Chicago’s cuisine has made a name for itself with the likes of deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. And in recent years, the city’s appetite for plant-based eats has been on the rise. Since 2021, locals have welcomed and embraced Chicago’s first vegan ice cream shop, the city’s first plant-based Mexican restaurant, and even the country’s first vegan empanada shop.
Soon, Chicago will also be home to the largest vegan food hall in the midwest. Slated to open October 5, the XMarket Vegan Food Hall boasts 6,500 square feet and can seat up to 375 people.
The XMarket Vegan Food Hall is the latest concept by PlantX, a digital lifestyle platform and e-commerce site committed to making plant-based lifestyles more accessible. To bring the concept to fruition, PlantX tapped Macromia Group, industry experts well-versed in launching food halls.
The vegan food hall will house six unique restaurant concepts alongside a plant-based grocery store—complete with its own vegan cheesemonger—and a wine and beer bar.
While the food hall’s restaurant line-up has been highly anticipated since the news broke earlier this summer, Chicago locals may already be familiar with the recently announced restaurants making XMarket Vegan Food Hall their new home.
The plant-based restaurants at XMarket Vegan Food Hall
Among the food hall’s six restaurants is Kale My Name, a beloved, globally inspired vegan eatery that has garnered a cult following. Kale My Name will bring a number of its customer favorite dishes to XMarket Vegan Food Hall including buffalo cauliflower wings, empanadas, and tequeños (Venezuelan cheese sticks).
“Kale My Name customers, also known as Hungry Kales, already know that my main goal is to show the world how fun, creative, and diverse veganism really is. What better way to do that than to be inside a fully vegan food hall with so many different concepts?” Nemanja Golubovic, Kale My Name founder and CEO, tells VegNews.
“Kale My Name’s most popular items will, of course, be on the menu, but Hungry Kales can expect more surprises. This was a year of collaborations for us and there are so many more fun things coming up.”
With Kale My Name opening inside XMarket Vegan Food Hall, this marks the restaurant’s second Chicago outpost. Another beloved Chicago eatery, Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, will also bring a novel concept to the city’s new vegan food hall.
Bloom Plant Based Kitchen will operate Bloom Sushi Counter and will bring yet another vegan first to Chicago: the city’s first plant-based omakase.
“At our initial location, Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, we have continuously challenged ourselves to be considered one of Chicago’s premier restaurants, all while remaining committed to being entirely plant-based,” Brett Lander, Director of Operations for Del Ama Hospitality’s Bloom concept, tells VegNews.
“Bloom Sushi Counter will continue to branch off from that idea by offering a more playful dining experience. Our menu will incorporate a mixture of different types of traditional and modern sushi that everyone can enjoy.”
Alongside Bloom Sushi Counter and Kale My Name, Kitchen 17 and Chicago Not Dogs also join the lineup at XMarket Vegan Food Hall. With their signature deep-dish pizzas and Chicago-style hot dogs, Kitchen 17 and Chicago Not Dogs will bring the city’s classic cuisine to the food hall.
El Hongo Magico Taqueria (a vegan taco pop-up) and 2D Restaurant (a hand-drawn, two-dimensional café serving up Vietnamese coffee, boba, and vegan Taiwanese chicken sandwiches) round out the lineup.
“The excitement and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive, with eager individuals already showing up daily, eager to explore. We’re immensely proud of our restaurant partners who have joined us in this groundbreaking venture. Each restaurant has crafted a food hall menu with distinctive offerings, adding to the overall anticipation,” Alex Hoffman, Chief Marketing Officer at PlantX, tells VegNews.
The Midwest’s largest vegan food hall
Located in Uptown Chicago, the XMarket Vegan Food Hall is housed in the space previously occupied by XMarket, a chain of vegan grocery stores by PlantX. While PlantX successfully operates XMarket outposts in Venice, CA and Ontario, Canada, the company decided to shutter its Chicago location for one major reason: it was simply too big.
“Full-blown grocery stores with produce and everything work in large spaces. But for us, all of the vegan products [XMarket carries] really grab your attention, and you don’t need all of that space,” Hoffman says.
“Our store in Venice Beach is 700 square feet, and we have every single product that is out there in the vegan world. We tried to do that [in Chicago], but we felt things were getting lost, and they deserve attention.”
While PlantX was committed to recreating the “bodega vibe” it accomplished in Venice, company leaders knew they wanted to do something more in the 6,500-square-foot retail space in Uptown Chicago. And thus, the XMarket Vegan Food Hall was born.
Locals who relied on the XMarket for vegan pantry staples need not worry. The XMarket Vegan Food Hall will still house a bodega-style, plant-based grocery store.
The ultimate one-stop shop
Billed as the ultimate one-stop shop, XMarket Vegan Food Hall was designed to provide all-day entertainment to those who visit. After enjoying a meal at one of the six in-house concepts, guests can pick up pantry essentials at the grocery store or enjoy a drink at the wine and beer bar, where Vegan Wines will provide flights and plant-based cheese pairings.
Outside of food, drinks, and groceries, PlantX will host a variety of events to keep visitors entertained. Equipped with large viewing screens, XMarket Vegan Food Hall will host game days, live music events, open mic nights, trivia nights, and more—all indoors to provide refuge from Chicago’s infamous weather come winter time.
Set to open on October 5, locals can get a sneak peek of XMarket Vegan Food Hall during its soft opening, currently scheduled for September 25.