Neighborhood: Logan Square
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★1/2
Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2
I had been meaning to try Ground Control for months and I finally got to try it. At this point, it has become one of my neighborhood spots. I am so happy to see another vegetarian spot in Logan Square that is super affordable and funky. The decor is quirky, cozy, and divey with a space-theme. They were definitely all about the 80’s nostalgia, which I found endearing given the aesthetic and music playing. As you walk in you are greeted by the bar on your right and darker room to your left for dining with booths. Specials were written on the board in chalk (I always find this delightful) and they looked pretty great between the entree and dessert specials. Ground control represents something very nostalgic to me. It reminds me of one of my favorite restaurants in Milwaukee that I used to go to called Comet when I was in college. The ambience, food, and decor really brought me back.
We were quickly greeted by the host/bartender and our server. The service was quick and easygoing. The menu is basically focusing on the vegetarian comfort food of your dreams while having some items that don’t make you feel completely guilty like the beet burger and salads. The portions were great and it was priced so affordably. It’s definitely more affordable than most of the restaurants in the Logan Square area now.
Their cocktails were reasonably priced too and they have a wide assortment of beer with some wine options. I started out with the Michelada and it had a nice kick to it. It wasn’t the best Michelada I had in my life but it was pretty decent. The tomato component had some spice to it. I have to say that the best Michelada I have had is from Big Star because of how potent the tomato spice flavor is but if you’re not as obsessed with tomato flavors as I am, then you probably won’t care.
Being a fan of veggie buffalo wings, we of course ordered the Tofu Buffalo Wings. The buffalo sauce was delicious and it came with an avocado crema that didn’t taste like ranch, which made me happy because I don’t like ranch sauce. It was a smaller portion but I was happy with that because everything else we ordered was big and heavy. My dining companion is a fan of Fried Green Tomatoes so we got that as well. I haven’t had too many fried green tomatoes so I didn’t have much to compare them to. The breading was delicious and it was served with a remoulade sauce on top of a bed of greens garnished with a corn relish. I didn’t really taste too much of a tomato flavor because the breading seemed to have taken over. I did like the remoulade sauce and it added a nice tang to the breaded tomatoes. I would’ve preferred for the tomatoes to have a more pronounced taste but they still tasted good.
We also tried the Veggie Chili Cheese Fries. The fries were crispy and well-seasoned, the chili was hearty and flavorful and the cheese had a smokey flavor that complemented the spice very well. I’m never a fan of melty cheese sauces but it didn’t taste gross at all, in fact it was quite delicious.
It was difficult to choose amongst the plethora of delicious sounding options on the menu, but we decided on the Cheesy Italian sandwich with a side of the smokin’ hot mac n cheese. I was really impressed with both of these items! First of all, it was a huge portion for $11 – thick and juicy seitan slices with giardiniera, and stewed peppers smothered in Provolone cheese served on French bread I believe. All of the flavors blended so well with one another and had such a perfect moistness. The side of Mac n cheese was pretty much a dinner portion and the smoked gouda flavor was very pronounced. There was some cotija, which I thought was a unique twist on the traditional Mac n cheese along with some pepper and scallions. It also had a nice mild spice to it.
I did really want to eat some vegetables though, so we also tried the Beet Burger. The beet burger not only looked beautiful and pink but it tasted delicious and was huge. It is their house-made burger made of beets, mushrooms, oats, and beans served with provolone cheese, pickles, tomato, arugula, and a zesty aioli-esque sauce. It came with a side of the garlic smashed potatoes with the country gravy, which was heavenly. The mashed potatoes were seasoned very well and it lived up to its garlic title. The country gravy was thick and creamy, basically what you want in a gravy. I’ve never been super crazy about mashed potatoes and gravy but this definitely stood out to me.
Given the decent portions, I always take home leftovers and the prices here are a bit less than Chicago Diner and Handlebar. With such affordable prices, big portions, and a true concern for vegetarians, I will be a regular here. It’s a wonderful restaurant to go out with a smaller group of friends or to spontaneously go with a close friend or significant other since it doesn’t require reservations months ahead of time. It’s a bit of a drive from Milwaukee Avenue, which makes it more of a hidden gem. Yes, you could eat more “healthy” vegetables at places like Clever Rabbit and Bad Hunter, but sometimes it’s nice to not pay an arm and a leg for vegetables prepared correctly and just gorge on some seitan and cheese every now and then while still having healthier options.