The Resident Foodies: Buddha’s Karma (curried sweet potato tofu) Burger

Resident Foodies say: Somedays, you discover something so good that you ask yourself, “How did I not know about this place?” Well, today, to take a break (or escape) from the Inauguration, we went to The Chicago Diner on Halsted, a cozy diner serving only vegetarian since 1983. Remarkable.

The veggie-only menu is very creative. Today, we had the Buddha’s Karma Burger, consisting of: curried sweet potato-tofu patty, grilled pineapple, lettuce, onion & chimichurri sauce, plus avocado. This dish is out of this world! An amazing combination of ingredients–especially the curried sweet potato tofu patty with chimichurri sauce–that will make you not ever want to eat a meat hamburger again.

Resident Foodies: Egg + pesto sandwich at Esencia Urban Kitchen in Lakeview

Resident Foodies say: MLK Jr. Holiday was a good day for us to treat ourselves to brunch. We went to Esencia Urban Kitchen, located at a street corner in Lakeview. We tried the signature breakfast sandwich: it’s an egg and pesto sandwich with
sunny side eggs, house pesto, bacon, manchego cheese, arugula, on toasted sourdough bread.

Put simply, this sandwich is the best breakfast sandwich we’ve tasted. The toasted sourdough bread, along with pesto spread, gives this sandwich an unmatched flair. If you have this sandwich, you will leave very, very satisfied.

Resident Foodies: Four Belly ramen in Lakeview

Veggie shuyu ramen

Resident Foodies say: We finally made it over to Four Belly, which touts itself as selling Asian street food. Today, we had the veggie shuyu ramen, with veggie broth | soy sauce | spinach | menma bamboo | cabbage | scallion | nitamago egg | red pickled ginger. It was tasty! What we loved most was how many ramen noodles were served in the bowl. It was practically the entire bowl! Very thin ramen strands, but a ton of them. It’s the most filling and satisfying bowl of ramen we’ve had in Chicago.

We also had the grilled sweet corn served in house coconut milk. It was yummy, though probably not as good as the one at Sunda restaurant. That’s more of a fine dining place, though, while Four Belly is at a much cheaper price point.

Resident Foodies: Mortar and Pestle pancakes in Lakeview

Resident Foodies say: We went for breakfast today at Mortar and Pestle in Lakeview. We had the vanilla pancakes typically served with orange and thyme Butter, maple syrup, and powdered sugar. Today, though, we went sans butter and sugar. The pancakes were very good, but nothing too special. The menu, though, is very eclectic, with plenty of items, such as foie gras with eggs or on French toast, that you probably can’t find elsewhere. They also serve chicken and waffles on the weekend.

Resident Foodies: Review of Simply It–Vietnamese restaurant

Clay pot chicken

Vietnamese steamed pork ravioli

Resident Foodies say:
We made it out to Simply It, a neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant near DePaul. It’s a cute little place on Lincoln Ave.

We tried the Clay Pot chicken (simmered with ginger and caramelized sauce in clay pot) as well as the Vietnamese steamed pork ravioli, a specialty of Northern Vietnam. Both were tasty dishes. The ravioli is reminiscent of the dim sum rice noodle rolls, given the use of the same style noodle. The flavor of the Vietnamese dish is more mild, but it has a nice combination of textures and flavors. The claypot chicken was tasty, but lacked the caramel sweetness of Slanted Door’s famous claypot chicken in San Francisco. The red peppers provided a nice contrast, but our dish could have use a few more peppers. For a neighborhood restaurant, though, Simply It is a pretty solid option, especially for lunch. Street parking was decent, too.