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Borrowed Earth Café – Downer’s Grove, IL

Hooray for Chicago! We’ve been staying in/around the area for about a month now. Admittedly, a few of the weeks were spent socializing with family and friends in the area. But it’s also taken a bit of time to get through all of the wonderful restaurants this midwestern dream city has to offer.

We’ll be posting the Chicago-area restaurant coverage completely out of order and surprisingly, I’m okay with that. I usually prefer to keep things in order but hey, sometimes you’re inspired by an experience, or photos, or whatever leaves you wanting more. In this case, it’s Borrowed Earth Café.

Borrowed Earth Café – 100% raw vegan

970 Warren Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Borrowed Earth vegan Cafe Downers Grove ILBorrowed Earth vegan Cafe Downers Grove ILBorrowed Earth vegan Cafe Downers Grove IL

I had never been to Downers Grove before. The town is really cozy and it’s only about twenty miles west of the city of Chicago. And trust me when I say that you will want to make the trek to this quaint town if to do nothing more than dine at Borrowed Earth Café.

Green smoothie time! This one has fresh greens, seasonal fruit, and banana. It was delicious and super filling on its own.

Borrowed Earth Cafe, vegan downer's grove IL

Ethan and I both really like mushrooms and so we often opt for appetizers (and some main meals) featuring these delicious lil’ buggers. Borrowed Earth’s Stuffed Mushrooms didn’t disappoint – mushrooms stuffed with pine nuts and a delicate blend of spices and herbs. The mystery blend of spices and herbs were delectable, stuffed in mouth watering button mushrooms which were drizzled in and sitting on a tamari-like sauce. Very, very good.

Borrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, ILBorrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, IL

No, I’m not going to tell you what I was daydreaming about. That’s my little secret. ;) But here I am. Waiting for course deux. La la la.

Borrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, IL

I ordered the Falafels Falafels Falafels. Nope, didn’t stutter, that’s the name of the plate! In my opinion, this was the stand out of the noms at Borrowed Earth – ground nuts combined with rich spices rolled together and wrapped in a zucchini flax seed wrap.

The plates are filled to the brim with luscious, filling, healthy delights. Aside from the actual falafel, which was accompanied by an amazingly creamy white sauce on the inside, my plate also had a ton of mixed greens and a bunch of shredded carrot. The greens and carrots were drizzled with that light green sauce. I’m not sure what it is but it was absolutely delicious. Savory, a little sweet, and perfectly complimented these fresh plants.

Borrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, ILBorrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, IL

Ethan had the Earth Burger – walnut/carrot garden burger packed between Borrowed Earth “buns” with raw catsup. Served with jicama “fries” and one tasty side salad.

Do you remember when I said that some places leave you wanting more? Well these jicama fries are BRILLIANT. These über compassionate owners took a traditional American burger style dish and turned it into a raw sensation. JICAMA FRIES! Outstanding!! The recipe here is quite simple, take a restaurant, make it a raw vegan one, add a pair of super friendly, creative chefs who clearly prepare their food with love and purpose, and voilå you’ve got Borrowed Earth Café!

Ethan: dip the Jicama in the ketchup. Dip the sandwich in the ketchup. Dip the JIcama in the Ketchup. Dip the Burger in the Ketchup. No rinsing necessary. I love when raw burgers don’t fall apart!

Borrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, ILBorrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, IL

According to Borrowed Earth’s website, “We have one rule: Nobody leaves without dessert.” Well, we didn’t want to upset anyone so naturally, we ordered dessert. But we were so pleasantly full that we got our dessert to-go. And even when we couldn’t stop thinking about these yummy cakes we still managed to wait to take some photos before devouring them, later in the evening. Here we have the Out of this World Cheese Cake and one of the specials, a Chocolate Truffle Cake. Hello big whole berries within the cakes. Another brilliant move!

vegan cheese cake from borrowed earth cafevegan chocolate cake from borrowed earth cafe

Approaching restaurant owners about our trip and then asking them to put a “Will Travel For Vegan Food was here” decal in their window is sometimes tricky business. I almost always feel awkward about it unless there’s chit chat and such beforehand. As a result I’ve started this new “strategy” (borne out of my own fear of course) where I leave one of our “business” cards and a decal in the check holder with a little note stating that we loved the food, will be writing about them, and would be thrilled if they’d put a decal in their window. I cross my fingers that the restaurant owners will look us up online and follow suit.

Thankfully, Ethan sometimes jumps in and saves me from myself. And other times the restaurant staff and/or owners are just so friendly and nice (and curious about why we’re taking so many pics of everything we see), and then sometimes it’s even a combination of all these elements.

This time around I had the card ready to go, bill was paid, and we were on our way out when Danny and Kathy (the owners and chefs) started chatting us up. Ethan took the opportunity to jump in and tell them all about our trip. Danny immediately put the decal up in the window (we love action shots!) and the conversation continued. Yay!

Ethan: Between Kristin and I, the server, and the co-owners, I am the only sports fan around but somehow we started talking about the NHL All-Star Game and the Super Bowl. I didn’t even bring sports up! Trust me. However, we all got going and one thing led to another and we learned about the passion this crew puts into the food they make. I would be remiss to say it doesn’t show in the quality and quantity of flavors. Some raw restaurants get it. I am reminded of Fiddleheads in VT here as I feel as though a global approach is being applied to the menu. There is not one reason to be vegan. There are many. Cheers!

Borrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, ILBorrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, ILBorrowed Earth Cafe Downers Grove, ILEthan, Kathy, Kristin, and Danny


  1. My God, those mushrooms literally brought a tear to my eye…well, not *literally*, but still…..

    • Ahaha… they are REALLY amazing!! :)

  2. Jan

    I finished reading your blog with a smile!! Nice

  3. Kirsty

    Congrats to you on finding our little gem! We love Kathy & Danny, and that chocolate truffle cake is seriously to die for!

  4. Lauren

    This is very close to where my parents live now, and it’s so delicious. Even the side salads are amazing! Reading through your blog makes me realize how many vegan restaurants I’ve actually visited!

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