Althea: A Chicago Vegan Restaurant

Althea is a vegan restaurant in Chicago that serves up delicious plant-based cuisine that is sure to tantalize taste buds and satisfy even the heartiest appetites. The menu features an array of vegan dishes, from appetizers to entrees, including pizza, burgers, tacos, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more. All of the dishes are made with fresh, organic ingredients and are completely free of animal products, making them safe and healthy for vegans to enjoy. In addition, Althea also offers take-out, delivery, and catering services, making it easy for customers to enjoy their food wherever and whenever they want.

Are you all about eating unconventional food in an unconventional location? If so, Althea is the place for you! Althea is located on the 7th floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, literally in the men’s department. I’m not sure the reason for the odd location, but I think the bizarre placement makes this restaurant quirky and fun.

And if you’re lucky enough to get a window seat overlooking the city, you won’t even notice you’re surrounded by men’s apparel! Let me tell you though, food-wise, Althea was my favorite of the 4 vegan restaurants we visited on our short weekend trip to Chicago.

Let me give you a quick summary:

Althea is a slightly upscale, all plant-based restaurant opened under the direction of renowned celebrity chef Matthew Kenney. The food is organic when possible. It is served in smallish, beautifully crafted portions, and there are both raw and cooked dishes. The restaurant itself is small so reservations are encouraged.

There is a small bar area located just across from the men’s shoes, so hey, shop while you drink I guess. The staff was dressed nice and appeared very classy. I, on the other hand, wore my ripped jeans and Vans.

I was going to change after hanging out downtown that day, but I figured, the restaurant is located in a department store, what are they gonna say? The prices are high relative to the portion sizes, but the quality of the food and the plating make the prices worth it. Speaking of the beautiful food, let me show you what we had!

Crab Cakes

I forgot to take a picture of the crab cakes before we dug in. We were so hungry and so excited to try them! They really did look beautiful before we stuck the fork in them! And the taste, holy cow! These were incredible! They were arguably the best crab cakes I’ve ever had, even though of course there was no actual crab in them.

These crab cakes are made of hearts of palm, artichoke, and quinoa. I don’t know what spices they use in order to get an authentic crab cake taste, but they are magical. They are served with a beautiful orange ancho aioli that is incredible.

We actually almost ordered another round of crab cakes but then came to our senses after we remembered we still had our entrees coming. At $14 a pop for 3 cakes, I would recommend savoring every bite.

Spicy Udon Noodle

This was my husband’s dish and it was delicious!

It definitely was not overly spicy. I am pretty sensitive to spices and this did not bother me at all. The taste was incredible! The dish consists of udon noodles in a togarashi spiced broth with tempeh, cashews, shitake mushrooms, hoisin, and watermelon radish.

I don’t know why those seemingly oddly paired ingredients work so well together but they just do! My husband mentioned that he didn’t care for the consistency of the tempeh. I on the other hand thought it was fabulous.Tempeh does have an interesting consistency though so it can be different if you’re not used to eating it. The udon noodle dish was $19.

MightyVine Tomato Zuchinni Lasagna

I cannot tell you how much I loved this lasagna.

When the server informed me that it was a raw dish, I was a little skeptical but decided to keep my order. The flavor combination of this lasagna was like no other! The lasagna is made up of zucchini strips and MightVine tomatoes with sundried tomato marinara, macadamia nut ricotta, and basil pistachio pesto.

Just trust me when I say you should try this lasagna. If all raw food was this good I would be eating it all the time! The lasagna was $21 and well worth it. I mean people pay around this price for Olive Garden food and it doesn’t even compare!

The Service

Since this was an actual sit-down restaurant, unlike a couple of other places we visited in Chicago, I want to make a few comments on the service. First of all, everyone was super nice. The hostess even commented on how she liked our Vans.

We made a reservation for 6:45pm. We arrived right around that time and were able to sit down right away. We got a small 2-person table by the entrance of the restaurant right behind the bar. It took several minutes for a server to show up, but when she did she was very sweet.

We both ordered a craft beer can and our crab cake appetizer which came out relatively quickly by a food runner. It took a little longer to get our entrees and a second drink, but we didn’t care at all. In fact, we were right by the bar so we could have ordered a drink there if we really wanted to.

The only pretty peculiar thing that happened was that our server asked us if we ever got our food and our second drink a long time after we had finished our food and our second drink.

I don’t want to put down Althea at all because I really love it, but the service is a bit lacking, at least it was that night. It really was not a big deal, just a bit odd. Anyway, onto the rest of the menu.

The Menu

Other menu items at Althea include:

  • Kimchi Dumplings (I’ve heard rave reviews about these)
  • Barbacoa Taco
  • Artisinal Cheese Plate
  • Plant Burger
  • Summer Corn Risotto
  • Coconut Cream Pie