Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Restaurant Review: Loving Heart in Chicago...

Yesterday my husband and I went to a ‘newish’ vegan restaurant in the city, to celebrate my graduation from school. Yes, did you catch that? After the years of hard and grueling work, the tests, the papers, the projects I’m done!  I just found out a few days ago that I received an -A on my final project, and I’ll officially have my degree in six weeks time. Once I have that, I need to get certified by the state and then I’ll officially be a Holistic Health Practitioner, how exciting! And definitely worth celebrating if you ask me.

Originally I wanted to go somewhere fancy, somewhere that you can dress up, somewhere that has little plates of food and a variety of cocktails. Somewhere like Kayrn’s on Green, but my husband has already expressed a desire to take me there on my birthday and so I thought I’d best pick somewhere else. As it happens I was a bit tired yesterday from work, and so a relaxed and casual atmosphere suited my mood quite well.

I stumbled upon Loving Heart - not to be confused with Loving Hut - while I was scrolling through Happy Cow. I’d never heard of it before, - they’ve only been open since November of 2013 - but the description sounded fantastic. I immediately went to their website and fell in love! Anyone who knows me - or my husband for that matter - knows that we absolutely adore Asian food, and Asian fusion - it’s one of our all time favorites and there are literally days where I can not get enough rice noodles!  It’s very hard for us to pass up a good Asian inspired meal and so looking through the menu I knew - just knew - that this would be the place for us, and my husband completely agreed.

We arrived at about 5pm for an early dinner - we’d been starving ourselves all day so we could literally eat a ton of food! - and found easy street parking right out front. Though if you go to Loving Heart you really need to keep your eyes open. The restaurant is small, and could easily be missed - we drove right by it on the first go-round. Inside the atmosphere is casual, relaxed and friendly. The staff is super nice, and helpful, very eager to please, the whole place exudes love. I’m serious, walking into Loving Heart is like walking into a big hug, or maybe a fluffy cloud. You feel at home, you feel welcome, and what more can you ask for in a restaurant? The space is medium, with quite a few tables, they also have a whole section of leaflets, books, and other resource materials to help the veg-curious transition which is really cool. The service is mostly self-service. You grab a to-go menu, pick out what you want, order at the counter and then sit down and wait. They call your name, you go pick it up and bring it back to your table. Most of the materials used from the forks to the containers to the paper sheaths the forks come in are biodegradable or made from recycled materials which is so, so cool! I mean, what’s not to love about that?

But now you want to know about the food right? Well, like I said we were hungry, and so we ordered a feast!

First we got drinks. I ordered the hot Cinnamon and Ginger Tea Latte which was excellent. Great flavor, subtlety sweet, and not overpowering. Perfect for a slightly chilly Chicago evening.

Hot Cinnamon Ginger Tea Latte

My husband ordered the banana, mango smoothie which was banana, mango, organic soymilk, ans stevia. I took a couple of sips off of this and it was really tasty. He loved it! - Sorry, no photo.

For food we started with the pot stickers which were full of steamed cabbage, carrot, tofu, sweet potato noodles, onion and mushrooms. It came with a soy dipping sauce and they were excellent!

Pot Stickers on the left, Rice Roll on the right

Of course one appetizer wasn’t good enough for us and so we also ordered the Rice Roll which was stuffed with cilantro, red bell pepper, avocado, spinach, house special soy beef slices - non-gmo - onion, roasted peanuts, seaweed and came with the house special green ginger pesto - almond butter, agave, dates, garlic, ginger, parsley, and cilantro) Everything about these was phenomenal, seriously! The beef slices were incredible, maybe even some of the best vegan beef I’ve ever eaten! And I loved the pesto, so much flavor!

Close up of the Rice Roll 

For my main meal I ordered the Ever Young Noodle which basically contained everything that was in the Rice Roll, plus wheat noodles - though there is a gluten-free option too. Of course this was fantastic, I literally couldn’t get enough of it. I liked the combination of textures. The soft noodles with the beef slices, and the raw veggies plus raw sauce. I loved how most of the food at this restaurant was raw, with only light accents of cooked food, and those beef slices! Seriously, they tasted like what I remember beef jerky tasting like, that sweet, salty, savory taste. Amazing!

Ever Young Noodles 

For his meal my husband got the BiBim Noodles which included avocado, carrot, zucchini, lettuce, wheat noodles, beef slices, and house special BiBim Sauce which was a sweet, tangy, spicy red sauce.  My husband was kind enough to give me a bit of his dish and I’m telling you, this was off the hook guys! I don’t know if I liked it better then my own dish but it was easily as good. So much flavor and great texture!

BiBim Noodles 

Because two appetizers and two main dishes just weren’t enough for our hungry bellies we also ordered a Heaven Wrap to split. Man oh man was this good. It was raw red pepper hummus, red bell pepper, beef slices, spinach, tomato, onion, cilantro and parsley all rolled up in an organic tortilla. Again this wrap had so much flavor and was so delicious!

Heaven Wrap 

As you can see most of what we ordered contained the house special beef slices, but have no fear, if you are indeed soy-free there are options here for you that don’t include a soy meat. Some dishes are just veggies, and some use nuts or beans or lentils as their protein. Most dishes can also be made gluten-free upon request, and some can be nut-free as well. Though the menu is relatively small, there is a little something here for everyone I think, and you really can’t beat the prices. Nothing on the menu costs more then $7.85, and most of the sandwiches and salads are under $7. For everything we got our bill was only $40, which is super reasonable not only for a vegan restaurant but also for one that includes a lot of raw food.

Inside the Heaven Wrap 

They also have dessert, and I was really looking forward to trying either the raw strawberry cake or the raw orange cake but both were sold out! They had some chocolate desserts as well, but I was all chocolated out, so hopefully next time I’ll score me a raw strawberry cake. Most of their desserts by the way - as well as their smoothies and drinks - are sugar-free, which is awesome. This food is simply good, healthy food that you can feel good about eating.

So please do yourself a favor, if you find yourself in the area drop by Loving Heart for a bite. You won’t be disappointed! The food’s amazing, the people are great, you’ll love it! You can even do take-away if you want.

Loving Heart
838 W. Montrose Ave. Chicago, IL
Phone # 773.561.5399
Mon-Fri : 11 am - 2 pm & 4 pm - 9pm

Sat : 11 am - 9 pm.
Closed Sunday


  1. Well this place looks and sounds like a great place to eat!!! If we ever get to Chicago I think I would like to give it a try! S.T.

  2. This place was a great find! I wish it was closer to us so we could stop in every week. ;) I love the atmosphere & the food was so good! Definitely worth the drive into the city, however.
    Congrats on graduating your college program!!! I knew you could do it & do it well!