Mana Food BarWicker Park
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Susan Thompson (who co-owns De Cero and Sushi Wabi partnered with Jill Barron (the exec chef at De Cero) to open this Wicker Park vegetarian spot. The menu features a variety of global influences, including Mediterranean, Asian and Middle Eastern, with a focus on creative veggie preparations that capitalize on flavor and spice and make limited use of the usual meat alternatives such as seitan and tofu. Everything on the menu comes in both large and small plate formats so you can graze or go for a traditional meal (small plates $5-$9; large plates $9-$17). Don't miss the Mana sliders, tasty little brown rice and mushroom burgers with spicy mayo that go for $3 a pop. The 32-seat space, designed by Harlan Thompson (Susan's hubbie), features custom-made reclaimed wood furniture and other green touches, including light fixtures made from old sushi gettas (those cutting board-esque platters many sushi spots use). Seating options include a spacious 30-foot food counter/bar, booths and tables, and a 20-seat outdoor cafe.