World’s First 100% Vegan Empanada Shop To Open In Chicago This Spring

3 Mins Read

Chicago is set to welcome what is billed as the world’s first 100% vegan empanada shop in the coming weeks, in yet another step up when it comes to diversity in plant-based dining. Created by husband and wife duo Daniel Briceno and Daniela Crespo, Fons will soon be opening doors as their first brick-and-mortar concept after a successful run in e-commerce, offering their many varieties of plant-based empanadas inspired by flavours all over the world, from South America to the Philippines. 

Located in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood of Chicago, Fons is set to welcome diners in the area to an entire menu of all-vegan empanadas, making it the first fully plant-based empanada shop in the world. It’s the brainchild of chef Daniel Briceno, who will helm the food-side of operations, and Daniela Crespo, an architect and designer who will lead marketing and branding. 

The husband and wife team decided to open their first restaurant location of Fons after it gained a popular following as an e-commerce business shipping their ready-made frozen vegan empanadas across Chicago and other states. What’s special about Fons is that each empanada is filled with “untraditional” ingredients, inspired by cuisines all over the world, which is why chef Briceno calls his creations simply by “fons”, which means “origin” in Latin. 

Fons range of all-vegan empanadas (Source: Fons)

There will be twelve “fons” in total, all five-inches in diameter, all filled with delicious plant-based ingredients from Filipino-style lumpia to an Italian margarita containing Fons’ housemade 100% vegan mozzarella. There’s Cuban-inspired ropa vieja made with shredded jackfruit in a chia-based dough, and a Mexican-style tinga made with simmered onions, chipotle, garlic sauce and jackfruit. 

Speaking to VegNews about his unique menu, chef Briceno said: “Our main focus is to create and wrap a patchwork of different cultures and flavors from around the world that create the enormous diversity here in the U.S. Every country has its own type of empanada…and we want to have that diversity of culture in our fons.” 

In addition to serving up fresh hot empanadas, Fons will also welcome customers to take home their favourites to bake or air fry at home. What’s more? The restaurant will feature a full espresso bar and serve freshly squeezed juices too. 

Fons uses 100% plant-based ingredients to make its globally-inspired fillings (Source: Fons)

The news that an all-vegan empanada shop will soon land in Chicago will no doubt please the city’s residents, both flexitarian and vegans alike, given the mainstream consumer shift towards healthier, plant-based foods ever since the pandemic hit. 

In the U.S., shoppers have been flocking to animal-free options, purchasing plant-based meat alternatives and driving up sales in plant-based foodservice, such as meal kits, deliveries and take-out more than ever before. 

“I feel this is something that’s growing right now, and the main idea is that people are more conscious and are wanting something more natural,” commented chef Briceno. 

All images courtesy of Fons. 


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

You might also like