vegan mexican food consisting of a teal plate with two giant buffalo cauliflower tacos covered in hot sauce and a cashew cream

Vegan Mexican Food Chicago: 5 Spots for Tacos, Flautas, & More

When I was planning my vegan adventure through Chicago, I was blown away by the diversity of eats—there’s way more to the Windy City than deep-dish pizza! And one thing I absolutely fell in love with is the vibrant flavors and veganized twists on traditional Mexican food!

From tacos to tamales, the city boasts a diverse array of eateries offering delicious options for vegan food lovers. Whether you’re craving classic dishes like tacos al pastor made with veggie meat or innovative creations like jackfruit carnitas and mushroom chorizo, Chicago has something to satisfy every palate.

With a growing number of restaurants and taquerías dedicated to offering vegan-friendly options, exploring the city’s vegan Mexican food scene is an exciting adventure waiting to be savored. So, grab your appetite and get ready to embark on a culinary exploration of flavor-packed tacos, hearty burritos, and mouthwatering vegan Mexican food in the heart of Chicago.

Where to Find the Best Vegan Mexican Food in Chicago

#1 Healthy Substance Kitchen

Two locations in Chicago
When you first Google this spot, their original location shows up first, which is quite a distance outside the heart of Chicago. Thankfully, they opened a second location in Wicker Park. It’s much easier to get to that location via transit than the other one, which is a good thing to keep in mind when planning a visit.

 This fully vegan Mexican spot has a really interesting backstory. The founder’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, and through her research, she found that treatment and a diet change could help save his life. So, she veganized all of their favorite Mexican foods (without telling him), and six years later, the “vegan side of Mexico,” aka Healthy Substance, was born! Their menu is diverse and flavorful — you’ll want to order everything! You’ll find al pastor tacos, carne asada burritos, chilaquiles, and so much more.

a plate with four vegan tacos next to a take out box with nachos and two horchata drinks at healthy substance in chicago
Credit: Healthy Substance

#2 Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria

Two locations in Chicago
It’s impossible to miss and not fall in love with this hot pink taqueria — they know how to capture your attention even before you look at the menu! Penelope’s was the first vegan taqueria in Chicago, with locations in Andersonville and River North. The location in River North is close to many of the city’s major sights. It’s also close to a few of my favorite Chicago vegan spots — Ingrained and Chicago Raw!

A great time to visit this spot is for Happy Hour — every Tuesday-Thursday from 5 PM-7 PM, when you can get special deals on drinks and food! Your meal here must start with one of their creative cocktails or mocktails — maybe a tangy Paloma or sangria? If you’re skipping alcohol, try one of my favorite agua frescas — strawberry dragon fruit horchata or watermelon! Now that you’ve got that out of the way, we’ve got to talk tacos. In my opinion, there’s one special taco that you can’t miss when you come here — Quesabirria! You can’t find these perfectly smoky tacos with cheese and mushrooms just anywhere. I actually tried to make them myself, and it was an epic fail, so don’t do that; just come here!

a large spread of vegan mexican food across a wood table with tacos, guacamole, torta, and more at penelopes vegan taaqueria in chicago
Credit: Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria

#3 Quesadilla La Reina del Sur

2237 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
This casual vegetarian spot is totally unassuming; if they hadn’t put vegetarian on the giant yellow sign, I probably would’ve walked on by. Now, one important thing to note is that if your torta order needs to be accompanied by a cerveza or beer, you might be disappointed — alcohol is BYOB, but with food this tasty, who cares about cerveza?

The menu is massive — quesadillas, tamales, burritos, torta, huaraches, and more! The best part? Just about everything can be made vegan! One of their most popular items, which I don’t think you should miss, is their handmade tamales. These joy-filled bundles are made with tangy green salsa and soy chick’n! Also, they usually roll out special dishes like pozole verde over the weekend—don’t miss it!

#4 El Taco Azteca

2151 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60608
Ok, now we’re moving into the vegan-friendly portion of this list! I thought it was pretty awesome to find two fully vegan Mexican spots and a vegetarian one in Chicago, right? It’s definitely not all about pizza in this city!

From the flavorful moles (they’ve won awards for their mole) to creative cocktails, there’s a lot to love here, but what I love the most is their full vegan menu! It’s so nice not to have to hunt through a menu to find the options, and they’ve got a lot of options! You’ll find flautas, tacos, fajitas, tortas, pozole, and more. Whatever you decide to order, make sure you add an order of esquites—the spicy and sweet corn dish is irresistible!

#5 La Cantina Grill

1911 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
This laid-back, vegan-friendly spot is tucked into Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, not far from McCormack Place and Solider Field. Since 2006, it has been delighting guests with its vibrant flavors of Mexico, and they didn’t forget their vegan friends — they have a full vegan menu! These last two spots have really set the vegan bar for other places that consider themselves vegan-friendly or are working on it.

There’s one thing at this spot that I didn’t see at the others — vegan mini-chimichangas (they also have full-size chimichangas)! I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had those — maybe never! You can order them with chorizo, veggie beef, al pastor, or just veggies—they use Upton’s seitan for the meats. In addition to those, you’ll also find tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, and more!

a round plate with three vegan meat tacos next to refried beans and rice at la cantina in chicago
Credit: La Cantina

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