Ride to Secret Opening of Lakeview’s Native Foods Cafe

Native Foods Cafe – Information


map / directions 
Opening August 30th
1023 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 549-4904
Sun-Thur: 11AM – 10PM
Fri-Sat: 11AM – 11PM

The Toodle to the Secret Opening

Native Foods Vegan Cafe

We got an email from Chef Tanya inviting us to join her and the staff of the latest Native Foods Cafe to open here in Chicago. This is the second and is located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. It is situated next door to a Chipotle another one of our favorite places to eat.

The email stated that we should log onto their website and confirm the receipt of the email and then select a time slot during which we would be seated. So we followed the instructions and prepared for a bit of gastronomic delight!

At the La Rabida Children’s Hospital Parking Lot we made the decision to head north rather than visiting the South Shore Cultural Center. So we took off into a rather stiff headwind that persisted all the way north!

The sky today was a brilliant blue and filled with wispy clouds. That was about all that we noticed as we plowed ahead hoping not to be late. I really hate to be forced to meet a target time on days like this but it was unavoidable.

We exited the Chicago Lakefront Trail at Fullerton and worked our way over to Clark Street as we headed north to reach Belmont Avenue. The traffic was fairly dense for a Saturday afternoon but it was made easier to negotiate because of the nicely laid out bike lanes that Chicago has laid down all over the north side.

When we reached the Cafe there was already a line of clients waiting outside with menus in hand and looking longingly through the window at the diners already enjoying their meals. We locked up our Easy Racers Ti-Rushes and stood in line for a while. As usual these bikes draw a good deal of attention from other cyclists and even non-cyclists who are intrigued by the idea of riding a bicycle that does not hurt.

Connie spoke the to gal who was vetting the arrivals to make certain their names were on the list. She mentioned that since we had bikes out front it would be awfully nice to sit near the front window to keep and eye on them. She agreed and before long we were inside ordering our meals.

The deal with this secret opening was that the food was free! And that meant that if you were so inclined you could offer a generous tip for the wait staff who did a marvelous job of bringing out the food once ordered and busing the tables and fetching drink refills.

If you are a vegan then this restaurant like others in the city which specialize in this kind of food is a place you really ought to visit. These folks are based in California and have made a bold move to join the Chicago Diner and Karyn’s and Soul Vegetarian as one of the more prominent members of the vegetarian/vegan community.

The food is typically Californian in its flair and presentation and I for one really like it. Today I enjoyed the Chicken Wrap and a side of potato salad. I washed it all down with a glass of Lavender Lemonade! And the meal was capped off with a very decadent cupcake that frankly was so delicious and to make you worry that it could not really be a vegan preparation.

Great Food and Great Time!

Chef Tanya came over to our table as I was “holding down the fort” as Connie ordered the food. She asked about the bikes and I told her that we had ridden them to her Wicker Park Native Foods Cafe location just the week before. She went up to Connie who was still in line and chatted for a long while and even informed her that the cycling jersey she was wearing was of a California highway scene with which she was quite familiar. And to confirm the truth of this observation Connie got the same remark from one of the order takers at the front of the dining area when she was placing the order.

I talked for a while with a couple of the investors who were also helping out at this opening. The folks are quite friendly and the food is really quite good. I delight in eating vegan meals because they are in many instances delicious and guilt free. That is a great combination!

When we were ready to leave we headed out the door and I gave the investor fellow who had spoken to us last week a “high five” and thanked them for making Chicago an easier place to find good healthy food. Then we took off to work our way back to Lincoln Park to find the underpass where we could re-enter the Chicago Lakefront Trail.

Jugglers Who Know Earl Russell and Sail-Surfers

We slowed the pace a bit as we headed back to the van. I spotted a couple of fellows (one white and the other black) whom I had seen earlier in the week juggling pins along the beach front. I doubled back to capture some footage of the black fellow and he agreed to allow me. In the process I learned that he works at Cycle Smithy Bike Shop with Earl Russell! Small world!

Then we set off once again and along the lakefront near the 67th Street Beach area we spotted a fellow doing some Sail Surfing. I really don’t know if that is the proper term for this kind of surfing but the video should explain it all. This is really a fascinating sport and seems both exhilarating and dangerous.

When we arrived back at the van we circled the parking lot a bit to get the mileage up to 30 miles and then packed up the bikes for tomorrow’s ride. This will hopefully be a very nice weekend for such a late season time. The Active Transportation Alliance is putting on its 4-Star Tour and that should be fun!

Our prayers are with those on the East Coast of the United States who are waiting out Hurricane Irene.

Distance: 30.1 miles
Time: 3h 02m 08s