Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★
I have been coming here for years and absolutely love this place. It’s great for Wicker Park to have vegetarian options and I think they should have more. The ambience of Handlebar is no frills, but is a divey, rustic aesthetic. They also have a lovely patio in the back when it’s summer, which is super enjoyable. The service here is always good and fast too. I have had the same waiter here for years and he’s always on top of things.
My favorite appetizer here is the chili cheese fries (though I have also had their fried pickles and they are heavenly). The vegetarian chili is amazing with fresh peppers in there, the fries are seasoned soooo well, and the cheese on there is a nicely melted jack cheese. I always want to eat too much of this.
The vegan buffalo wrap has been my go to meal here for years! The buffalo seitan is chopped up into little bits and has a great, potent buffalo flavor, I wish they would put more buffalo sauce on there actually. Their vegan ranch is so tasty and I don’t like regular ranch. The wrap comes with a side and my favorite is the smoked gouda mac and cheese. It’s just so fulfilling in every way. It’s a simple wrap but it’s always very delicious. I have tried other sandwiches before like the Chicago Style Tofu and it was a bit bland so I like to stick to the buffalo seitan wrap.
I have also come here for brunch and wanted to add that I am a big fan of their brunch too. Their Bloody Mary is generous and has so many wonderful toppings like a fried pickle, olives, and a pickled pepper. I love a loaded Bloody Mary so I was very happy to have this. It is large though, so you might want to split it with a friend. Their vegetarian biscuits and gravy is heavenly. It’s a huge portion, the biscuits are flaky, the gravy tastes like it is mushroom based and melts in your mouth. I ordered it with tofu and their tofu is crispy, firm, and well-seasoned.
I also tried the brunch special, which was the Huarache. It was a masa cake with a refried black bean paste, edamame, red onion, corn, queso fresco and my favorite, radishes. This dish was a little underwhelming. I thought it could have been more flavorful and spicier, it was a bit too mild for my tastes but it had potential. The radishes and edamame were a nice touch. Their servings are always generous and you will most likely leave with leftovers!
I will continue to go with the dishes that I know here. They know how to do American really well, some of their “Mexican” dishes can lack in flavor and spice though.
So now you know why I have been coming here for 12 years … Their delicious vegetarian cuisine, reasonable prices, tasty vegan drinks (they have vegan Kahlua) and rustic, laid-back atmosphere.