Mercat a la Planxa

Chicago, Illinois


rating star

I came here for a work-related dinner which I did not have to pay for so I cannot attest to the cost of the meal. To judge by the location in the beautiful south loop, interior design that is sleek but also cozy, and great quality of flavor, freshness, and presentation it seems pricey but worth it!

I was part of a huge party of 14 people. They had set a special recommended menu for all of us for the cooks to be able to accommodate all of us and the head of our party agreed to this before the rest of us arrived. Being vegan, this is my nightmare to hear that there is a set menu at a non-vegan restaurant and I figured I’d be going home hungry. The server came around to our table asked if there were any allergies or dietary restrictions. I told her I was vegan. She had the look of wheels turning in her head like she was trying to think of options for me and said that she would go talk to the chef.

They start to bring out the first few rounds of tapas and of course I was anxious. Some were already veg friendly, some they were kind enough to remove the cheese for me on a serving on my own little plate. That alone was a relief to me. They completely replaced the meaty tapas with other dishes like date roasted mushrooms, asparagus with almond crumble, sautéed spinach. I even got a scoop of sorbet for dessert instead of what was served to the others. Overall this place was so so accommodating to me and everything tasted incredible. Great service and atmosphere. I’m very pleased and would go back for sure!

rating star

This is one of few restaurants I actually left angry. A large group of friends and I wanted to check it out, and a quick browse of the menu showed there were some potentially vegan options available. After an email to their info line produced no results, I called and asked the reservation desk who let me know that they could indeed handle a vegan and she'd even put a note on the reservation.

The interior is beautifully appointed and quite nice, but that's about where it stops.

The night of the dinner, the server acknowledged that there was a vegan at the table, and proceeded to sell us on having the chef's tasting at $58/head --- FOR TAPAS!! He reassured me that when all of the meat was brought out there would be plenty of options for me. So we went for it.

It was in fact not the case. The few vegan dishes that came were a horribly tasting spinach and apple dish that tasty very fishy. The classic patatas bravas potato dish had cold mushy individual potatoes lined up on a tray with a dollop of most probably non-vegan aioli (even though true catalan alioli should not have egg). When the main meat dish was brought out, all I got was a try of two smallish roasted tomatoes, a few pieces of toast with some pine nut spread, some other random fried greens, and a lovely stinking hunk of goat cheese in the middle -- again, I'm vegan.

None of the desserts available are vegan - maybe 1 or 2 of the sorbets, but the server really didn't make an effort to point anything out.

The only thing decent that I got was the tomato bread (pa amb tomaquet/pan con tomate), which COMES FREE with your meal. Even if you're not veg (and especially if you are), this place is not worth your money. You're better of getting more authentic tapas at one of the other more favorably reviewed places.

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