CLOSED: Borrowed Earth Cafe

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 32 reviews )



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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As good as raw gets. - Edit

I live nearby and try to eat vegan. This little cafe does a fine job making raw dishes. It unfortunately is NOT for anyone on a limited budget. Our culture would rather you spend your money on Dr. and drugs.

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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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First raw vegan experience! - Edit

There is a first time for everything, and this first time set the bar very high!

Pros: Comfortable atmosphere , Knowledgeable owners, Great tasting food a

Cons: Higher cost makes it hard to go often.

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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:

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

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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