The United States Healthful Food Council is excited to announce REAL25 Chicago – our list of the 25 most healthful and sustainable restaurants in Chicagoland! It’s no mystery that the Windy City is home to some of the best restaurants in the nation, and it is our goal to help you find those restaurants that have your wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the planet, in mind.
Without further ado, here are the newest members of the REAL25 community, in no particular order:
445 North Clark Street
This restaurant combo, from Chicago’s famous Chef Rick Bayless, offers two-for-one dining options under one (living garden) roof. These paleo-friendly Mexican restaurants have been recognized for their local, seasonal fare and both have been recognized as 3-Star Green Certified Restaurants, in addition to recognition by the James Beard Foundation, Michelin Guide and Zagat between 2007 and 2013.
Frontera Grill is closed on Sundays and Mondays; Topolobampo is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Chef/owner Shawn McClain offers up farm-to-table, fine dining at this West Chicago vegetarian restaurant. As one REAL25 Advisory Board member put it, Green Zebra is the “long time standard bearer of Chicago vegetarian.” With a focus on locally grown produce with seasonal flair, Green Zebra easily caters to diners with and without dietary restrictions.
837 W Fulton Market
An homage to beer, pork and oysters, The Publican’s eclectic menu is inspired by simple farmhouse fare in a space evocative of a European beer hall. Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Cosmo Goss have developed a network of purveyors to supply the restaurant with hand-selected and sustainably-raised fish, seafood and pork.
120 S Riverside
151 N Michigan Ave
33 S Wabash Avenue
235 S Franklin Street
352 N Clark Street
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 2nd Floor
251 E Huron Street
10 W Lake Street
221 W Washington Street
10 S Clinton Street,
This vegan-friendly national health-food chain is remarkable for the elimination of refined sugars, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup from the full menu. With grab-and-go salads, wraps and soup options, as well as a variety of smoothies to choose from, this vegan-friendly, gluten-free friendly restaurant is becoming a household name in the fast-casual industry.
For diners looking to monitor intake more closely, all nutritional information is listed on the menu.
2537 North Kedzie Blvd
For the past 17 years, Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds have been serving farm-to-table fine dining food to hungry Chicago diners. Lula Cafe’s a seasonally rotating menu is offered in a variety of different formats, ranging from the Sunday night Farm Dinner, to the Monday night 3-course prix fixe to the famous six-course vegetarian tasting menu.
“Jason embodies everything you’re trying to do with this list.”
– Our local insider
619 West Randolph
Critically acclaimed Blackbird is home base for Executive Chef Paul Kahan, winner of the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 2013 and Best Chef of the Midwest in 2004. Chef de Cuisine Ryan Pfeiffer joined Kahan in the kitchen in 2014, and together they craft elegant and imaginative Midwestern cuisine, showcasing farm-fresh ingredients to create a menu both classic and utterly approachable. Owner and restaurateur Donnie Madia and Architect Thomas Schlesser crafted a unique and timeless atmosphere in 1997, earning the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design and Best Restaurant Design Graphics in 2002.
519 N Clark St.
671 N. St. Clair
Lettuce Entertain You’s quick and casual concept, Beatrix is both grab-and-go market and juice and coffee bar. Serving up health-centric and inspired meals, from the Lettuce test-kitchen, Susan Weaver, Rita Dever and John Chiakulas are doing their part to make good choices easy choices for Chicago diners.
In need of an early morning pick-me-up or a late night snack? Beatrix is open from 6am until midnight every day of the week.
1538 N. Clybourn Ave.
831 N. State St.
413 North Clark Street
259 E. Erie Street
LYFE Kitchen’s mission is simple: “Feed. Your. Self.” Their aim is to encourage vitality through mindful eating in a fast-casual setting, by serving organic, vegan-friendly, fare. All nutritional information is posted on the menu so you won’t be surprised with hidden sugars, salts or additives.
LYFE Kitchen offers a separate vegan menu to make browsing easier!
1401 West Devon Avenue
3800 North Clark Street
Uncommon Ground applies the casual, coffee shop vibe to the slow food movement. Their food is local and organic and, most notably, their on-site gardens, which provide much of their food, host beehives to boot. The Edgewater location, established in 2007, is home to the first Certified Organic Rooftop Farm in the United States; the Lakeview location, established in 1991, is home to Greenstar Brewing organic brewery. The outdoor patio makes for easy dining in the warmer months and they offer party menus for anyone looking to host an event. Local art and live music provide the finishing touches to the tight-knit community feel.
Uncommon Ground was voted “Greenest Restaurant in the World” by the Green Restaurant Association in 2013.
6207 N Milwaukee Ave
This vegan Korean kitchen offers both dine-in and takeout options made with high-quality, fresh ingredients. Chef Bill Choi puts his grandmother’s traditional Korean fermentation techniques to work, blending Korean and western palettes for a modern take on classic dishes.
Popular dishes include the Spicy Kimchi Bibimbop and the Amitabul Original Pancakes.
2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
3411 N. Halsted St.
A classic American diner cum vegan restaurant, Chicago Diner brings old-school charm to health-focused food. Their slogan, “Meat Free Since 1983,” speaks to their place as an early champion of animal-free foods, and their kitchen is happy to accommodate for other dietary restrictions.
The weekend crowds build up at this classic establishement so arrive ready to wait.
1800 N Lincoln Ave
The “Preservation Guru,” Chef Paul Virant, is so committed to seasonal sourcing that he shuts down his breakfast service from January through March every year and lists all sourcing information on the menu. Although local and seasonal produce is central to Chef Virant’s cooking philosophy, community is fundamental. As he puts it, “I wanted to create an extension of my home, where people come together and enjoy high quality food and drink in the company of others. My goal is to be a small part of my guests’ enjoyment of every morsel and drop of life.”
2657 N Kedzie Ave
Longman & Eagle partner Jared Wentworth espouses traditional cooking techniques when executing his regional American fare, with an emphasis on sourcing the finest local ingredients the region has to offer. This farm to table, nose to tail aesthetic is represented lovingly by ever-changing menus that are both adventurous and sublime.
Longman & Eagle was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series.
500 N Clark St
NAHA has been part of the Chicago dining scene for 14 years. Awarded a Michelin star annually since 2010 and Carrie is the recipient of the James Beard Foundation “Best Chef Great Lakes” award as well as being a semi-finalist for Outstanding Chef and Restaurant. NAHA is an architecturally inspired restaurant with cuisine featuring the influences of the Mediterranean. Open for lunch, dinner and also featuring a great bar menu, NAHA also has two private dining rooms.
NAHA is the nick name of owners and cousins, Carrie and Michael Nahabedian.
1484 North Milwaukee Avenue
Founded in 1994, Native Foods Cafe has been making 100% plant-based, vegan fast food for the past 22 years. With a focus on scratch cooking, they proudly accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions (but warn that their kitchens are not gluten-free, nut-free, or soy-free for those with serious allergies).
2152 Damen Ave
The menu features handmade pasta, charcuterie, farm-fresh produce, and a nose-to-tail approach to cooking. Beverages include handmade cocktails, a wine list featuring over two hundred producers, and beers from around the world. The Bristol’s second floor features a spacious private room built for any number of events, from business dinners to wedding receptions.
Sourcing information is provided on the menu.
449 North Clark Street (enter on Illinois)
This Mexican street food restaurant from Rick Bayless is 3-star Certified by the Green Restaurant Association and LEED Gold Certified for best practice. Featuring locally grown food five days a week (it is closed on Sunday and Monday). They also have an easy online ordering tool that allows you to eat healthy, even when you’re on the move!
Xoco—pronounced “SHO-ko”—is the Aztec word for “little sister.”
2311 W. North Avenue
Handlebar serves made-from-scratch vegetarian and vegan comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. We are a small, casual neighborhood restaurant with a full-service bar and beer garden. We recycle, brew fair-trade coffee, serve all organic eggs, and source produce from local farms. Handlebar has been serving up food, booze and good times in Wicker Park since 2003.
Our good friends at Cut Cats are ready to bike your Handlebar favorites right to your doorstep.
1462 East 53rd Street (Northwest corner of 53rd Street & Harper Avenue)
A10 Hyde Park is a seasonal fine dining restaurant with French/Italian flair. Featuring handmade pasta and a variety of veg-centric and inspired small dishes, A10 places a focus on the “epicurean” component of the REAL25 initiative. There is also a M-F happy hour from 4-7pm in the bar, for those who want to pop in and out without the formal feel of an A10 sit-down dinner.
A10 at Hyde Park is offering a “Tour the Garden” dinner series this summer (2016), in which they will offer a four-course dinner highlightning a speficic farmers market fruit or vegetable. This will be happening every Wendesday though the end of Septmeber and will only cost $35/person. For more information on this program, visit their website.
525 Dempster Street
…a certified green restaurant that has been transforming the way people enjoy vegetarian cuisine for more than thirty years. Our menus reflect a commitment to exceptional food and outstanding service. We’re dedicated to your well-being and look forward to serving you.
Outdoor Seating Available May-September (weather permitting).
1729 North Halsted Street
Over the past 12 years Boka Restaurant has become one of Chicago’s most beloved restaurants. Chef Lee Wolen’s seasonal American food is framed by Simeone Deary’s timeless design located in the heart of Lincoln Park. Boka originally opened in 2003, and was the first Boka Restaurant Group property for owners Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz.
Since his time at Boka, Chef/partner Lee Wolen garnered a Michelin Star in 2015 and 2016, “3 Stars” and “Chef of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune, and “Chef of the Year” and “Restaurant of the Year” at the Jean Banchet Awards.
3267 S. Halsted St.
Nana’s menu features local, organic, sustainable and seasonal products. We offer a selection of housemade items, and source exceptional ingredients from over 30 local farms, orchards, artisan craftsmen and other suppliers who have the same passion for high-quality food as we do. Please see www.nanaorganic.com for a complete list of our farmers and partners.
“When food is sourced locally, it is picked at the peak of freshness —and our guests can taste that difference,” says owner Omar Solis. “All of the family farms we work with refrain from using any chemicals or pesticides, and don’t use any antibiotics or hormones. Triple S Farms and Slagel also process their meats humanely, which is just as important to us.”
2610 N Cannon Dr
Chef Bruce Sherman holds true to the Arts and Crafts ideal in the culinary philosophy of North Pond restaurant. Drawing inspiration from the local market, he utilizes exceptional ingredients at the height of their season. Whenever possible, Chef Sherman supports small local farmers and treats their products with respect in his kitchen. The path from earth to plate remains clear and his cuisine reflects the decor of the dining room – complex layers of subtle craft beneath a simple decorative style.
Epicurious calls it one of the top 10 Farm-to-Table restaurants in the nation.
7000 N Glenwood Ave
For over 35 years, The Heartland Cafe has been serving good, wholesome food for the mind & body to our comrades in Rogers Park and beyond.
The Heartland takes great care and effort in finding local, organic, sustainable, socially conscious, fairly traded ingredients whenever possible. During season, our fruits and vegetables are primarily sourced through our certified organic farm, Earth First Farms in SW Michigan, and other small, organic, artisanal producers.
Did you know…..we have open mic in our dining room every Wednesday at 10 PM! Sign up starts at 9. We also have trivia every Tuesday and Bingo one a month!
228 W. Chicago Avenue
Farmhouse Tavern is a Midwestern Craft Tavern specializing in local food and drink. We are a farm to tavern restaurant, making all of our own burgers, condiments, and sodas from scratch. And with more than 28 craft beers ontap we are sure you will find something special to wash it all down. We are also one of the first taverns in the country to serve great Michigan wines on tap…. Our goal—and Chef Eric Mansavage’s goal—at Farmhouse Tavern is to bring you the best Midwestern craft beer and fare from the best purveyors in the Midwest. In that spirit, we source from the great Green City Market weekly and of course our wonderful midwestern farmers.