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Mana on Division
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  • Mana on Division

    Post #1 - July 28th, 2008, 10:25 pm
    Post #1 - July 28th, 2008, 10:25 pm Post #1 - July 28th, 2008, 10:25 pm
    Disclaimer: I know the chef, Jill Barron for many many years. I also worked with her husband Chris when I first came back to Chicago 4 yrs ago. Now he’s the chef @ Jerry Kleiner’s Park 52 in Hyde Park. They’re both really talented chefs... and my friends.

    I snuck back to town this weekend to see my girlfriend and a certain guy named "Mario" and found that in my absence, Jill has opened/partnered a new vegetarian place a few blocks from my apartment. What a welcome addition to the neighborhood. My girlfriend called it the antiboundry, referring to that yuppie frat boy sports bar we so hold in contempt, just down the street. This was the exact opposite.

    The room is small, airy and tasteful with a bar made of reclaimed wood, hip understated music playing and most of all I'm glad to say that Jill is @ the height of her powers. Virtually everything was very good to most excellent. We tried about 10 small plates and had a couple of signature drinks. Standouts were a spicy watermelon salad, some pickled vegetables, a caramelized onion-blue cheese tarte, soba noodles with peanut sauce and bibim bop with brown rice.

    Mana is well worth your support and I wish her the best.

    Mana
    1742 W. Division St
    Chicago, IL
    773-342-1742
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #2 - August 6th, 2008, 11:12 am
    Post #2 - August 6th, 2008, 11:12 am Post #2 - August 6th, 2008, 11:12 am
    Has anyone eaten hear? I've heard good reviews, but I want to know what you guys have to say...
  • Post #3 - August 6th, 2008, 2:49 pm
    Post #3 - August 6th, 2008, 2:49 pm Post #3 - August 6th, 2008, 2:49 pm
    I did a quick search and there is an existing thread here.
    -Mary
  • Post #4 - August 6th, 2008, 7:20 pm
    Post #4 - August 6th, 2008, 7:20 pm Post #4 - August 6th, 2008, 7:20 pm
    my apologies for writing "hear" instead of here. What was I thinking?!?! =)
  • Post #5 - August 7th, 2008, 9:04 am
    Post #5 - August 7th, 2008, 9:04 am Post #5 - August 7th, 2008, 9:04 am
    are they open for lunch?
    edit: called 'em, they open at 11, i'm excited to give them a try.
  • Post #6 - August 9th, 2008, 5:17 pm
    Post #6 - August 9th, 2008, 5:17 pm Post #6 - August 9th, 2008, 5:17 pm
    How was it?
  • Post #7 - August 20th, 2008, 8:32 am
    Post #7 - August 20th, 2008, 8:32 am Post #7 - August 20th, 2008, 8:32 am
    My visit to Mana yielded some hits and misses. While I consider the food better than most of what's on that stretch of Division (not saying much), I'm in no hurry to return. An off menu special of quinoa salad with sweet corn and hot peppers was refreshing, the corn having been roasted to a natural sweetness - and the dish balanced well by a not-too-acidic vinaigrette. Buckwheat noodle salad did not fare nearly as well. The noodles were mushy and laden with a too-heavy, too-sweet peanut dressing. This dish was a gloppy mess that just sits in your stomach.

    Staff was friendly and refreshingly unpretentious. Our waiter noticed that we didn't seem to be enjoying one of the glasses of wine we had ordered. He happily recommended an alternative, and replaced the original at no extra charge.

    Mana is a tiny place, very dimly lit, with an open kitchen in the back. At least at 5PM, what I'd guess people might call "hip" music played at a conversation friendly volume. Mana struck me as a place that might be fun if you're the kind of person who likes late-night lounging with some not-terrible bites of food.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #8 - August 24th, 2008, 10:27 pm
    Post #8 - August 24th, 2008, 10:27 pm Post #8 - August 24th, 2008, 10:27 pm
    My office is at Ashland & Division and have walked by Mana on several occasions (from construction to present condition) and I must say, it looks beautiful. I look forward to checking it out.
  • Post #9 - January 11th, 2009, 7:24 pm
    Post #9 - January 11th, 2009, 7:24 pm Post #9 - January 11th, 2009, 7:24 pm
    Went for dinner tonight. I'm by no means a vegetarian, but i'm generally open to a veggie meal. That said, it was indeed a lovely meal.

    The space is small. I'd like to say about 5 two-person tables, two booths and a bar. Nice space though. The service was extremely friendly. Started off with a lemonade (sour) - pleasant enough. For two, we ordered: Pickled Vegetables, Thai Pineapple Salad, Soba Noodles, Sliders, Bi Bim Bop, and Sweet Potato Pancakes. All were done well. The sliders, Bi Bim Bop and Pancakes were my favorite. Fun flavors.

    The place was surprisingly full for a Sunday at 6:30pm.

    The city can use plenty of places like this. Hopefully they'll get the business they deserve.
  • Post #10 - January 17th, 2009, 11:44 am
    Post #10 - January 17th, 2009, 11:44 am Post #10 - January 17th, 2009, 11:44 am
    Before I forget all of the terrific dishes we had, I wanted to post about the lovely meal we enjoyed last night at Mana. You can order the dishes as small or large plates and we went small and I think we tasted about half the menu between the four of us - Thai pineapple salad, sliders, pickled vegetables, collard greens, chili, vegetable curry (a special), sweet potato pancakes, thai curry noodles, bi bim bop, grilled asparagus and a few others I'm forgetting, I'm sure. I thoroughly enjoyed each dish but what I really loved about the meal was the contrast of the more complexely (is that a word?) spiced dishes (the chili, vegetable curry, noodles) with the very clean, simple flavors of others like the greens, pickles and Thai pineapple. I think this is a vegetarian place where even us carnivores won't miss the meat because of the wonderful range of flavors. I'm usually underwhelmed by vegetarian chilis, but I think Mana's could go up against any chili. We also tried all three desserts - a lemon tart, an avocado-coconut sorbet (which was lovely but tasted little of avocado and more of coconut and lime), and my favorite, the chocolate cheescake, which was of the light and fluffy variety and surprisingly lightly sweetened. I'm not a fan of chocolate cheesecake, usually finding them too dense and sugary and rich, but this one won me over. The sake-based cocktails were original and tasty - we tried an apple cider and cinnamon and a pear nectar one. The sake used was really interesting. I can't remember the name but it was unfiltered and had some texture, almost a little chew - to it which was cool. I'm looking forward to going back for a whole plate of sliders all to myself and to try the other half of the menu.
  • Post #11 - January 17th, 2009, 8:41 pm
    Post #11 - January 17th, 2009, 8:41 pm Post #11 - January 17th, 2009, 8:41 pm
    The sake is Nigori.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #12 - April 2nd, 2009, 12:20 pm
    Post #12 - April 2nd, 2009, 12:20 pm Post #12 - April 2nd, 2009, 12:20 pm
    I tried Mana for the first time the other night with three friends. I was a little worried with the tiny space that there might be a wait and that the space would get loud, but we walked in on Tuesday at 6:30, were seated right away and, even when the space filled up, the volume was such that we could carry on our conversation easily. Overall, it's a very pleasant space, and I agree very much with Kennyz that the staff was friendly and refreshingly unpretentious.

    My friends and I were eating vegan, and though I expected options for us to be plentiful, I was still pleasantly surprised that well over half, perhaps more like 75% of the menu was animal-free. My vegan friend was thrilled. We ended up with: a baby spinach salad with a grainy mustard dressing, spicy black-eyed peas (both specials that night), the beets with arugula and apple salad, the collard-wrapped maki, the tofu bulgogi and the green tea soba in ginger broth. We also had a few sake cocktails, a few glasses of wine and all three desserts Hellodali mentions above (only the sorbet is vegan).

    I thought everything was good to very good. I know the maki has been positively reviewed in many other places; it was my favorite of the night--the flavors were just more interesting than I expected (compared to, say, regular cucumber maki with rice). One of my friends is also pretty averse to seaweed, so the collard wrapping was a hit at our table. I also very much enjoyed the beets. I rarely have beets as thinly sliced as they are at Mana, a preparation I very much prefer in a salad context. Consensus among my dining companions was that the bulgogi was the only real disappointment of the night. It was extremely salty. We each took a small bite and couldn't take any more.

    I thought the desserts were just so-so. We all had different impressions of the avocado-coconut sorbet. My bite tasted mainly of coconut and citrus. One friend said it tasted overwhelmingly of avocado. The flavor combination just didn't seem that interesting to me, and also I prefer smooth sorbet--not a fan of the texture of shredded coconut in there. I love lemon tarts, though Mana's was too egg-y and the crust too chewy for my liking. I want to say that I thought the chocolate cheesecake was also just so-so, but I got sent home with the leftover and ended up finishing it before I even got home. In general, I prefer more dense cheesecake, though I liked the height of the cake and chocolate wafer crust at Mana. I generally don't like overly sweet desserts, but the chocolate cheesecake was almost not sweet enough for me.

    I would happily return to Mana, and I'm curious to try some of the non-vegan dishes (though next time I'll probably head down the street to Caffe Gelato or Letizia's for dessert). The space has a very peaceful energy, the vegan options are good, and prices are reasonable.
  • Post #13 - April 4th, 2009, 9:05 am
    Post #13 - April 4th, 2009, 9:05 am Post #13 - April 4th, 2009, 9:05 am
    happy_stomach wrote:My friends and I were eating vegan


    happy_stomach wrote:the bulgogi

    H_S,

    Bulgogi/vegan, never the twain shall meat...............

    Maki sounds interesting, beets with arugula and apple terrific.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - April 4th, 2009, 9:15 am
    Post #14 - April 4th, 2009, 9:15 am Post #14 - April 4th, 2009, 9:15 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    happy_stomach wrote:My friends and I were eating vegan


    happy_stomach wrote:the bulgogi

    H_S,

    Bulgogi/vegan, never the twain shall meat...............


    I knew it, too. Silly, silly me. One of the things I really respect about places like Mana, though I do occasionally enjoy meat substitutes, is that they for the most part don't try to create vegetarian or vegan renditions of meat dishes, and therefore remind us that some very good food can be completely animal free. The bulgogi was a red flag, and we should have avoided it, though we were looking for tofu, and I think that was one of the few vegan options in that category.
  • Post #15 - April 7th, 2009, 9:19 am
    Post #15 - April 7th, 2009, 9:19 am Post #15 - April 7th, 2009, 9:19 am
    ... and the winner of Time Out Chicago's 2009 Eat Out Award Best New Vegetarian: Mana Food Bar

    Congrats Jill.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #16 - April 7th, 2009, 9:24 am
    Post #16 - April 7th, 2009, 9:24 am Post #16 - April 7th, 2009, 9:24 am
    And the winner of the 2009 award for Coolest Person Named Kenny Z Living on N. Sacramento Street in Chicago And Born on June 13th is...... ME!!!!!!!

    Seriously, how many new vegetarian restaurants were there in 2009 in Chicago? What a strange award.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #17 - April 7th, 2009, 9:28 am
    Post #17 - April 7th, 2009, 9:28 am Post #17 - April 7th, 2009, 9:28 am
    Hey, they do good work, got noticed for it and that would be respectable and possibly even helpful even if it's raining on the parade.

    Jill is an excellent chef that's worked hard for years and deserves a bit of love.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #18 - April 7th, 2009, 9:42 am
    Post #18 - April 7th, 2009, 9:42 am Post #18 - April 7th, 2009, 9:42 am
    Fair enough. My sarcasm is directed at Time Out, not the Mana chef, who cooked a decent meal for my wife and me last summer.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #19 - April 7th, 2009, 9:54 am
    Post #19 - April 7th, 2009, 9:54 am Post #19 - April 7th, 2009, 9:54 am
    Cool. Then I won't begrudge you as Coolest Person Named Kenny Z Living on N. Sacramento Street in Chicago And Born on June 13th. That's all yours baby, bask in it.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #20 - April 7th, 2009, 10:08 am
    Post #20 - April 7th, 2009, 10:08 am Post #20 - April 7th, 2009, 10:08 am
    Jazzfood wrote:Jill is an excellent chef that's worked hard for years and deserves a bit of love.

    Plus, she is the only vegetarian chef in Chicago with the word "PORK" tatooed inside her lower lip. Gotta love Jill. Her philosophy is to make vegetarian food that even a dedicated carnivore (such as herself) can enjoy, which gives her a unique perspective on veggie cookery. To that end, she generally shies away from the soy based "meat" substitutes you find at places like Chicago Diner and Blind Faith. The tofu Bul Gogi mentioned above is the only exception.
    Last edited by d4v3 on April 7th, 2009, 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #21 - April 7th, 2009, 10:23 am
    Post #21 - April 7th, 2009, 10:23 am Post #21 - April 7th, 2009, 10:23 am
    And by vegetarian chef we mean, she cooks vegetarian @ Mana while remaining a dedicated carnivore @ home.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #22 - April 7th, 2009, 10:27 am
    Post #22 - April 7th, 2009, 10:27 am Post #22 - April 7th, 2009, 10:27 am
    Jazzfood wrote:And by vegetarian chef we mean, she cooks vegetarian @ Mana while remaining a dedicated carnivore @ home.

    I edited my post to make that point more clear.
  • Post #23 - June 19th, 2009, 1:02 pm
    Post #23 - June 19th, 2009, 1:02 pm Post #23 - June 19th, 2009, 1:02 pm
    And the winner of the 2009 award for Coolest Person Named Kenny Z Living on N. Sacramento Street in Chicago And Born on June 13th is...... ME!!!!!!!


    Happy Belated Birthday Kenny Z!!!!
    Colombian women are skalleywags.
  • Post #24 - June 19th, 2009, 2:55 pm
    Post #24 - June 19th, 2009, 2:55 pm Post #24 - June 19th, 2009, 2:55 pm
    The Goddess was itching to try something new and dragged me out of my comfort zone to Mana Food Bar the other night. I'm still a little dazed and confused (oh where have you gone Richard Linklater). Vegetables........and only vegetables.........for the whole meal?!?!?!? I was seriously entering new territory. Luckily, the special lady helped me navigate the menu as a number of these dishes were indecipherable to me. But, this also got me wondering how she's so familiar with vegetarian food when we've never been before........hopefully I won't be made out to be a cuckold.

    Anyway, getting down to the grub, it was.......interesting. We had the Thai Watermelon Salad first, which included a jalapeno here and there. Well, one must have slipped under my fork because I was out of commission for the next five minutes. I Do It Daily cannot, I repeat cannot, handle spicy food. Other than that little incident the dish was generally enjoyable. We also enjoyed the spanikopita despite it's ethnic origins. But after the mushrooms and polenta I had to call it a night as nature was immediately calling. Needless to say, it was a little to rich for my blood.

    All in all, I'm just trying to get past the concept of a restaurant that only serves vegetables for it's courses. I guess I've seen everything at this point......
    Colombian women are skalleywags.
  • Post #25 - September 23rd, 2009, 12:38 am
    Post #25 - September 23rd, 2009, 12:38 am Post #25 - September 23rd, 2009, 12:38 am
    So, first meal in my new 'hood was at Mana on last Friday, I believe. Owing to a stressful move, mortgage woes, and generally being screwed by life I really needed a drink and a solid meal. Just a couple blocks from my new place, Mana generally delivered. I'm glad to have it around, even if I'm not totally sold on the place.

    It's unpretentious yet bustling, pretty solid vibe. The immovable bar stools could definitely stand to be replaced, though. I'm not a particularly big guy and even still I was held hostage by two gentlemen, swiveled just so, intently gazing upon their respective dates. I was some kind of geometric prisoner with no meat for solace.

    I asked the bartender to send out three small plates of his choosing. I'm easygoing like that. A French-style ale kept me company. The first dish was my favorite of the evening. A relatively simple spinach and pear salad had this really pungent mustard vinaigrette. I wouldn't order something so simple on my own, but it was at once a refreshing yet hearty salad.

    My next dish was delivered to me mistakenly. Since I had no idea what I was getting I immediately set my (previously used) fork atop it, only to find out it wasn't meant for me. I see this as some kind of karmic retribution for a restaurant that doesn't change out flatware after each course. I apologized, the server apologized. Oh well, a nice comp for me. It was a rather hefty portion of baked goat cheese. Simple but satisfying.

    This was followed by a portion of artichoke ravioli with a creamy tomato sauce. Given the dairy and tomato in the previous course, this was a bit redundant. This dish was the weakest of the night; I felt the ratios were wrong throughout. Pasta too thick, filling to meager. Too much cheese, not enough artichoke in said filling. Way to much sauce for the amount of pasta.

    I finished with a plate of wild mushrooms atop polenta. This was a very rich dish, that was hard to complain about. I have had much, much better versions of this dish (i.e., Scott Conant's version) but this was fine, with the proper amalgam of starch, umami, and meatiness to leave me sated.

    So, this place, like kennyz said over a year ago, serves up pretty solid food. It's pretty interesting. It's not, however, what I call Beautiful Food. When working primarily with vegetables, especially in the summer, I want the quality of the produce to sing. A more Californian approach would be more appealing to me. While the eclectic menu here is novel, I was unable find a unifying theme to the cuisine. All in, I think I spent just over $30. I'm curious to try some of the more interesting menu items. If they can nail these, I'll surely become a regular. If not, well it's just a solid enough spot in my new 'hood.
  • Post #26 - January 21st, 2011, 2:44 pm
    Post #26 - January 21st, 2011, 2:44 pm Post #26 - January 21st, 2011, 2:44 pm
    I ate at Mana for the first time last night and thought it was effing awesome; revelatory in many ways. Having read a bit about the place and chef/owner Jill Barron, I somewhat knew what to expect but still . . . wow! Dishes were thoughtful and extraordinarily well-conceived and well-executed. Flavors were assertive and distinctive. Textures were varied and satisfying. From my perspecitve, the absence of meat was nothing more than an afterthought . . .

    Image
    House-made Pickles & Kim Chee
    The vinegar pickles (asparagus, carrot) were great but the kim chee was utterly fantastic, with an almost fizzy note from fermentation, and intense flavor.


    Image
    Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Currants, Mint & Tangerine Dressing
    The pre-roasting of the quinoa brought out a depth of flavor here that was sensationally nutty and complex. The tangerine was definitely present and applied deftly. It didn't overpower and its slight bitterness kept the salad in perfect balance.


    Image
    Chili (corn, black beans, chickpeas, green onions and white cheddar)
    It's not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the best renditions of chili that I've ever had. I never thought I'd ever say that about a meatless version. The beans were cooked perfectly and the flavors popped explosively. This chili made me feel that sometimes, meat just gets in the way of a dish. It was truly a revelation.


    Image
    Green Curry and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (made for a Soup & Bread charity event at The Hideout the night before our meal)
    I loved the earthiness of the roasted squash and the way it paired with the aromatic green curry.


    Image
    Mana Sliders - brown rice and mushroom with spicy mayo on King's Hawaiian rolls, house-made pickles
    Fantastic take that didn't want for meat at all. Most ersatz burgers aren't even worth the effort. These, otoh, were great in their own right. A very satisfying plate.


    Image
    Tamal - mushroom and corn with fire-roasted tomato salsa
    Very nice composition, which really showcased the components. The salsa, which definitely brought a note of heat, was a great touch.


    Image
    Pierogi - potato and farmers cheese, served with brown butter, apples and fresh dill
    Utterly fantastic in every way. The pierogi were cooked perfectly, with a light exterior crispiness and rich, creamy filling of potato and farmers cheese. The brown butter delivered complex flavors from the the beginning of each bite all the way through the long, satisfying aftertaste. The little chunks of apple were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside (like the pierogi themselves) and added just enough of a sweet note to make the dish entirely harmonious. A hint of fresh dill was perfectly applied and reinforced my belief that this food was a perfect combination of thought and execution.


    Image
    Brussels Sprouts - seared wth miso mustard
    Shaved brussels sprouts are seared and then tossed lightly in a miso-mustard dressing while still warm. This was just awesome. The boldness of the dressing paired up beautifully with the earthy, cruciferous sprouts. A real eye-opener.


    Image
    Saag Paneer - fresh spinach and cheese in a spiced yogurt sauce, over cous cous
    This stylized version of the classic Indian dish concerned me a bit at first because the yogurt sauce, while perfectly seasoned, was very acidic. However, as I continued to eat the dish, the brilliance of its conception came into clear focus. Paired in bites with the paneer and the cous cous, the sharpness of the sauce was balanced perfectly. Another very thoughtful dish that was so much more than the sum of its distinctively-flavored and expertly-cooked components.


    Image
    Cauliflower - roasted and served with spicy charmoula sauce
    I love cauliflower and this roasted version was excellent -- tender but not mushy at all. I really liked the smoky charmoula sauce, which I'm guessing gets its smoke from smoked paprika. It was a great match for the caramelized cauliflower.

    All in all, this was an excellent dinner from end to end. I was repeatedly astounded by how delicious everything was and by the mastery over ingredients and parameters that was displayed plate after plate. I think we've all eaten that horrible kind of vegetarian food that's more accomodation and concession than anything else. Nothing could be farther from that scenario at Mana Food Bar. This was some ballsy food, which made no apologies for what it was. In fact, it was bolder and more distinctive than what many chefs who cook with meat can put out. There were a lot of layers in these dishes -- and a lot of thought and care behind them. Add to that the expert execution that was on display throughout the meal and what you end up with is a truly distinctive restaurant, which is a worthy destination, even for folks who don't necessarily avoid meat. This food is great by any measure and it really should not be missed. At every turn, it's clear that a lot of thought and care went into Mana Food Bar.

    Thinking about the future visits that I'm destined to make, there are a number of other tempting dishes on the menu that I really want to try. And because most dishes are offered in small and large portions, trying a bunch of items seems like it it'd be very easy to do, regardless of group size. I'm definitely looking forward to returning to Mana.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #27 - July 15th, 2011, 7:36 am
    Post #27 - July 15th, 2011, 7:36 am Post #27 - July 15th, 2011, 7:36 am
    Mana's light, vegetarian cuisine is ideal for dinner on a hot summer evening. I like the option of having a sampler of three cold items: I chose five spice tofu, jicama/mango, and spinach/pear. The first two were both pretty acidic, it was fortunate that my friend chose a large order of the rich polenta/mushroom dish and let me continually sneak forkfuls that perfectly balanced those two dishes. Next time I may order a small polenta and a large cold dish; great yin and yang.
    I also had a side of corn on the cob. The "chili lime salt" was a nice seasoning, but the charring of one side of the cobs, while creating a nice visual aesthetic, served only to make part of the dish inedible. I also thought the watermelon lemonade was overthought -- it had some herbal element that would have best been omitted.

    When the weather cooperates, outdoor seating nearly doubles the capacity here. With the hipsterish interior design and clientele, I almost felt cool for an hour or so that night, in addition to the healthy glow from all those veggies.
  • Post #28 - July 30th, 2011, 8:24 pm
    Post #28 - July 30th, 2011, 8:24 pm Post #28 - July 30th, 2011, 8:24 pm
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed my lunch at Mana today. I think Saturdays are the only day they're currently open for lunch, so it worked perfectly. As a lifelong vegetarian that loves food, I have been constantly disappointed with most vegetarian places. Mana really got it right. Dined with my husband, who is an omnivore, and my mom, also a vegetarian.

    We ordered a lot of items to share, which worked well. Highlights were the mango and jicama salad, the tamale, pear salad, potato pancake and the sliders. Good but not life-changing were the avocado arugula salad, the 5 season tofu, and the be bim bop. Beets and corn were nice side additions. I normally would avoid the sliders or any fake meat stuff, as it tends to be bland/boring/weird (pretty much everything on the Karyn's or Chicago Diner menu, in my opinion), but so many people raved that I cracked and was very glad I did. Could definitely go back and try the rest of the menu next time.

    Decided to get a glass of wine rather than a sake cocktail, and had a nice glass of French white on a hot day. Loved the decor, loved the service, really thought this place hits all the right notes.
  • Post #29 - December 10th, 2012, 9:40 pm
    Post #29 - December 10th, 2012, 9:40 pm Post #29 - December 10th, 2012, 9:40 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:Best veggie burger I've ever had is the slider @ Mana Food Bar on Division. The chili is fantastic as well, among the best I've ever had.


    This place has changed for me. Originally, we weren't moved by it, although we wanted to be because it's not far from our place. But now, I think it's the second best house-made veggie burger I've had (Old Town Social is still 1st) and that chili is fantastic.

    Right now we've loved the simple salad of younger/smaller arugula with avocado & pickled onions. Whenever I have that salad, I think I really need to pickle some onions. Then last night I had the special soup, corn, curry, & coconut milk with some heat. That's one of the best things I've eaten in 2012. I agree with you on the chili it's perfect.

    If you haven't been to Mana in a bit, or you were underwhelmed, I would strongly encourage you to give it another visit.
    Last edited by pairs4life on December 10th, 2012, 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #30 - December 10th, 2012, 11:34 pm
    Post #30 - December 10th, 2012, 11:34 pm Post #30 - December 10th, 2012, 11:34 pm
    I saw this pop up and realized that I had never posted on the place. I have gone to Mana a couple of times. Both of my trips were 2 or 3 years ago, but I have always meant to post. I really enjoyed both of my visits a great deal. I plan to return soon with a friend from Indy who is a vegan chef. Looking forward to my next visit and hopefully with pics and a real post this time.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain

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