Monday, February 25, 2013

Restaurant Review: In The Raw in Highland Park...

In the Raw - Really tiny place on the corner

Now I promised you a restaurant review and here it is. Right before my Juice Fast started back in January I went to the most amazing raw restaurant. I’ve mentioned before that after each class I pass with an A my husband takes me out for a celebratory dinner, and since I had passed my Chinese Medicine class back in December I was overdue for some celebration. Now originally I wanted to try out this vegan Korean restaurant in Chicago that I’ve heard amazing things about, but like many Asian restaurants they are closed Monday’s and Monday was the only day we could go. So since I knew my fast was coming up and I didn’t want to go too crazy on fatty vegan food I decided to try my luck at In The Raw, which is a new restaurant in Highland Park that opened last year. I’ve heard some very good things about it and since we’re often in Highland Park anyway seeing Independent Films at the theater there I’d been meaning to pop over for some time. Of course, the reason I never went before was because I was skeptical. I guess you could say that I’m kind of skeptical of raw foods in general. I love the idea of living food cuisine, but I’ve had some pretty mediocre raw food in the past, at restaurants as well as things I’ve made myself using popular raw food cookbooks. So I wasn’t 100% about this place, but the reviews were too good to deny and so we went, and boy am I glad we did! Trust me when I say that if you live in the Chicagoland area and you too are curious but skeptical of raw foods, this place will make you an instant believer!


First of all the place has a super funky vibe. Right from the minute you walk in you know your somewhere special. It’s got a cafĂ© atmosphere with a new-age sort of charm about it. The kitchen is pretty open so you can peek at some of the goings on, and the furniture is really neat. Tree stump tables anyone? It is quite a small place, and depending on the day you go or the time it may be pretty busy, it was for us. Monday afternoon around 2pm it was packed but the wait was only maybe 5-10 minutes so that wasn’t bad, well worth it really.

Almond Butter Cup

Maca Mocha - I know it's hard to tell the difference

So once we got seated we decided to start off with some smoothies and an appetizer. I ordered the Almond Butter Cup smoothie - I know that sounds a little lame, and I wanted to get something really crazy and original but I’m a total sucker for the Cacao, Almond Butter + Banana combo, and it was fantastic! My husband got the Maca Mocha which has espresso, banana, maca, cacao, cinnamon and agave and almond milk. This too was super delicious, it’s the kind of coffee you can feel good about unlike the concoctions you get at some big name retailers. Actually I think I liked this drink even better then my Almond Butter Cup.

Mushroom Dumplings!

For food we started with the Mushroom Dumplings which were freaking incredible! Seriously, they were so rich, gooey, and packed with flavor, and you would never know that they were raw. That’s what I love so much about this place, it’s delicious nutritious raw food, but you would swear these dishes were cooked. They don’t have that ‘raw food taste’ you know what I’m talking about? A lot of times raw food tastes like nuts or dates, or agave or it’s crunchy and crispy when you don’t want it to be. Not so with the food at In The Raw, this food was absolute perfection!  So anyway these mushroom dumplings were made with a carrot coconut wrapper then stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, basil pesto and drizzled in parsley oil. Really incredible!

My husband then ordered the Butternut Squash soup, which was actually cooked. Occasionally In The Raw has a cooked or sometimes two cooked soup’s on their menu. This was one of the soups they were offering that day and since it was so chilly out he decided to get a cup. I should have got a cup too because this soup was delicious! Seriously! Probably one of the best butternut soup’s I’ve ever eaten anywhere. It was packed with flavor and tasted so rich and creamy. It also wasn’t piping hot, it came out luke warm so I’m not entirely sure how ‘cooked’ it was but it was phenomenal!

Butternut Squash Soup

For my meal I had a really hard time choosing what to get because everything sounded so amazing. Pasta, pizza, delicious salads, quinoa, sandwiches, eggplant parm - can you say YUM! In the end though I decided to go with the Taco platter. It just sounded to good not to order and I felt like something Mexicana style you know? In the end I was super happy I ordered it because I was not in the least bit disappointed. Like the mushroom dumplings these tacos were full of flavor, and packed with rich, creamy goodness. Aside from the cabbage you would never know this was totally raw! There were two raw corn tortillas, loaded with pumpkin seed ‘refried beans’ which were fantastic! Then it was topped with cabbage slaw, guacamole, salsa and a creamy chipotle cheese drizzle. The tortillas also came with a side salad that had a rich and creamy dressing with a bit of kick. The perfect accompaniment. I honestly can not say enough how amazing this meal is. If you go to In The Raw you must try it!


My husband ordered the Falafel Sandwich for his meal. Though it came out looking more like a sloppy ‘egg’ sandwich then an actual falafel it was really delicious. He gave me a couple of bites and it was definitely one of the best raw falafel’s I’ve had. The sandwich comes on really delicious sesame bread that’s crunchy but tender at the same time. It also has mixed vegetables, zucchini hummus, herbed tahini sauce, and the falafel itself is made mostly out of sunflower seeds. It too comes with a side salad with a lemony dressing. Very, very good.

Falafel Sandwich 

Though we were pretty stuffed by the end of all of that we couldn’t just leave it there. You know we had to get dessert right? The dessert options looked amazing, and I seriously wanted one of everything. I especially wanted to try the crepes, the chia pudding, the cheesecake, the tiramisu, and the mesquite chocolate pudding with whiskey walnut ice cream but we decided to keep it low key. Instead we ordered one pineapple upside-down cake, and four chocolate truffles. One salted caramel, one orange sesame, one coconut, and one that was just orange.  When we had enough space to finally eat them they were each delicious. I particularly liked the pineapple upside-down cake which was dense yet moist, full of flavor and didn’t have that ‘raw cake’ flavor of nuts and agave. The pineapple topping was really fantastic!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Chocolate Truffles

I also got a bottle of their liquid gold juice to go which was a mixture of spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, apple and lemon. It was really good you could definitely taste the green factor and it wasn’t overly sweet but with each sip you take you know you’re doing something really good for your body. They have a really great assortment of juices and their juice bar is pretty cool. I’ve love to try them all, perhaps another day when I have more room in my stomach and more money in my wallet.

Fresh Juice! Liquid Gold

Money is one thing I suppose I should address. In all the reviews I read of In The Raw that was the one constant complaint, the price. Most people said that In the Raw is expensive but I thought it was pretty comparable to other raw places I’ve been, and even other high-end vegan, or high-end omnivore places. I mean if you’re looking for Olive Garden prices or something you’re going to be SOL and if you go into In The Raw looking to order as much food as my husband and I did then you’re looking at $100 meal. But if you go in there and buy a juice and breakfast, or an appetizer and dessert, or a smoothie and lunch you can probably get away with a bill that’s under $25 which is pretty reasonable. It’s also not badly priced considering all the food is organic.

Overall I will definitely be going back to In The Raw it was just that amazing! Seriously it’s probably one of my new favorite places, and since I’m in Highland Park often it’ll probably be my go-to spot when I’m there. The food is excellent, the service is good, and the atmosphere friendly. I highly recommend it if you like good food and a fun experience. Though consider their hours, right now since it’s winter they’re only open till 4pm so make sure you duck in before then.

For more information or to check out their menu you can head on over to their website!

In The Raw 
483 Central Ave
Highland Park, IL
In The Raw

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