That's right, that South Side bastion of veganism -- no meat, no dairy, people -- Soul Vegetarian East on has several outposts around the city, many of them on the North Side, Evanston, around the University of Chicago campus and even a kiosk on the Congress stop of the Blue Line. In my quest to eat one new food a day during January, I stopped in to True Nature Foods, 6034 N. Broadway, and there, next to the few burritos that were left in the refrigator section, was my next meal: "BBQ Delights." This Nebraska girl continues to be amazed at what people can do with wheat gluten.
Looking a little bit like sliced brisket in a light red barbecue sauce, the dish is infused with garlic and other special spices used to cook a roast, says Eliadah Ben Israel, coordinator of the Soul's distribution center. I paired with a nice brown rice I picked up in the food court at the Merchandise Mart. This is by far the best thing I've tried in this month-long experiment. The BBQ Delights, $4.99 for about a pint, is different from the Down-South Barbecue Twist Sandwich I had last May at the Park Manor neighborhood restaurant, 205 E. 75th. The sweet soy protein cutlet sandwich whose meaty flavor is owed to none other than peanut butter, says Eliadah Ben Israel, coordinator of the Soul's distribution center. Of course the secret ingredients of both barbecue offerings, he says, is love. Awwww.
Ben Israel said the South Side restaurant's owners are trying to reach their clients, who come from all over -- particularly Evanston.
"One of the main questions we get asked all the time is 'when are you going to open a restaurant in our neighborhood?"
About 15 years ago the restaurant started taking "small items" from their menu, packaging it and putting them on the refrigerated shelves of healthfood stores in the neighborhoods.
Newleaf Natural Grocery, 1261 W. Loyola Ave., Chicago
Ethical Planet, 1110 Davis, Evanston
J D Mills Health Foods, 635 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Southtown Health Foods 2100 W 95th St., Chicago
The University of Chicago and DePaul University Barnes and Noble bookstores also care Soul Vegetarian East foods. The Univeristy of Chicago has four cafes on campus that carry Soul foods.