Chef Jaron Butler was "born a vegan"óno canned food, no milk, no meat, even no cigarettes. So when you step into Butler's Life Vegan, a vegetarian and vegan soul-food restaurant, you don't have to worry about the possible artery-clogging preparation of most love-filled Southern cuisine. Like its South Side sister, Soul Vegetarian East
, it is a flavorful blessing for veg-heads. The food doesnít taste green; it tastes fresh, rich even, especially its tart and silky house salad dressing. I bet even Paula Dean disciples won't feel wilted after the first few bites.
The menu will soon incorporate vegan pizza and raw salads and sandwiches, as well as dishes with an international touch. But while it is still being printed, the friendly staff will direct you to a tiny dry-erase board with their daily sides and dinner specials, like big portions of country fried "steak" (made of seitan) with "gravy," "cheese" broccoli, "buttered" sweet corn and brown Cajun rice. Your choice of soup (like orange lentil or split pea), chili or salad will bring your healthy, freshly made dinner to $12. Can't stomach a full plate? The oak bar that divides the staff from the diners displays a pot of bubbling chili, plus vegan carrot and coconut creme cakes ($4.50 a slice).
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Puhala