America’s largest vegetarian fast-casual chain is coming to Chicago, as Veggie Grill is shooting for a late fall opening near the Lincoln Park/Lakeview border. The Chicago location, 614 W. Diversey Parkway, marks the chain’s first foray into the Midwest. They run 28 locations in California, Oregon, and Washington. Chicago is part of a nationwide expansion for the fast-casual restaurant group.
Veggie Grill CEO Steve Heeley, via a news release, said he plans to open more Chicago locations. The chain uses the Beyond Burger, the vegan patty that uses beet juice to look like blood. The makers of the meat substitute have tried to capture the look, taste, and texture of meat. Coincidentally, Chicago-chain Epic Burger earlier this week began offering Beyond Burgers at its restaurants.
Veggie Grill debuted in 2006 in Southern California. Besides the meat-free burgers, there’s salads, soups, and meat-free spicy-fried Chickin’. The selections have a seasonal feel with items rotating in and off the menu. They’ll also offer delivery.
A few blocks north from the future Veggie Grill, Kitchen 17 has moved into a larger space in Lakeview. The vegan restaurant offers items including a dairy- and meat-free Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. There’s also been two more upscale debuts in recent weeks, Clever Rabbit in Wicker Park and Bad Hunter in West Loop, that offer more meat-free items to Chicagoans. Perhaps that can balance out the numerous steakhouses that routinely open.