Last Friday my husband and I had lunch at Karyn’s Cooked. We’ve been there several times before, but always for breakfast, and so I was excited to finally try some of their other dishes. If you don’t know Karyn Calabrese she’s something of a vegan celebrity here in Chicago. She’s a mostly raw advocate for health and compassion. She runs an Inner Beauty/Holistic center, and has three restaurants, one all raw place called Karyn’s Raw, a high-end establisment where you can expect the finest in vegan dining called Karyn’s on Green, and then a down-home place serving up delicious vegan comfort food, called Karyn’s Cooked. She’s also written two books, and she can often be found speaking or demoing at the various vegan/vegetarian events around town. She’s amazing, and inspirational, and much loved by our little vegan community here in Chicagoland.
Needless to say my husband and I are always happy to dine in one of her restaurants, and we’ve always had a good experience both with the food and the staff. Out of all three places I would say that Cooked is where I feel the most comfortable, it’s a cozy, intimate space that’s very welcoming and warm. When you sit down, you feel like you’re at home, or just sitting in that old café you go to every afternoon at 4. It’s a very friendly place, with a great vibe, and great atmosphere.
On this particular trip we decided to start with the Buffalo Wings - because, HELLO, Buffalo Wings! Who can pass that up? These were made out of a really chewy mix of seitan and tofu, I loved the texture but the taste - and the shape - reminded me more of a chicken nugget then a wing. They had a ‘baked’ kind of flavor, where as a lot of other buffalo wings I’ve had In the past - vegan of course - seem to come a bit more greasy. Still delicious though. They came with a trio of sauces, one ranch style sauce, one buffalo sauce, and one BBQ sauce. All of the sauces were great but I think they really tasted best when combined like Ranch and Buffalo together or Ranch and BBQ together - yum!
Since we can never go anywhere and order only one appetizer we ordered the Thai Skewers. Now these can come slathered either in BBQ or Peanut sauce, but since my husband doesn’t particularly care for peanuts or peanut sauce we opted for BBQ. I’ll definitely try the Peanut next time! Anyway, these skewers were made of seitan and tofu and absolutely delicious, they were also huge! The BBQ Sauce was amazing! I’ve always been a great lover of ‘Que Sauce, and this one really hit the spot.
For my main meal I’ll be honest, I really had a hard time choosing. It came down to the ribs, the taco salad or the Ruben Sandwich. In the end I nixed the ribs because we’d just eaten BBQ skewers, and I opted for the Ruben, ‘cause, well who doesn’t love a Ruben? Besides it came with potatoes and coleslaw and I’ve always been a sucker for some slaw. This particular slaw was alright, it was of the vinegar dressing variety vs the mayo kind which I prefer. The potatoes were fantastic, I really loved them - though I would have liked more then two! The Ruben was also very good, however I think The Chicago Diner has Karyn’s Beat concerning best Ruben. What I loved most about Karyn’s version though was the meat, it was really smoky, and flavorful, and could really have passed for real meat. Amazing. I also liked the sauce which wasn’t a typical ‘thousand island’ type sauce but a dill dressing.
My husband also had a hard time choosing a meal - too many delicious sounding options - but in the end he went with Flautas which is a mix of tofu and carrot stuffed inside a corn tortilla and then fried. It came with guac, pico, refried black beans, mixed greens and sour cream and a jalapeno cilantro sauce. He really loved this, and was kind enough to give me a bite. Very good!
|Mac and Cheese|
We also ordered a side of mac and cheese to share, ‘cause, why not? When eating at a comfort food restaurant who can pass up the opportunity to try mac and cheese. This version of the classic dish was super creamy, perhaps more creamy then any other restaurant version I’ve had. However it was a bit mild in flavor for me, I prefer my mac to have that really tart, tangy cheese taste. My husband loved it though.
We also ordered dessert - but neglected to photograph it cause we took it to go. I got a slice of the coconut cream pie which was out of this world amazing, and my husband got a slice of the lemon meringue which was also very good. All in all it was another delicious afternoon!
PS: In the past for breakfast we’ve had the Skillet Scramble, the Mediterranean Scramble, the Rainbow Mexicana, the Banana French Toast and the Vegan Sausage Patties. All of which were excellent! Brunch at Karyn’s is a must, at least once! Especially when there are so few vegan breakfast options in the city.
738 North Wells Street, Chicago
Phone - 312.587.1050
Sunday-Monday 11:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.
(Sunday Brunch 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m)
Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.
(Saturday Brunch 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.)