12 essential vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the Midwest

Photo via Modern Love/Instagram

12 essential vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the Midwest

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12 essential vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the Midwest

The Midwest isn’t traditionally thought of as the most vegan-friendly (or health conscious) region in the country. Kansas City is home to a world-famous barbecue scene; Chicago is synonymous with cheese-and-carb heavy deep-dish pizza; and Milwaukee is popular for its beer brats and cheese curds.

But all these dishes can easily be veganized, and the Midwest has started seriously stepping up its game when it comes to plant-based cuisine. In fact, some of the most highly rated vegan restaurants in the country – like Modern Love in Omaha, Nebraska – happen to be nestled in Middle America.

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or just a curious carnivore, here are 12 veg-friendly restaurants to visit on your next trip through America’s heartland:

The Chicago Diner | Chicago

This award-winning eatery is just about as indulgent as a vegetarian restaurant can be. Customers can’t get enough of the joint’s vegan milkshakes, plant-based nachos and juicy burgers. In addition to being meat-free since 1983, The Chicago Diner sticks with local, seasonal ingredients, biodegradable takeout containers and eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Pro tip: Try the Radical Reuben.

The Herbivorous Butcher | Minneapolis

Famous for its wide assortment of award-winning plant-based meats and cheeses, The Herbivorous Butcher was formed in 2014 by a brother-sister duo who ran the most successful vegan Kickstarter campaign in history. Bring a cooler and stock up on vegan meats and cheeses (like the All American breakfast sausage, jerk chicken or smoked herb cheddar). But if you can only try one thing, order the Korean BBQ ribs. If you’re staying in the area, you can order vegan sandwiches, like the Italian sub or the Turkey & dill havarti sub, through Bitesquad six days a week. Also worth noting: The Herbivorous Butcher changes its menu on a daily basis.

Modern Love | Omaha

When acclaimed vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz opened Modern Love in 2014, it became the first ever vegan restaurant in Omaha, the heart of “Steak Country.” Modern Love offers “swanky vegan comfort food” at reasonable prices. Among the fan favorites are the cauliflower wings, mushroom stroganoff, and mac and shews – but the restaurant also offers five vegan desserts and lots of other plant-based entrees. Heads up though: Modern Love only opens for dinner and reservations are highly recommended.

Poison Berry Bakery | Cleveland

Poison Berry Bakery is a homespun vegan-owned-and-operated bakery that provides delicious vegan products and tasty coffees to the Cleveland area. You can’t go wrong with Poison Berry’s matcha or lemon cupcakes, but the zucchini bread and the French toast muffin are major crowd pleasers as well – and don’t miss the all-day vegan breakfast at this Cleveland Heights joint on Saturdays.

Detroit Vegan Soul | Detroit

Detroit vegan soul platter

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Detroit Vegan Soul works with local partners who provide seasonal organic produce for its entirely plant-based menu. The catfish tofu, seitan pepper steak and smothered tempeh are all delicious, but the black eyed peas and yam chips are top sellers too.

Cafe Gratitude | Kansas CIty

Cafe Gratitude strives to create a menu and environment that “supports health and sustainability for both our community and the planet.” Like its sister restaurant in Los Angeles, Cafe Gratitude KC is a 100% organic and vegan restaurant that specializes in plant-based comfort food. Diners are particularly fond of the eggplant parmesan sandwich, the incredible chocolate banana smoothie and the spicy plentiful chili topped with cashew ricotta cheese.

On The Bus | Milwaukee

Located inside the Milwaukee public market, On The Bus serves everything from acai bowls to barbecue seitan sandwiches to vegan ice cream sundaes, but the avocado truffle toast and vegan reuben sandwich are extremely popular.

Green House Cafe | Fargo, ND

This budget-friendly cafe sits on downtown Fargo’s main drag and offers a variety of both vegan and gluten-free options. Meat eaters and vegetarians alike praise Green House Cafe’s plant-based burgers and vegan cheesesteak sandwich, but the taco bowl, Thai bowl, and Cajun fries are much loved as well.

DeVine Delights | Rapid City, SD

DeVine Delights isn’t just an all-vegan ice cream parlor and deli; it’s currently the only vegan restaurant in South Dakota. Whether you’re craving cruelty-free cinnamon rolls, plant-based pot pie, veggie burgers or vegan baklava, DeVine Delights has you covered. And if you’re looking for lighter fare, DeVine Delights also serves plenty of soups and bistro-style sandwiches.

Kind Kravings | Wichita, KS

Chickpea coconut bacon ranch salad and double decker tacos.

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Located in Wichita, this top-rated, two-story vegan food truck offers sustainable, cruelty-free, plant-based food on wheels. Kind Kravings prides itself on serving mostly organic, non-GMO and completely vegan comfort food that won’t break your budget, and the menu boasts a few gluten-free options as well. Locals can’t get enough of the biscuits and sage gravy topped with coconut bacon or the PLT (portobello, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich with chips. Since Kind Kravings literally moves around, be sure to check the restaurant’s schedule before you plan a pit stop. Keep an eye on the weather too, because this food truck doesn’t open for business when temperatures drop below 40 or reach above 102 degrees.

The Loaded Bowl | Oklahoma City

Established in 2013 as Oklahoma’s first-ever vegan food truck, The Loaded Bowl aims to provide accessible and affordable “conscious comfort food.” The restaurant offers a menu featuring everything from layered enchiladas to loaded nachos with lentil chorizo. If you can’t decide what to order, check out The Garfield bowl – hearty lasagna with marinara, tofu ricotta, cashew cheese, spinach and squash, plus grilled veggies and garlic bread on the side.

Ezra’s Raw Cafe | Indianapolis

Ezra’s Raw Cafe is more than a restaurant – it’s a plant-based experience. In addition to providing lots of veg-friendly and vegan food, Ezra’s offers wellness products, classes and community events. The Buddha bowl and Nacho Mama’s bean bowl are Ezra’s most popular entrees, but try to save room for some dairy-free Key lime cheesecake.

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