if you’re anything like me, you’re over it: fucking LA restaurants with the word “vegan” in their name, that regurgitate the same tired menu of fake thai food and fake vegan food, which is usually neither. you know who i’m talking about—the “vegan thai” places that sell westernized items like soy nuggets, “cowboy” burgers, quesadillas, and “tropical pancakes”…much of which contains dairy and/or eggs! i’d say they make up for like 60% of the vegan restaurants in los angeles, and it’s RIDICULOUS. the food is both uninspired and untrustworthy. do you realize that this shit makes a HUGE impression on vegetarians and omnivores? some people i know think vegan food IS vegan thai, and that’s just beyond depressing. anyways, enough of my rant. if you want actual good thai food that happens to be vegan-friendly, go to toi.
we’ve blogged about the sunset eatery before, and every time we return we’re reminded of how awesome it is. the place has a scruffy rock n roll vibe with band posters hung up allover the dining area and graffiti completely covering the walls in the bathroom. my favorite seat in the house is the john lennon table in the back corner, located under two massive posters of the ex-beatle.
Tags: hollywood, thai
September 29th, 2009hugo's restaurant, LA restaurants, m café, mama's hot tamales, purgatory pizza, toi
Okay, so we’ve already posted about the best vegan and best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles, but sometimes we vegans HAVE to eat in omnivorous restaurants. That’s a part of life. What’s interesting, though, is when we find meat-serving restaurants that we WANT to eat in. That’s a whole different story, and LA has a few outstanding omnivorous establishments that go out of their way to cater to vegans. Here are our favorites.
While the “M” in M Cafe probably stands for Macrobiotic, I believe it actually stands for Mmmmmmmm, which is pretty much what I murmur with every bite of this amazing food. With a totally vegan menu except for fish, M Cafe has a chic urban appeal, backed up with an A-list of ingredients (and clientele) all layered over an efficient kitchen and fair pricing, considering how great the food is. While the last year or two M Cafe’s items have been prepared by kitchen staff rather than chefs, their menu items are still some of the best in town.
The Big Macro is arguably LA’s best vegan burger. The broccolini pepporochini is without a doubt LA’s premier broccolini, and the Vegan Benedict is constantly voted one of the “best” breakfast items on any local menu. There are plenty of vegan options at all times of the day, and the rotating menu constantly keeps one coming back for more. The deserts are out of this world, along with the very best vegan tiramisu known to humanity. Check it out!!
It’s probably inaccurate to credit Purgatory Pizza with single-handedly introducing incredible vegan pizza to LA, but we’re going to anyway. The insatiable team, formerly headed by Chef Ricky, that painstakingly worked to veganize an entire product line and food preparation process has gone from strength to strength. Purgatory was not only the first pizza place to embrace Teese (the ground-breaking alternative to Follow Your Heart Cheese), but is also the first to stock Gardein and Field Roast as toppings, and one of the first to serve Daiya (the best vegan cheese at time of posting) in SoCal.
To get your Purgatory Pizza kicks (if you’re not in the delivery area), show up with a bottle of cheap wine and/or a six-pack of beer, then order your pizza to dine in. Feeling like a cross between an 80s suburban pizza joint and some kind of modern art experiment, Purgatory has a great, brightly-lit atmosphere and friendly staff to keep you entertained while you swallow slice after slice of LA’s best vegan pizza.
With two locations (one in West Hollywood, the other in Studio City), and a full-on meat-oriented menu, one might be surprised to find that the Hugo’s chefs have created some seriously innovative vegan cuisine. Not only do they have loads of options, but they have menu with several clearly marked animal-free alternatives, as well as dishes that can be optionally veganized. If you can get past the trendy atmosphere, long waits and constant celebrity sightings (I’ve watched the staff at the WeHo location fawn over Gabriel Byrne and Jeff Goldblum within the past few weeks) you’re in for a vegan treat.
Although I’ve long been a fan of the tofu scramble, I also love the Very Green Casserole (one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever tasted atop stewed vegetables and sauce in a pot) as well as the salads, tikka masala veggie patties, stir-frys and wraps. Make sure you specify “VEGAN” clearly when you order, while the restaurant is extremely vegan-friendly, there may be butter hiding in unsuspecting dishes.
Sadly, the Toi chain has contracted from two locations to just one, on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Thankfully the sacrificial lamb of this two-outlet chain was the Santa Monica outlet on Wilshire and not the ultimate rock and roll dining location sandwiched between Guitar Center and clothing stores most mortals are too… well… mortal to shop in. Toi has a loud, brash atmosphere with a class-based seating system (some tables suck ass, others are amazing — you ride the wind and luck of the draw depending your arrival time).
Get the vegan pad thai with grilled tofu for a real treat, or the Saigon spring rolls…and make sure you request the hot sauces to dollop liberally over your food. The portions are huge, the kitchen respects us vegans, and most things on the menu can be made vegan — substitute chicken for tofu, oyster sauce for vegan oyster sauce, and you’ll get a superb meal. Take your omni friends there, and chillax the fuck out listening to rock ‘n’ roll on the speakers. Step into the parking lot at the back and you can smell weed in the air. Need we say more.
OK, I’ll admit, MacArthur Park (just West of Downtown LA) has a shady reputation. Lotsa crime, lotsa drugs, lotsa pigeons, lotsa bodegas and lotsa REAL, AUTHENTIC Mexican restaurants. How glad are we vegans, then, that one of the most popular, Mama’s Hot Tamales, has a full-on vegan menu, complete with Daiya cheese, vegan sauces and all the trimmings. Did you hear that? Authentic Mexican food AND Daiya Cheese!!!! That is reason enough to make any top 5 list, as far as we’re concerned.
At Mama’s you can enjoy all the greasy, cheesy filling Mexican food that omnivores love to death, but prepared under the supervision of Mama herself: the real deal, a Mexican señora who could not be more understanding of what a vegan is, what we need and how to prepare the food for us.Tags: boyle heights, culver city, downtown la, hollywood, macarthur park, macrobiotic, melrose, pizza, the valley, weho
one thing we have way too much of in los angeles is vegan thai food. from west LA, to silverlake, to the valley, there seems to be a thai restaurant with the word vegan in its name popping up on every corner. after a few of these restaurants turned up sketchy results when we tested their food for non-vegan ingredients a few months ago, i have pretty much been avoiding them all together.
thankfully when i do need a thai food fix, i can head on over to toi on sunset. the omnivorous restaurant has loads of vegetarian and vegan options with plant-based sauces, fresh vegetables and tofu. the fake mystery meat will never be missed.
toi has an entire vegetarian section on their menu with various noodle, curry, and vegetable selections…all of which can be made vegan. the thing i love about these dishes is their delicious simplicity. the sauces are light, the vegetables are fresh, and the flavors are all spot on.
a some of my favorite entrees include the buddha chili (i get it without bell peppers), a plate of chunky pumpkin cubes, fried tofu, eggplant, and broccoli all mixed up in a garlic sauce—or pad thai with no egg, a vegan take on the popular noodle dish that usually contains fish sauce.Tags: pad thai, pumpkin, thai, tofu, vegan thai
OK, anywhere that opens at 11am, remains open until 4am the next day and calls itself “rockin’ Thai food” is begging for the midnight and early morning crowd. Who dines at 3am?
- I have been known to
- Hipsters (usually just out of a recording session [they wish]) do
- Stoners do (duh)
- Vegans do, as this is almost certainly the only place to get vegan food of any quality (other than Burger King fries, and even those are questionable) after about 11pm
On a recent late night visit there, I chowed down on my usual order:
Saigon Spring Rolls (Cold Vietnamese spring rolls with basil), a hearty portion for a hearty price of $9.95.
It’s nice to have a mixture of basil, cilantro and crunchy tofu all wrapped up into one, along with vegetables (outside and in) and a couple of nice sauces to boot. Ask for the hot sauce carousel, and you won’t be sorry. Spice it up!
Followed (quickly, when the service is good) with:
You have to ask for it “vegan”, and in addition to skipping the egg (superfluous anyway in a pad Thai), they ensure your sauce is vegan. I’ve had a million pad Thai dishes here, all of them vegan, and they taste amazing.Tags: pad thai, spring rolls, sunset blvd, thai, toi
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