Lake Side Cafe

Chicago, Illinois


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It's a shame Lake Side Cafe is closing, because the place is pretty cool: modern; friendly; and all-purpose (it could be a coffee shop or a restaurant or even a bakery).

I had a vegan gyro ($10.50) which was tasty with Upton's Naturals seitan and a fresh cucumber sauce. My only issue is that the portion size was quite small---it was just a half wholewheat pita pocket stuffed with seitan and some lettuce, tomatoes and onions---considering the high price tag. For the same price, you could get twice as much food at The Chicago Diner. That said, I don't think the quality of the ingredients would be as high at The Diner as it was at Lake Side.

I also had a piece of chocolate cake ($4.50) and a chocolate-almond cookie ($2.50). All of their desserts are vegan which was pretty cool to see. The cake had a great, rich flavor, though it was dry. The cookie was also dry and rock-hard; it didn't soften too much even after I microwaved it. It wasn't very good, in my opinion, and had a salty taste that overwhelmed the almonds and chocolate chips.

Most of the menu is vegan and I appreciate that this place served a niche in far northern Chicago. It's unfortunate that it is shutting down but, on the other hand, at least a few new vegan places are opening up elsewhere in Chicago, so the net balance is still positive for the city's vegan community.

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Lake Side has great food, but their funky hours are a turn off.

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The vegan food on the Lake Side Cafe menu is not particularly exciting (all of the tasty-sounding fake chicken dishes contain egg whites), but sometimes there is a really incredible vegan special. When I lived in Chicago, I joined the Lake Side Cafe e-mail list so that I could stay informed about the weekly specials. My favorite (by far) was a vegan lavender fennel "cream" soup. The desserts are hit-or-miss but the juices and smoothies are pretty good.

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When we lived in this neighborhood, we came here a few times. It reminds me of what the Blind Faith Cafe was probably like when it first opened--not pretentious at all and just a small storefront diner with a great bakery. The Tao bowls are generously portioned, healthy, tasty, and are variable with the change in vegetables. As someone who really likes spices, I think there could be some more interesting flavors in their main menu items and some more options for hot drinks, like plain, fair-trade/organic coffee, although they may have since added that (it's been a few months). Highly recommended for those of you living in or visiting the North of Howard "nugget" of Chicago.

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I have visited this restaurant many times, with small parties, for regular meals and for buffet events. The food is always tasty, high-quality and reasonably priced. The staff is friendly and helpful and the restaurant is clean. They have a good selection of desserts, too.
I'm hoping to actually join one of their cooking classes soon.

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Pretty nice place, especially if you only eat or are in the mood for healthy food. When I went it was late and there were very few vegan options. I got the Tao-wrap, which was much better than I had supposed, and which also came at a great price. The vegan baker there is stupendous. I had a chocolate cake and the very nice waiter gave me an extra large piece with a complementary glass of soy milk.

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I was really quite pleased to finally check out the Lake Side Cafe. The relaxing ambiance complemented the excellent food. All of the food is vegetarian and organic, and the majority is vegan or can be made vegan.

I had a vegan Chicago Polish, which was scarily close to what I remember hot dogs/polishes tasting like. My lunch partner also had the delicious Tao Bowl made of tempeh, kale, and black beans that I was robbing every 5 seconds. The vegan bakery is also something to try -- I sampled the coconut cream cake: the flavor was good though the texture was a bit strange. Overall, it's one of my new favorite places, and I can't wait to get back.

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