Last week we highlighted Chicago’s best bets for well-being—one-stop yoga and Pilates, wellness lodgings, holistic spas, and niche healers. This week we give you the deep dish (we couldn’t resist) on Chicago’s hidden yet healthy dining scene. Thanks to the mad-science gastronomy the city’s become known for, “healthy restaurants—of which there are many—tend to get overlooked,” notes Jennifer Olvera, a Chicago-based food writer. That’s begun to change, though, as notable newcomers (and stalwarts alike) make a move toward incorporating locally grown and raised produce and meat.
The serene Prairie-style restaurant and its spectacular pond-front setting is worth the two-mile a cab ride north from the Loop. Super-talented Locovore chef and Midwestern boy, Bruce Sherman is equally at home with pork, snapper, and vegetables. Our favorite Root Vegetables, Pears ($33) pairs a rosemary root vegetable gratin with spinach, Bosc pear puree, Asian pear, pine nuts, and Parmesan.
2610 N. Cannon Dr., enter from Lakeview Ave., Lincoln Park, 773-477-5845, www.northpondrestaurant.com
Modish and strictly vegetarian. That’s the Green Zebra’s approach to its rotating menu of 25 or so small plates. Owned by the trio responsible for the seafood-inspired Spring and the nouveau-steakhouse Custom House, the Green Zebra does a brilliant job applying cutting-edge culinary techniques to the finest local ingredients. Try the Rye Spätzle, an eggplant schnitzel with caraway, parsley, and mustard seed ($11). We promise a revelation in Teutonic gastronomy.
1460 W. Chicago Ave., btwn N. Ashland and N. Greenview Aves., West Town, 312-243-7100, www.greenzebrachicago.com
MANA FOOD BAR
Wicker Park’s tiny Mana Food Bar is the perfect stop after a day of shopping on Division Street. While the casual cafe may not win any innovation awards, chef Jill Barron’s focus on simple techniques and pungent spices yields very satisfying results. Try the Red Quinoa served with corn and Chipotle dressing ($6 for a small plate or $11 for large) or the brown rice and mushroom Mana Sliders ($3.50 each) and you’ll see what we mean.
1742 W. Division St., btwn. N. Wood and N. Paulina Sts., Wicker Park, 773-342-1742, www.manafoodbar.com
Former model and vegan aficionado Karyn Calabrese is a huge raw-food force in Chicago, with a following of spiritual-fasters and life-changers. And she now has two vegan outposts: the original Karyn’s Raw Café in Lincoln Park and Karyn’s Cooked in the River North district. Karyn’s Raw is equal parts healing mecca, juice bar, and restaurant. The menu of Karyn’s Cooked consists of vegan mainstays like soy protein based Sloppy Jos ($8.95) and seitan steak sandwiches ($8.95).
Karyn’s Raw Café, 1901 N. Halsted St., at Armitage Ave., Lincoln Park, 312-255-1590, www.karynraw.com
Karyn’s Cooked, 738 N. Wells St., at W. Superior St., River North, 312-587-1050, www.karynraw.com/Cooked