After visiting Zammy’s Vegan Kitchen on the Far North Side, you might think that plant-based dining has gone to the dogs — in a good way.
Firstly, “Zammy” is a portmanteau of Zack and Sammy, the canine pets of restaurant owner Mallory Konovsky. Secondly, diners searching for good vegan fare that scratches the itch for pub grub and fast food are barking up the right tree at Zammy’s.
Zammy’s occupies a pocket-sized space in a strip mall near Worthington, but it’s a cute pocket. The little place generates a soothing impression with swimming-pool-blue paint, black-spotted white floor tiles and smile-inducing photos of pooches.
Four counter stools are offered inside the to-go-oriented spot and a few tables are available for parking lot-adjacent outdoor dining. The small, exceedingly friendly and conscientious staff is happy to bring food out to the make-do patio as soon as it’s ready — usually 10 to 15 minutes.
Touting a largely scratch-cooked menu, Zammy’s makes most of its sauces and proteins, like its impressive pseudo ground beef and seitan. Aesthetically, the offerings seem designed for diners who want to have their comforting old favorites and eat a vegan diet, too.
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After tasting the blistered jalapenos ($7), my grinning companion called the deconstructed virtual bar bites “virtuous jalapeno poppers.” Scorched and split chiles were filled with a believable house-made “cheddar cream sauce,” chives and smoky “bacun” bits. These were highly likable, even though I wish the fake bacon had been crisper.
With crunchy breading drenched in spicy Buffalo sauce encasing thick and “meaty” lumps, the “chick’n” wings ($8) came close to the boneless-style real things. In fact the entertaining snacks — they’re available on Fridays and some Saturdays — eclipsed several actual poultry versions I’ve had. Uncharacteristically, these don’t showcase house-made proteins, as they utilize Gardein brand nuggets.
Generous handfuls of smokily seared and convincing, house-made ground-beef substitute went into one of the best vegan gyros around ($11). Fashioned with textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten — but tasting far better than an amalgam of those ingredients might sound — the almost kefta-like faux meat soared on the wings of excellent fake feta and tzatziki. Bound in a nondescript burrito wrapper that would’ve been better toasted, the hefty sandwich was enhanced by multicolored tomatoes, chickpeas, pickled onions and cucumbers.
The same protein stars in the Zammy ($10), a two-fisted, all-plant cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, Thousand Island-style sauce and a nicely toasted brioche bun. Heads-up: My patty fell apart in this large and lovable but messy creation.
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The pressed Cuban ($9) might have been too tidy. I generally liked its fennel-seeded, cold-cut-like “pork” seitan and molten (Swiss-like) cheese-like stuff — but the sandwich was uncharacteristically undersized, assembled with toasted bread instead of a traditional roll, and was flavor dominated by mustard and pickles. Verdict: Close but no Cohiba (yeah, that’s a Cuban cigar).
If less interesting, the BBQ Chick’n sandwich ($11) hit its mark better with “creamy” slaw and pickles playing off the tangy-sweet barbecue glaze on a thick fried Gardein patty. The sandwich was big, too.
You want crisp hand-cut fries with that ($4) — or the delightfully brittle, warm, house-made potato chips ($8). Both spud orders were skillfully fried, arrived in enormous portions and came with house condiments such as a curiously gravy-like “cashew cheese sauce” and kicky, curry-scented spicy ketchup.
The massive and attractive if unusual Cobb salad ($10) answers the call for an entree salad with a terrific house-made ranch dressing. That tangy, fragrant dressing helped unify: corn; “bacun”; subtle, house-made scrambled “eggs”; inhalable, guacamole-like smashed avocado; big, not-crisp cubes of cornbread “croutons”; thinly sliced radish; chickpeas; fresh-tasting tomatoes and romaine lettuce.
Something sweet? The cookie-dough milkshake concocted with house-made oat-milk ice cream was pricey ($8) but thick and soothing. Zammy’s peanut-butter-and-jelly cookie ($4) was expansive, but characteristically so good — vegan or not — I had no need for a doggie bag.
Zammy’s Vegan Kitchen
- Where: 1155 Worthington Woods, Far North Side
- Contact: 614-505-0407; www.zammysvegan.com
- Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
- Price range: $7 to $13
- Ambience: cute little to-go-oriented eatery with a few stools, a parking lot-facing makeshift patio, soothing blue paint, photos of dogs and very friendly, accommodating service
- Children’s menu: no
- Reservations: no
- Accessible: yes
- Liquor license: no
- Quick click: This new, all-vegan restaurant offers generally large portions of good-tasting takes on comforting old favorites such as cheeseburgers, gyros and milkshakes.