I have now been vegan for a week. Here is my worst and then my best meal of the week. The worst was my attempt at making beans out of the cupboard. "Beans in a Bowl" and nothing else proved to be a disappointment. I needed some condiments. The best meal by far was at Karyn's on Green at 130 S. Green Street in Greektown in Chicago. The chorizo sliders were amazing. They are made with portobello mushrooms and a vegan "cheddar." My mom and I each had the sweet pea risotto. My dad had the shepherds pie, which uses seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat). My brother had the arugula pizza, which I would not recommend (the pizza, not my brother). Karyn's motto is "making vegan sexy." I would not go that far, but the place was elegant and the food great, but definitely expensive. The Curious Vegan needs supportive parents to go there. Some of our relatives keep kosher, and I mean very kosher, and Karyn's is where we should have taken them instead of kosher places in Skokie. They might want to know whether Karyn's uses non-kosher wines in their cooking, but I did not see wine listed in the ingredients, so I suspect that many kosher diners would be comfortable there. For adults, Karyn's does have plenty of wines and drinks on the menu.
Eating out at breakfast turns out to be a vegan challenge. At Medicii on 57th, I modified the huevos rancheros to exclude the eggs, cheese, and sour cream and to substitute spinach and mushrooms. That was pretty good. I did not even bother to accompany my brother and father to Eleventh Street Diner, normally one of our favorite places. Establishments that specialize in eggs, pancakes, and french toast seem to answer phone inquiries about vegan options with a "no!" followed by hanging up. Try it and you will see what I mean.
Then there was Whole Foods. I had a lunch there at the salad/food bar with a tofu dish, saffron rice, falafel and humus for a small fortune. On another day we brought home their mock meatloaf, mock burgers, and the same tofu dish, meant to last for several days. Basically, if money is no object, there is plenty of choice at Whole Foods, though the meat substitutes are a bit dry. And as for those buying from the salad bar, the rice is denser and thus more expensive than one would expect. I can see why permanent, rather than merely curious, vegans like Whole Foods so much; there are many options and one does not feel weird or pesky when asking for vegan guidance.