Eating in the raw doesn't exactly mean sashimi for the rest of your life. Raw vegan diets consist of plant-based foods that have not been cooked or heated above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Raw foodies swear by their diets, and doctors who advocate for raw food say that your body needs nothing more than plant-based, non-cooked food. Even Chicago's most famous chef, Charlie Trotter, will "cook" up a raw menu upon request. Our guide to raw eating in Chicago tells you where to get your livin' food fix.
Karyn Calabrese's Fresh Corner Cafe makes live food even sexier than it already is. Start the day with an energizing Morning Cleanser, a combination of the guru's own superfood green meal powder, apple juice, the cleansing agent rejuvelac, banana, flax oil and lecithin. Karyn also serves sandwiches like the raw "BLT," which is best followed by a naturally sweetened carob oat cake. If you'd rather dine in, try the elegant raw food restaurant located next door. Many raw foodies say that once you start eating raw, you'll have a sudden urge to detox—one of Karyn's specialties. Check out her website
for info on detoxing, yoga and all the health benefits of eating raw.
In addition to vegetarian and vegan entrees, this Boystown favorite also serves raw food. The selections vary, but you can bet raw nachos will be on the menu. These corn flax chips come topped with fresh carrots, beets, tomatoes, onions, portabellos, olives, sprouts, cashes "cheese," guac, "sour cream" and pico de gallo. The Diner recently served a raw bacon cheeseburger (a portabello-walnut patty served on onion-flax bread with all the fixins) and jicama "fries"; try it before this better-than-beef concoction disappears. If you want to hit your sweet tooth, ask about the raw dessert options.
Cousin's Incredible Vitality
Once upon a time, Mehmet Ak weighed 235 pounds and owned the popular Turkish restaurant, Cousin's. That was before he discovered raw food, which he says saved his life. After intensive training, he completely revamped his restaurant into one of the healthiest spots in Chicago. But he never gave up his Turkish roots: items on the menu include dolmas, falafel wraps and hummus, along with spiced up American favorites like "tacos," "fakin' bacon poppers" and flax seed pizza. If you're ready to take the next step, try hot yoga classes next door at Awakened Lotus Yoga Center
, or cleanse your body completely with Ak's transformative detox class.
If you're looking for a raw Trotter experience minus the cooked stuff, call ahead for the seasonal seven-course tasting menu. A few items on the current menu include arugula and oyster plant with concord grape vinaigrette, Asian pear with chestnut and chervil, parsnip spaghetti with savoy cabbage and sultana and a fudge brownie with walnuts and vanilla ice cream, among others. And for a bit of extra dough, you'll get a non-alcoholic beverage to go with your uber-healthy dinner.
Borrowed Earth Cafe
Danny and Kathy Living were already vegan when they tried going raw for the first few days after a month-long detox. They were so excited about the feeling of well-being that they decided to keep it up. After joining a raw food meet-up group in the west suburbs, the health-conscious couple discovered The Secret, which helped them envision their own raw cafe. Well guess what? It happened. Borrowed Earth Cafe defies American eating conventions, and even standard business hours. The cafe is open Monday 3:57–9:03 p.m., and Tuesday–Saturday from 10:57 a.m.–9:03 p.m. And the menu features favorites from multiple cultures. The nori rolls come with avocado, cilantro and jicama "rice" wrapped in raw nori, and entrees like the Earth Sampler are loaded with kebab, falafel, stuffed mushroom, dolmas and side salads. Worth the trip.