Friday, July 7, 2017

Chicago Vegetarian: Mana Food Bar

Baby kale salad with pears
On my first trip to Chicago, when I was 15, I became a vegetarian. I looked at the meat at Northwestern University's cafeteria and said I was a vegetarian. And though I was in one of the meat capitals of the US, I stuck to it that summer, when I returned to New York, and ever since.

Bi Bim Bop
So it makes sense that i would find a great vegetarian on my last visit to the city. Mana Food Bar, in Wicker Park, has the kind of delicious, global based cuisine that appeals to meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

What I mean is that food sounds familiar and tastes great; you go here because you want a lovely meal, not because you are preaching deprivation.

Menu division

Mana Food Bar doesn't divide its food into appetizers and mains There are cold dishes, which you can have in a small or large size, and hot dishes, some of which are also in two sizes. There are also side dishes, and you can add tofu to any dish.

The menu also offers a number of vegan and gluten free options.

What we ate

Golden beet salad
The baby kale salad had pears and a ginger miso dressing. It also had unexpected crunch from granola bits. The golden beet salad had blue cheese, hazelnuts and arugula.

Although it was hot and we were eating outside,e we had the Bi Bim Bop, with veggies and a sunny side up egg over brown rice, and the polenta side dish with asiago cheese. We saw people happily tucking into the sesame noodles, mushroom sliders, seared broccoli and seaweed salad. I could have sampled any of the dishes and been happy.

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