catering business offers more soup options than you can shake a stick at. They have a soup calendar online with new soups daily. Also features sandwiches, salads, and desserts.
13. Green Zebra (1460 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642)
An upscale vegetarian restaurant serving seasonal small plates. The focus is on locally produced, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. A good choice for a special occasion.
14. Handlebar (2311 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647)
A restaurant described as serving vegan and vegetarian comfort food? I'm there. No designated gluten-free menu, but has gluten-free options. Surprisingly affordable for local, organic, food in Wicker Park.
15. Heartland Cafe (7000 N Glenwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60626)
On a quiet street in Rogers Park you will find this cozy eatery. Great outdoor patio. The menu focuses on local, organic, and sustainable foods. Many gluten-free and vegetarian options.
16. I Dream of Falafel (3 Chicagoland locations)
The falafel is a favorite among healthy eaters. The falafel here is made in house with organic chick peas. The menu is clearly marked with vegan, gluten-free, and organic options.
17. Karyn’s Raw Bistro & Karyn’s Cooked (1901 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614)
Do yourself a favor and head on over to Karyn’s website and look at Karyn’s picture. She is 68 years old, but looks much younger. It’s one of the best testaments to healthy eating I have seen. She has both a raw and cooked vegan restaurant.
18. Little Goat Diner (820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607)
Just because you are eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago. Little Goat has a separate gluten-free menu.
19. Loving Heart (838 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613)
In the heart of Uptown is a sweet vegan cafe. Friendly service and lots of menu options for those with vegan and gluten-free restrictions.
20. Lula Cafe (2537 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 6064)
A popular farm-to-table option in Logan Square. Upscale, but fair prices for local, organic fare. They list their local providers right on the website, so you know where your food comes from.
21. Lyfe Kitchen (5 Chicagoland locations)
This is a national chain of healthy fast-ish food. They offer complete gluten-free and vegan menus, which have just as many choices as the regular menu. It makes it easy and affordable to eat healthy on the go.
22. Native Foods Cafe (4 Chicagoland locations)
Another national chain, which features made from scratch vegan food. Gluten-free foods are listed on the menu. They also offer cooking demos, so you can learn to cook delicious vegan dishes at home.
23. Peach and Green (33 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603)
With a tagline like “...for the love of good food...,” you can’t go wrong. They serve all-natural and locally sourced food. Gluten-free bread is available for sandwiches and they also have an array of raw juices and smoothies.
24. Protein Bar (13 Chicagoland locations)
This now National chain started in Chicago with the goal of offering a healthy fast food alternative. The menu features protein filled salads, wraps, and bowls. Also, offers out of this world juices and smoothies.
25. Range (1119 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614)
Reasonable prices for farm-to-table fare. Gluten-free is noted on the menu and there are many options. Also, quite a few gluten-free options for brunch. Range is also committed to giving back to the community.
26. Snap Kitchen (9 Chicagoland locations)
Portion controlled healthy take away food. Every single ingredient is listed on the container and they have options for all dietary restrictions. They also carry pantry items. You'll never had to cook again.
27. Tava Indian Restaurant (7172 Dempster St, Morton Grove, IL 60053)
It is worth a trip out to the suburbs for this Indian restaurant. You'll be surprised such a nice atmosphere can be found in a strip mall. The menu specifies gluten-free and vegan and they mostly use olive oil in the dishes. With gluten-free bread options, you don’t feel like you have to miss out.
28. Thrive360 Eatery (37 S La Salle St, Chicago, IL 60603)
Protein Bar’s newest concept. Menu is similar with more customizable options. As always, gluten-free and vegan are noted on the menu.
29. Uncommon Ground (3800 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613 and 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60660)
The Wrigleyville location partnered with the organic brewery next door and the Edgewater location has a rooftop organic garden, which brings a new meaning to farm-to-table. With 20 years in business it is one of the original organic Chicago restaurants.
30. Wheat’s End Artisan Foods (2873 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657)
A menu that is 100% gluten-free and celiac safe? That is music to my ears. Only open for lunch and brunch, but when was the last time you had a gluten-free panini or vegan doughnut?
What's your favorite healthy restaurant in Chicago?
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” - Virginia Woolf