MM rode the train downtown with me this morning. We sat next to each other, and while I read my new crazy vegan book, A Way Out, he peered over my shoulder, randomly laughing at paragraphs (I kept telling him that the book isn’t meant to be funny), and noting, “He makes some valid points.”
He's right. And I was only on page 12.
Then he looked at me, grinning and asked, “What time will you eat lunch today?”
Confused, I responded, “What? Why?”
Grinning still, he said, “Because you have your Tao Wrap leftovers. You said the last time you brought your leftovers you couldn’t wait to eat it.”
Oh right. I did say that.
“I’m going to try my best not to eat it until noon.”
Call it. Time of Death: 11:07am.
I know you’re all like, “WTF are you talking about Lou?”
Please allow me to explain.
So, MM lives in Rogers Park, more commonly known as “the RP.” You may or may not remember that this is where I lived with my ex-boyfriend, let’s call him Drama (yes, I’m totally ripping off Entourage, people). When I lived in the RP with Drama, it was basically Hell. RP is one of those neighborhoods, one that has been “changing” for about ten years or so. There continues to be gang activity and other crime, despite the inordinate number of condo buildings and new businesses coming into the community. So, while it’s not terrible, it’s doesn’t have the safe, neighborhood-y, warm, fuzzy feeling of Lincoln Square, my current neighborhood. Oh course, all of those warm fuzzies are probably an illusion.
But while hanging out in the RP with Drama sucked big time, hanging out there with MM isn’t so bad. In fact, I am right here, right now going to retract any previous statements I made about Heartland Café being the only valid reason to go to Rogers Park. There’s at least one other valid reason: Lake Side Café, home of the Tao Bowl and Wrap.
Lake Side Café is a true vegetarian/vegan restaurant, and it is incredible. If you live in Chicago, go eat there… now. No seriously, NOW. The Tao Wrap, my new usual, is nothing more than this: rice, veggies, beans tucked away in a tortilla with a side of sauce. The menu rotates based on what they have fresh, my latest wrap included short grain brown rice, sweet potatoes, and navy beans. I know… it sounds so simple… so boring… so “Why the hell would I order rice and beans at a restaurant?” I know. That’s what I thought. But I tried the Tao on my second visit and I’m hooked. Like, so hooked I crave that bitch. It’s so good, when I couldn’t finish mine last night, I was disappointed.
Now I don't want to hear any of this, "I don't want to eat that vegan crap," nonsense. MM can put away at least two hamburgers, maybe more, in one sitting, and he loves this place.
Did I mention that Lake Side has cupcakes? And everything you’ve heard about vegan cupcakes is true. They are actually amazing. A slightly different consistency than the non-veg stuff, but in my opinion… better. No seriously. Go there. Try them. Do it. Now.
Finally, and I swear I'll end this blog, Lake Side has the nicest, friendliest, hippie staff, none of whom look at you funny if you’re not hip and alternative. And (AND!) it is one of the most comfortable, clean, warm and inviting spaces -- one of the most perfect restaurants for having a conversation. That’s it. Go forth and eat.