Since I go to Loyola, I am always searching for healthy restaurants in my neighborhood. The problem? Rogers Park isn’t exactly known to be health conscious. Fortunately, during my freshman year of college, I discovered Heartland Café, located off the Morse red line stop. Heartland Café is a restaurant, bar, general store and local hangout all in one.
This restaurant always tries to improve Rogers Park, by supporting local politicians and businesses, providing jobs and providing a venue to artists and musicians, who occasionally play live music. Heartland Café also tries to strengthen the Rogers Park community by using local, socially conscious, sustainable and fair trade ingredients. Even though the menu does offer options with meat, there are several vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items for those with dietary restrictions. Everyone who works at the restaurant is extremely friendly, and every time I eat here, I feel like I am in good company.
If you are looking for a healthier version of the typical burger, Heartland Café is the perfect place to eat. None of the burgers are made with red meat. Instead, there are several build-your-own-burger options to choose from, including the turkey burger, the vegan black bean burger and the free-range grass-fed buffalo burger. You can even add healthy toppings to the burger, which include merlot mushroom, turkey bacon and veggie chili. Heartland Café also has three house-specialty burgers. I tried the avocado and sprouts burger, made with a vegan black bean patty. The avocado added creamy texture and a flavor reminiscent of summer. The black bean burger also made the sandwich a little bit spicy, but not overbearing. As a side to the burger, I ordered cornbread instead of fries or salad. The cornbread is gluten-free, crumbly and sweet and truth be told, I could have eaten more than one slice.
There are several breakfast options at Heartland Cafe, making it a great place to start your day, whether you’re studying or conversing with friends over coffee. The veggie omelet is one of the healthiest breakfast choices on the menu, especially if you order the omelet with organic eggs. This omelet has mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, onions, tomatoes and jack cheese. This omelet was overflowing with all of the vegetables. If you prefer something sweet for breakfast, try the pancakes. At Heartland Café you are able to order whole-wheat pancakes and vegan buckwheat pancakes. I’ve tried these pancakes with mixed berries to give the pancakes a sweet taste without adding syrup, but you can also add nuts or chocolate chips.
Sarah Amundsen is a senior at Loyola University Chicago, where she is pursuing studiesin in public relations and marketing. In her spare time, she is interested in running, fashion and eating her way through Chicago’s many great restaurants.