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CLOSED: Borrowed Earth Cafe

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 32 reviews )


Contact 630-795-1729

970 Warren Ave (at downtown Downers Grove), Downers Grove, Illinois, USA, 60515

Downers Grove raw food restaurant serving raw pizza, tacos, burritos, tamales, burgers, fries, salad, juices, and food boxes. Bamboo floor and found art decor. Has Wi-Fi access. Periodically offers raw "cooking" classes. Confirmed closed, Oct 2015. Open Tue-Sat 11:00am-9:00pm. Last order 8:30pm.

Category: Vegan, Organic, Raw, Juice bar, Take-out

Reviews (32)

First Review by gillian22

not great - Edit

I really wanted to love this place, as raw vegan food can be so incredible, but the food was not very good. The stuffed mushrooms were spicy without being flavorful. The pierogies were pretty uninteresting - just a wad of cashew cheese in a folded over thinly sliced root veg that kind of made my stomach turn as it was too rich.

Pros: all vegan, raw

Cons: food wasn't good

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Hot Walks, Cool Veggies - Edit

We were looking for a place for lunch after a July visit to Morton Arboretum and were glad to find that Borrowed Earth was nearby. (It's about 3 1/2 miles away, but they're suburban miles.) The food was a bit more expensive than I expected, but on the other hand, I've at times paid as much for meals that were mostly pasta (not raw, of course). And the price is not out of line with Raw, the only other raw restaurant I've been to. I had the spinach quiche, which really wasn't anything like quiche--I'd call it a terrine, maybe. It was tasty, as were the side salads, but on the whole I think it was the flavors of the veggies I enjoyed more than anything specific about the preparations. My rating is three stars mainly because, although I enjoyed this visit, Downer's Grove isn't really near where I live, and Borrowed Earth probably isn't in itself enough of a draw to get me back there. If you're going to the Arboretum, the combination did make for a nice day.

Pros: Lots and lots of veggies, Near Morton Arboretum

Cons: Price

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wonderful to find a vegan resturant in Downers Grove - Edit

such a great find in the west Chicago suburbs. it has a calming atmosphere and the food is great. the food is completely raw and does not disappoint.

Pros: all vegan raw options, local artists have work for sale, on main street very accessible

Cons: might seem pricy to some

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Quite a discovery! - Edit

We were on our way to the IKEA store in Bolingbrook and wanted to stop somewhere for a vegan lunch. I opened the Happy Cow app and looked up vegan restaurants in the area. Borrowed Earth Cafe was the closest and seemed the most enticing. As soon as we entered this serene space, decorated in subtle hues of ochre and deep rust, we felt at home. The Cheese Perogies were out of this world; and our main dish, a special with mushrooms, nuts and other wonderful ingredients, was equally delicious. To top it off, we had a chocolate ganache with raspberries, the chocolate rich and deeply satisfying. We couldn't believe all of this organic food was raw! I now want to convert from simply cooking vegan to "cooking" raw. Our lunch was complemented by a friendly and stimulating conversation with the owners/cooks Kathy and Danny. Our server was also perfect. From the restaurant website it appears that she is quite a singer. We'll definitely be back!

Pros: atmosphere and decoration, quality and taste of food, owners/cooks and server

Cons: none

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There is no better raw vegan restaurant in Chicago - Edit

My wife and I are long time fans of this restaurant and one of the only places where we cannot prepare foods better than they can (we are raw vegans). They are inventive and have a menu selection that is balanced and can please any palate. We also like their personalities because they like humor and are very outgoing. It is obvious that they love what they do and they are very free with their vast knowledge of raw food preparation and benefits. Do not miss an opportunity to eat here!

Pros: Delicious entrees and sides, Excellent and funny service, Inexpensive for what you get

Cons: None

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Great raw! - Edit

Excellent home made raw food. Nice setting and interior. Not recommended for people with nut allergies, 95% of menu has nuts in it. Unfortunately there is no juice bar recipes on the menu. Still a great experience!

Pros: raw vegan, knowledgable about allergies and illnesses

Cons: nuts on 95% of menu

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Three times this week and I live in California - Edit

I came to a conference nearby and I just couldn't help myself. I went every day, even today on my way back to the airport (I ordered food to go). Have you ever had an experience when you are all distracted with your phone, then the food arrives and kind of mindlessly take a first bite and the flavors in your mouth make you drop everythin else and focus on your food? Well, that happened to me and it was amazing!
I loved the eggless sandwich and the quesadilla. And the quality of the food was superb!

Cons: Freshness, Speed, Deliciousness

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We Love It! - Edit

First time and can't wait to go back! Friendly and welcoming, knowledgeable owner. She was very busy, but still took time to answer all our questions and more. We are new to this milieu and found the experience wonderful. Had the daily special, empanada and salad. The house dressing was flavorful and the empanada texture and taste were great. Prices are high, but worth it. Mark made a happy plate.

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so delish - Edit

I'm visiting from out of town. So i looked up a close place on Happy cow. I'm so glad it brought me to this place. I had the spinach quiche with 3 side salads. The flavors were amazing. I was full when I left and felt so good about what I ate. I will definitely be back.

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My favorite vegan restaurant - Edit

I adore Borrowed Earth Cafe. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and they are willing to accommodate people with allergies (with the exception of nuts, because all but one dish contains them. I am a vegan, and have food allergies. They know me by name there, and always engage in pleasant conversation. They are polite, and amusing. The food is expensive, so I can't go as often as I would like, but it is a pleasant atmosphere.
This place has a completely vegan (raw) menu, so I find it perfect for my needs, without fear of cross contamination whatsoever. I recommend this to whomever is willing to give it a try.

Pros: delicious, healthy, fun

Cons: expensive

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Great Raw Food - Edit

I have been to the Borrowed Earth Cafe twice now and have left both times feeling fantastic and uplifted. Both Danny/Bobby and Kathy are very nice and helpful. I sat in at the counter last time and they were both willing to chat while they made awesome vegan food. Well worth the visit to Downers Grove. And for those who say it's a bit pricey, it is, but it keeps this great place open and for the amazing ingredients and what they do with them far outweighs the extra cost.
Updated from previous review on Wednesday March 21, 2012

Pros: Excellent Food, Ambiance, Owners

Cons: None

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AMAZING Raw Desserts - Edit

The meal was satisfying and the dessert was exceptional. For starters, we had the cheese perogies. It is a "cheese" filling with a jimaca wrapper. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a pierogi, the filling was creamy and scrumptious.

For entree's, we shared the spinach quiche and the "I Can't Believe It's Not An Egg Salad" sandwich. The quiche wasn't really a quiche as I remember them, but the same concept was there. It had a base of nuts and chopped veggies combined with "cheese" to create the rest. The egg salad sandwich was creamy but not really an "egg salad". I made a vegan version a while back with tofu which I thought was better mostly due to texture. It had the same kick, but the texture was just too silky in this sandwich. It definitely wasn't bad, though, so I would get it again. It was wrapped in a zucchini flax seed wrap which was great. Both entrees came with three types of salads. One was a mixed greens, another a cabbage, and lastly a collard greens salad. The dressing was sweet yet not too cloying. My favorite was the collard green salad.

For dessert, we split two different treats. My friend got a chocolate cheesecake and I had an oreo cookie ice cream sundae. I've had raw cheesecakes at the Chicago Diner, but this cheesecake was something to be said. It was amazing! The base was made of nuts and dates, while the cheesecake part was made of coconut meat, coconut oil, and other ingredients. I've never had raw ice cream, but I've seen pictures before. ...So tasty. It was also made of coconut meat, coconut oil, dates, etc. Everyone should go to Borrowed Earth Cafe just for desserts alone!

For a complete review, please see my blog here: http://veganmiss.blogspot.com/2011/10/vegan-chicago-restaurant-review-of_31.html

Pros: raw food, great desserts, healthy

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A Great Introduction to Raw Vegan Cuisine - Edit

Mindblowing, delicious, and amazing food" is what my vegan husband has to say after experiencing Borrowed Earth for the first time and I wholeheartedly agree. We had a raw soup of the day, a velvety, sweet pumpkin bisque that was delightful, then I had the Pasta Bake, a decadent raw walnut and cashew lasagna over a bed of shredded carrot, I believe. My husband loved the raw ersatz burger of walnuts and carrots, though it looked slightly silly, the taste was out of this world. Kathy and Danny were very sweet, patiently providing us with information on raw vegan food. I felt an instant connection to them as I also host vegan potlucks (this is how they started out before opening the restaurant). Danny has a great sense of humor and is full of witty observations. Kathy is very warm and kind and will always insist you have dessert. I'm not sure why other people have reviewed Borrowed Earth so negatively--personally, I'm thrilled there were 3 dark green leafy salads. Kale is my steak so I loved it, plus it was far more gourmet than the simple kale salad I make at home, Portion sizes were enormous and I took half my food home. As vegans, having a wonderful sit-down restaurant with divine, complex, cruelty-free food that's not in the big city is a rare blessing.

Pros: delicious, friendly staff, big portions

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Mixed Review - Edit

I really want to give this place a great review as I love the food. I have been a regular customer and even taken the classes offered and yet after spending hundreds of dollars at this place the owners still do not acknowledge with a smile or hello. Sometimes they are down right rude. I have suggested the place to several co-workers and three of them had horrible experiences with the rude service. I don't ever talk about it any more. I finally stopped in after about a month of being away and not even a hello or "nice to see you again". This place could be packed all the time if Danny and Kathy knew how to treat people a bit better.I can't figure it out as they are wonderful during the classes, funny and personable. I actually stopped in one day after a class ($75.00 a class) and tried talking to the owner on how much I enjoyed the class. I was greeted with a grunt and no comment. I was shocked.

There are plenty of great places in Downers Grove where you can get a plate of "greens" I plan on returning one more time but three strikes and you are out. They need to take a lesson from The Cellar Door, just down the block on good customer service skills.

1 Response

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mornings1stlight 12 Jun 2012 - I have been going to Borrowed Earth Cafe on average once or twice a month for over a year, and never once did they treat me poorly. They always smile, say hello, and engage in conversation. Perhaps they are picking up on an unpleasant vibe from you.

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Raw lifestyle - Edit

Whether you like it or not, Raw food is a lifestyle. With that being said, its easier to understand the premise of this place. The owners and workers can come off as uptight and a bit cold. But I think they are well meaning.

The food is very good. All of their dishes (somewhat limited) are tasty. The desserts are to die for as is the ice cream. I'm not crazy about their "pasta". Be warned, raw food chefs use a TON of nuts in their receipes. Kinda contradicts being a health food.

Pros: tasty for raw, good desserts

Cons: sometimes negative vibes, lack of atmosphere

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good raw food but expensive and very small portion - Edit

Not much else to say. Heard one of the owners state "I would eat meat just so I couldn't call myself vegan".

Pros: raw food

Cons: negative energy, small portions , expensive

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Great Raw Food - Edit

I thought RAW food sounded beyond bizarre but was talked into trying this place. I have visited several times and most everything I have tried was really pretty great. The spaghetti w. maranara is a fav, and I would hope they put the Pasta Bake on the menu full time. I don't do Raw full time and I am not a vegan (vegetarian only). That said, I think if you have an open mind and like trying new things you will like this place. Get desert, and get something with chocolate. The owners have been there everytime I have been there. Don't expect overwhelming cheeriness from everyone (Danny); I think they just get too busy. Kathy is always very friendly and I enjoy talking to her and asking questions as she is an expert on all things Raw (in my opinion).

Pros: Lots of food, Variety, Quick Service, Loose Leaf Tea

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McDonalds would be better - Edit

This place is horrible!! We sat at the "bar" was ignored for almost 15 minutes, as the owner talked some guy up. After reading every word on the menu, she came over to help us. I asked if the food was raw, I just wanted a hot meal for dinner. She snapped at me told me that I could go to the Burger place next door. Then stormed off, walked back to me tried to get in my face and asked me if I even knew what RAW was. I am well past the third grade, and was offended by her question.
Great place if you do not mind being ignored and treated as if you do not have a brain cell in your head.
She got what she wanted, we left and will never step foot in that place again.
Stop by and see what you think but I will never go there again.

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Life is short - Eat the cheescake first! - Edit

As some of the other reviewers have complained, yes, the side salads are larger than main entree, but remember, everything is essentially a salad. These folks do a wonderful job. The "Lasagna" came with 3 side salads. It was all delicious and way too much to eat at one sitting, which is unusual for me.

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Good Raw Restaurant in the Suburbs - Edit

Borrowed Earth Café has a decent menu with plenty of delectable items. I ate here for the first time yesterday and sadly they didn't have the Lasagna that I had really wanted to try. So I opted for the "Gimme a Gyro" instead; I thought it was good, but I liked my two side salads better, there's something about what they used as the gyro meat that was slightly off-putting to me, but I still ate it anyway - I want to emphasize that the side salads were amazing!

For dessert I got the raw chocolate/vanilla pie - it was really good. The prices are the norm for raw food places, for two people (two entrees, an appetizer, and a dessert) you can get away with spending less than $50. I think it's worth it in moderation. :)

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Wonderful!!! - Edit

I visited BEC for the first time this week. This was my first foray into raw food. It was wonderful!!! How great to find a restaurant in the western suburbs serving this cuisine. How nice to not have to go downtown or up north! I felt so at-home here. The food was very good (especially the burrito!) and the presentation was gorgeous!! This is a keeper!!

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This Food Is Love - Edit

I heard about this gem from a Californian Vegan who stopped in to Veggie Bite. He said it was one of the better raw restaurants he'd experienced, and I took that as a high compliment figuring that California is THE place for vegan food. I had been to Karyn's Raw and Cousin's Vitality once each, so I have a little experience in the realm of raw cuisine. I was very impressed with Borrowed Earth. Danny and Kathy were so friendly. They were chatting with us and just gave such a great vibe. We felt very welcome and appreciated. Kathy served us and I'd call the service top notch. Very attentive. The atmosphere was great, very laidback. The interior design/decor really matched the personalities of Danny and Kathy, I believe. The music was new age, which was fitting. And the atmosphere will only get better, as Kathy informed us that they're going to start using only candle light on Saturday nights. I love mediteranian food so I went right for the Earth Sampler. And it proved to be the right choice. Best grape leaves, stuffed mushrooms and falafel I've ever eaten, hands down. Oh, those mushrooms are addictive. The young thai coconut milk, served in the coconut...We've had that before at another veg restaurant but now we know how good it can really be. The coconut was so fresh and the milk so delicious. You could easily peel away the meat from the shell after drinking the milk...and we did and the taste and texture was amazing. The lasagna was very good. And the salads that came with both meals...what a variety. Carrot and cauliflower was a nice surprise. Another salad had rice in it and was very good. We appreciated all the different salads very much. We got there before 8 on a Saturday night and had a leisurely meal, so it was closing time (around 9) by the time we were done. But it didn't feel like closing time. Kathy and Danny gave us the feeling that we had all the time in the world and we were welcome to stay and enjoy their home (cafe) until we were ready to depart. Kathy invited us to have dessert, which we did. And she kept refilling our tea and she and Danny kept talking with us here and there well after closing time. I was seated directly across from the dessert case the whole time, and everything looked so enticing, especially the apple pie, covered in icing. I was eyeing it from the moment I sat down, and it was as good as it looked. MMMMMM is all I can say about it and the German chocolate as well.

Pros: The Owners, Delicious Food, Atmosphere

Cons: None

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Good intentions - Edit

As a vegan (but not raw), I was really looking forward to visiting this restaurant. Their Web site is great, and I like that they acknowledge the workers that helped them create their establishment. The food was fresh, and I liked the asparagus side salad and the spinach frittata. But the portions for the actual entrees are very, very small. I'd recommend making the portions at least three times what they are (and eliminating some of the side salads) since the cost for the entrees is very high.

Pros: vegan, friendly staff, fresh food

Cons: tiny portions, high prices

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The very best gourmet raw food ever! - Edit

Jest the very best raw food in the USA. So thankful that the owners took it upon them selfs to open up something really needed for people that enjoy eating right. VW

Pros: excellent raw food, friendly staff

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Too much filler greens - Edit

I am confused of why this place is getting five stars? Most of the food is what I call "filler salad". It is like when your plate is half filled with lettuce to make it look like you are getting a lot of food.

I ordered the tacoes - they were the size of my finger and there were only three of them and the rest of the meal was all salads (different mixed greens). This was pretty pricey for most greens. To me, it was very obvious that they were filling up the meal with inexpensive "filler" greens. We also got the Cheese wrap - there was maybe about a tablespoon full of filling in it.

The cheese piergies were the only thing that I had that was good and they were decently filled up with raw "cheeze" spread.

The Out of this world cheesecake didn't taste like cheesecake at all - it was like a raw carrot cake.

We also had some raw rye and flax chips and they were tastless and very thin. Like they were watered down considerable to make more for less. They broke very easily with food on them.

I have eaten at many raw restaurants and I make my own raw food at home and I was disappointed in this place. Hopefully, this place will improve since it is new and just opened up.

Sorry I just can't give it many stars.

Pros: Cheese pierogies

Cons: Too much filler salad, Expensive

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Superb raw cuisine - Edit

Borrowed Earth does a wonderful job with the presentation of their delicious food, as well as with the large selection, from comfort foods to more unusual fare. This is gourmet food with an edge; best of all, it's in the suburbs, rather than in downtown Chicago. Conveniently located in front of the Downers Grove train station, it makes it easy for city-dwellers to visit, as well as outgoing suburbanites. The service is super-friendly and the atmosphere of the restaurant is more like an upscale cafe. Prices are on the higher side ($11-14 for main dishes), but given the quality and novelty of the food, they could be charging even more. Try the delicious cheesecake or the elegant, zesty tacos. Highly recommended.

Pros: Quality, Presentation, Service and Location

Cons: A tad pricey

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Finally local and Fabulous! - Edit

This was my first attempt at eating raw. The meal was a feast and delighful. There's great variety, a friendly staff, clean restaurant, and the food is delicious.

Pros: healthy cuisine, excellent food, friendly staff

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Reviewer Avatar

Great food - Edit

I'm new to raw food, so I wasn't sure what to expect from newly-opened Borrowed Earth Cafe. But my meal was delicious, flavorful and satisfying. I went back the next day for lunch! Again, great! The owners are lovely, friendly people. Highly recommended.

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Kathy & Danny's place is FINALLY OPEN!!! - Edit

I am SO excited they opened TODAY!! **Danny & Kathy Living who are the amazingly kind Naperville Raw Vegan Meetup sponsors are the owners of this NEWLY OPENED Raw Vegan Restaurant in the western suburbs, right off of the Burlington Northern Train by the Main Street Train Station in Downers Grove. They have put so much love and dedication into creating this home away from home and decorating it in an environmentally friendly manner with bamboo floors, no VOC paints, lovingly handmade Raw Vegan food and much more. They don't just "talk the talk" they "walk the walk" with a very creative and delicious menu of artistically prepared and extremely tasty foods created with love and gratitude. All the scraps are even being composted by the Green Earth Institute in Naperville. They use organic fresh fruits and vegetables and they lovingly create Raw Vegan dishes that could pass for or surpass in flavor their cooked counterparts. They believe in being kind to their planet and they practice recycling techniques that please the most avid recyclers, plus they will be using biodegradable carry out utensils and containers. I LOVE these guys and this restaurant is a long awaited much needed Vegan Nirvana in the Chicago suburbs..Come check them out!

Pros: love, kindness & gratitude , Eco friendly & healthy, creatively artistic & tasty

Cons: Wish I could go every day!

1 Response

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spuds1021 22 Feb 2013 - You're only supposed to review the restaurant once. You also wrote the review below this one.

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