Chicago cuisine has made a name for itself with the likes of deep-dish pizzas and Chicago-style hot dogs. In recent years, the city’s appetite for plant-based eats has been on the rise. Since 2021, locals have welcomed and embraced Chicago’s first vegan ice cream shop, the city’s first plant-based Mexican restaurant, and even the country’s first vegan empanada shop.
Soon, Chicago will also be home to the largest vegan food hall in the midwest. Slated to open later this summer, the XMarket Vegan Food Hall boasts 6,500 square feet and can seat up to 375 people. Upon entering, guests will be able to dine at six restaurants, imbibe at a wine and beer bar, and get their morning fill at a coffee shop.
The XMarket Vegan Food Hall is the latest concept by PlantX, a digital lifestyle platform and e-commerce site committed to making plant-based lifestyles more accessible. To bring the concept to fruition, PlantX tapped Macromia Group, industry experts well versed in launching food halls.
“Chicago has emerged as one of the largest vegan and health-conscious communities in North America, making it an ideal location to introduce our all-in-one vegan food hall concept,” Lorne Rapkin, PlantX Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.
The Midwest’s largest vegan food hall
Located in Uptown Chicago, the XMarket Vegan Food Hall is housed in the space previously occupied by XMarket, a chain of vegan grocery stores by PlantX. While PlantX successfully operates XMarket outposts in Venice, CA and Ontario, Canada, the company decided to shutter its Chicago location for one major reason: it was simply too big.
“Full-blown grocery stores with produce and everything work in large spaces. But for us, all of the vegan products [XMarket carries] really grab your attention, and you don’t need all of that space,” Alex Hoffman, Chief Marketing Officer for PlantX, tells VegNews.
“Our store in Venice Beach is 700 square feet, and we have every single product that is out there in the vegan world in those 700 square feet. We tried to do that [in Chicago], but we felt things were getting lost, and they deserve attention.”
While PlantX was committed to recreating the “bodega vibe” it accomplished in Venice, company leaders knew they wanted to do something more in the 6,500 square-foot retail space in Uptown Chicago. And thus, the XMarket Vegan Food Hall was born.
Locals who relied on the XMarket for vegan pantry staples need not worry. The XMarket Vegan Food Hall will also house a bodega-style, plant-based grocery store complete with its own vegan cheesemonger.
The plant-based restaurants at XMarket Vegan Food Hall
Billed as the ultimate one-stop shop, XMarket Vegan Food Hall was designed to provide all-day entertainment to those who visit. After enjoying a meal at one of the six in-house concepts, guests can pick up pantry essentials at the grocery store, visit the coffee shop, or enjoy a drink at the wine and beer bar, where Vegan Wines will provide bar food and wine pairings.
Outside of food, drinks, and groceries, PlantX will host a variety of events to keep visitors entertained. Equipped with large viewing screens, XMarket Vegan Food Hall will host game days and live music events—all indoors to provide refuge from Chicago’s infamous weather come winter time.
But which vegan restaurants can visitors expect? While PlantX has yet to announce the featured eateries, Hoffman tells VegNews they will be concepts Chicago locals already know and love.
“They’re existing concepts, but their food hall menus will be a bit different than their freestanding locations,” she says. “We want to offer guests something unique, and we want [the restaurants] to complement each other and not compete with one another. There won’t be two burger places, [for example].”
PlantX will announce its in-house restaurants within the next two weeks. In addition to these six permanent concepts, XMarket Vegan Food Hall will also house pop-ups on a three-month, rotational basis. Not only does this keep the food offerings exciting for locals, it also offers chefs a platform to reach new audiences.
“A new vegan restaurant might be looking at the Chicago market or wanting to test out their concept, and [our rotating pop-up series] is a great way for chefs to come in, try something out, and then maybe go on to open something bigger,” Hoffman says.
And while PlantX is focusing on the Chicago market for its premier vegan food hall, the company hopes to bring similar concepts to more US cities through a franchise model.
In the meantime, Chicago locals can visit XMarket Vegan Food Hall during its soft launch at the end of August, with a grand opening scheduled after Labor Day weekend.plant-based plantx ice cream cream groceries burger industry