UPDATED! turns out the vegan cheese at this place IS vegan, although i was skeptical. scroll to the near end of the post, update is in bold.
lemme tell ya about a lunch gone wrong with a very happy ending. a few days ago, me and my homie, vegan chef/blogger extraordinaire jennshaggy, made a pilgrimage to the mid-city chili factory earle’z grill which is believed to have tons of vegan options. we lined up when we got there, super hungry and high off all the positive vegan-friendly yelp reviews…very ready to be impressed. unfortunately when we got to the front of the queue, the cashier told us that the only vegan thing on the menu was “vegan cake”. all the veggie dogs and burgers were possibly vegan in their own right, but the buns contained dairy. fuck. we bailed and drove back down crenshaw racking our brains for a new place to eat. luckily, jennshaggy is like a an encyclopedia of all things vegan, so she tapped into her super computer brain and lead us to sky’s gourmet tacos on pico.
sky’s gourmet tacos is a small sit-down mexican restaurant with an extensive vegetarian menu that can be made vegan upon request. dude, right down to fake meat and soy cheese, sky’s gourmet tacos has got it going on. the woman there seemed pretty knowledgeable as well; before we even asked she assured us that the soy cheese was vegan and i heard her instruct the kitchen to cook our food on “the vegetarian grill”. awesome. we ordered a ton of food and shared it, and everything was completely off the hook.
the veggie taco comes with the choice of vegan soyrizo-type meat or tofu. we went with the tofu and it was absolutely incredible. it was covered in delicious seasonings that turned it bright orange and gave it a very spicy flavor. the thing that took this taco over the edge though, was the hot sauce. sky has their own mild salsa that we couldn’t get enough of…even though the food was covered in it, we kept going to the counter and requesting more. so damn good!
we also ordered the veggie torta which was filled with chopped up and seasoned vegan meat along with beans, salsa, vegetables and soy cheese. this sandwich was a lot different from the amazing vegan torta at pure luck, but every bit as good. the bread was really soft and bendable, kind of like a huge store-bought hamburger bun, and it was cooked and covered in delicious orange spices (you really can’t pick this thing up without getting it all over you). the vegan meat inside was incredibly tasty–huge chunks of soy protein oozing with mexican flavor. packed with so many fresh vegetables and juicy beans, the torta is definitely a bit messy, but so worth the cleanup.
the veggie burrito caught us a bit off guard because it wasn’t wrapped. check out the picture below…doesn’t it look like a massive taco?? it was prepared just like the taco as well. it had basically the same stuff in it, except i ordered it with vegan meat instead of tofu, and it came in flour instead of corn tortillas. i definitely liked it, but i prefer a more traditional burrito experience.
lastly we got the veggie quesadilla with vegan cheese which was basically melted soy cheese sandwiched between two huge tortillas, then covered with beans, vegan meat, and more un-melted cheese. it was so massive, we didn’t even make it through half of it.
the vegan soy cheese didn’t taste like follow your heart, which kind of raised our suspicions but it definitely didn’t stretch like most soy cheese that contains dairy. it was strange. check out the picture below, it didn’t quite melt but it sure tried. although the texture wasn’t quite right, the taste melted was really good, which made us even more suspicious. after reading the post on sick of lettuce about vegan restaurants selling non-vegan cheese, i’m thinking we should treat all fake cheese as suspect. so although the lady at the restaurant told us this cheese was vegan, and she was very knowledgeable and even cooked the food on separate grills, you may want to avoid this soy cheese because i can’t tell you what brand it is. i don’t think i would order this again in the future, although it was really good. what do you think? should all “vegan” cheese be avoided if you don’t know the brand? where do the other vegans stand on this?
UPDATE: the vegan cheese is vegan! after reading this post, the resourceful vegyogini took it upon herself to email sky’s gourmet tacos directly and find out what brand of vegan cheese they use. it turns out they use follow your heart…maybe i just didn’t recognize it because it was coated in flour? it all makes sense now, considering the soy cheese didn’t quite melt. phew, the vegan cheese appears to be safe so go for it!
so there you have it, an great mexican restaurant with a huge vegetarian menu that can be veganized…what more do you require? the food is damn good as well. i think i will be spending many a lunch at sky’s gourmet tacos in days to come. and for you vegan cheese skeptics, just order everything without the cheese. the burritos, tacos and tortas would be just as tasty without it. get your vegan asses over to sky’s gourmet tacos. you will not regret it. and special thanks to jennshaggy for remembering this place, she turned our lunch fail into a lunch win.
sky’s gourmet tacos
5408 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA. 90019
P.S. stay away from earle’z grill and don’t believe people when they tell you about all the great vegan options. it just ain’t true.Tags: burrito, mexican food, mid-city, pico, quesadilla, taco, torta