The name Karyn Calabrese is eponymous in Chicago with clean and green eating. She opened her first restaurant in 1995, and today, is the name behind Karyn’s Cooked, Karyn’s on Green, Karyn’s Corner, and, where I recently dined, Karyn’s Raw Bistro. All of Karyn’s restaurants are committed to using only whole, fresh foods, and exotic blends of fruits, grains, vegetables, and sprouts. Karyn’s Raw is fully vegan, meaning no meats, dairy, or eggs are found here. Don’t worry, you won’t miss any of it.
In 2008, I changed my diet and became mostly vegetarian. So, when I am not dining out, and even when I am, I try to eat as healthy as possible. And, that usually means that I typically look for vegetarian, and sometimes vegan, options. Surprisingly, though, I had never dined at Karyn’s Raw Bistro. Better late than never!
I recently visited with a good friend, and we had a wonderful meal. We started with the spring rolls – red pepper and tomato pate wrapped in rice paper, with avocado and crispy vegetables. These spring rolls were fantastic – incredibly flavorful and they could easily be an entree for one person.
We then enjoyed Karyn’s famous house salad, which was chock full of shreded cabbage, hearts of romaine, red onion, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, sunflower sprouts, candied walnuts, and teardrop tomatoes. A vegan caesar salad dressing was served on the side. The salad had wonderful flavor, especially with the shiitake mushrooms and candied walnuts.
Everything on the menu appealed to me, so I had a hard time choosing my entree. I was extremely happy with the tamales that I ended up ordering. Corn husks were filled with organic masa, tomato puree, mushrooms, asparagus, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. These tamales were delicious, with a little kick of spice thanks to the chipotle salsa served on the side.
A number of off-menu specials were available, as well, and my friend ordered the enchilada con mole. Raw vegetables and sprouts were served in a crispy shell, and guacamole and a cabbage slaw was served on the side. The enchilada was drizzled with a raw béchamel sauce. The flavors packed a punch and it was yet another winner.
We then ended with the raw tiramisu cheesecake, made from macafe-infused cream, layered with date lady fingers and whipped marscarpone. This dessert was incredible. I cannot believe that it was raw, let alone vegan. I will definitely be back for more.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Karyn’s and can recommend it to vegans and carnivores alike. Service was well-informed and accommodating. Karyn’s Raw Bistro is BYOB, with a $5 corkage fee, and also offers an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet on Saturdays and Sundays.