On Saturday June 10th I went to the 2017 Chicago Vegan Food Fest. In a nutshell it was AMAZING! Every vendor I tried was delicious, the weather was beautiful, and it warmed my heart to see thousands of vegan or vegan-friendly people in attendance. I took it as a positive sign that the food culture is shifting in the plant-based direction. Kristen, Lynn and I certainly enjoyed everything we tasted! Below are some of the foods I tried and some I wanted to try (but the lines were too long and my stomach was too full!). I wish it had been two days- I feel like I hardly made a dent in it!
Pomodoro E Basilico
This London based artisanal vegan restaurant had the best vegan burger I have ever had. EVER. I took a bite and had to catch my breath it was so good!
It’s name? The Unicorn Burger. The ingredients? A bean, pineapple and cocoa patty on a beet coconut bun with peach jam and a peanut butter cocoa coconut sauce, all topped with avocado and banana chips. A.k.a time to make my taste buds dance. It was a unique combination of both sweet and savory, earthy and tropical. I loved it so much that I went back to the booth later to thank the chef (Sara) and snap a selfie. I hope she comes back soon!
You guys know how much I love beets! How could I say no to beetroot scones? BeLIGHTful bakery uses Reiki healing energy to infuse their baking, making the products healthy for both the body and spirit. Cool concept, right? The beetroot chocolate scone was both warm and grounding.
I’ve gotten pints from this ice cream company at Whole Foods but at the festival they were selling ice cream cookies and sandwiches. Kristen got the chocolate brownie sandwich – it was heavenly!
Paulie Gee’s Pizza
The line for this booth was one of the longest at the festival, so of course I had to investigate. I had no idea there was a vegan pizza place in Logan Square! They were serving two types of pizza, Vegan Regina (tomato, basil, vegan mozzarella) and In Ricotta Da Vegan (vegan fennel sausage, tomato, cashew ricotta and arugula). The cashew ricotta was SO CREAMY! If anyone wants to have a pizza night in Logan Square with me let me know! 🙂
I had been wanting to try this gelato place for a long time; I’ve been following them on Instagram for months! Their vegan gelato did NOT disappoint! It was rich, creamy and exactly what I needed on a hot summer day! I even splurged and got two scoops – dark chocolate superfood and machta mint chip. AND got a sprouted brown rice waffle cone. This was a big deal for me guys. I will definitely be hunting down some pints of them again soon.
In addition to the Unicorn Burger from Pomodoro, there was also the Unicorn Treasure Cupcake from Holocomb Hollow. It was a chocolate cupcake with a chewy chocolate chip sprinkle cookie in the middle. GENIUS. The textures of the airy chocolate cupcake with the chewy center, plus the creamy frosting and sprinkles was absolutely delightful.
I was SUPER excited to see Phyter Foods at the festival! Their energy bars are made with ripe, unprocessed plants with the focus on phytonutrients (hence the name). The flavor combinations are really cool: beet cocoa, butternut squash peanut butter, cranberry strawberry, and sweet potato coconut. YUM. I tried out some samples and got a few bars to use on my runs in the future. Will report back soon!
Spun the wheel to get some free vegan marshmallows! This booth didn’t have food, just big bags of marshmallows to giveaway. I’ll have to make something with them soon- vegan rice crispies maybe?
I think this was the longest line at the festival. Why? Vegan Big Macs. When I was growing up, I went through a Big Mac phase. I think a lot of us 90s kids did. While it may have been a bite of nostalgia, I was happy with my earlier burger choice and content to just snap a picture of Doomie’s burger. They sold out of the Vegan Big Mac quickly, but their single patty was still popular!
Another 90s flashback! This company has a vegan version of Dippin’ Dots! I did not try this one since I had the gelato and the line was pretty long, but it looked so fun and everyone I talked to loved it. If only the festival were two days!
I was so full by the time I got around to Bot Bakery that I couldn’t bring myself to buy a cupcake. But Unicorn’s seemed popular this year – they had a Unicorn Cupcake too! Luckily, they sell at a bunch of local Chicago shops and markets so I can chase the unicorn and get a cupcake.
Pie Pie My Darling
I really wanted to try their rainbow cake and cookie monster cupcake, but they sold out of food by about 1pm. I guess I’ll just have to make a trip to Handlebar, Kitchen 17 or Paulie Gee’s Pizza to get some!
In addition to these companies, there were dozens others. Vegan soul food, Indian food, Mexican food, smoothies, juice bars, bakeries, seriously every kind of food you could want. You can check out the full list on their website. Along with all the gourmet food, there were tons of games and entertainment. From a Henna tattoo booth to a giant game of beer pong, there was plenty to do and see besides eat.
The festival also did a great job organizing the space. The booths were spread out enough to avid tangled lines, there were free water stations at each corner of the park, bathrooms were separate, and there were plenty of picnic tables for seating. We took breaks in the shade at the edges of the festival to get out of the heat.
I’m already looking forward to next year! Hopefully the plant-based movement will continue to grow and there will be even more vendors and attendees next year. Please be two days next year! There are so many vendors and my stomach space is too tiny for one day, even with friends to help!
Did you attend the Chicago Vegan Food Festival? Would you want to in the future? Comment below with your thoughts!