UPDATE: I had brunch at Handlebar and was extremely impressed with the options. Aside from vegan waffles and pancakes and tofu scrambles, they also had a "vegan diablo rancheros" ($8.75) which were excellent---spicy, colorful, crispy corn cakes with seitan, beans and more. The food was fresh and unusually sophisticated.
I'm still disappointed that I tend to be the only non-white person in Handlebar whenever I go, but maybe that's part of the game if you're vegan and in Wicker Park. Or Chicago, in general.
ORIGINAL REVIEW: I came here with two non-veg friends thinking it would be a good place for them and it was. Handlebar has a nice selection of unusual beers, though at $5+ a pint, it was kind of expensive.
My friend enjoyed his buffalo "chicken" vegan wrap. I took a bite of it and thought it was nicely spiced and came in a good-sized portion with fries on the side for a total of $8.25.
My seitan tortellini dish, however, was way too expensive for the small portion ($12.75), which added up to about 15 bites or so. It tasted good, but was not filling and could have used a side dish of its own.
I also had a vegan chocolate raspberry torte which was pretty solid (not too sweet, not too rich) and well-presented with raspberry sauce and blueberries. They also had a vegan fried apple-cranberry pie, which sounded wonderful.
Most of the menu is vegan and most everything else can be made vegan.
The presentation of the food in general was well-done and not what you'd expect from a place that doesn't look like much above a bar-grill tavern joint. This is a good place to take a date, assuming he/she is veg*n and not hung up about decor.
The service was friendly and prompt and we received our food quickly. It can get a little bit cramped in there, and Handlebar is not good for groups of more than four people, and even then you might have to wait a few minutes for a table.
I think Handlebar is just slightly over-priced and I was also a little bit off-put by the lack of diversity in there. Karyn's Cooked is able to attract all kinds of people so I'm not sure why Handlebar seems so centered around a certain breed of 20-somethings (the place does serve alcohol and some meat, after all). It could be the restaurant's fault or it could be the clientele's fault, but something seemed "off" about the homogeneity in there.
All in all, though, Handlebar is a good joint to get a drink and eat a vegan meal.