Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Native Foods Cafe

Location: 1023 W Belmont
Cost: $15 per person

For the last two weeks of my neurology rotation I was partnered up with my friend Renee. Two important things to know about Renee are that she lives in Lakeview and is a vegetarian. The last time we'd gone out to eat was at The Chicago Diner. I'll hold my rant on imitation foods this time, but feel free to reference the aforementioned post to read more. Well Renee wanted me to check out another one of these similar style faux food joints that she's become very fond of, Native Foods Cafe.

Native Foods has a standard setup where you order at the counter and put your number up on some table stand. We went pretty early on a weekday and didn't have any wait. I've seen some lines develop when I've walked by in the past, so I'm sure you might have some waiting at busier times. It's right around the corner from the Belmont red line, making transportation pretty easy.

Our service was very friendly but somewhat poor all around. Placing our order at the counter was a bit of an adventure, but they gave us a free drink to make up for the delay. It also took me tracking down the waitress to get my take home box after waiting a good ten minutes. The cost is pretty good for how large the portions are. At the same time, soy/gluten based proteins and vegetables probably don't cost that much in the first place. The sweet potato fries we split were $4, and our entrees were around $10.

The Food
Renee went with her favorite by ordering the Twister Wrap, I went for the Soul Bowl, and we split an order of Sweet Potato Fries. The wrap had a southwestern style by coating some of the Native Foods Chicken in salsa and creamy chipotle sauce. I got a solid bite and was impressed that the imitation chicken carried such a crunch. My soul bowl reminded me of a healthier version of the mashed potato bowl they serve at KFC. It had red beans, brown rice, a variety of veggies, and some of their fried chicken. The barbecue and ranch sauces topping everything were tangy and creamy respectively. This dish was a veggie lovers dream, and it was really filling. They also tossed a piece of their cornbread on top. I thought it had a pretty mushy texture but the flavors were in order. Now the sweet potato fries were spot on. They had this sugary dusting and came with a chipotle dipping sauce that was probably my favorite part of the whole meal.

The Twister Wrap

The Sweet Potato Fries

 The Soul Bowl

I liked most everything that I tried at Native Foods. I thought the imitation chicken did a nice job, but it's not like if I had closed my eyes that I'd believe it was real. I think the strength of any vegetarian place is to find dishes that feature lots of vegetables (they have to be good right?). When it comes to my fake meats, I'm giving the edge to the Chicago Diner, and I'm giving Native Foods 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Native Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon


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