Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria
If you’ve been following me for any length of time you probably know that I’m vegan. I made the transition, cold turkey, five years ago this June. But this isn’t a post about why I went vegan or why I stay vegan. This is a story about my very first vegan restaurant client — Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria!
The restaurant owner, Paloma Piña, and I know each other through our work with LondonHouse Chicago — a great example of small world Chicago. Her and her husband, Chef Juan, have owned and operated the food truck @vegan_streetfood since 2018, and this is their first brick and mortar restaurant. Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria is named after their adorable one year old daughter. It’s located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood at 230 W. Chicago Avenue. To say these two are dedicated and hard-working is an understatement. How they manage to juggle all they do is mind-boggling. And they do it so well. Take a look!
The vibe of the restaurant is bright, colorful, and welcoming. Before you even enter the space you are greeted by a hot pink exterior. Both this artwork and the mesmerizing interior mural (pictured above) are the work of Mexican artist, SENKOE, a native of Mexico City. He draws inspiration from botanical illustration, literature, nature and the sea. This narrative graffiti style art is so thought provoking — it could leave me captivated for hours discovering new details to appreciate.
We visited before the restaurant officially opened to the public, so I’m hoping to return in a few weeks to get an official photo of the exterior. And I’ll update this post once I do. But for now, let’s move on to the main event…the food!
My job was to create an initial batch of food images for use across all digital platforms; website, social media, etc. I was so excited to see how they “veganized” traditional Mexican dishes. To my visual delight, the dishes popped with colors equal to the mural! Each dish looked so fresh. It took everything in me not to dive in and start eating! (But don’t worry – we did sample the items and all I can say is I’ve been craving the enchiladas ever since we left the photoshoot.)
Since most of what I do is visual, I won’t spend paragraphs of your time explaining these dishes in detail. I’ll let the food speak for itself. Here is a select gallery of images from the photoshoot.
Behind the Scenes
I didn’t execute this project alone. Nick helped me with set-up, staging, hand modeling, and as always, moral support! These shoots are a lot of work and having a trusted partner to help is key for success. For the photoshoot set-up we used one studio light and shot fully tethered to a computer. This allows us to see the images full-size in real-time and is helpful for reviewing with clients as we shoot. Here are a few behind the scenes shots.