What I’m about to tell you is something I never expected to be writing about. But, as I am constantly reminded in life, “never say never”.
One of my latest vegetarian foodie adventures has taken me to somewhere I would not have really considered as a dining destination or as a place to take my family and friends for a meal. But, as we know, times and people change. Ok, you ready for this?
Don’t be surprised when I suggest we meet for dinner at Mariano’s grocery store in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. Yup, that is correct and no, I haven’t lost my mind.
Mariano’s market, aside from being a “regular” store with groceries, has a very unique and cool take of being a “neighborhood shopping environment” with options like a wood-fired pizza station, sit down sushi bar, fresh salad bar, wine bar, Italian gelato station, oyster bar and so much more. What I absolutely love about this concept is you can sit right at the counter, watch your food being prepared and eat it on the spot while it is hot and fresh. I haven’t seen this approach at any other grocery store I have been to. Love it!
I was invited to a check out one of Mariano’s newest concepts called VEG’D (only currently available at the Bucktown location). It’s a vegetarian and vegan’s dream come true! This station has anything and everything from prepared salads, dehydrated kale chips, six different varieties of veggie burgers, soups, desserts and the list goes on (most of the menu is actually vegan).
As a vegetarian, I’m pretty used to having only one option (hopefully) on any given menu. Then I come to a place like VEG’D and I don’t even know what to do with myself. It’s like a whole new concept to me. “Multiple vegetarian and vegan options to choose from on this menu and more than one type of veggie burger? Yes, please!!” It was almost overwhelming, because every single thing sounded good and I wanted to try it all!
I had the opportunity to try out a few salads, two different types of veggie burgers, raw pizza and some desserts. Overall, I really liked everything I sampled but there were definitely a few standouts:
1. Sicilian salad- Very tasty vegan salad with eggplant, cauliflower, capers and mint and other vegan ingredients. Light and flavorful.
2. Sweet potato and black bean veggie burger with harissa sauce- A delicious, house-made, vegan patty with a Moroccan inspired spicy sauce to give it a kick, all on a sprouted english muffin.
3. Raw cashew chocolate chip cookie- OMG, this tasted exactly like chocolate chip cookie dough yet it was raw and vegan? Couldn’t believe it! I kind of wanted like 4 more cookies, but refrained. Thank goodness for some willpower and being stuffed!
Really, you can’t go wrong with whatever you order at VEG’D. I like that everything is prepared fresh, in-house, and on a daily basis so you know you are getting only the best. Honestly, I will not say no to an invite to go to Mariano’s for dinner anytime. I’m now on a mission to try every single one of those veggie burgers!! You in?
Please Note: I was invited to try out VEG’D by Mariano’s for this post; I was not compensated and all opinions are my own.