Chicago Raw – Review

Chicago Raw: Leading The Raw Revolution

So I went to Chicago last week, and now I want to live there. Not because of the stunning skyline, super friendly locals or beautiful architecture, as much as I appreciated those things. Nope. I want to live there so that I can visit Chicago Raw 3 times a day for the rest of time, or, preferably, live under the counter. If it wasn’t already obvious, it was pretty darn amazing. Well played, Chicago Raw, well played! You’re well and truly leading the raw revolution…

What is Chicago Raw?

Chicago Raw comprises of two eateries in Chicago, Illinois, US, which are dedicated to raising awareness of the healing powers of raw food ‘worldwide’. Superheroes with superfoods, if you will. They offer super fresh, high quality and uncooked plant-based food, and have a location on West Huron Street, very close to the hustle and bustle of inner-city life, as well as a location at the French Market.

Chicago Raw

Chicago Raw is essentially a mecca for vegans, raw vegans, and anyone who wants to start healing their bodies with food. Whilst there, I visited only the West Huron location, which was a relatively small deli-style café, with some seating, and raw delights aplenty.

And if you think you’re getting a few bananas and green smoothies only at Chicago Raw, you will be very happily mistaken. And I love those two things, just FYI! But talk about smashing the raw vegan stereotypes.

As I’ve talked about loads on my blog already, pretty much everything has a raw vegan alternative that provides your body with health, energy and vitamins and minerals in abundance. Chicago Raw, in addition to the perhaps expected smoothies, acai bowls and trail mixes (presented in the cutest little Valentine’s bag, might I add), offers a large menu of delights you could only dream of. I’m talking raw pizzas and sushi rolls. Burgers and burritos. Ravioli and spaghetti. Butters and breads. Crackers and condiments. Legit. But the offerings don’t stop at savory.

There are sweet treats galore at Chicago Raw (I could totally work for their marketing team), from apple pie to carrot cake, tiramisu and muffins, granolas and mousses, cookies and ice cream. Hopefully it’s now clear that I was super serious about wanting to live there. Give me all the raw treats!

What I ate

You’ve probably sensed from the tone that ‘excited to try it’ is an understatement. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, or a raw vegan in a raw vegan shop of delights, I guess. The guys working there were all so friendly and helpful. I mean, I would be too if I got to work there. If Chicago Raw are reading, I wouldn’t just sit and eat the food all day if you offer me a job. Oh, who am I kidding… I would try not to, though, so. Hit me up.

So the poor things must’ve thought I’d never seen food before. I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing like a complete weirdo, and taking about 47 minutes to decide what to try first. After much thought, I opted for a ‘tuna’ sandwich, and my husband chose the same. As much as we wanted to sit and enjoy it inside (it’s super cute, was decorated for Valentine’s, and has seating for about 4 or 5 people), we were simply too tired from the flight. Yes, it was quite literally the first place we headed for when getting out of the airport.

So we headed back to our hotel room to devour our plates of raw vegan goodness before getting an early night. Plus, there’s something I just love about eating take-out in hotel rooms. And it’s about as rock and roll as I’m ever gonna get.

Tuna Pate Sandwich – $11

Mock Tuna Pate Sandwich

Oh. My. God. To be honest, having never had raw vegan tuna before, I was a little dubious. But this is why I chose it – intrigued doesn’t cover it!

The tuna ‘pate’, made from the ever-incredible, yet humble, almond, is spread on to a slice of simply stunning poppyseed bread, with flavors of fennel, black pepper and anis. It had a subtle sweet side to it from the wheat berries, which I instantly fell in love with. Made with mustard, vegan mayo, cucumber and lettuce, it was truly a taste sensation, and did remind me of tuna, just a cruelty-free, great-for-your-health-and-the-planet, super fresh version.

But the pièce de résistance for me was the side of house onion crispies it was served with (along with crunchy beetroot). Wow. A sensational mix of onions, Himalayan sea salt, cashews and walnuts, I sprinkled some of these on my tuna pate, along with some beetroot shreds, and it gave the sandwich a wonderful crunchy texture, and tasted divine.

In conclusion, if it wasn’t obvious enough already, I liked this a lot. In fact, I had another two in the short time I was in Chicago. And they are even deceptively large portions. Considering everything is so full of fiber, and you get very thick slices of the poppyseed bread, it’s super filling. So if I can just figure out a way to get them shipped halfway across the country daily, I’ll be sorted.

Pizza – $14

Raw Pizza with Olives and Hazelnut Pesto

Yes, you read that right. So the first thing that swayed me was that it was pizza, obviously. The second was that it used the same poppyseed bread that I’d already had for my tuna sandwich, so it was a yes from me. This was, of course, after picking every single other entree up in the shop, wanting to just buy all of them, and eventually, after some 39 minutes, and realizing we did have a budget to stick to, picking one. My husband’s patience knows no bounds, thank goodness.

As you can see from the photos, it certainly looks like a fancy ass piece of raw vegan goodness, and that’s exactly what it was. I got two slices of the what berry crust, topped with marinara, cashew cheese, peppers and tomatoes, and served with olives and hazelnut pesto. The pesto was bursting with flavor, and it was all made simply delectable by the hint of sweetness in the crust.

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Again, the portions are deceptively large, so I could only eat a slice at first! But when we got back from a Bulls game later that day and I was feeling pretty hungry, boy was I glad to see the remaining slice staring back at me, like a gift from the raw vegan Gods. And it tasted like one, too. The Michael Jordan of the raw vegan food world, you might say.

So, yes, I would 100, (000,000)% recommend it.

Carrot Cake – $11

Carrot Cake

You know what’s funny. When you wake up at 3 am from jet lag kinda peckish and remember there’s a raw carrot cake in your hotel fridge, and you’re so desperate to try it that you forget you need to take photos of it for your review, and it’s only when you’ve finished every last crumb that you remember. Yeah. That happened. Although to be honest, I was in such heaven at that point that nothing really mattered.

Super fresh, sweet but not too sweet, moist, rich layers made this carrot cake incredibly moreish. With carrots (obviously), apricots, nuts and cinnamon, each bite was a taste of raw vegan heaven. I had planned on eating half and saving half for when my husband woke up, but not all plans made are realistic, or fun. So I ate the whole thing. Sorry, not sorry.

Would I recommend it?

Yes. Go there now. Like literally, right now.

I have to go again. And I’d love to try it in the summer when I’m more in the mood for all the sweet treats, like the ice creams and the cookies and the parfaits (drool). And I might also try the summer rolls and the lasagna and the falafel sandwich and the acai bowls and the granola. And the spaghetti and the burritos and the cake and the hummus.

Again, if you’re reading Chicago Raw, I would be more than willing to uproot my family and entire life to come to Chicago and work for you/live in your basement.

Just a subtle hint there.

Happy raw restaurant-ing everyone!

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