Handlebar Vegan Diablos Copycat Recipe


Every time I find myself in Chicago around brunch time, I always want to go to Handlebar, and I basically always get the Vegan Diablos, because they’re delicious, and I can’t really get anything similar (or nearly as good) in Milwaukee. I find myself craving them sometimes when I’m not in Chicago, and decided to try making them at home myself. I served them to my wife Rachel, my brother Nick (who was actually the person who introduced to this amazing dish), and his girlfriend Hannah, all of whom also like to order the Vegan Diablos when they’re at Handlebar, and they all loved this recipe.

Anyway, here’s the recipe!


Chipotle Tomato Sauce:

  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican ground oregano
  • salt, to taste

Tostadas, Corn Cakes, Sopes, or whatever you want to call them

  • 1½ cup masa flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Oil for frying

Other Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 16-20 ounces extra firm tofu, drained (and press if applicable), broken up into large chunks or cubes
  • 1 package Upton’s chorizo seitan
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cilantro, chopped (for garnish – optional)
  • 2 avocados, halved and cut into slices (optional)
  • Cooked rice (Spanish, brown, whatever kind you want – optional)
  • Black beans (canned or made from scratch – optional)



In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of Mexican ground oregano, and chipotle chiles (make sure you get some of the adobo sauce in there too; basically just whatever clings to the chiles). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the sauce to cool a bit, then puree in a blender or a food processor. Take the chilies out before blending if you want a milder sauce. Leave some or all of them in if you like spicy sauce. Taste for salt, then add some if necessary, and mix it in. Pour the sauce back into the sauce pan and keep warm over low heat.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa, water, and salt until it forms a dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes. Form the dough into 8 equal pieces, then form those pieces into balls. Flatten each dough ball into a ½ circle, and then fry in oil. If you have a deep fryer, that would probably be the best. I don’t, though, so I used a small cast-iron skillet with about ½ inch of oil in it, and fried each patty over medium-high heater for a few minutes until golden brown, flipping once. You want them to be a little golden on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. If you’re doing them one at a time like I did, you might want to keep them warm in the oven.

Tofu and Seitan:

Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the tofu, oregano, cumin, and salt, and cook until it starts to brown, stirring occasionally, making sure the spices get spread around. Move the tofu over to one side of the skillet, and add the chorizo seitan to the other side, stirring it up separately until it’s warm. Mix everything together, and keep warm.


When you’re ready to serve, add two of the fried tostadas to a plate. Top with about ¼ of the tofu and seitan mixture, then cover that with a ladle-full of the sauce. And sprinkle a little bit of the chopped cilantro on top of the sauce. Serve with sliced avocado, black beans, and rice, if you want.


  • I made Spanish rice in the rice cooker for this recipe, because I prefer that to plain brown rice. I used probably about 3-4 cups of cooked black beans, and cooked them for about an hour and a half in a crockpot with some taco seasoning.
  • I used Wildwood tofu, which doesn’t really need to be pressed. They sell basically the same thing at Trader Joe’s, too.
  • This recipe will probably serve 4-6 people. When I made it, I had enough of the tostadas for 4 people, but then I had some leftover tofu and chorizo. If you have more people, you could always make more of the tostadas. Just increase the recipe a bit and make more.  

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