Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Vegan Meal and Kayaking the Chicago River

A few weeks ago I told you my younger sister, Caroline, came to visit me in Chicago, we did that awesome food tour, but had some other adventures I wanted to share as well.  

Caroline wanted to check out Buckingham Fountain, and I had only ever seen it in passing so we stopped by one day.  Thankfully it was a gorgeous day and the fountain was just as beautiful. 

We ate a late lunch that day at The Chicago Diner.  It is a completely vegetarian and mostly vegan restaurant.  I have read some good things about the place in the newspaper and online and thought it would be cool to check out.  Plus Caroline is a vegetarian, considering going vegan, and I am up for trying new things, so it sounded just right for us.  The Chicago Diner has been around for over 20 years and their motto is "Meat Free Since '83!"  

The place is a true diner with little booths and a friendly staff.  We scooched into a booth and perused the menu.  The nachos jumped out at us first and started with those as an appetizer.  

They were completely vegan and quite tasty.  For the main meal I went with a green salad with vegan ranch and Caroline got a falafel burger with mac cheeze.  

We saw a kid chowing down on the the mac cheeze when we walked in and knew we wanted to taste it.  It was just alright though.  The whole not real cheese thing was noticeable and it had an odd taste to it.  My salad was fresh and delicious.  The burger was also good, although a little spicy for Caroline's supertaster taste buds.  They had a tempting dessert menu, but we were pretty full and ended out meal there.  There were lots of options on the menu and many sounded good.  I would certainly go back again if I am on that side of town.  

Later in the afternoon we had a scheduled kayak trip with Chicago River, Canoe, and Kayak.  We headed to a dock in Chinatown to meet the group.  We purchased a tandem kayak tour through Groupon about a month ago and got a great deal.  We got suited up in life vests and were given our paddles.  
I took the back seat to do the steering and Caroline got in front.  There was a large group of us and we took up a long stretch of the river, although we did have to stick to the right because of all the tour boats that use the river as well.    
It was really neat to kayak into the city.  We got a great view of the Chicago skyline (I'm not sure why I didn't get any good pictures of it though?) and went right through the heart of downtown!  We paddled about six miles all together, three there and three back.  Caroline and I had fun chatting and singing down the river.  "Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas was and obvious song choice for both of us along with a few others.  I really enjoy kayaking, I wish I could do it more often.  It is definitely a good workout for both your arms and core!  

It was so nice to have Caroline visit me in my new city.  We got to spend some quality sister time together.  Plus I got to explore a little more of Chicago.

Have you ever been to an all vegan or vegetarian restaurant?  What's a song you would sing while kayaking?