vegan pizza day is on january 29th, and it’s getting SO CLOSE, I CAN FEEL IT! there are lots of awesome pizza deals and specials happening in LA next saturday to commemorate the occasion, and we are gonna do our best to blog about each one.Tags: echo park, vegan pizza day
September 28th, 2010elf, flore, LA restaurants, mandoline grill, masa of echo park, native foods, pizza cookery, shin bbq (closed), shojin, tender greens, zpizza
While we usually cover LA’s extraordinary selection of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants (vegan, vegetarian and vegan-friendly), some individual menu items in our city stand out as exceptional, and we thought they deserved their own post. We also opted to choose entirely new menu items from those of last year’s list as there are so many new things to check out on the LA vegan scene.
We chose no-compromise vegan foods: menu items that make no apology for being vegan and that, with only a couple of exceptions, you can order pretty much any time.
Have some things to add to the list, or stuff you don’t like? Let us know in the comments!
Masa of Echo Park Chicago deep dish pizza with Teese
Undoubtedly my favorite new thing on this year’s list. The combination of Masa’s 100% authentic Chicago crust, super tangy and chunky sauce and cooking method combined with real Chicago SoyDairy Teese (yeah, even the vegan cheese is from Chicago) is a mighty fine dish. The thing tastes almost the same as the real Chicagoland staple (and I should know, I’ve eaten a LOT of them over the years) but can be prepared entirely vegan (sub Teese for cheese, and ask that they use olive oil rather than butter in the pan).
I advise going for the medium or large even though you’ll not be able to eat it all, but it travels well, re-heats like a champ and will even freeze for weeks. It’s especially nice with a couple of low-key toppings like spinach or mushrooms, but the real star here is the crust and texture.
Native Foods Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger
There are a lot of vegan burgers in LA. Most of them are pretty darn good, but one stands head and shoulders above all others: The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger from Native Foods. It seems as though Chef Tanya has studied those high-end burger joints and gone vegan mediaeval on the recipe. She’s taken the Native Foods Seitan (perhaps the best money can buy), sliced it thinly and soaked it in a special sauce topped with crunchy tempeh bacon, lettuce, two types of onions, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, carrots, tomatoes and even crunchy fried dill pickles.
Yes, this burger has every ingredient you can think of perfectly proportioned and excellently presented. A meal unto itself, the burger is heartily filling yet not unhealthily so.
Shojin Dynamite Roll
The dynamite roll started out as a special item available only on Monday sushi nights, but the dish was so popular that Shojin quickly added it to the normal menu. Having eaten this roll several times, I can say without a doubt that it’s some of the best vegan sushi I’ve ever tasted, and definitely the best in Los Angeles.
The rice-based roll is filled up with avocado and Shojin’s genius spicy “tuna” mixture – a creamy, hearty blend of vegetables and soy that’s so good I could eat a bowl of it straight. Each slice is then topped with a dollop of spicy vegan mayo and slivers of green onions. Usually when dining out on sushi, I like to get a several rolls and share them around the table. At Shojin, however, I always make sure to get a dynamite roll just for myself.
Elf Cornmeal and Herb Dusted Spicy Oyster Mushrooms
Every once in a while, you come across a dish that changes the rules of cuisine a little. You get exposed to something new, perhaps a taste, texture or presentation that’s so different and tasty that you remember it forever. The Spicy Oyster Mushrooms at Echo Park’s Elf is just such a dish. It’s described on the menu in a low-key way that almost makes it sound unappetizing: “Our version of ‘hot wings’ – crispy oyster mushrooms served with marinated celery salad and bleu cheese cream reduction”. Clearly, it has to be ordered without the bleu cheese for the vegans, but I can tell you this dish can stand on its own with or without the cheese.
The texture is crunchy yet soft and the flavors are so complex and delicate that this will be quite a unique experience. Even the celery is amazing – I don’t know what it’s marinated in, but I can tell you that I could eat a plate of just the celery any time! My only beef with the dish is that there’s no vegan substitute offered for the bleu cheese. I mean, some vegenaise and herbs wouldn’t go amiss, would it?
Pizza Cookery Vegan Bread Rolls (they’re FREE!)
Yeah, one of our top omnivorous restaurant choices also carries a bucket list item, and it’s actually something served for free when you show up to get a pizza. Just be sure to ask for the vegan bread rolls, as the default ones are filled with dairy cheese. BE WARNED, though, these rolls are so freakin’ amazing that you are in danger of filling up on them (as did I) and not wanting to eat any of your pizza (as did I) and so end up taking it home (as did I). Assuming that you can exercise restraint here, these rolls are an awesome way to start off your meal.
Perfectly cooked, stuffed with vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart as it happens, but this is one of those occasions where it actually works very well) and dipped in garlic olive oil with real garlic bits these will take you to a different place for sure.
Flore Biscuits & Gravy
Take two humongous biscuits, perfectly crunchy on the outside yet smooth and steamy on the inside then cover them with juicy and tasty gravy (with sausage bits!). That’d be a meal on its own, but Flore lets you add a serving of their legendary tempeh bacon, fruit or potatoes, and the dish comes with a delicious bed of steamed kale to boot. All for $9.95. All organic. And all fucking amazing! Unfortunately, this is a weekend brunch only dish, so you only have 2 days per week to get your fill.
Mandoline Grill Tofu Banh Mi
There are a few vegan Banh Mi’s out there, but nobody does it like Mandoline Grill, and I’m really pleased that this vegan-friendly food truck has a menu item that made it into this list. First off, the Banh Mi is absolutely HUGE. It’s a 12″, vegan French-style baguette with all the usual Banh Mi fixin’s including cucumber slices, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, jalapenos, vegenaise and scallion oil. Despite the fact that the bread and ingredients are fresh and tasty beyond belief, the real kicker is the slyly named “lemongrass marinated tofu”, which comes in thick chunks and is unquestionably one of the most tasty things you’ll ever eat. I don’t know how chef/owner Mong Skillman can prepare such a gourmet experience from a tiny food truck, and frankly I don’t care how she does it. I’m usually too busy eating the thing to worry about the details!
Zpizza The Tuscan (veganized)
Yes, we’re pizza obsessed. Yes, there are two pizzas on the bucket list and YES, this one is damn good, but couldn’t be further in concept, taste and style than the Masa Chicago Pizza up top. The Tuscan is going for that Italian intersection of thin crust, oils and mushrooms that Zpizza does so well. The regular pizza isn’t vegan, but they will sub Daiya for the mozzarella and leave off the feta if you ask, and you will be home and dry with an absolutely stunning pie.
This thing has a bunch of ingredients. In addition to Z’s incredible crust, there’s homemade roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese, three kinds of mushrooms (cremini, shiitake and button), sweet caramelized onions, drizzles of truffle oil and fresh thyme. If you think this SOUNDS delicious, wait until you taste one – you will be blown away. For extra spice, pile on the dried chilies (they go especially well with the muted tastes of the oils and shrooms).
Shin BBQ Seitan Bulgogi
I was as shocked as the next guy to discover Shin BBQ’s vegan-friendly options, headlined with the incredible Seitan Bulgogi. Although clearly modeled on meat-based entree, this dish has a character all of its own, and even omnivores are ordering it regularly now. Slices of chewy seitan are marinated in something called “Shin’s secret marinade” – I have no idea what this is, but all I know is it’s 100% vegan and 200% tasty. The dish goes perfectly over some rice and don’t forget to pile on some of the excellent kimchi that will arrive in abundance at your table.
Tender Greens The Happy Vegan
This is another dish that I feel the need to eat on a regular basis, so I’m really happy that the WeHo Tender Greens is on my way home, and I can park for a dollar! Tender Greens is an upmarket, salad-oriented restaurant where you order at the counter, they make your salad and then bring it to your table. The Happy Vegan is so aptly named, as I don’t believe that any vegan would be something other than very happy post-consumption.
There are a ton of seemingly exotic ingredients in the salad: tabbouleh, hummus, pasta pearls, farro wheat, young kale and the eponymous “tender greens”. There’s also some crispy baguette slices dribbled with extra virgin olive oil to boot. For a salad, the price of $10.50 may seem high at face value, but I’d think nothing of paying $20 or more for this dish in a fancy restaurant.Tags: Bucket list, burger, pizza, sandwich
guys, i cannot get enough of the vegan deep dish pizza at masa of echo park.
since they first started serving up vegan chicago-style deep dish with the new teese a couple months ago, i’ve been addicted. and it seems like the pizza just keeps getting better and better. i went recently with a friend and we got a build-your-own large with spinach and mushrooms that was to die for. i couldn’t believe how big it was—enough to feed 4 people probably—but that’s the way to go at masa, because then you have tons of leftovers.
i’ve never had a “real,” dairy-filled chicago deep dish, but people i know who have swear that masa’s vegan version tastes authentic…and better than all the others. the delicate crispy cornmeal crust is topped with a layer of stretchy teese and thick sauce filled with garlic and whole tomatoes. you have to eat it with a fork and knife, like a piece of pie, and one or two slices is enough to fill you up.
one fun tip, since the pizza takes 50 minutes to bake (it’s worth the wait!), is to start your evening off across the street at el prado. the small bar always has good stuff on tap, and it opens daily at 6pm. so you can pop in, have a few beers, order your deep dish over the phone, then arrive at masa to eat shortly before it comes out of the oven. good times!
if you haven’t been to masa yet for a vegan deep dish, stop messing around, and get over there! honestly, it’s by far the best vegan pizza in LA, and one the most special vegan dishes i’ve ever eaten. there’s no excuse not to try it!
masa of echo park
1800 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
oh and here is the el prado info, should you take my advice!
el pradoTags: deep dish, echo park, pizza
1805 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026-3226
FINALLY it’s here! if you want authentic, vegan, amazingly delicious chicago-style deep dish pizza in los angeles…look no further than masa of echo park. the restaurant has offered vegan pizza for awhile, but as of a few days ago, they have perfected the art of the animal-free deep dish using the new and improved stretchy teese from chicago soydairy.
i want to start by saying, this pizza is a million times better than any other deep dish we’ve covered on this blog. when i say it’s “authentic” chicago-style, i mean it…and that’s something that masa takes very seriously. in a letter on the restaurant’s website, owner rob rowe explains that he was born and raised in chicago, has worked in chicago pizzerias, and is passionate about making chicago pizza. each pie consists of a 2 inch deep cornmeal crust, filled with whole pear tomatoes, chunky garlic, and cheese underneath the sauce.
to say this pizza is incredible would be a gross understatement. it’s perfect in every way from the extremely flavorful sauce, to the melty-ness of the teese, to the soft cornmeal crust that basically melts in your mouth. the crust is the most amazing pizza crust i’ve ever tasted, in fact.
masa also serves tap beer and wine, which is good news, because their authentic deep dish pizzas take about 40 minutes to bake. this is definitely a great place to come and unwind, have a few drinks, and wait patiently for pizza perfection to emerge from the oven. if you don’t want to wait though, you can always call and order your pizza ahead of time.
please take my advice, and check out masa as soon as you possibly can. order the deep dish with the new stretchy teese, and enjoy what will be without a doubt some of the best vegan pizza you’ve ever eaten.
Masa of Echo Park
1800 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
PS: masa butters the crust of their deep dish pizzas, but when you order vegan cheese they instead use olive oil. i’m just letting you know, because you may wanna remind them NOT to butter your crust…even though it’s policy not to. i’m just paranoid like that.Tags: chicago soy dairy, deep dish, echo park, pizza, teese