September 29th, 2009cinnamon, fatty's & co, flore cafe (closed), follow your heart, LA restaurants, paru's
Yesterday we brought you a list of the 5 best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. But if a 100% vegan eatery isn’t on the cards for whatever reason, LA has a superb selection of vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurants, some of which rival or exceed the offerings available at vegan-only establishments. From a 60s-era hippie health-food store to a moderne hipster hangout, LA has it all. Check out our top five vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurants and please let us know in the comments if you think any don’t deserve the list, or you have a favorite that should be on it.
Psychedelia. Woodstock. Topanga Canyon. Flower Power. Tie Dye. We have many things to thank the late 60s for, and Follow Your Heart is one of them. This amazing vegetarian oasis, established in 1970 in Canoga Park, has LA’s premier (= only) vegetarian grocery store with a TON of vegan products (some of which can’t be purchased anywhere else). Not only that, it has a cosy restaurant and patio where some of LA’s finest vegan food is waiting for you.
Don’t miss the Reuben Sandwich (make sure you ask for extra 1,000 island dressing), as a human being has to try this out at least once in their life! There are many, many dishes with home made fake meats, and vegan entrees such as breakfast burritos, benedicts etc. Follow Your Heart does a SUPER job with the restaurant food and you pretty much can’t go wrong. If you’re averse to honey (hopefully you are, bees are cool), the buns have honey in them, so be sure to order your delicious burger on VEGAN bread.
Fatty’s is an interesting place. So overtly pretentious, yet with honest down-to-earth food items you can’t get anywhere else it’s a somewhat strange place to dine. If you walk in when the place is empty, the greeter will give you a hard time because you didn’t make a reservation, but when you’re seated in this pristine restaurant with cavernous ceilings you will be served some truly special food.
After wading through a pretty dairy-heavy menu, there are some vegan wonders which await. Half the appetizers are vegan and run the gamut from bread and oil (very special, bread and oil, I might add) through blackened tempeh to more obscure things like “far east rolls” including non-meat chicken. This is a place with powerful entrees as well — get the vegan paella, ravioli, sloppy joe or chartruese for a throughly different and high quality experience. There are also some rare deserts, including a cotton candy that’s only available if a certain person is in the restaurant (Mrs. Dingle, I kid you not). Eat here when you really want to impress a date or experience vegan fine dining to the fullest.
Like a phoenix from the ashes, Flore Cafe rose from the amazing Vegan Spot, my favorite ever vegan restaurant. Despite a rocky existence (after the abrupt closing of Vegan Spot I firmly expected this place to be shuttered when I next visit), Flore Cafe has some great vegan food that’s served fast and of very high quality. Almost totally vegan except for a few egg and dairy items, Flore Cafe is unlikely to disappoint. Plus, they really raise the bar with their excellent “all you can eat deals”—from their regular Sunday $10 brunch, to their special event buffets—they give us several reasons to watch them closely.
The tofu scramble (if you’re really lucky you’ll be eating that at one of the botomless Sunday brunches) is some of the best in town, along with the breakfast burritos, burgers and salads with seitan. Also, their fake tuna a.k.a. “tu-no” is awesome — especially when served on the tu-no melt. Like its sister restaurant Flore (located just 1/2 mile away), Flore Cafe offers organic meat-free menu with fresh ingredients and attention to detail, yet the restaurant is rarely crowded. Not the best place to dine in, but great for a quick snack or take-out feast.
Californian-style Mexican food can be well prepared with vegetarian or vegan ingredients, and Cinnamon has perfected the art. Situated in a nondescript single-frontage store in Highland Park, Cinnamon has a warm, family atmosphere in common with all the best Mexican restaurants. Most times, the owner will be there to personally advise on her menu creations as well as supervise the kitchen. With a huge menu of high quality food items, you basically can’t go wrong.
Although a vegetarian restaurant, pretty much anything can be veganized or is already vegan. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas, all the regular Californian-style Mexican food is well represented as well more authentic stuff such as tamales, mole and empanadas. You got your mock meats, spicy black beans, fresh and crunchy vegetables and the typical sauces — all optionally vegan. Cinnamon proves that great Mexican food can be made vegan.You can eat here with a clear conscience because you KNOW the rice has no chicken broth and the refried beans no lard. Check it out…. you really won’t be sorry.
While our friends at Cinnamon excel at vegetarian Mexican-style food, Paru’s knocks the ball out of the park with vegetarian Indian food. Since the 1970s, Parus has been quietly plugging away, serving some of the best Indian food this side of Brick Lane. With a strict policy on preparing vegan food separately in the kitchen, they are to be trusted with our veganocity. The place is a little foreboding upon arrival. It seems like you’re entering a bail bond office or brothel in a sketchy part of town (they buzz you in), but once past the reinforced door you’re in a private patio that leads to an intimate restaurant.
All but a couple of the menu items are either vegan or can be prepared vegan, and the best bet is to get a few side orders with some rice and bread. It’ll cost you a lot less than the signature dishes, and is a great way to experience the variety of food Paru’s has to offer. Get the dosa (puffy bread that looks like a deflating balloon), bonda (fried potato balls) and one of the lentil dishes. Paru’s is a welcome break from our fake-meat-tofu world as they make everything by hand from vegetables and legumes. That’s a rare thing these days.
Tomorrow, we’ll be presenting the Top Five LA vegan-friendly omnivorous restaurants. Stay tuned!Tags: eagle rock, highland park, hollywood, silverlake, the valley, top 5, vegetarian
i have been a fan of paru’s indian vegetarian restaurant for quite some time. the entirely meat-free establishment, located on sunset in hollywood, specializes in south indian cuisine and cooks up some of the best curries i’ve had on this side of the pond.
i have raved about them before, and as i said in my earlier post, don’t be alarmed by how sketchy this place looks on the outside; once you get buzzed in through the metal gate, the restaurant is absolutely lovely. although i have had many pleasant and delicious visits to paru’s, my meal there last week left a lot to be desired. if you haven’t been to paru’s, i still suggest you check it out, but maybe i can help you with what not to order.
for our recent dinner, my husband and i started with the spicy potato balls known as bonda. although only one is pictured above, the order came with two and the balls were pretty sizable. the appetizer was absolutely delicious, i have nothing to complain about here, as it ended up being the high point of our meal. super crispy and fried on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and littered with little chunks of spicy jalapeno. plus, the dipping sauce the ballz came with was insane. paru’s is very knowledgeable about veganism, and when we told them we were vegan they said they would take care of us. however the green sauce the potato balls came with was so delicious and creamy, i was convinced it was dairy-based. our friendly waiter laughed when i questioned him, assuring us it was coconut milk, and that that almost all of paru’s dishes were dairy-free. phew.
as a main dish, my husband got the punjab glory, which was basically 3 little pots of curry with a tray of breads and a huge mound of rice. knowing we were vegans, they kindly left off the side of raitha. you see, this dish was pretty good, but for $13 it just seemed like an awful lot of carbs. we are used to getting a few side orders which are 8 bucks each, and then splitting a side order of rice. while that can turn out to be a little more expensive, at least you get a lot of curry. i mean, look at the picture, do you see how much rice, bread and sauce that is? the actual curry only took up about 25% of the plate. at the end of the meal, all the curry was gone (there being about 5 or 6 bites of each of the 3 types), and almost all the rice and bread were left over. i think we will definitely stick to ordering side dishes in the future, like we did in my more complimentary post about paru’s.
my main dish is where it all kind of fell apart. i ordered yogi’s delight, which appeared from the menu description to be a light chickpea curry with vegetables and bread. imagine my shock when it arrived and was just a huge ice berg lettuce salad. ummm…the menu description didn’t even mention lettuce!! i thought i was getting a chickpea curry on a bed of beans, topped with onions. instead i got a bed of lettuce with cold chickpeas on top. there was nothing ‘curry’ like about this thing. even for a salad, it wasn’t good. oh and here’s the real kicker: it was also filled with unadvertised bell peppers, which i absolutely hate. gah! and for $13?!? talk about adding insult to injury. i managed to pick around and eat some of the chickpeas off, plus i helped myself to my husband’s never ending supply of rice and bread.
so there you have it, go eat at paru’s because some of their stuff is absolutely amazing. just avoid yogi’s delight like it’s the plague, and be sure to order side dishes if you want a decent amount of curry. i hear the dosas are great too, but i have yet to try them. when i do, you’ll be sure to hear about it.
paru’s indian vegetarian restaurantTags: curry, hollywood, indian food, salad, sunset
5140 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
don’t be scared when you see a ragged building on a shady stretch of sunset blvd. that looks more like a bails bond office than an eatery. after they buzz you through the creepy-looking door, you find yourself in a dimly-lit, cozy indian restaurant, where the waiters are well-dressed and the decorations are traditional. it’s like stumbling into an eerie cave and finding a perfect, warm hideaway. i avoided paru’s vegetarian for ages, and little did i know that i was completely missing out on the loveliest curry house in all of la.
i can’t wait to return and get a full-on slap-up dinner, because on this particular visit we just opted to split a few sides…all of which were amazing.
the food at paru’s is a welcome change; much different to the indian food i’m used to eating. you see, i’ve been getting a little fed up with curry restaurants in la. none of them compare to london establishments, and since i have been spoiled by the best curry ever at home, i’ve had no reason to eat it when i’m out. so paru’s is officially the first indian restaurant i’ve been to since i got back from a vacation in the uk…9 months ago.
and it did not disappoint! paru’s totally redefined curry in my book. while my favorite dishes are usually full of oil and on the very saucy side, paru’s food was very light, a bit dry, but still full of flavor. paru’s really puts it best on their website when they state, “we specialize in the cuisine of South India, where cooks typically use rich spices and aromatic herbs to transform intricate conjurations of vegetables, lentils, and rice into tasty meals that are as fulfilling as they are filling.” i left completely satisfied and feeling energized. yum.
the cauliflower and potatoes were fantastic, but my favorite dish was the spinach and lentils. it went down perfectly with a side of pulau rice that was littered with peas and carrots. the paratha was also delicious—fluffy and warm, great for scooping up little bits of curry. i didn’t quite know what to expect from the sambar, and what i thought would be a gravy sauce turned out to be more like a vegetable soup. in any case, i loved it. we just passed the dish back and forth and ate it with a spoon until the bowl was dry.
the best thing about paru’s, for me, is that they are a 100% vegetarian restaurant, and definitely know the meaning of the word vegan. our waiter told us exactly which dishes contained dairy before we even ordered, so we knew just what to avoid. i highly recommend you go and support this place. they sure deserve it…even if their exterior makes me a little uneasy.Tags: cauliflower, curry, lentil, spinach