When eating around Rogers Park, I’ve always stuck with restaurants near the Granville Red Line stop. The usual Ann Sather’s cinnamon bun and omelet seemed appealing the first month of school, but as soon as I traveled farther north, I discovered a new assortment of delicious dining spots.
After doing some research on vegetarian/vegan cafes close to Bellarmine Hall, I stumbled upon Heartland Cafe’s website. At Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood Ave.) you can find wholesome and local food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thankfully it is only one block north from the Morse Red Line stop, and even does deliveries during dinner hours.
When my friends and I decided to walk up for dinner a few Fridays ago, we felt as though we had been teleported into a beach cafe and were on vacation.
Right as we walked through the front door, we were inside a small market with local goods including kale chips, kombucha and homemade bakery items arrayed on shelves and tables. The indoor seating and bar area did not seem as inviting because of its dim lighting, so we opted to sit outside under a patio roof.
Our waiter instantly came by with menus and after we finished browsing, we put in our order.
Heartland serves breakfast all day, along with an overwhelming number of other options. The restaurant is very versatile in serving both vegetarian and meat-friendly options, ranging from veggie sausages and vegan gravy to bacon and meatloaf.
We decided to start with the skins appetizer ($4): potato canoes filled with vegetables and a vegan cheese sauce. My friend, who happens to be a huge cheese lover, was a bit apprehensive of the vegan cheese, fearing that it would taste slimy and fake, but she ended up loving it. The cheese melted perfectly over the four potatoes and tasted similar to a macaroni and cheese sauce.
Our main dishes came out within moments after we finished our appetizer. One of my friends ordered the Heartland vegetarian chili with avocados ($6), which had a nice, spicy flavor. Another friend got the On the Veg sandwich ($8), which comes with cream cheese and pesto. The pickles that accompanied the on the veg sandwich were a little too sweet for her liking. However, the sandwich itself was beyond words, delicious with added avocado, swiss cheese and tomato.
The Heartland stir-fry ($11) was accompanied with vegetables, a soy-ginger sauce, quinoa and seitan (a meat substitute).
I opted for the Heartland Panhandler ($7) — tofu scramble (egg option also available) scrambled with mixed vegetables, potatoes and onions with a side of veggie sausage ($2.50). The tofu scramble exceeded my expectations with the amount I received and how well-prepared the tofu was, served on a large plate with veggie sausage bites scattered throughout the tofu amongst chopped potatoes. I decided to save half of it for leftovers, which made great tofu tacos the following night.
Once we finished, we paid at the counter while browsing the small grocery store. All of us were so pleased with our meals that we kept saying we should return for breakfast very soon.
Vegan buckwheat pancakes with chocolate chips ($8) or porridge ($6) with steel-cut oats, pumpkin seeds and cranberries both caught my eye for our next visit. Desserts, cocktails, smoothies and milkshakes are also offered, making Heartland Cafe a down-to-earth fun and friendly weekend spot.