Vegan, gluten-free restaurant coming to Oak Park

'Munch' will take the place of recently shuttered restaurant on Marion

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

A restaurant specializing in vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free fare plans to open this summer in downtown Oak Park.

"Munch" will take over the space formerly occupied by Café Minou (104 N. Marion), which closed earlier this year.

Oak Parker Robbin O'Harrow has worked for some 25 years in the business, as a bartender and server, and was formerly a vegan herself. She wants to bring the fresh and healthy way she eats at home to the general masses.

"These are the things I believe in, this is the way I cook, and this is the way I eat," she said. "I've been cooking for kids for 30 years, plus I've been dealing with vegetarians and allergies and those issues, so I've known about it for a long time — long before it was ever in style."

The menu will have a minimal number of dishes for carnivores, and any meat entrées will come from animals that were treated humanely. O'Harrow's major focus is vegan and gluten-free dishes. She plans to offer such items as a barbecue beef-like sandwich made from jackfruit, and vegan vegetable lasagna — made with mushroom, eggplant and tofu ricotta.

Munch will also strongly emphasize side dishes, said O'Harrow, which will include coconut yams, roasted rosemary potatoes and beans.

"Sides are going to be a big, big part of the menu," she said.

The restaurant will offer counter service and seat about 20 people, 30 if you factor in some outdoor spots. O'Harrow will stress the grab-and-go aspect of the business, and she also hopes to allow patrons to bring their own beer or wine.

Munch will be open every day but Monday starting sometime in June.

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Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 10:29 AM

Animal Lover in Oak Park, the place knows that to exist, it can not rely just on vegetarians. Not sure if she is still a Vegan since Marty Stempniak wrote, Oak Parker Robbin O'Harrow has worked for some 25 years in the business, as a bartender and server, and was formerly a vegan herself." Maybe she eats meat now.

Militant Omnivore  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 3:47 PM

Every steakhouse I know serves potatoes, salad, and maybe even a sprig of broccoli or two. But I don't hear carnivores bellyaching about the true meaning of 'steakhouse'. It's no wonder there are no vegan restaurants in the area. Who would want to cater to such a strident bunch. It seems they are much too eager to bite the hand that feeds them (not literally of course).

Valerie from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 3:14 PM

As a vegetarian who's autistic child is on a gluten-free diet, I must say I am so pleased that this restaurant is coming to Oak Park. I am super pleased that it is an independent place and not a chain, owned and run by a mom like myself! This restaurant has NOT advertised itself as a vegan restaurant, so please don't be so negative. Organic, humane meat is an option that friends and family I know have taken and I respect them; having a couple of such items on the menu bothers me not at all.

Evan O'Brien from  

Posted: August 10th, 2011 10:33 AM

Roci, If you or your husband would like to learn more about the vegetarian options in town, check out this post from dining and food blogger, David Hammond,'s_an_Oak_Park_Vegetarian_to_Eat?

Roci from Oak Park  

Posted: August 10th, 2011 10:12 AM

I am thrilled to hear that we have a Veg Restaurant in town. I am a vegetarian and yearn to see more eateries with more options for me to choose from. My husband is a quasi-vegetarian (working on it) and I know he will love it.

Maya from Oak Park  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 11:07 PM

I personally know the owner and she is an amazing cook. She has been testing recipes to perfection for months.There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan options that they have decided to simplify and go with their gut and go completely vegetarian. There is nothing like it in the area and I am thankful that there will be a place to get fantastic healthy food.

animal lover in oak park  

Posted: May 29th, 2011 10:55 PM

How on earth can you call yourself a vegan restaurant if you are going to serve meat? That doesn't make sense. When I read the headline, I was SO excited that FINALLY Oak Park is getting a vegan restaurant until I read where you will be serving meat dishes. Well I guess I will still be hoping that a TRULY VEGAN RESTAURANT will someday open in Oak Park. And I guess I will still have to go all the way to Chicago to eat at The Chicago Diner. At least I know that THEY live up to their principles.


Posted: May 21st, 2011 2:33 PM

Al's pretty greasy, though I guess to get truly greasy spoon, you need to go to Louie's in FP. I went there once and my stomach was upset for a week afterward.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 11:24 AM

Al's is the best of the bunch, though it lacks the charm of a really good greasy spoon.


Posted: May 21st, 2011 6:49 AM

And it seems to me that every place in OP seems to be serving up burgers. I am happy a place is coming to town that will serve something besides meat! As for greasy spoon/good breakfast, have you been to Al's Grill? George's? Cozy Corner? And as for burger's try Pete's Red Hots or Tasty Dog.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 1:55 AM

I would really like to see a pretty clean greasy spoon that serves breakfast and lunch. There is really not a great breakfast in town nor a decent hamburger. They all taste the same; probably missing bacon grease. The greasy spoon does not have to be in the fashionable part of town - any alley or side street will do. A possible location could be the Teacher Store on OPAve near the highway that just close. Has the right space and wouldn't bother anyone opposed to grease and dirt.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 11:38 PM

Munch, I eagerly await your participation in Downtown Oak Park's Thursday Night Out. My occasional meat-eating husband, two vegetarian children, and myself a vegetarian, look forward to sampling your menu.

Maybe all the angry OP vegans  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:49 PM

Should open up their own vegan restaurant instead of complaining about a restaurant that is not even open yet? C'mon sarge311, let's see you make a good tofu dish and serve it with a smile...


Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:35 PM

@Moving out of Op. First of all, glad that you're leaving. Secondly, why should vegans have to eat from equipment that is used to make meat dishes? The whole point for us vegans eating at a vegan restaurant is so we don't have to share the same cooking equipment that prepares dead animal flesh. EVERY restaurant in Oak Park serves meat. Why can't vegans have one for ourselves ESPECIALLY if you're going around saying that you are vegan? Too bad The Chicago Diner doesn't come here. No worries there

Moving out of OP  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 4:50 PM

@Amazed: I have noticed that most of the nasty comments are originating from the Vegan/Veggie people. I also notice that most OP Vegan/Veggies are very mean and preachy, very different from all the ones I know. I eat meat, and the majority of my friends do not. They never are preachy or judgmental about it. I think this new place is just what OP needs. It is a place for meat eaters and non-meat eaters to join together in harmony to enjoy good food!

Anonymous online  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 3:24 PM

I hope it's as cool as Chicago Diner. And I hope they use a commercial architect to make the space more inviting to walk-in traffic. Color me happy for good vegan options other than Whole Foods.

Amazed from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:39 PM

A vegan diet is a truly healthy diet. Maybe those of you who have made such nasty comments wouldn't be so mean spirited and less full of crap if you'd just try it!


Posted: May 17th, 2011 12:51 PM

Susan is right: stop hating and start supporting your locally owned businesses. Oak Parkers are very lucky to have such diverse businesses. Drive an hour out of Chicago and you will see small towns with NOTHING except a bank, grocery store and a funeral home. Stop complaining!


Posted: May 16th, 2011 12:34 PM

I'm very excited about this! I live with a vegetarian and have family members with celiac disease. How nice not to have to go to Evanston or downtown to have a nice meal out with them. Good luck with your new business! (and thanks for including humanely-raised meat for carnivores like my husband, too.)

Anonymous from Oak Park   

Posted: May 14th, 2011 9:31 PM

Great to hear this will be an offering for Oak Park. There are many people such as myself that due to food sensitivities and/or conditions cannot eat at most restaurants due to the risk of eating foods that might contain preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, and the like. I was also vegan for over 9 years but recently began incorporating occasional organic meats into my diet and as I know all too well, organic meats etc. are rarely a choice in most restaurants.


Posted: May 14th, 2011 4:53 PM

OMG!!!! Do any of you read what you write?????? Talk about being judgemental.....

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 4:40 PM

I know that cows are not all warm and fuzzy but they feel pain. I love all the yuppies who buy their dogs organic biscuits and fairtrade sweaters and scoff at other animals being as valuable. As for thought police, I am not sure if you are Susan "please no NEGATISM, give me unicorns" whoever, but she sounded like she didn't want certain opinions uttered. I have never said such a thing.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 4:30 PM

Glad to welcome a new and interesting business to Oak Park. We'll definitely give it a try! What's great about Oak Park is that there are lots of different places for lots of different people. Heck, sometimes I feel like going vegetarian, and sometimes I don't.

It's a Spiritual Thing from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 4:15 PM

For crying out loud, it's a restaurant, not a puppy farm. You are hilarious, with your "I don't take myself too seriously" comment. Riiiiiiight...... I'm very glad we have the thought police over here keeping us in line and showing us "how that works".

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 3:48 PM

No such word as 'negatism.' Maybe you meant 'negativity' or 'negavatism.' But I find it strange that you don't see YOUR comment as negative, downing other comments! See how that works? I think 'hatred' is a rather strong word. Do you eat dead flesh? People who are vegetarians or vegans would like a restaurant that caters to that specific dietary habit. For some of us, it's a spiritual thing and we don't like eating foods cooked on a grill with dead flesh (we're kinda funny that way).

susan from oak park  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 1:00 PM

I would just like to say that as I read these comments that are full of negatism and in some cases what almost sounds like hatred for a business that hasn't even opened yet. I applaud anyone willing to take the risk to start their own business and will support that business in any way I can. I guess Hemingway was right when he said Oak Park was a village of broad lawns and narrow minds.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 12:01 PM

@Steakburger: You're pretty funny! Luckily I don't take myself too seriously but you have all the options in the world. I am not necessarily advocating for a strict vegan joint, but a vedge place with no meat would be nice. Also, I hope this restaurant uses eco-friendly takeout stuff! It's amazing how many places in OP have styrofoam and even use disposable stuff for dine-in meals, which is really a waste.

op lover from oak park  

Posted: May 14th, 2011 11:19 AM

wow! i usually read the comment on the political articles but these looks nastier and more vitriolic than those. i moved to oak park because i thought . . .catch this . . . the people were"nice." this is how "welcoming" we are to new businesses? this is how supportive we are to our fellow man? If she sees this comment I'd just say --i'm super excited about having your restaurant and WELCOME TO OAK PARK!!


Posted: May 13th, 2011 7:02 PM

Although I'd rather see a meat-free restaurant as well (if you only have on kitchen, you're going to end up mixing meat with vegan), the only place in the article where the restaurant is inaccurately described as a "vegan, gluten-free restaurant" is in the headline. Change the headline.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 6:17 PM

Do people who choose to be vegans, do so for reasons other than animal-cruelty issues? Like for health benefits? Or is being strident in one's belief of the purpose of animals a must? This is now twice in three days (the other was on Whole Foods Market's Facebook page) that I've seen this type of intensity. So I'm just wondering... (BTW, I'm an ovo-lacto vegetarian, so I don't eat animals. But I guess I don't pass the morality test since I eat organic eggs, milk and honey)

Saul Passone  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 5:11 PM

If the major focus is vegetarian, then how is this a vegan restaurant? I'll stick with 100% veg places.

Steakburger from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 4:55 PM

Choke on a bone, sarge?? Very open-minded and tolerant of you. I didn't suggest that you choke on a celery stalk. Besides, if you're a typical Oak Parker who believes that trees & shrubs are living things with feelings too, then by extension the harvesting of veggies is no different than the slaughtering of animals for consumption. The poor eggplant feels the same pain as the chicken when it's hacked off at the stalk. And don't even get me started with the beheading of the lettuce!


Posted: May 13th, 2011 2:15 PM

Typical troll Steakburger is. If you are bragging about opening a vegan restaurant, then it has no place for dead animals, so go choke on a bone Steak! That would be like a steakhouse bragging about it serving the best steaks and then serving vegetables. Get rid of the dead flesh or maybe us VEGANS won't patronize your restaurant! Since there are no other vegan restaurants in Oak Park, you'd have a big clientele. But if you serve meat, count me out. I prefer to go to a cruelty free restaurant.

Steakburger from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 2:06 PM

Silly vegans! She'll offer some meat options because she'd like the restaurant to SURVIVE! Coconut yams would make an intriguing side dish for a beautifully grilled filet mignon. The roasted rosemary potatoes coupled with a spicy Italian sausage?? It screams Oak Park to me, mister! Like it or not, we're all carnivores! A million years of evolution can't be wrong. Live vegan if you choose, but you're still supressing your instinct to grapple with the pork chop! Don't deny who you are!


Posted: May 13th, 2011 12:23 PM

Isn't gluten free supposed to be produced in an environment that produces nothing else with gluten at all so there is no chance of cross contamination? just a thought. However, I will be eating there provided the food is actually good. Having made grub for your kids for 30 years does not make you a chef.

OPer from oak park  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 11:53 AM

Someone change that ridiculous headline, quick. LOL

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 10:47 AM

I'm not vegetarian, but I am a big fan of Karyn's vegan restaurants in Chicago. I was also surprised to read that this venture will offer meat on the menu, but I am guessing that the new businessperson is maybe concerned that OP won't support an only vegetarian restaurant. There was an Indian place on Lake that tried it and is gone. People need to support local businesses. It costs a lot to start a business. Maybe with time the menu will evolve. Good luck! I will be glad to try it!

Jeff 2012 from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 9:36 AM

It looks like Oak Park vegans will finally have an opportunity to pig out.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 9:28 AM

UGH- you guys are right! What's up with having a vedge/vegan place with NO MEAT allowed? It's not like every other frigging place doesn't have dead flesh on the menu!

epic lulz  

Posted: May 12th, 2011 11:01 PM

While it's nice that you have vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, if you're serving meat, you're NOT a vegetarian restaurant, much less a vegan one. You're just another restaurant that happens to have non-meat options, which puts you in the same class as Five Guys and practically every other restaurant in town.


Posted: May 12th, 2011 10:23 PM

Finally! I'm just a little upset that meat will be offered at all. With EVERY restaurant and eatery in Oak Park offering the flesh of slaughtered animals, how disappointing to find out you're going to offer meat dishes. There is no such thing as "treated humanely" because in the end, the animal dies a horrible death. Please reconsider the meat dishes, minimal or not. Be the first VEGAN restaurant in this area. I think you will find a lot more support for a totally vegan restaurant.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 12th, 2011 6:30 PM

Thank Krishna! Finally! I have always wondered why this type of restaurant had not been given its due in representation. I am sure they will do quite well! Can't wait to try them out!

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