• vegan food and beer in close proximity!

    January 29th, 2009mr meanerLA restaurants, vegan plate

    I’ll admit it. I have something of a reputation in SoCal for consuming beer and vegan food. Other than geeky Internet stuff, that’s pretty much all I do. I like to drink before I eat, because I have to consume less alcohol to get a buzz, and can sober up before driving home (I never break my “one beer per hour before I drive rule” that’s served me well since the early 80s).

    As there are so few bars that serve good vegan food, I usually lean toward good bars within a very short walk of decent vegan restaurants – an intersection of possibilities that’s remote to say the least.

    Last summer, this blog reported on Vegan Plate, an above average Thai-style vegan restaurant in Studio City. Now, “above average” for the aforementioned stereotype is hardly an accolade of note, but – in a push – vegan Pad Thai with Seitan is nicer than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, and a good deal better than just about any vegan offering in a bar (contaminated French fries included). So, we have the restaurant part down but what about the bar? Well, in October 2008 the Laurel Tavern opened its doors which are, quite literally, across the street from Vegan Plate:


    Any bar with the word “Tavern” in its name usually implies sticky carpets and flat Bud Lite on tap, but fortunately (as you can see from the exterior photo above) not in this case. In fact, the Laurel Tavern is a polar opposite of what you’d expect from both its name and location right on Ventura close to the intersection with Laurel Canyon. The inside is hip and cool without making an old man like me feel uncomfortable, and the bar staff are absolutely delightful – polite, efficient and very friendly.


    Also, the beer selection is a superb offering of local and national microbrews including the venerable Craftsman ales from Pasadena (including 1903) which are also served cross-town at Pure Luck and have passed the vegan test time and again. Also, at $6 for 16 Oz, they’re a little on the high side for 818-land, but about the same price that us westsiders are used to paying for a brew.

    craftsman 1903: $6 per 16 oz. pint.

    craftsman 1903: $6 per 16 oz. pint.

    So, after a few beers one is likely to be hungry. I won’t even mention the food at Laurel Tavern as it’s gratuitously meaty and there’s nothing remotely vegan on the menu (including the Steak Fries, which are (and I quote) “drizzled with pork fat”). But, to us vegans, a 25 second walk from the Laurel Tavern puts us inside Vegan Plate.

    I find that the strip mall ambience of Vegan Plate is a little much after such a nice drinking experience so I usually call and order when I’m half way through my last drink then walk over, grab the food and high tail it away from the fluorescent lighting to home, where I gleefully throw a bunch of stuff into a bowl, and wolf it down.

    chinese broccoli: stir-fried chinese broccoli with garlic sauce. $8.95

    chinese broccoli: stir-fried chinese broccoli with garlic sauce. $8.95

    As you can see from the picture, the dish is relatively uninspiring visually but actually tastes better than it looks because everything is cooked to order and very, very fresh.


    curried dumplings

    Fresh also nicely describes the Curried Dumplings (above) which are a tasty, although overly-soggy rendition of the traditional Chinese dish. You basically have to suck these up through a straw to eat them (probably a casualty of the steamy, bumpy ride home in my trunk) but they taste very good, especially when smeared in hot sauce.

    Another dish that works great is something called “Param’s Plate”:

    praram's plate: marinated soy chicken pan-fried with peanut sauce on a bed of steamed spinach. $9.95

    praram's plate: marinated soy chicken pan-fried with peanut sauce on a bed of steamed spinach. $9.95

    Luscious chicken-style seitan with a spicy peanut sauce. It probably has a zillion calories but it tastes damn good. If something lighter is your thing, I opt for the wraps which are 95% lettuce, as you can see below, and therefore unlikely to get you fat.

    soy pepper steak wrap. $6.95

    soy pepper steak wrap. $6.95

    So, to wrap up (pun intended), there are quite a few burgeoning “beer and vegan food” options around LA (defined as a vegan, or very vegan-friendly restaurant within walking distance of a good bar). We covered a few, and have several in the pipeline to check out. Here are some other ideas:

    If you’re into beer and vegan food you could do a lot worse than hang out at the Laurel Tavern before heading to the Vegan Plate for dine in or take out. I’m probably going to get into the habit of doing it once a week. See you there – I usually sit at the very end of the bar. you can see my empty stool below:


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7 responses to “vegan food and beer in close proximity!” RSS icon

  • I’m so envious. You know I love me some vegan food and beer!

  • Hooray for Mr. Meaner! That mean Mr. Mustard Man. 😉

  • I was wondering of Laurel Tavern had anything I could eat. At least I know I can go there for beer.

  • My husband loves the BBQ Pork at Vegan Plate 🙂

    By the way, whenever I go somewhere that I know you’ve been, I mention you. You’re famous. All the local vegan places love you!

  • Wow these are all great “Vegan Drinks” locations!

  • i love the laurel tavern! 1903 is my favorite beer ever, so i will go anywhere to get it. plus, LT is chilled out and reminds me of the york in highland park…except much closer to my house.

    lex – yes, it would be great for vegan drinks! but you would have to walk across the street to get any food. lol.

  • I had a meeting near Vegan Plate so I stopped by for lunch the other day. The parking situation on Ventura and Laurel Canyon isn’t ideal, however I found a space on a side-street and walked over to Ventura.

    I tried a salad and the vegan orange chicken dish, and both were very good. I can’t wait to go back and try more items from their menu. Service was lovely, and the ambience is relaxed and low-key, which I liked.

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