The restaurant: Quesadilla(2235 N Western Ave, 773-235-8807), a new vegan taqueria.
The vegan says: Ask eight-year-old Basil Hayden why he’s a vegan, and he’s got an answer ready: “Because I’m cooler than you.” Ask him what he thinks of Quesadilla’s faux-steak taco or faux-cheese quesadilla, and he’s a little more tight-lipped: “It’s good.” His mom, TOC Kids editor and eight-year vegan Amy Hayden, shares his positivity. The steak tacos are barely masked seitan, but she’s used to that: “You can’t just say ‘chopped-up seitan flavored like steak’ ” on the menu, she explains. Swayed by the “good value,” Amy concludes, “I would definitely come here again.”
The meathead responds: Once I get over the shock of being face-to-face with a third-grader who’s requesting soy beef, I move on to the shock of a person of any age voluntarily eating these rubbery substitutes for delicious meat. I try to order one of the few things on the menu that’s an actual vegetable rather than a meat substitute, but it’s to ill effect: The mushroom huarache is so bland even my vegan companions admit its flaws. Worst of all, my fruit smoothie’s a bust, full of crunchy, tiny seeds.