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West Chicago's hidden vegetarian gem in Hawthorne's backyard

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Hawthorne's backyard restaurant

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West Chicago is not the first location to pop into the minds of Chicagoans looking for a good vegetarian meal. And with a population of approximately 27,000 versus 2.7 million in the Windy City*, West Chicago has a lot of competition on its hands. But in every small town, there's a gem of a restaurant that makes driving there worth the ride. That would be the case with Hawthorne's backyard, located at 1200 W. Hawthorne Lane.

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The outside of the place looks like Norman Bates should meet visitors at the door, but inside, it's busy and has a "Cheers" TV show feel to it. And the food is superb.

Under the menu listing for a veggie burger, it says, "Since our patrons made us put this on our menu, here it is. Topped with lettuce, tomato and onion."

Whether it was by force or a quip, their vegetarian burgers are outstanding. The buns are light and fresh. The veggie patty is crisp, and the toppings taste garden fresh.

The side fries that come with the order are not meant for anyone on a diet, but they're some of the best tasting small wedge cut fries ever. Eat them with ketchup or on their own. Either way, they're worth devouring. A pickle slice is also included.

Hawthorne's backyard has carryout, dine-in and bar options, and the bar option is definitely a friendly environment.

The usual liquor and soft drinks can be chosen. The only downside is for soft drink carryout, the cups are on the flimsy side -- plastic 8-ounce cups with a plastic top and a straw. Don't bother trying to walk and eat should you be on the go because slight pressure to the cup will make it splash all over the arms.

This is yet another reason to dine in and enjoy the warm service from the staff. Not only does everyone from the bartenders to the waiting staff greet customers with a smile, but they're quick to give free refills, too. Make sure to try the strawberry pureed lemonade to sweeten the veggie deal. And if you're not one to carry cash on you, you'll need it if you order something under $10 because they don't accept credit cards under that amount, even if it includes the tip.

So far the Chicago Vegetarian Examiner has heard back from three omnivores about the veggie burgers, and they all had nothing but compliments. You don't have to love meat to love that sandwich. Go veg.

* The statistics are from the Census Bureau.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest Chicago vegetarian entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Vegetarian channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her "Diet & Exercise" and "Vegetarian World" Pinterest boards.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest Chicago nutrition and fitness entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Diet and Exercise channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews.

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