Even with the slogan "Meat Free Since 1983" emblazoned on its awning, my carnivorous self couldn't help but see what The Chicago Diner was all about. After a brief chat with one of the GMs (who, incidentally, isn't a vegetarian or a vegan), I took his recommendation and ordered the Radical Reuben ($10.50). Being a huge fan of the classic (read: corned beef) version, I was skeptical. But I was in for a pleasant (and welcomed) surprise.
Honestly, I've had it three time now, and I'm totally flabbergasted by how tasty it is. Instead of beef, this sandwich contains corned 'beef' seitan (mock meat made derived from wheat gluten) that is actually made in-house. The seitan gets soaked in beet juice and pickling brine to impart the beefy-red color and deli-style flavor. After being sliced, it hits the flat top, and then gets topped with grilled onions, peppers, sauerkraut, a vegan Thousand Island dressing and dairy-free cheeze. While the seitan doesn't necessarily provide the same textural consistency as beef, the crispy edges from the sautée are a great touch. More importantly, sandwiched between slices of marbled rye, this take on the reuben looks and tastes the part.
The Chicago Diner
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