Mana Food Bar with Drea Smith

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Positive energy and light is something we all could use every once in a while and Drea Smith is the perfect vibe dealer to deliver just what we need. I met with her at vegetarian restaurant Mana Food Bar one sunny Saturday to chat about music and food. The St. Louis native is a singer, song writer extraordinaire with a voice so soothing, it can calm most chaos. Her musical skills started as a child in church and her music career later started when she moved to Chicago for college and attended Columbia. Her voice is abundantly rich and sultry with a diverse background of influences. While in Chicago, Drea became a vocalist for two groups including her indie band, Pyyramids which featured she and Tim Norwood of the band OK Go. The duo has toured the country together and Drea eventually moved to LA for a few years to work on and release a few projects for Pyyramids including their latest Invisible Scream.

Photo by: @KaneIKill
Photo by: @KaneIKill

After returning back to Chicago, Drea began to work on some solo projects as well as some features including a track Chuck Inglish’s latest album. Her creative process is pretty concise. “I don’t like to waste time in the studio, a majority of the time, I write before I get there so I’m prepared” says Drea. This formula has worked wonders for the vibe dealer because her mind is set on getting good energy out to others not only with her music but with food and holistic and herbal healing. Drea’s latest project is a selection of songs titled Vibe Cave. Drea has also linked up and built a sisterly bond with a few Chicago-based singers which consisting of Via Rosa, Jean Deux and Ravyn Lenae.

Since Drea is a vegan we visited Mana Food Bar in Wicker Park. The patio is bright and modern which is perfect for a summer date. The Watermelon Mint mojito was beyond refreshing and packed with flavor.

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I ordered the slider special which is hands down the best deal. It offers two sliders made with brown rice and sauteed mushrooms with spicy mayo on a Hawaiian roll. The sliders are seasoned to perfection and delicious. Perfect for my first experience at an all vegetarian restaurant. The special also comes with any beer on the menu so you get the sliders and a beer just for $7.50.

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Drea ordered the rice noodles with Thai Lemongrass and basil curry with sweet potatoes and green beans.

Don’t forget to stop by and try Mana Food Bar in the next time you’re in Wicker at 1742 W. Division. For now, listen to Drea Smith’s Vibe Cave EP below.

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