• December 14th, 2010quarrygirldoomie's, LA restaurants

    the wait is over! doomie’s home cookin’ is officially open for business. right now their hours are tuesday through sunday from noon to 10pm, and at the moment they are cash only…so go prepared. we checked them out over their opening weekend, and as usual the food was insane. have a look at what we ordered, and scroll to the bottom of the post to see the full doomie’s menu.

    deciding what to eat was a challenge, because everything at doomie’s sounded so damn good. the appetizer selection was ridiculous…from jalapeno poppers, to buffalo legs, to chili cheese fries…i wanted it all! we practiced some restraint though, and decided to split just two main courses.

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  • November 23rd, 2010quarrygirlchili addiction, LA restaurants

    i couldn’t even believe it when i went to chili addiction recently and saw they had a new menu item named after ME. the quarrygirl burger combines two of my favorite dishes—the hearty match-based burger and johnny’s insane homemade sauerkraut. of course, i had to order it!

    quarrygirl: our fantastic vegan burger topped with homemade sauerkraut. $10

    wow! i’m not just saying this because the burger had my name on it, but the quarrygirl was epic!…

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  • November 21st, 2010quarrygirlmichigan, more restaurants (not LA)

    time for another field report from i dream of greenie! this one comes to us from across the country…seva vegetarian restaurant way over in michigan. if you are ever in ann arbor in search of some vegan food, hopefully this will come in handy. 🙂

    While on a recent trip to Michigan, I dined at Seva, in Ann Arbor on the recommendation of Noelle of An Opera Singer in the Kitchen.

    I really liked the rustic décor, complete with plants on the ceiling and wood panels (reminded me a bit of a Napa winery).

    After a long flight, we were in dire need of a cocktail so we asked our waitress if any of the wines were vegan. She was initially a little shocked, explaining that we were the first person to ask her that question in the 2 years she’d been working there but would look into it that second. She came back a few minutes later with the sad news that none of the wines are vegan.

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  • 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

    Vegan Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

    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.

    Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger: thinly sliced original seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, crispy tempeh bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, lettuce, carrots, onions, and tomato and topped with crunchy battered dill pickles chips. $9.95

    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.

    dynamite roll: spicy "tuna" and avocado inside, spicy mayo and green onion on top. with spicy sauce. $10.95

    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

    Cornmeal and herb dusted spicy oyster mushrooms (made vegan): Our version of "hot wings" crispy oyster mushrooms served with marinated celery salad. $10

    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

    biscuits and gravy: two biscuits topped with vegan gravy and served with your choice of tempeh bacon, fruit, or potatoes. $9.9

    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

    Tofu Banh Mi: 12" French baguette topped with lemongrass marinated tofu, cucumber slices, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, jalapenos, vegenaise and scallion oil. $6

    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)

    Tuscan Pizza (veganized): homemade roasted garlic sauce, daiya cheese, cremini, shiitake and button mushrooms, caramelized onions, truffle oil and thyme.

    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

    Seitan Bulgogi: vegan seitan served in shin's secret marinade. $18

    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

    happy Vegan: tabbouleh, hummus, pasta pearls, farro wheat, young kale, tender greens. $10.50

    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.

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  • September 18th, 2010brittanyLA restaurants, m cafĂ©

    it’s no secret that m cafe has one of the best vegan burgers in town. but did you know that in addition to the delicious whole grain patty, tofu cheese, and awesome sauce, you can get your burger with avocado and tempeh bacon?! ’cause YOU CAN!

    vegan loaded burger at m cafe: big macro topped with tempeh bacon and fresh avocado. $12.95

    i recently stopped by m cafe and got one of their burger/fries/lemonade combos. i tried the avocado & bacon variation of the big macro and i can tell you it is super yum! m cafe really does have some of the best tempeh bacon, so adding it to the already delicious burger was a special treat. and i admittedly haven’t been to m cafe in a while, so i was especially surprised to see they have sweet potato fries! the fries are served with a tangy aioli – which was really good BUT they were so delicious and well-seasoned i ended up just shoving most of them into my mouth sans-dip.

    i definitely recommend the tempeh bacon burger – and with the combo it’s a pretty sweet deal!

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  • September 10th, 2010quarrygirlbarcelona, more restaurants (not LA)

    hey everyone! time for another barcelona vegan field report by dadatamonkey. i gotta say, this is by far my favorite one yet…and it seems too good to be true. it’s about an ALL VEGAN CAT -THEMED BAR that serves fast food-style cuisine! go on, read all about cat bar!

    Good British food and cold beer. What more could a man want?

    Strolling around Barca, I came across a bar with a sign outside saying vegano. And its called.. The Cat Bar! Given I love beer, food and cats I kinda had to go in! It’s a normal bar that just happens to serve vegan food! Here’s what they say about the food: “All the food made in the kitchen is 100% vegan. Any food not made by us, ketchup, mustard etc., is served in the original package with the list of ingredients which can be read by most under 30 years olds but few older than that..” So add in a sense of humour and this place is well worth a visit!

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  • September 7th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, zephyr cafe

    hi everyone, time for another vegan field report! this post is written by the talented Aj aka QueerVeganRunner, and comes to us all the way from the LBC. so sit back and enjoy her awesome review and drool-worthy burger pix…

    We have new friends who live in Long Beach and so we ventured down there for the first time a month or two ago and keep going back. It seems that vegan restaurants are not plentiful in the LBC and Zephyr Café it one of the only options. That’s fine by me, because it’s great…except for the hours (only open until 4 pm on Sundays, wha-what?).

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  • August 20th, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, seabirds

    Do you remember the moment in The Wizard Of Oz where the celluloid goes from monochrome to color? Well, I had a similar experience last week when I drove alongside a dusty railroad track to a barren industrial park on the outskirts of downtown Fullerton, Orange County. The monochromatic middle-American dustbowl view turned into vibrant color as I stepped inside our destination: Bootlegger’s Brewery.

    Suddenly I was surrounded by brew kettles, mash tuns, piles of kegs and a makeshift “tap room” (which was actually a corner of the brewery itself).

    What’s more, as I looked back out toward the parking lot, I could see Seabirds, California’s only entirely vegan food truck, pulling up and getting ready to serve food.

    Now, many of us have been to plush beer bars with comfortable seating and a vast array of beer on tap. Some of us have also been to tap houses: usually less comfortable and with a much smaller choice, but the beer is fresh from the brewery which means it’s as good as you can get. The experience at Bootlegger’s is a little different as you’re actually sitting right inside a working brewery, and the beers are served to you directly from the kegs that have been filled and aged by the brewing team.

    While we waited for Seabirds to set up, we enjoyed a few pints of the outstanding “Old World Hefe”, a traditionally brewed unfiltered ale that was extremely drinkable (some might say, TOO drinkable!). We also enjoyed the “Palomino Pale Ale” which was served via a contraption called a “Hopinator”, a sort-of glass tank containing fresh hops under a little pressure. The beer flows over the hops right before it gets served and they impart a fresh, floral flavor that is to die for. In fact, Bootlegger’s chose Citra hops, a relatively recent American hop strain that’s finding its way into more and more beer varieties.

    At Bootlegger’s, your beer is served from glass preserve jars rather than glasses, and you sit (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) on plastic lawn chairs either inside the brewhouse or outside in the parking lot. Urban chic it isn’t, but if you care about being in a place with friendly people, great beer and awesome food you will find few places better in Orange County, or anywhere else. Talking of food, we managed to tear ourselves away from drinking to step outside and grab a bite from Seabirds truck, which was open for business just outside the brewhouse.

    Organic Veggie Burrito Bowl: Grilled organic veggies from Tanaka Farm, organic beans, organic brown rice, guacamole, and red or green salsa. $7

    I regularly run into food trucks at various events, and it’s surprising how many of them are quite vegan friendly. As Seabirds is entirely plant-based, though, everything on the menu is up for grabs, and we wasted no time in availing ourselves of a few dishes. First up was a Veggie Burrito in a bowl (kindly made in advance for us with no bell peppers) which was a deceptively tasty collection of chopped vegetables, beans, rice and a tangy salsa/guacamole combination. It was truly remarkable, so fresh and healthy tasting yet full of flavor. I’d certainly have that again, and I bet the burrito is even better.

    Seabirds Burger: Our homemade nut & seed patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and seabird sauce. $5

    Next up we were drawn to the Seabird burger, as they proudly proclaim the patty is “home made”. I’m a sucker for home made burger patties as so many places use off-the shelf burgers (at worst Boca, at best Gardein). Not Seabirds! Their burger was perfectly prepared with just the right amount of ingredients – a nut/seed patty with crunchy onion, tomato and fresh lettuce on top of a tangy sauce (also home made) in a wholewheat bun. There’s something about fresh farm-produced organic ingredients that are carefully prepared – they taste SO DAMN GOOD! You can pig out without feeling bloated, and that’s exactly what happened here.

    Hummus and Pita

    Feeling the need to be bloated, though, we also ordered a side of hummus and pita bread and were delighted with its freshness and taste. I sometimes forget how awesome something so simple can be, and Seabirds really delivered a super-creamy hummus that wasn’t too oily. Oh yum.

    We planned to eat some more food, but were just too full. Next time we’re going to go all-out for some of the more exotic dishes like the Beer Battered Avocado Taco, Jerk Jackfruit Taco and the “Bella” – grilled portabella mushroom and pesto sandwich. Oh and for those with a sweet tooth, Seabirds also offers dessert – delicious vegan cupcakes by Luscious Organics.

    Not only is the food stunningly good, but the crew at Seabirds are so pleasant, polite and nice that I felt like picking each one up and hugging them. I tend to do that when I’m drunk, though, so don’t read too much into it.

    I really wish Seabirds would put some extra miles on that spiffy truck and go a few miles further up I5 to LA for some of our events closer to home. The good news, though, is that even if Seabirds can’t come home with you a growler full of fresh Bootlegger’s brew can. 🙂

    As we headed away from Bootleggers, along the dusty railroad line to our car, I took one last look back toward the brewery and food truck and was again reminded of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and the gang look down at The Emerald City in the distance – a tempting vista of wonder ahead. As we headed away back to LA things turned into black and white again, but I’m sure that was the pints of Palomino finally taking control of my consciousness.

    Bootlegger’s Brewery
    401 S Richman Ave
    Fullerton, CA 92832
    Thur and Fri 4pm – 9pm, Sat 2pm – 9pm

    Seabirds Truck
    Follow them on Twitter or check their schedule for location.

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  • July 22nd, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, m cafĂ©

    heyo! this is just a quick informational post to let y’all know that m cafe has launched a new summer grillin’ to-go menu that they will be offering at all 3 locations through labor day…and unless i’m missing something, it’s ALL VEGAN! (no fish, woo woo!)

    the new menu is the perfect go-to food source for any summer bbq, picnic, or party…and features items like big macro patties, seitan cutlets, buns, chili beans, soy cheese slices, and desserts.


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  • May 30th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, zephyr cafe

    long beach has got nothin’ on LA when it comes to vegan food. it’s actually quite shocking after having been spoiled in this vegan mecca to drive just 20 miles south and be met with so few dining options. lucky for us herbivores, the LBC does have one entirely meatless restaurant and while it isn’t worth a special trip, it definitely fills the void. i’m talkin’ about zephyr cafe.

    mf burger: homemade patty, tofutti cheese, sprouts, tomato, onion, romaine, mushrooms, avocado & vegan mayo

    zephyr cafe is a spacious comfy eatery with lots of hippie vibes and a completely vegetarian menu. i raved about the place two years ago, but looking back on my review i feel like must have not gotten out much back then. now i eat at vegan restaurants like it’s my job, and the zephyr praise just doesn’t hold up. don’t get me wrong, the food is decent and good…but it just hits the spot, without going the extra mile.

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  • May 21st, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, mary's secret garden

    UPDATE! Please check out this forum post, following a comment we received below.

    When I arrived in the USA from the UK some years ago, I immediately latched on to Costco as one of the most wonderful places on earth. There I could buy all the toilet paper, Kleenex, USB hard drives and Boca burgers I needed to survive. Costco even had 16-pack of vegan burger buns which I’d stash in the freezer along with the Boca patties so I could prepare myself a hearty snack any time I wanted. When hungry, I’d microwave the whole thing: Boca in first, then the bread bun, and I’d garnish with Vegenaise, some soy “cheese” and whatever fixings I had in the kitchen (usually tomatoes, onions and lettuce).

    I loved my Costco burger invention as it had a lot going for it: Vegan, quick to make, somewhat tasty, low in fat, highly predictable and VERY inexpensive. In fact, I used to boast to my omni friends that my burger cost around 60 cents to prepare, so it became known as a “60 Cent Burger”, and I was frequently called upon to prepare loads of them for late night after-party munchies. Anyway, more on the 60 Cent burger later, after the matters at hand.

    It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of the Pacific Coast: I live in Los Angeles where I can drive up PCH or the 101 any time I like to Ventura or Santa Barbara. Although the coastal route is sparsely populated with restaurants, vegan and vegetarian friends have been telling me for years that I need to check out Mary’s Secret Garden in Ventura as they have some of the “best food anywhere”. So, last weekend, I resolutely drove directly from Hollywood to Mary’s Secret Garden for lunch. And, boy, was the place a letdown.

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  • May 10th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, veggie grill

    veggie grill has officially joined the ranks of cool fast food chains by offering a “secret” off-menu item that you have to be “in the know” to order.

    the company has been dropping hints about the new “el dorado” via twitter, with a more official announcement recently on facebook. the thing looked so damn good, and of course i had to go check it out…

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  • March 19th, 2010quarrygirldenver, more restaurants (not LA)

    i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, watercourse foods in denver is one of the greatest vegetarian restaurants ever. the food is great, the portions are huge, they serve tap beer, and EVERYTHING on the menu can be made vegan. we love watercourse so much, that on our recent retreat to the mountains of evergreen colorado, we stocked up on take out food for the next day…which proved to be a very wise decision.

    Reuben: Smoky portobello mushrooms topped with homemade sauerkraut, and a special sauce on grilled rye bread. With choice of 2 sides. $9.25

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  • February 12th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    on our recent trip to nyc, we ate at our fair share of vegan restaurants and a really damn good one was cafe blossom. there are a few blossom locations in manhattan, but we ate at the up town restaurant on the recommendation from vegan beauty review.

    seitan skewers: flame grilled seitan in a bbq sauce served with jicama slaw. $8

    we started with an order of seitan skewers, which were fantastic. thick wheat meat mixed up with a tangy yet not too sweet sauce, served with a refreshing side of jicama slaw. we polished them right off. a+!

    soy bacon cheeseburger: grilled soy burger topped with caramelized onions, daiya cheese, soy bacon, mushrooms, lettuce and chipotle aioli. $13

    we also ordered a soy bacon cheeseburger….and this thing was was not fucking around. it came stacked with a juicy patty, daiya cheese, grilled vegetables and crispy bacon. my only complaint was that the patty was too small for the bun. i mean, look at it—i had to go through two bites of bread before even reaching the “meat”. either way, it was really good and it made me wish LA had more vegan bacon burgers. we ordered it with a side of potato salad, which would have been perfect if it didn’t have bell peppers in it.

    southern seitan sandwich: spiced seitan with caramelized onions, avocado and chipotle aioli on foccacia bread. $14

    we also shared the southern seitan sandwich with an order of fries. the sandwich was good, but from the description i thought it would be much better. overall it was a little dry and just didn’t hold up to the awesomeness of the bacon cheeseburger. the fries were excellent though, long thin and crispy—some of the best i’ve had in a while.

    although the food was on point for the most part, our service was a bit slow. the place wasn’t busy, and we had to go find our server and ask for the check because we’d been sitting there for thirty minutes. oh well, maybe they were just having an off day. either way, i will definitely be back next time i’m in nyc for some more skewers and a bacon cheeseburger.

    blossom up town
    466 Columbus Avenue, NYC

    Open Daily
    Monday – Friday: 11am-10pm
    Saturday: 11am-10:30pm
    Sunday: 11am-9:30pm

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  • February 1st, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, native foods

    Very, very few decent bars serve food suitable for vegans. The best we can usually hope for is french fries or a limp salad, and even then the chances of them being vegan are usually 10-1 against. Likewise, most vegan restaurants don’t have a beer and wine license, let alone the city certificate and capability to make you a gin and tonic to sup down with your Gardein burger.

    So, while a bar can serve up some alcohol and a vibe you’re in the mood for, your favorite vegan, or vegan-friendly restaurant can feed you until you’re full, butthere are very few that can do both. What’s a boozy vegan to do?

    Well, we set out to find a range of cool bars in LA that are no more than a few steps away from some of the best vegan restaurants in town. Figuring that one might go for a beer or cocktail before dining, we start with the bars first.

    In the mid-90s I used to frequent an archetypal student bar half a block from the UCLA campus in Westwood. Back then it used to be called “Maloney’s on campus” and was a dirty, rough and tough bar that only the brave would survive. Hard drinking, $2 Jack Daniels chasers and the cheapest beer east of Santa Monica or West of Beverly hills was the order of the day. Add in 100 or so rowdy students (mostly making out), loud football games on old TVs and you pretty much get the idea.

    A few years ago, Maloney’s closed down allegedly with the assistance of the LAPD (all those under age drinkers must have been a business risk, if indeed that’s why they closed) to be replaced with a facsimile bar in the same building called O’Hara’s. We’re talking cleaner facilities, nicer staff, better food, flat-screen TVs and even a tap beer menu that’s more than a Miller Lite keggerator stuck in the corner of the bar.

    These days, the students are all still there, but seem better behaved and there’s a strict ID check in progress – even I get my ID scanned and I’m as old as the grand canyon. If you’re lucky you can settle into a comfy chair at the low bar, and get a great view of the TVs and friendly bartenders. There are super value 1 liter beers ($8.00) and the happy hour delivers suds for under 5 bucks a pint. Add a reasonable wine selection with full-on cocktail capabilities and you can have a great time drinking away in this relaxing, dark environment. If you’re super lucky, you might meet your future wife there (as happened to a friend of mine) or for the single ladies find a wealthy, cute foreign student to hook up with (I’ve heard that happens too).

    After you’ve filled your skin with beer, a mere hop skip and jump away is one of LA’s greatest vegan fast-food restaurants: Native Foods. I usually hit up O’Hara’s around lunchtime when it’s relatively quiet (before the big games start) then just as it starts to get crazy slip away to Native Foods, just after their lunch rush, around 2:30pm.

    Of course, in between O’Hara’s and Native Foods is the busy Westwood branch of Whole Foods Market, with a parking lot adjacent to the bar. Although I’d never condone others to do the same, I usually park at Whole Foods before my beer, pop in after the pub to get some groceries, shove ’em in my trunk and then head to Native Foods for lunch. This seems to confuse the parking attendants (who presumably think I’m a slow shopper) so I’ve never been ticketed or towed, and have parked, for hours on end, in expensive Westwood for free.

    Of course, if you’re a vegan living in LA you will have heard much about Native Foods, and have probably even been there on a few occasions. The restaurant, though, has been upgraded lately and is now twice the size, which is a great job as the menu has also been upgraded with some mouthwatering new items from Chef Tanya’s repertoire.

    What is the ideal thing to eat after filling your belly with beer? An Oklahoma Bacon Cheese Burger, that’s what. While the inebriated jocks back in O’Hara’s are clinging to the wall with one hand and stuffing meat and cheese into their faces with the other hand, you can be stuffing YOUR face with an entirely plant-based burger that’s as tasty as they come.

    oklahoma bacon cheeseburger: thinly sliced original seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, crispy tempeh bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, lettuce, carrots, onions, and tomato and topped with crunchy battered dill pickles chips. $9.95

    Layer upon layer of Chef Tanya’s seitan under home-cooked tempeh bacon that’s topped with vegan cheese and smothered in a creamy sauce will knock your socks off. Add in some of Native Foods’ exclusive hot sauce, a side of spicy fries and you’ll have the same “I’m full” buzz as the O’Hara’s customers, but with none of the guilt.

    native fries: thinly cut potatoes cooked in pure vegetable oil and dusted with a fun blend of garlic and spices. $2.95

    The pub-grub style of Native Food’s menu is uncanny: They have chicken wings, nachos, chilly cheese fries, tacos, tons of burger options and healthy salads. If only they had a full bar and a bunch of drunk students I could avoid the 300 yard walk from O’Hara’s.

    Do enjoy a happy afternoon in Westwood for Pup ‘n’ Grub: you know it makes sense!

    1000 Gayley Ave
    Westwood, CA 90024
    (310) 208-1942

    native foods
    1110 1/2 Gayley Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA 90024
    (310) 209-1055

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