This past Saturday I was privileged enough to be invited as a guest blogger (for here and here) to the pre-opening tasting/party for the new Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park/Chicago. I have to say that from the moment I stepped in front of the restaurant, everything was top notch. The staff was friendly, accommodating and quick. They made sure that no one was waiting too long in line and that refreshments such as their signature watermelon cooler and lavender lemonade were served to keep us cool and happy. Everything we ordered was perfectly seasoned, beautifully presented and yummy! For starters we had the Saigon Roll, Chili Cheese Fries and the Coconut Lemongrass soup. The Saigon roll was crispy yet refreshing and definitely did not fit the stereo type of a friend spring roll. When the chili cheese fries arrived it was like the holy grail of vegan comfort food landed in our laps! The chili was surprisingly light so you didn’t feel weighed down and full and the fries were seasoned perfectly with a hint of spice. The best part was the cashew cheese. I recommend when you try this to get a little of the cheese, the fries soaked in chili sauce and the chili and beans on your fork. Yes, it will be a giant bit but it is sooo worth it! The coconut soup was delightfully sweet with a slow heat to finish. It was very well balanced and the tofu was so creamy.
Next we had the Chicago ‘Beef’ Dip and the OK Bacon Cheddar Cheese Burger. Now, when I mention cheese or meat please not that everything they serve is vegan so they are really substitutes instead of the real thing. However, I challenge you to be able to tell the difference between their substitutes! Any meat eater would be happy to chow down on these sandwiches! The OK burger had a great texture and is one of the best vegan burgers I have had in a while. The soy bacon was absolutely amazing and was so good paired with all of the fresh veggies, shaved seasoned meat and bun. The Chicago ‘beef’ dip is not for someone that can’t take the heat. It is definitely a bit spicy. That being said, what is better than a home made spicy vegetable relish of sorts with seasoned shredded beef and a ciabatta type roll. As you can see from the photo above it was huge too!
For dessert we opted for the shortcake and the vanilla cupcake. While the shortcake was not my favorite (because I am not a fan of custard) I was immediately infatuated with the vanilla cupcake and frosting. This is serious people…. it was the best vegan vanilla cupcake I have ever had! It was a moist cake with just a tinge of sweetness. The icing was buttery without being too sweet or greasy. It has a perfect texture overall and didn’t last long on the plate. I can say this so good with confidence because I am comparing it to all of the vegan bakeries I have visited from NYC to LA. Best ever. I am so glad the server suggested we try it!
Through out the whole experience the staff was very attentive, Chef Tayna was a joy to meet, speak with and photograph. She has a great sense of humor and is very humble and gracious. I predict her new restaurants will take Chicago by storm and wish her and her crew all of the best.
PS Did I mention hw reasonable the prices were????? Unbelievable. they even have a points card to earn rewards. The whole concept is very well though out. And you can buy beer there. Win win for everyone. For more info click here.