Open Tab: elephant + vine won’t be on my grapevine


Beatrice Villaflor/The Daily Northwestern

Elephant + vine offers a variety of vegan food, including the Thai Crunch Salad and the Baja Burger.

Kaavya Butaney and Beatrice Villaflor

Elephant + vine is one of Evanston’s most popular vegan restaurants, and we took a look at what it had to offer. 

The restaurant opened in March 2022 as a sister establishment to Spirit Elephant, another vegan restaurant in Winnetka. The owner, CD Young, graduated from Kellogg School of Management in 1996.

Elephant + vine’s menu consists of burgers, wraps, salads, sides and drinks, and we tried one of each. While we weren’t shocked by our meal, we were certainly a little disappointed. With that, let’s take a look at what we tried.

The prices were hard to digest — with shakes priced at $8.95, we were clutching our wallets.

Let’s start with the Baja Burger, which had onion, pico de gallo and avocado on top of an Impossible meat patty. We enjoyed the pico, as it added a mild spice to the dish’s overall flavor. There were a lot of onions, which made the burger delectable — although that may not be to everyone’s liking.

While the patty was juicy, those looking for a meat-alternative that tastes like the real thing will be let down. The texture was not akin to that of a real burger, and the consistency was that of an undercooked vegetable.

The Thai Crunch Salad served a lot of crunch, but we struggled to find the Thai influence apart from a slightly spiced vinaigrette. We enjoyed the externally crispy and internally chewy tofu, which — along with the edamame — was a nice contrast to the crispness of the lettuce and carrots which dominated the bowl. Overall, though, we did not feel compelled to finish the salad.

The Burrito with avocado wasn’t necessarily bad but definitely wasn’t great. Between the beans, rice and indistinct dressing, we could see the burrito influence, but it bore little resemblance to the real thing. There was an overwhelming amount of tortilla that took over the wrap. It could have been a great meal if it had a good amount of spice or salt, but all we tasted was wet bean, rice and too much tortilla.

The sweet potato fries were the surprise standout of the meal. They were the right balance between crispy and chewy with the proper amount of salt, making this side a worthy addition to a burger

The Salted Caramel Pretzel Milkshake was not quite worth its hefty price. For a dairy-free milkshake, the drink was creamy and felt like a milkshake texturally. The overall flavor leaned heavy on the pretzel, which did provide a delightful contrast to the sweeter milkshake base. 

There was a large amount of the whipped cream, which would normally be welcome, but it was too thick to go up the straw smoothly. 

While it was worth a shot to try the food, we don’t feel drawn to stop by again — except maybe for an order of sweet potato fries.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @kaavya_butaney

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @beatricedvilla

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