Plant-vangelist Jessica Murnane on best vegan restaurants in Chicago


“Plant-vangelist” Jessica Murnane on Where To Eat in Chicago

Plant-vangelist Jessica Murnane (Photo: Ten Photos)

Jessica Murnane wears many hats, both literally and figuratively. The Ohio native and spirited entrepreneur has lived in Chicago for over a decade. Her business — an array of coaching services dedicated to living your best life — evolved after years of stationery-designing, brand consulting and soul searching. A resume like hers is tough to ignore. But she didn’t achieve local celeb-dom without a struggle.

Murnane battled years of painful endometriosis before drastically changing her diet, eliminating meat, gluten, sugar and dairy. The result — a pain-free life — was undeniable. She launched her business to help others like herself transition to a healthy eating regimen. Below, the self-proclaimed “plant-vangelist” waxes poetic about the best vegan restaurants in Chicago and other health-concious pursuits.

Where do you go in Chicago to eat feel-good food for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Breakfast: I’m currently obsessed with the coconut yogurt chia bowl at Owen + Alchemy. It’s like eating a grown-up bowl of Lucky Charms with the different toppings and flavors. Magically Delicious.

Murnane's Grits with Avocado Hot Sauce (Photo: Ten Photos)
Murnane’s Grits with Avocado Hot Sauce (Photo: Ten Photos)

Lunch: If I had a personal driver, I’d eat long lunches at Found every day. They always have the best dishes and I’d throw in one (okay, a few) mezcal cocktails, too. I mean, I’d have a personal driver and all.

Dinner: I really love to stay in and cook with my family at night. But if we aren’t cooking, it’s delivery from Sultan’s Market or something fun from the Postmates delivery app.

(Photo: Ten Photos)

What’s your favorite place in the city to stock up on ingredients?

Come summer, I’m at Green City Market stocking up on anything and everything that will fit into my bag.What’s your favorite local watering hole?

I’m a big fan of Dealer’s Choice menu at Berkshire Room. You get to pick your liquor (I usually go tequila), two flavor profiles (smoky and herbaceous for me), and your glass style (I go coup every time). Based on your choices the bartender creates something just for you. It’s always such a delicious surprise!

Murnane's Green Juice: spinach, kale, apple, cucumber, lime and cilantro. (Photo: Ten Photos)
Murnane’s Green Juice: spinach, kale, apple, cucumber, lime and cilantro. (Photo: Ten Photos)

You have a (very rare) day off. Describe your perfect Chicago day, forecast included.

Not too hot, not too cold. So maybe mid- or end of June. Kick off the day with a class at AIR. Head to Trenchermen for brunch — they’ve always got a plant-based option on the menu. Go back downtown and grab a kombucha or juice from RAW and sit out on my stoop, drink in hand, and people-watch for awhile.

Stop by a Barnes & Noble to look at magazines for dinner inspiration. Head to Whole Foods to grab groceries for my newly inspired dinner. Make dinner and then enjoy my feast on the couch with my eyes glued to a Bulls game (this would mean they’ve made it to the Finals!).

Favorite Chicago tourist destination to frequent as a local?

I love the Monadnock Building. It has such an incredible history and fascinating story about how it was constructed (read “The Devil In The White City” to learn more about it). But most importantly, that’s where one of Optimo‘s stores lives and they have the best hats in the country — actually, let’s just say the world. I’ve got a few (ok, maybe a couple few). Worth a stop.

Where do you go and what do you do to unwind?

Grabbing a juice, putting on a podcast, and just taking a walk in the city. I don’t even care if it’s cold out. I just love walking in Chicago. I always tell out-of-towners to skip the cab. Give yourself some extra time to get to where you’re going and just walk. So many beautiful and unique people and places to see in this city.