• vegan mex in highland park

    August 12th, 2008quarrygirlcinnamon, LA restaurants

    last weekend marked my first journey into highland park. while i actually went there (2 days in a row) to check out an amazing bar, i also found myself at a damn good vegetarian restaurant: cinnamon. yeah, it is a bit of a trek. but cinnamon is a great place that deserves a visit if you love authentic mex cuisine, but think chicken stock is no bueno. word of warning: highland park is at the intersection of “cutting-edge hippsterville” and “i don’t feel safe walking around at night”. so come prepared (in the daylight if you happen to be a pussy like me) for good food, good bars and good times in the least expected areas.

    we (mr. meaner and i) found ourselves dining at around 11am. it was the real sweet spot of times, during that window where breakfast and lunch are both being served. i opted for breakfast, he chose lunch. both ruled.

    tofu scramble with mushroom & spinach. $6.95

    tofu scramble with mushroom & spinach. $6.95

    tofu burrito. $5.95

    tofu burrito. $5.95

    the tofu scramble was delicious. next time i want to order something a little more adventures, something really authentic sounding that i can’t pronounce—but this time i was a tad hung-over, a little worse for wear and just wanted a safe, comforting breakfast food with lots of tofu. and that’s just what i got. a mound of tofu, super tasty mushrooms and heaps of spinach all mixed together with a blob of beans and rice on the side. drown it in hot sauce, and i’m happy. nothing wrong with this dish.

    the burrito was equally impressive. lettuce, green sauce, some other vegetabley things, tofu, rice and beans all rolled into a massive wheat wrap. oozing with flavor and scrumptiousness. chipotle’s got nothing on this sucker. it tasted like an old school mexican burrito, the dangerous kind with refried beans and god knows what in the rice…yet it managed to be creative at the same time with the wheat tortilla and vegetable variety. perfect.

    cinnamon is a pretty sweet place. let’s review: vegetarian, check…huge menu, check…affordable, check. not bad. the service on the other hand, is a little slow and strange. over friendliness was followed by indifference, then again by more friendliness. and the complimentary chips suck, not only are they out of a bag, but they are ROUND. round chips are not cool. but, whatever, the hot sauce rocks and the atmosphere is lovely…with big windows that let the sunshine in to cover the cozy albeit cramped tables.

    cinnamon could definitely improve in some areas, but the food rocks. and that’s all that matters, right? the food rocks.

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9 responses to “vegan mex in highland park” RSS icon

  • I enjoyed my Cinnamon experience, as well, and completely agree with you. I’d not want to be in that neighborhood in the dark. The problem we had with the service is that the waiter (who we think was also the owner) didn’t seem to know the nuances of veganism, which made things difficult. The food was delicious, though! Oh, and I LOVED the salsa, so the chips didn’t bother me. They were really just a vehicle for the salsa anyway. 🙂

  • Haha… I came here to say exactly what Vegyogini said but she beat me to it, which makes sense since we ate there together 🙂

    Loved the food, didn’t love the fact that the waiter/owner didn’t have a clue what we were talking about when we asked if the cheeses and meats were vegan. That aside, there’s a number of things to order that don’t contain either if you want to be 100% sure (like for example the tofu scramble you got). I loved what I ate, the chicken mole (very cinnamony!), and can’t wait to go back (espicially since I figured out it’s right near one of the stops on the Metro gold line!).

  • Glad to see this review. My girlfriend and I have been skeptical after reading mediocre reviews on HappyCow.

    I just learned about this one, you may wish to put it next on your list: http://stuffieat.com

    I haven’t been there myself.

  • looks like I can’t post http links in comments. the restaurant is called “Stuff I Eat” and it’s in Inglewood.

  • vegyogini and foodeater, thanks for the warning! i will keep that in mind and avoid stuff like soy cheese until i get a straight answer. ever since i got burned at zpizza, i tend not to trust soy cheese unless it’s served in a hardcore vegan restaurant.

    jason, i haven’t heard of that place. i will definitely check it out. going to the site now. thanks for the heads up…

  • This is a great review and so, so true. Cinnamon is a very special place. I’ve had long conversations in Spanish with the owner and manager. Her name is Esperanza and she very much does understand the nuances between vegan and vegetarian. She just doesn’t always understand ENGLISH! 🙂 They are hardcore veggie/vegan people and once she knows which you are, she makes sure you don’t get anything you don’t want to eat. I’m so glad to see a great review because it takes some real courage to open a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Highland Park. Esperanza didn’t open the restaurant thinking the hipster crowd from Hollywood was going to trek there. She did it wanting to show the local neighborhood that they can eat all of their favorite food and lose nothing of the taste and texture and not have it, oh, KILL YOU in the long run! 🙂 They have a new menu and they just revamped their website. Look at the photos of the food! Amazing.

  • My boyfriend used to live up the hill there in El Sereno and when we first went here we loved it! Sure it was food we would make ourselves or his grandma could whip up but it was a nice quiet place where you didn’t have to worry about messing up your own kitchen. We went there a good handful of times and racked up all of our stamps on our “frequent eaters” card. SO we had filled up the stamp card and decided we would save it until we were low on cash and desperate for a warm meal. Ordering our usual choices (they don’t have that much to choose from) we thought “man this was worth that free meal!” We placed our stamp card along with a 20 on the check and we watched as one of the owners took it, walked over to the register and stared at the stamp card for almost a good 3 min. She came back and there was $2 and some change given back. We looked at each other, surprised, and not understanding what happened. It is our fault that we did not stand up for ourselves and demand a free meal, but we just thought we would leave a nice tip, leave and never return. Cinnamon is tasty but we wont be returning.

  • bah. I wouldn’t go wandering down Fig. alone or impaired much after 10…

    … but I’d be like that in any neighborhood I was unfamiliar with. Highland Park is great. I’m glad it’s developing a “scene”. But– I think it gets characterized as edgy because people would like it to be.

  • Unverified rumor: I’ve heard that their meats contains egg whites and their cheese contains casein. So like Foodeater said, just make sure you avoid the entrees that would contain either ingredient.

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