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April 12, 2011

Soul Vegetarian East

Soul Vegetarian East is a vegan soul food restaurant that has been rocking the south side of Chicago for thirty years. Steve and I have tried their food at various festivals, but it wasn't until recently that we made it out to the restaurant for the first time.

Soul Veg is in an unexpected neighborhood, a hidden gem among a sea of fried chicken restaurants (seriously, I saw 3 in 1 block!). In an area where there is no shortage of payday loan establishments and liquor stores, it was so encouraging to see a vegan restaurant thriving.

Soul Veg is no frills dining at its best. Upon entering it wasn't clear if we should seat ourselves or wait to be seated. We were seated, but it is still unclear if that is the norm. The environment is laid back and the customers are diverse. The service was very friendly but not the most attentive. The tablecloths are covered in plastic for easy cleanup, and the dishes are what you might expect to see in a cafeteria. Like I said, no frills, but no complaints from us!

The menu leans heavily towards what most would consider the less healthy vegan fare, after all this is soul food! Lots of seitan, and plenty of deep frying! On the other hand there are soup and salad selections for those that want to keep things lighter, along with many fresh juices and smoothies.

BBQ Twist Platter
Steve knew right away that he wanted to try one of the bbq specialties, and decided that the BBQ Twist Platter fit the bill. I kept sneaking bites off of his plate, this was the best vegan bbq I have ever had!

Breaded Tofu Sandwich
I was craving tofu and decided to try the Breaded Tofu Sandwich (aka Filet of Tofu). This cornmeal battered tofu is served with tartar sauce and pickles on a bun. Memories of fast food fried fish sandwiches came flooding in at first bite. It was one of those almost-too-real taste experiences, and I had to remind myself that it was just tofu!

Down Home Greens and Cornbread
Steve and I also ordered the Down Home Greens and Cornbread to share, because, well, our soul food experience would not have been complete without it! I never pass up on greens when I have the option!

Lemon Cake
Something else I never pass up on? Lemon cake. Soul Veg, how did you know my weak spot?!

Overall it was a fun and satisfying first visit to Soul Vegetarian East. We are excited to have this wonderful option for soul food in our area, and we will definitely be returning!

HEY! I have a giveaway winner to announce, don't I? I've kept you waiting long enough! There were 63 qualifying entries and a random number generator chose lucky number 11. Congrats to Amber Shea @ Almost Vegan. Email me your address and I will ship out your NYC vegan care package after I return from NYC later this month! (sarah [at] ordinaryvegetarian [dot] com) Thanks again to everyone that entered!


  1. YUM! I have got to get back to Chicago for a visit!

  2. Wow.. lots awesome! What are the "ribs" made from?

    Congrats to Shea!! LUCKY gal!!

  3. Mmm I think I'm moving to Chicago - I will have to visit this place when/if I do!

  4. Have you tried the lemon coconut poundcake from Veganomican? LoVE!

  5. I am SO STOKED that you won the contest! And admittedly, stoked that I won yours :P But I look forward to living vicariously through your NYC getaway. Major congrats!
    I emailed you as well :)

  6. Is that a Michael Jackson painting in the background or do my eyes deceive me?! AWESOME. It actually looks like a really cute restaurant. I am trying to convince my husband to try a vegan soul food place in Harlem with me one of these days. I'll wear him down eventually!

  7. i don't think there's an item there i didn't drool over. awesome eats all around, Sarah - and three cheers for Soul Vegetarian East. that's my kinda food, fo 'sho! thanks for the kind words about xgfx, and we're most excited about your recipe (and others to come, too!). rock on, my friend!

  8. Wow that restaurant looks amazing I love vegetarian restaurants I wish we had more around here. Congrats on the contest win by the way :)

  9. Love this! Soul food is usually the last place you'd think to find veg eats, but this place just proves that it's doable and delicious too!

  10. Holy moly, everything looks awesome!! That BBQ platter looks GIGANTIC!


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