Review and Photos by Lydia Krupinski
When dining in Wicker Park there’s an endless array of restaurants to choose from. This hustling bustling hipster mecca is filled with diners, bakeries, bars and cafes. But when I had to choose where to take a foodie friend visiting from the West Coast, the choice was easy. Mana.
Mana Food Bar is a modest and modern escape from the over-styled boutiques and bars of Division street. The minimalist decor, complete with salvaged wood tables, gray walls, and subtle lighting, makes this the perfect place to enjoy a casual lunch or dinner.
The completely vegetarian menu boasts a wide range of dishes. From home-pickled salads and savory soups, to sweet potato pancakes and vegetable curries. One of my favorite things about Mana’s menu is that diners can choose their portion size. If you have a favorite on the list, choose a large plate, or if you’re looking to taste several dishes, choose a small.
My friend and I did the latter choosing several cold and warm dishes to share. We started things off with two salads, the Pickled and the Thai ($4 each). The veggies in the Pickled salad were just right, tart and crisp with vivid colors and an appetizing sheen. The Thai salad had a unique blend of pineapples, cucumbers, mint, and chilies creating a spicy but sweet flavor. Next, we noshed on Sliders ($3 each), a healthy, meat-free burger inspired by the infamous mini sandwiches found at White Castle. These delicious bite-sized burgers, served with a side of sliced pickled cucumbers, were a veg-lovers dream.
Then, we ordered Tomato Pumpkin Ravioli ($7 small). These delicious and delicate noodle pockets were filled with a smooth pumpkin puree and topped with a creamy sage sauce that resulted in clean licked plates.
Just when we thought we were finished, the lingering taste of Sliders prompted us to order another round! The smokey flavor of the grain and mushroom patty, combined with the melted cheese and subtle sweet sauce, captured our hearts, making this our favorite item of the night.
If you’re craving a fresh Contemporary American dinner, look no further than Mana Food Bar. This modern vegetarian restaurant will have you craving its simple gourmet dishes and laid back atmosphere. Visit Mana at 1742 W. Division and make all your veggie dreams come true.