• August 11th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, stuff i eat

    some things in life are just so fucking good, they are worth driving some extra miles for. stuff i eat in inglewood is definitely one of those things. the all vegan restaurant located amongst a tidy row of shops on north market street focuses on fresh, healthy food with an abundance of colors and flavors.

    Lava Burrito: Organic Black beans,seasoned tofu, wild rice, savory sauce, fresh salsa, guacamole and mixed greens and smothered with sauteed mushrooms and broccoli. $13.00

    Lava Burrito: Organic Black beans,seasoned tofu, wild rice, savory sauce, fresh salsa, guacamole and mixed greens and smothered with sauteed mushrooms and broccoli. $13.00

    stuff i eat is a small dimly lit cafe with plush furniture and loads of ambiance, the downside of which means my photos are a little dark and don’t even come close to portraying how beautiful this food was in person. but like the photos don’t do the food’s appearance justice, my descriptions won’t be able to describe how off the chart good it tasted. this was some of the best food i’ve ever had. and i’m not just saying that.

    after an incredible dining experience several months ago, my husband and i returned to stuff i eat for the first time over the weekend. i don’t know why we left it so long to go back, because man, the food was just even better than the first time. we went at around noon and shared both a breakfast and a lunch entree.

    for our lunch meal, we split the lava burrito (pictured above), which is a savory mix of tofu, beans, salsa and guacamole all rolled up in a tortilla and completely covered in vegetables. i mean, just look at the photo up there! DO YOU EVEN SEE A BURRITO? nope, it’s buried way too deep beneath fresh salad leaves, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes and corn. not just that, but the whole thing came accompanied with a homemade side of carrot-mango dressing which was absolutely divine. i mean, come on, i live in southern california—i know a good burrito when i taste it. and this was one of the best vegan burritos i’ve ever had. and it wasn’t just about all the fresh vegetables; the highlight of the dish was definitely the orange creamy sauce it was slathered with. super rich, super thick, but at the same time….not gut-bomb inducing. gah, i am getting hungry just thinking about this thing!

    Breakfast Plate: Organic yellow polenta, cottage organic fried potatoes, tofu scrambler, tofu sausage, organic mixed salad and toast. $12.00

    Breakfast Plate: Organic yellow polenta, cottage organic fried potatoes, tofu scrambler, tofu sausage, organic mixed salad and toast. $12.00

    we also split the breakfast plate—a massive platter of fried potatoes, tofu scramble, tofu sausage, salad, toast and polenta grits. every single bite of this dish was exceptional, bursting with the kind of flavor that requires hours of preparation. from the soft yet crispy toast, to leafy greens, to the two different style of tofu…everything was ace. not to mention the onion-infused breakfast potatoes! just oily enough, but not overly greasy. perfection!

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  • July 27th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, mama's hot tamales, vegan cheese

    mamas-tamales-quesadilla-yum

    one of the things i miss most since becoming vegan is mexican food. even though it’s getting easier to find places that refrain from sneaking chicken stock and lard into just about everything, i’ve still been looking for somewhere to re-create that greasy, cheesy, mexican goodness that i miss from when i was a vegetarian. well guess, what….i found it! mama’s hot tamales cafe, located right at the southern border of macarthur park, is serving up the best vegan mexican food in los angeles, melty vegan cheese and all.

    for a while, vegans in the know have raved about mama’s hot tamales’ animal-free options. for ages, the restaurant has been serving up tofu alternatives to tortas and burritos, vegan tamales, tostadas, appetizers and salads. but recently, as i learned in the quarrygirl forums, mama’s started carrying daiya vegan cheese…so now practically any menu item containing dairy can be veganized. OH MY WURD, this is such a breakthrough. things like quesadillas and enchiladas, that have been off limits to vegans forever, are now available at mama’s. and really amazing versions of these foods as well. if you don’t already know how earth-shatteringly good daiya is, you should.

    mini vegan quesadilla with daiya cheese, spinach, mushroom and pico de gallo. $4

    mini vegan quesadilla with daiya cheese, spinach, mushroom and pico de gallo. $4

    we hit up mama’s hot tamales cafe over the weekend and went all out with our order. i wanted to try as much cheesy stuff as possible, plus get a tamale of course, because that’s mama’s most famous dish! we started with the mini quesadilla appetizer, and added mushrooms and spinach to it as well. the vegan version came with the choice of cheddar or white daiya cheese, and we went with cheddar.

    all i can say about this appetizer is, it’s one of the tastiest, most convincing cheese dishes i’ve had since becoming vegan. the daiya was gooey, melty, and perfectly oily with a real authentic cheddar flavor. it mixed up just great with the spinach leaves and tiny mushrooms, all pressed into a slightly crunchy cooked tortilla. mexican perfection, i’m telling you.

    mamas-tamales-quesadillas-cu

    for my main dish, i got something that haunts most vegans’ dreams: cheese enchiladas. i never thought i’d be able to eat a cheese enchilada again, that actually tasted decent, like it was filled with real cheese. well this did.

    vegan daiya cheese enchiladas. $7

    vegan daiya cheese enchiladas. $7

    three soft corn tortillas wrapped around huge clumps of daiya and topped off with even more melted cheese. again, i chose cheddar for this because it seemed more authentic, but if you like daiya white cheese you can get that in your enchiladas as well. these enchiladas were nothing short of wonderful. this may be the best use of daiya i’ve had yet, mama’s got it spot on, just melty enough with just the right amount of cheese. if you hit up mama’s hot tamales, be sure to order these enchiladas no matter what…words can’t describe how much they rocked my world.

    mamas-tamales-enchilada-cu

    at a mere seven bucks, these enchiladas were a steal. not only was the portion size large, but they also came with a huge mound of rice and a spinach salad. not just a dinky side salad, but a full on plate of spinach leaves and vegetables with guacamole dressing. amazing.

    mamas-tamales-salad

    my husband ordered the vegan version of the tofu burrito, with a blend of cheddar and white melted daiya on top.

    vegan tofu burrito: a large flour  tortilla filled with pinto beans, mama’s rice, daiya cheese & tofu. covered in red or green sauce & melted daiya cheese. $8

    vegan tofu burrito: a large flour tortilla filled with pinto beans, mama’s rice, daiya cheese & tofu. covered in red or green sauce & melted daiya cheese. $8

    the thing was absolutely massive and stuffed with beans, rice, and huge chunks of tofu. unlike normal burritos with soft little squares of tofu, the tofu in this one was marinated nicely and cut into large strips. it had so much flavor and really worked as a filling. again, the daiya cheese in and on top of the burrito was absolutely incredible. no complaints about this dish at all.

    mamas-tamales-burrito-cu

    lastly we shared a black bean and herb tamale, which was a great deal at just $2.50.

    black bean and herb tamale, wrapped in a banana leaf. $2.50

    black bean and herb tamale, wrapped in a banana leaf. $2.50

    the fluffy corn mass came wrapped in a banana leaf and contained a thick mixture of black beans and leafy herbs. the masa dough was so insanely light and fluffy, if you like tamales, you will love the way mama makes them. there were plenty of other vegan options to choose from, and the menu rotates daily. i can’t wait to try some of her other flavors.

    mamas-tamale-tamale-cu

    in addition to having amazing vegan food and low prices, the staff at mama’s is extremely friendly as well. as we walked in, mama introduced herself and went over the menu with us in a way that showed she really cared. every server that brought something to our table was courteous and engaging. they all seemed like great, genuinely nice people.

    mamas-tamales-int

    mama’s hot tamales cafe isn’t in a great part of town, but they are only open during the day and they have parking, so don’t let the shady factor stop you from going there. once you walk through mama’s doors, you are in a warm, clean, welcoming environment full of smiles and awesome vegan food.

    mamas-tamales-int-chairs

    so make plans to go to mama’s hot tamales cafe ASAP. the fact that they have daiya isn’t printed yet on the physical menu, but be sure to ask for it and mama will take care of you. i can’t stress enough that this is the BEST MEXICAN FOOD i’ve had since becoming vegan. don’t miss out on it.

    mamas-tamales-ext

    and a special shout out to lucysnowe from the forums for reminding me to check this place out. 🙂

    mama’s hot tamales cafe
    2124 W 7th St
    Los Angeles, CA 90057-4001
    (213) 487-7474
    open 7 days 11:00am-3:30pm

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  • July 20th, 2009quarrygirlhugo's restaurant, LA restaurants

    hugo’s restaurant is a great little los angeles eatery that caters to both herbivores and omnivores alike. they have 2 locations, one in studio city and one in west hollywood. their menu is extremely vegan-friendly, with so many options i could never possibly try them all. plus they have a cool little easy-to-read legend on the menu that lets you know which stuff is safe to eat. ▼means the item is vegan, while (▼) means the item can be made vegan. simple. how rad would it be if everywhere gave us this much support?!

    vegan breakfast burrito with scrambled tofu, vegan cheese, and breakfast potatoes. $11

    vegan breakfast burrito with scrambled tofu, vegan cheese, and breakfast potatoes. $11

    my most recent meal at hugo’s was a veganized breakfast burrito stuffed tight with tofu, vegan cheese and tomatoes with a heaping side of breakfast potatoes. i was kinda nervous about the vegan cheese, after finding that so many restaurants may lie and mislabel their cheese. fortunately when the waiter brought out the burrito, i instantly recognized the unmelted mass covering my entree.

    hugos-fyh-cu

    that’s right, i confirmed it was follow your heart brand vegan gourmet. even with daiya and teese available, it seems that most restaurants resort to this boring stuff. ok, so it doesn’t melt and it’s not very good….but at least it’s vegan and it’s better than no cheese. i actually quite enjoyed it on the hugo’s breakfast burrito.

    inside the burrito, was some extremely tasty tofu with a texture that can’t be beat. thick firm slabs, but still kind of scrambly…if that makes any sense. i loved it. even with the unmelty follow your heart cheese, this breakfast was on point!

    hugos-burrito-inside

    my only qualm with this meal is that it was a little pricey. $11 for a breakfast burrito and some potatoes is pretty steep…but what the hell, this is a trendy location in weho and the food was damn delicious.

    vegans, go to hugo’s. and if you have to stoop so low as to hang out with omnivores (yugghghghghhghggh!), this would be a great place to take them. just be sure to avoid the french fries. i hear they aren’t vegan. just be sure to grill your waiter about all the extras when you order a vegan-optional dish.

    it seems like every time i go to hugo’s, it’s for breakfast. i need to hit them up for lunch or dinner soon because the menus look amazing. to be continued….

    hugo’s restaurant
    8401 Santa Monica Blvd.
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    (323) 654-3993

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  • April 29th, 2009quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), palm springs

    vegans from los angeles may have a hard time finding food in palm springs. after all, we have been completely spoiled in this city with a huge amount of vegan restaurants options. still, there are two places not to miss in the desert—one is native foods, and the other is nature’s cafe. located inside a health food store, nature’s cafe is a very vegetarian/vegan-friendly counter with friendly staff and excellent food. they have a whole section dedicated to vegan selections on the menu, and the workers are very knowledgeable about what other items can be veganized.

    we stopped by nature’s cafe on our way back from coachella, and were blown away by how delicious our meal was. i’m talking exceptional, large portions packed with vegetables and cooked to perfection. even better than most of the stuff i can get back home in LA.

    tofu burrito. $7.50

    tofu burrito. $7.50

    my husband got the tofu burrito which was listed under the “breakfast” section of the menu, and was stuffed with scrambled tofu, black beans and sauteed vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. the vegetable selection was a bit odd for a breakfast burrito, but worked really well and was a welcome change. i ordered the tofu ranchero, which was absolutely huge and consisted of scrambled tofu, avocado, corn tortillas, black beans, rice, kale and assorted vegetables all packed into one box. incredible!

    tofu ranchero. $9.95

    tofu ranchero. $9.95

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  • April 2nd, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, sky's gourmet tacos

    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.

    veggie taco (prepared vegan): two corn tortillas, tofu, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, hot sauce and cheese. $3.25

    veggie taco (prepared vegan): two corn tortillas, tofu, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, hot sauce and cheese. $3.25

    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!

    veggie torta (prepared vegan): vegan meat, sky's sassy sauce, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and cilantro fused together on mexican telera bread. $5.95

    veggie torta (prepared vegan): vegan meat, sky's sassy sauce, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and cilantro fused together on mexican telera bread. $5.95

    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.

    skys-gourmet-torta-cu

    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.

    veggie burrito (prepared vegan): two flour tortillas, vegan meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro and salsa. $5.45

    veggie burrito (prepared vegan): two flour tortillas, vegan meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro and salsa. $5.45

    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.

    veggie quesadilla (prepared vegan): vegan meat and black or brown beans. $5.95

    veggie quesadilla (prepared vegan): vegan meat and black or brown beans. $5.95

    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!

    skys-gourmet-tacos-veggie-quesadillas-cu

    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
    323.932.6253

    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.

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  • March 30th, 2009quarrygirlalibi room, kogi, LA restaurants

    if you follow this blog, you probably read about the vegan dramz that occurred a few weeks ago in regards to the kogi taco truck. the korean/mexican-style bbq is definitely the latest food fad to hit los angeles, and there can be up to two hour waits and a shortage of grub wherever the trucks decide to make an appearance. i queued up for like 45 minutes just to get a tofu taco which i assumed was vegan, only to find out that it almost was….other than “traces of lard” in the corn tortilla…after i’d already eaten it.

    i wrote a post about my kogi experience, which kicked up a minor stir…but it didn’t stop the la vegan drinks crew from organizing a meetup at the alibi room in culver city, the new brick and mortar home to the kogi taco truck cuisine. vegan drinks were arranged for saturday, march 28, with the selling point being that the word “vegan” is in fact on the kogi menu at the alibi (they offer a vegan taco wrapped in a leaf), plus the chef promised to create a “vegan special” just to appease our crew. i gotta admit, it was a pretty ballsy move on the part of vegan drinks. afterall, “kogi” means “meat” in korean and this is a place that has been known to have conflicting stories about the contents of their food. on the other hand, kogi is the latest culinary craze sweeping the town…why shouldn’t we vegans get to enjoy it as well? plus the alibi room is a hip bar with tons of vegan beer and a parking lot. having the vegan drinks meetup revolve around this controversial cuisine was obviously a good idea, because like 80 fucking vegans showed up!

    the place was jam packed, with vegans and meat-eaters alike…you could tell the alibi must fill to capacity even without a huge vegan party taking over the place. when we left, there was seriously a wait to get in. what is it with la and these bloody fads…once la foodies get wind of one, there really is no stopping them! anyways, on to the food!

    vegan sesame leaf tacos with tofu and asian pear. $5

    vegan sesame leaf tacos with tofu and asian pear. $5

    we started with the one and only main dish on kogi’s alibi menu that comes vegan as is: the vegan sesame leaf tacos. these tacos aren’t listed on the mobile kogi taco truck menu…but who knows, maybe they could make them for you if you ask. either way, they are always available at the alibi. they tasted pretty similar to the normal tofu tacos wrapped in lard, except these were wrapped in a delicate shiso leaf instead. the insides were a little bit sweeter than the normal tacos, and there was just a hint of hot sauce. they were pretty tasty, i just gotta admit i’m not a huge fan of eating tacos or burritos wrapped in leaves. i would have much preferred these to come in vegan corn tortillas, but oh well.

    vegan special of the night and tofu burrito after the jump.

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  • March 2nd, 2009quarrygirlj's kitchen (closed), LA restaurants

    as more and more vegan restaurants close these days (R.I.P. vegan spot and doomie’s), plenty seem to be opening…especially on the west side. we’ve been lucky enough to gain seed, casa de tree, and yet another m cafe in beverly hills. i guess with all this awesomeness happening, there was bound to be a fluke. enter j’s kitchen on abbot kinney in venice. the new vegan macrobiotic restaurant sitting on a prime piece of real estate should be something to get really excited about…instead, it wound up being a total letdown.

    i was really excited for j’s kitchen to open, don’t get me wrong. supposedly this place has a wicked storefront in japan, serving up high-quality vegan food that is known all around the world for being delicious. they were supposed to open in like september, but that got pushed out months, and finally they did a soft-opening in december. what looked like it would be an awesome duplicate of the famous tokyo location turned out to be just a salad bar with no seating and very limited hours.

    now over 2 months later, j’s kitchen still has no indoor seating, the menu is small and limited, and while they do have some food other than a salad bar…in my experience, it was really disappointing.

    veggie tofu scramble. $4.50 plus tempeh bacon. $2.95

    veggie tofu scramble. $4.50 plus tempeh bacon. $2.95

    i wanted to love j’s kitchen so much, i really did. i drove all the way from mother-fuckin’ hollywood and met my vegan-enthusiast friend there at 8am. we were so stoked to be trying out a new vegan breakfast joint on the westside….the 50 minute drive didn’t even phase me. when we arrived, however, we were told that the chef “decided not to come in until 8:30” that day. we had the choice of getting some cold breakfast, or waiting a bit longer for the stuff that was advertised on the menu. we decided to wait. and wait. and wait. at 8:30, the chef still wasn’t there. she arrived at more like 8:45 or 8:50, and the food we received definitely didn’t justify the amount of time we had to sit around.

    my friend ordered the veggie tofu scramble, pictured above, which was basically a mix of bland tofu and bell peppers. the tempeh bacon was an extra 3 bucks for just two slices, and they tasted like they came straight out of a box. even after adding a ton of salt, the scramble was still pretty tasteless. now i understand that macrobiotic food is a whole new game, but if seed and m cafe can make such awesome dishes, j’s kitcen really has no excuse.

    breakfast burrito. $7.95 plus tempeh bacon. $2.95

    breakfast burrito. $7.95 plus tempeh bacon. $2.95

    i ordered the breakfast burrito, which was small and not very flavorful. i can’t believe it cost nearly $8! $3 dollars more than the scramble, and about the same amount of food. while the burrito wasn’t horrible to start with, it went from “meh” to “fucking disgusting” instantly when i found a long, black, curly hair all wrapped around the tofu at the bottom of the burrito. that’s it. breakfast over.

    who knows, maybe my experience was a one off and usually j’s kitchen is great. some stuff on the menu did look pretty good, and i’ve heard great things about it on other sites. i just know that hair in my food was enough to gross me out for awhile, and the blandness of everything else makes me feel like i’m not missing much. sure, maybe i will return for lunch someday…but not any time soon.

    here’s a copy of the menu, since it isn’t available on their site.
    js-kitchen-menu-front-back js-kitchen-menu-inside

    here’s to hoping j’s kitchen gets their act together! they are in a great location, and another good vegan restaurant on the westside would be a wonderful thing.

    j's kitchen on abbot kinney in venice

    j's kitchen on abbot kinney in venice

    j’s kitchen
    1239 abbot kinney blvd.
    venice, ca 90291

    310-450-5119

    open 8am to 4pm
    monday thru saturday

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  • February 27th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, tierra cafe

    well, well, well, i have some good news and some more good news. the first bit of good news is, yesterday was my last day of jury duty. turns out the case got settled, they sent us home, and it was all just one big waste of time in the end. yipee! the next bit of good news is that on my last day stuck in downtown town los angeles, i hit up tierra cafe, a really great little vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant in the wilshire promenade food court. i’ve been wanting to try tierra cafe forever, but the thing is, it’s only open monday thru friday from 7am to 3:30pm…hours during which i’m either asleep in bed or far away, working in hollywood. now that i’ve eaten at tierra cafe, i can tell you people who work close by and get to dine there often are very, very lucky.

    just check out the menu—it’s huge, cheap, and everything can be veganized!
    tierra-cafe-menu-front-back1 tierra-cafe-menu-inside

    seriously, i was so impressed with the menu, it took me like ten minutes to figure out what i wanted. there was breakfast stuff, soups, salads, taco plates, pizzas, sandwiches, wraps and a whole black board full of specials. i could eat there every day for a month and get something new each time!

    even though it was already noon, i went with the breakfast burrito…because it’s never too late to eat my favorite meal of the day, and seriously not enough vegan places have a breakfast menu.

    vegan breakfast burrito: black beans, vegan cheese, tofu scramble, pico de gallo and guacamole wrapped in a tortilla and grilled. served with chips and salsa. $5.50

    vegan breakfast burrito: black beans,vegan cheese, tofu scramble, pico de gallo and guacamole wrapped in a tortilla and grilled. served with chips and salsa. $5.50

    i would definitely order the breakfast burrito again, ’cause i loved every last bite. it came with some chips and salsa as well, and i’m talking like a ton of chips. i just took a few out of the bag for the picture, but there were seriously like 80 million of them. the chips were nothing to write home about, just tortilla rounds from a store-bought bag. i didn’t bother with them at all, so the burrito got my full attention.

    tierra-cafe-breakfast-burrito-inside

    the burrito was huge and came stuffed with the most delicious insides. there were really thick juicy bits of tofu scramble, onions, tomatoes, tons of black beans, follow your heart cheese, and guacamole. there wasn’t a lot of seasoning in it, but it tasted so good covered in the fresh salsa and cilantro cream that came on the side. not only was the burrito massive and tasty, it was only $5.50! that’s such a good deal for this thing, considering it’s all high-quality vegan goodness.

    i also ordered a side of vegan bacon to round off the breakfast experience, and it was kind of meh. as you can see, it’s just the prepackaged vegan bacon you can find at the grocery store. definitely not worth $2.50…but hey, now i know.

    side of vegan bacon. $2.50

    side of vegan bacon. $2.50

    now for a bit of history on the place: it turns out that tierra cafe used to be owned by miranda, the chick who owns flore and flore cafe. that may explain why some of the food is kinda flore-esque and a lot of the menu items have the same names as ones at flore, like “the salad,” “the portabella panini,” and “the b.l.t.a”. now the place is owned and run by a cute and sweet older asian couple. while they don’t speak much english, they definitely know what the word “vegan” means, so be sure to specify.

    tierra cafe fills up at lunch time, but there’s plenty of seating. there’s basically no parking anywhere, so you are going to have to either walk quite a ways, or take the metro (there is a station conveniently located about 20 feet away). one tip people give on yelp, is to order your food in advance and then illegally park in the alley when you run in to grab it.

    tierra cafe in downtown los angeles

    tierra cafe in downtown los angeles

    so, if you ever find yourself in downtown during the week, definitely try out tierra cafe. the menu is huge and delicious. i just wish they were open on weekends!

    tierra cafe
    818 wilshire blvd. D
    los angeles, ca 90017

    213-629-1402

    open monday thru friday
    7am – 3:30pm

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  • February 9th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, taco spot

    born and raised right here in socal, i can say mexican food is one of my all-time favorite cuisines. it’s tough being a vegan, because so many mexican joints use lard in their beans and chicken-meat-juice in their rice. it’s really tough to know what’s safe to eat, and what has been rubbed around with animal parts…plus in many of these restaurants, the staff aren’t knowledgeable about vegetarianism, let alone veganism! that’s why i was so thrilled over the weekend to try out taco spot in eagle rock for the first time. i found that they serve up huge portions of cheap(ish) and delicious authentic-style mex…with several clearly marked veganizable items on the menu.

    taco spot’s menu has so many vegetarian options, all of which can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and/or sour cream. and i’m not just talking rice and beans here, they also have fun protein choices like grilled tofu and soyrizo. for some grubby mexican food on the east side, i think i’ve met my perfect match.

    we hit up taco spot over the weekend and were super impressed with the quality of the food, the authenticity, and the value. good shit all around. starting with the tofu tacos.

    tofu tacos (no cheese!): 3 soft tacos with marinated tofu, cilantro, onion and guacamole. served with rice and beans. $6.95

    tofu tacos (no cheese!): 3 soft tacos with marinated tofu, cilantro, onion and guacamole. served with rice and beans. $6.95

    the tofu tacos are entirely vegetarian, but they normally come with cheese (as do almost all the meat-free items on taco spot’s menu). it’s ok though, because when you leave off the cheese, these suckers are completely vegan. and i can tell you, they are so good, i don’t see why anyone would want to order these with dairy. the tofu was so succulent, and the cilantro and onions were ridiculously fresh. the guacamole was rich and creamy as well…not to mention the fluffy vegetable-filled rice and lard-free beans. so damn awesome. and taco spot doesn’t slack off on the tofu, either. they piled it on, and it was grilled perfectly…all high-quality delicious.

    taco-spot-taco-cu

    my husband ordered the vegetarian burrito and added tofu. that was also spectacular.

    vegetarian burrito (no cheese, plus tofu): black or refried beans, rice, guacamole, and lettuce. $8.75

    vegetarian burrito (no cheese, plus tofu): black or refried beans, rice, guacamole, and lettuce. $8.75

    my one gripe about this burrito, although it tasted damn good, was that to add tofu was an additional 2 bucks. the burrito started off at $6.95, but once we got rid of the cheese and added a bit of protein, it came in at just under nine dollars. i’m convinced that through some menu modification/order fuckery, we could get this same burrito at taco spot for under $7. does that make any sense? i think i ordered the wrong thing and the extra tofu charge was high, especially considering i left off the cheese. there has to be a way around that. ANYWAYS, the burrito was downright excellent. it tasted like scrappy gutbomb mexican food in a really good way, and it was all guaranteed vegan. i could totally eat at taco spot every day.

    taco-spot-vegetarian-burrito-inside

    i bet right now you are just thinking about how awesome the vegan entrees are at taco spot, and i haven’t even mentioned the best part! taco spot has a full-on slap-up salsa bar with everything from little radishes to carrots and chillies, to spicy pico de gallo and salsa negra. this bar has got it all and it’s FREE…and you can get as much as you want. dude, i would pay 4 bucks a head just to eat this salsa.

    epic salsa bar. i love you.

    epic salsa bar. i love you.

    as you can guess, we took advantage of the salsa bar at least 3 times. total spicy, vegetable gluttony. a decent salsa bar will always bring a restaurant up to the next level, and this shit was crazy good.

    fresh vegetables and awesome sauces from taco spot's salsa bar.

    fresh vegetables and awesome sauces from taco spot's salsa bar.

    so all you vegans and vegetarians out there, who like hanging out on the east side and are jealous because you’ve been watching your omni-hipster friends shoving carne asada burritos into their faces like there’s no tomorrow, have no fear! go eat at the taco spot! they have a billion vegetarian and vegan options, plus that greasy/homemade mexican food taste, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

    i suggest you start off the day with some beers in highland park at the york, then grab some spicy mex for dinner. with awesome options that won’t break the bank, and located in a some-what sketchy part of town, taco spot is enough to make us vegans feel like normal people. we deserve guilty mex meals as well, dammit!

    taco spot. do it.

    taco spot. do it.

    taco spot
    2006 colorado blvd.
    eagle rock, ca 90041
    323-256-7001

    open 7 days a week
    11am-9pm

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  • January 28th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, mama-z (closed)

    so recently a good friend of mine at work found out that i’m a vegan blogger. i have been doing a pretty good job of keeping it a under wraps for quite some time, but when someone around the office found out about my twitter account, which links to my blog, my secret identity was blown. anyways, this friend really wanted to go to lunch with me and eat some vegan food that would eventually get reviewed on this site, and insisted we go somewhere new that i’ve never been before. i remembered hearing about this place on vegan-la.com called mama-z, a recently opened 100% vegan restaurant inside the already vegan-friendly (and quarrygirl favorite) sante la brea. basically, mama-z is a restaurant inside another restaurant with a separate kitchen and a separate menu. i know, it sounds kind of confusing. well anyway, we decided to check it out.

    we headed off to sante la brea on our lunch break and a super-friendly waiter seated us and handed us the huge and appetizing sante menu. when i requested to eat off the mama-z menu, he hurried away into the kitchen and returned with 2 sheets of paper boasting several vegan thai food options and a few raw desserts. my heart kind of sank when i realized mama-z was a thai restaurant—there are already like 80 million vegan thai restaurants in this town! even though the sante menu looked much more appetizing, we decided to stick with plan a, suck it up, and order some vegan thai.

    for a starter, we ordered the chicken satay, but mama-z was out of soy chicken, so they kindly made it with soy pepper steak instead. the result was delicious…and surprisingly, unlike anything i’ve had at the other vegan thai joints in la. the skewers were covered in a yellowish creamy sauce that was really tasty and salty, and the meat didn’t have that annoying sweet flavor that ruins so many soy pepper steaks. my friend was equally impressed; maybe thai food wasn’t such a bad bet after all.

    pepper steak satay. served with peanut sauce and cucumber. $6

    pepper steak satay. served with peanut sauce and cucumber. $6

    after eating our appetizers, we waited for our entrees to arrive. we waited and waited and WAITED. our server kept checking on us, refilling our water and apologizing for the delay…but after about 45 minutes when our parking meter was about to expire, we decided there wasn’t enough time to finish our meal and make it back to the office at a reasonable hour, so we asked for our food to go. the waiter was very sorry and even took our drinks and appetizer off the bill. what a great gesture, not all restaurants try to make it up to you when they fuck up.

    although we had to grab our lunch in carry-out containers and eat it back at work, there is no denying that the food was incredible. after the long wait, i really wouldn’t mind giving this place a bad review…but the awesomeness of our meals transcended all the fuckery.

    burrito chapatti. with scrambled tofu, vegan cheese, and choice of plain, brown rice or yam. $9

    burrito chapatti. with scrambled tofu, vegan cheese, and choice of plain, brown rice or yam. $9

    i ordered the burrito chapatti with scrambled tofu and yams, something similar to the breakfasts that most other los angeles thai vegan places offer. what made this special though, is they were able to make me the tofu scramble without bell peppers, which i abhor. i’ve tried to get this from the vegan joint, truly vegan, and vegan express, but all those places have told me that their scramble is pre-mixed and they can’t prepare it without peppers, no matter what. mama-z, however, was happy to accommodate me and my pepper phobia. everything else about the wrap was a cut above other places as well. the tofu was much more light and airy, the vegan cheese was perfectly melty and the chapati was warm and soft. plus, the wrap didn’t even fall apart. super good stuff.

    mock duck curry. pineapple, tomato, bell pepper, soy meat, sweet basil leaf and coconut milk. $10

    mock duck curry. pineapple, tomato, bell pepper, soy meat, sweet basil leaf and coconut milk. $10

    my friend ordered the mock duck curry, and while i didn’t try any of it, it must have been good because she wouldn’t shut up about it. she eats a lot of normal duck curry, so for her to love this was a big deal. she kept going on about how fresh the ingredients tasted and about how light and non-oily it was. she even texted me at 10pm to tell me the leftovers were amazing. so take that as a ringing endorsement.

    so even though the food took forever at mama-z, it was totally worth it. i am usually pretty ambivalent about thai vegan food, but this shit was off the chain. about the long wait…maybe they were short staffed or something, or maybe taking the bell peppers out of my wrap was a 30 minute process…either way, i’m willing to give them another shot. plus, i’ve been to sante before and the wait wasn’t long at all; i can’t imagine cooking thai food would take that much longer.

    so next time you think about going to vegan house, or ca vegan, or vegan plate, or any of those other generic vegan thai places…hit up mama-z instead. just make sure to allow time for potentially slow service.

    oh, and here’s the mama-z menu for you to check out, since it’s not up on sante’s site.

    mama-z-menu-1 mama-z-menu2

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  • December 22nd, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, vegan village cafe

    you know how there are like 8 million vegan thai places in los angeles? well, i seriously wish i could swap them all out for vegan soul food joints. i seriously can’t get enough. i hit up one of la’s few vegan soul food restaurants over the weekend, vegan village cafe, and it was tasty as fuck. this place boasted totally authentic home-style cooking: juicy fake meats, creamy mac and cheese along with tender leafy greens and all the fixins’. yumMMMm.

    soul plate: your choice of fried fish or chicken with candied yams, greens and buttered corn.  $13.95

    soul plate: your choice of fried fish or chicken with candied yams, greens and buttered corn. $13.95

    lemme start off by telling you all about the food. when ordering, i was debating between the soul plate and the village sample plate, but decided to go with the soul because the village option came with fake shrimp. i dunno why, i just haven’t been able to bring myself to eat a fake shrimp…yet. i am freaked out by the fake little shrimp bodies, but for some reason don’t mind chowing down on faux chicken. sigh.

    anyways, everything on the soul plate ended up being delicious. the buttered corn was tasty and surprisingly light, and the greens were insanely yum. the candied yams were thick and really saucy. i’d never had candied yams, and these things were sweet and very cinnamony. i liked them, but they were a little too much like a dessert for me—they tasted exactly like pumpkin pie.

    the stand out thing on the plate though, had to be the soy chicken. this is the most meat-like vegan thing i’ve ever tasted, and it was really good. it had a weird crispy shell/skin wrapped around it, and the inside was extremely moist and tender. it didn’t taste like flesh, of course, but it really got dangerously close to the texture and experience of animal protein. whatever it was fried in was incredibly wonderful as well. salty and crunchy followed my chewy and soft. i don’t know how they do it. if only someone could come up with a fake cheese that was this convincing…

    my husband veered from the traditional soul food and ordered something from the mexican portion of the menu, a burrito.

    burrito: seasoned ground round, soy cheese, salsa, lettuce.  $8.95

    burrito: seasoned ground round, soy cheese, salsa, lettuce. $8.95

    the burrito turned out to be splendid, and totally held it’s own with all the other amazing shit on the table. filled up with well-seasoned soy ground meat and lots of vegetables, this plump little entree went down really well with half a bottle of hot sauce. score!

    of course, we couldn’t drive all the way to mid-city to check out a new soul food place without getting an order of mac and cheese. to me, mac and cheese is the bench mark by which all vegan soul food establishments should be judged. if done right, it’s always hands-down the best thing on the menu, and no two places cook it up quite the same. vegan village scored pretty high in the mac and cheese category. i gotta say, it’s some of the best i’ve ever tried.

    macaroni and cheese. $5.95

    macaroni and cheese. $5.95

    this mac reminded me a little of the mac over at a taste of life, but with more seasonings. it was rich and creamy just like the mac i’m used to, and had a slight krafty cheesey kind of taste. don’t leave without trying it.

    so it’s safe to say the food at vegan village totally rocks. go prepared though, it isn’t your normal restaurant. vegan village is located on the somewhat sketchy corner of pico and crenshaw, and fills a large windy space that’s a vegan restaurant by day and dance club by night. tables and chairs are scattered across a wooden dance floor, lit just barely by sunlight from one window as a disco ball hangs from the ceiling. the place is massive with a full bar, several rooms, and computer stations lined along the wall. it has its own large parking lot, so you needn’t worry about parking on the street.

    once you adjust to the somewhat odd interior and the fact you are dining in a nightclub, it’s actually quite lovely. the staff is beyond friendly—our waitress introduced herself and made pleasant conversation, as well as provided great service. when she wasn’t waiting on us, we could hear her chatting to regulars at the bar about veganism and the importance of not eating animals. it was all very reassuring.

    this place definitely has a bit of a doomie’s vibe: delicious vegan and unhealthy-tasting food with the kindest service imaginable…all in a disused nightclub.

    inside vegan village

    inside vegan village

    now, while the food was great and we had an amazing experience at vegan village, i must warn you…the prices are shockingly high. the online menu isn’t representative, because many of the prices have been raised. for instance, the soul plate was raised from $12.95 to $13.95. while i loved the soul plate, it just wasn’t a lot of food for $14. it was mostly corn and greens, with a pile of yams and 2 small skewers of soy chicken. i can’t help but think of places like pure luck (and even they have raised their prices!) where i can get a sandwich with a side and an appetizer for less money. i’d say the soul plate should have cost $9, max.

    the cost of the burrito was excessive at $8.95, considering it didn’t come with a side or anything, just a lonely wrap on a big plate.

    vegan-village-burrito

    and lastly, the mac and cheese was well pricey too. their online menu advertises a side of mac for $3.95, but that price has been raised to a whopping $5.95. damn! 6 bucks for a side of mac, when it was originally $4?!?! that’s a big increase. it was fucking good though, so i’m not saying i wouldn’t order it again.

    overall, even with the high prices, vegan village cafe was a great find. i know i will be back. let’s see…incredible authentic-tasting soul food, delicious and creamy macaroni and cheese, friendly service, a full bar with tap beer, and a parking lot. definitely my kind of place.

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  • December 8th, 2008quarrygirlinterim cafe, LA restaurants

    the interim cafe on wilshire in santa monica is a gem for the vegan community, and it doesn’t get nearly enough attention. we all know about the awesome and star-studded (recently shut down for a cockroach infestation) newsroom cafe, a trendy joint on robertson boasting a vegan-friendly menu and high-class clientele. well, the interim cafe has the same calibre food as the newsroom (by that i mean, the menu was created the same chef), and even more cruelty-free options than its vegan-friendly cousin.

    check out the menu here:

    the interim cafe offers a huge menu, and sooo much of it is vegan. they have plenty of meat, don’t get me wrong, but they also have huge sections dedicated to only animal-free items. they even offer a slew of vegan baked goods and even vegan soft serve frozen yogurt. if i lived in santa monica, i would be eating here constantly. there is so much to choose from, it’s kind of overwhelming.

    my husband and i ate at the interim cafe over the weekend and were both overall pleased with the selection, service, and quality food. out of the 5 vegan burgers to choose from, my husband went with the nyc veggie b.

    nyc veggie b: smothered in burgundian woodsy mushroom sauce. with a side organic salad. $9

    nyc veggie b: smothered in burgundian woodsy mushroom sauce. with a side organic salad. $9

    i had a bite, and the burger was pretty tasty. i wouldn’t say it’s one of the best vegan burgers in los angeles, or anything like that…but it was simple, pleasant, and healthy-tasting. the mushrooms definitely added some deliciousness, and it was a pretty good deal at nine bucks with a side salad.

    i decided on the tofu breakfast burrito with vegan sausage, and it was excellent.

    tofu breakfast burrito with vegan sausage: spicy salsa tofu, vegan cheese and vegan sausage. $8

    tofu breakfast burrito with vegan sausage: spicy salsa tofu, vegan cheese and vegan sausage. $8

    if you hit up the interim cafe, i highly suggest you do it before noon so you can order a dish with organic hemp tofu. the way they cook and season the tofu is absolutely incredible. their breakfast burrito is off the chain and the vegan sausage is some of the best i’ve ever had. my only qualm with this dish is that it’s pretty small for $8, and i think they forgot my side. i didn’t realize until long after i’d eaten that the menu says it comes with your choice of breakfast potatoes, sliced tomatoes or a fresh fruit cup. the breakfast potatoes would have gone down really well with this burrito. either way, i am looking forward to going back and eating up more stuff from the breakfast menu.

    lastly, i couldn’t leave the interim cafe without trying one of the many tempting vegan desserts. it was a tough choice between a chocolate chip cookie and some frozen yogurt, but i ended up going with the soft serve as its such a rarity. deeeeeeeelicious.

    chocolate vegan soft serve frozen yogurt. $2.50

    chocolate vegan soft serve frozen yogurt. $2.50

    the fro yo at the interim cafe was fucking great. it was so delicious and tasted really smooth and healthy at the same time. it didn’t taste like ice cream, it wasn’t creamy like the soft serve at hugo’s tacos. this stuff was more dense and flavorful, and the texture reminded me of the frozen yogurt i used to get as a kid at penguins. the serving was small, but fairly priced at just $2.50. it was the perfect size, considering i was stuffed with so many other things the vegan-friendly menu had to offer. even on a cold day, this soft serve was by far the highlight of my meal.

    so if you haven’t eaten at interim cafe already, get your ass over there as soon as possible. the food is great, the prices are reasonable and the selection is unreal. plus, they’ve had a make-over and now have tons of comfy seating. i really love this place and will be hitting it up again very soon. i can never ever ever get enough vegan soft serve.

    interim cafe
    530 Wilshire Blvd
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    (310) 319-9100

    hours:
    monday – friday 8am to 8pm
    saturday and sunday 9am to 3pm

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  • October 29th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, pure luck (closed)

    not long ago, i was blogging away and bitching about things that had been taken off the menu at my all-time favorite restaurant, pure luck (namely the curry fries). a couple days later, a dude who i assume was the owner, ben, was kind enough to leave a comment on my post detailing why certain items had been deleted from the menu, and describing some of the tasty new additions that they had made way for.

    of course, i took it upon myself to get over to pure luck several times over the past few weeks and try all of the new dishes they had to offer so i could report back to you all. the additions ranged from awesome, to meh, to sucky…and i’m bringing you pix and descriptions for each one. overall, i think it’s great that pure luck expanded their menu, and i highly urge you to head over and get some of the new shit.

    first, check out ben’s original comments to set it all up.

    on why he abolished things like my beloved curry fries:

    The short answer is that the kitchen at Pure Luck is probably smaller than your bathroom. Really tiny. We had a bunch of new stuff we wanted to put on the menu, so we had to remove a few things.

    on the new menu deets, stuff that’s gone, and stuff that’s gone that they can still make:

    New stuff:
    1. Fire Grilled Beet Salad. My new favorite.
    2. Quinoa Paloma. I won’t bother trying to describe this one, because when I do, it sounds like diet food. It is super healthy, but more importantly, it’s tasty. Ask for a sample.
    3. Vegan Fish tacos and burritos.

    R.I.P.:
    1. All pasta and gnocchi dishes.*
    2. Curry fries.

    Note that we still have gnocchi on the menu in the form of “Potato Pals” (fried gnocchi) and we still have fresh pesto for the Tofu Pesto Sandwich, so we can still do the pesto gnocchi from the old menu.

    thanks, ben. all very good to know. we here at quarrygirl sincerely appreciate your comments, and i’m sure i speak for the readers as well.

    obviously ben had some good reasons for changing up pure luck’s offerings and left some mouth-watering descriptions of what the new menu has to offer. i was immediately compelled to chow down every new dish and bring it back home to you guys. here’s what i found:

    baja taco combo: 2 of our delicious veggie "fish" tacos with your choice of side. $10

    baja taco combo: 2 of our delicious veggie "fish" tacos with your choice of side. $10

    first up, whoa whoa whoa whoa WHOA, the baja taco combo is off the bloody hook. whatever pure luck has done to re-invent fish is the same thing they did to re-invent carnitas. jackfruit has got nothin’ on this battered-tofu-fish substitute. wowie. unfortunately, i imagine it’s a harder sell “fish” than “carnitas” or “pulled pork”, though. for some reason, vegans and omnivores alike seem repelled at the idea of fake fish, myself included! to this day, i’ve never had a soy shrimp because the thought of it scares the fuck out of me. i was even reticent to order these succulent tacos, but i did it for you guys so i could write about it. lemme tell ya, it was best gustatory decision i ever made. i wonder what else i have been missing out on by being afraid of faux-fish and other meat impersonators. these tacos were INSANE. some maddening tofuey concoction was lightly breaded and fried into the perfect crunchy but juicy protein source, oozing with flavor and complete scrumptiousness. nothing was “too fishy tasting” and nothing was gross about it. plus, there was this crazy-good creamy white sauce, i guess it was a tartar-inspired condiment (though i don’t remember what the “real thing” tastes like). all i know is this goes great with crunchy tofu, hot sauce, and fresh vegetables. vegan perfection! i think this is the most genius dish pure luck has ever come up with…BETTER THAN CARNITAS…and man i love me some jackfruit. i even gave a bite to my husband who abhors any fake fish, almost as much as the real thing, and he was offering to finish my tacos for me two minutes later.

    the rating for the baja tacos is AWESOME RADICAL beyond belief. order them, and under all plausible vegan circumstances, you will not be sorry.

    ben, dude, you should have talked this dish up more in your comment, or provided a description. it is legendary! i still know people who are too freaked out to order fake fish, and if any of you are reading this, shut the fuck up and try these tacos!!!!!!!!!!!!

    second on deck, a much-needed new addition to the salad family at pure luck, the quinoa paloma. what self-respecting vegan doesn’t bust a nut over quinoa, right? it’s healthy, it’s full of protein, it tastes great and it has less calories than rice or noodles. quinoa rocks. this salad had potential written all over it, and it….um…kind of delivered. it was OK. ben described it as “super healthy, and more importantly, tasty.” i’d describe it as “healthy, and more importantly, more expensive” than the old favorite salads. this salad wasn’t bad…it just wasn’t great. i was really missing some of that protein that pure luck is famous for. some of the incredible grilled tofu from the fresh noodle salad (i still can’t figure out how they do it!) or some of the notorious jackfruit from the spinach salad. the quinoa paloma had none of this. PLUS, it cost 2 bux more than the other salads. hmmm. it was definitely good, just missing that UMPH. oh, and it came with unadvertised almonds (such is the consistency of pure luck), that i only assume added more calories, fat, and un-healthiness to the salad than i expected. see for yourself. again, not a bad salad. just not as good as the other offerings.

    overall rating: meh meh meh meh meh, probably really neato if you like quinoa and cilantro. nice dressing.

    quinoa paloma: quinoa, steamed with a savory mushroom and onion mix, and topped with a tart and refreshing red cabbage dressing. $10

    quinoa paloma: quinoa, steamed with a savory mushroom and onion mix, and topped with a tart and refreshing red cabbage dressing. $10

    next up, the salad i had been anticipating, ben’s new favorite, turned out to be quite a disappointment. the grilled beet salad…well…i’m hoping i got it on a bad day. i feel it just isn’t right to utter a bad word about pure luck, especially since they are the OMG BEST restaurant of all time, but ben’s new favorite was totally icky when it arrived on my table. the fire-grilled beets tasted like beety wood chips. i don’t know if they were cooked or burned, or what. they were thick, hard and chunky. i had to chew through them steadily before they were swallow-able. eventually i gave up and left about half of them in what looked like a blood-soaked bowl. to pure luck’s…er…defense?…the chefs are chronically inconsistent. i mean, i’ve gotten the fresh noodle salad with no noodles, the soup has been cold, the potato pals have arrived with the wrong sauce, etc. i am hoping that on this one occasion, the beet salad tasted like total ass because someone screwed it up upstream. it may be ben’s new favorite, but the one i got was pure uck. go eat it for yourself though…chances are, i coulda easily had it on an off night. with so many other fantastic things on the menu, though…i don’t see the point, myself, in ordering it again.

    i give it a sucky rating from my one experience. hopefully i’m wrong.

    grilled beet salad: fire grilled beets and onions over a bed of fresh spinach, topped with our homemade orange-beet dressing, and toasted almonds. $10

    grilled beet salad: fire grilled beets and onions over a bed of fresh spinach, topped with our homemade orange-beet dressing, and toasted almonds. $10

    lastly, i bring you the burrito of all burritos: the baja! this meal, like the baja tacos is too fucking great to describe. better than all the other pure luck burritos combined, this takes the amazing tofu “fish” and throws it in with a tad of spanish rice, hot salsa, decadent creamy sauce and thick vegetables. most restaurant burritos are just way too massive and intimidating, but this one was the perfect size and full of pure awesome shit. i got it with the side salad, but i’m sure some sweet potato fries would make a great partner as well.

    baja burrito: our veggie "fish" wrapped in a flour tortilla with rice, cabbage and salsa. served with your choice of side. $10

    baja burrito: our veggie "fish" wrapped in a flour tortilla with rice, cabbage and salsa. served with your choice of side. $10

    a little heartier than the tacos, this burrito makes for the perfect meal when you are feeling extra hungry. i love how pure luck double grills the tortillas of their burritos making them easy to hold and a little crispy around the edges. again, all you people who are intimidated by fake fish, put your fears aside and EAT THIS. it is soooooOOOOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOo good.

    overall rating on the baja burrito is off the fucking hook scrumptious. i am making myself hungry as i type.

    of course, pure luck still has the same impressive draught beer selection. however, they now offer 18oz servings of premium brews for just 5 bucks. their variety of craftsman, stone, and other selections at such a low price is unmatched in los angeles. most self-respecting bars will charge $6-$7 for beers this big and this good.

    in other news, pure luck now has a back patio with some cute and comfy looking furniture. i’ve not sat out there since they re-did it, but the outdoor area is usually bustling and appears to be quite pleasant. as the weather cools down, it becomes a more and more appealing place to sit. well done, pure luck!

    overall, the new menu at pure luck is a very welcome change. i will always miss the curry fries, such is the luck with subjectiveness. maybe they weren’t selling or something. and i support the new menu items, although they are across the board $10, 2 bucks more than comparable older items (don’t think we didn’t fucking notice THAT, pure luck!!!!). the menu changes are overall super cool, and while i don’t really love the new salads, it is nice to see more healthy crap on a menu overflowing with fried appetizers and massive sandwiches. i never thought i’d say this, but the fake fish makes it all worthwhile. a completely new taste, i can’t really describe it or urge you enough to check it out.

    go go go go go 2 pure luck!

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  • October 7th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, native foods

    native foods in westwood has been one of my regular haunts since becoming a vegan. i mean why not? they’ve got great food and have used to have a huge menu with reasonable prices. that’s right, it’s all changed. imagine how bummed i was to walk up to the native foods counter over the weekend only to find the enormous novel of a menu replaced with a one page paper hand-out. it was tiny! and there wasn’t even enough food to carry on to the back side of the menu, so it was just covered with creeds and missions about saving the earth. really? a disposable paper menu, that you are handing to each customer who is dining in, just because you haven’t had time to get the real menus printed. that’s not saving the environment, now is it, tanya?

    so let’s get to the food. upon opening the menu, my heart sank because most of my favorite items had gone. latino lover pizza, malibu veggie burger, farrah’s fatoush…all history. drats. so i went with something that sounded exciting, the portobello & sausage burger.

    portobello & sausage burger: big grilled beauties with seitan sausage, pommodoro, caramelized onions, vegan mayo, pesto and sweet roasted garlic. $10.35

    portobello & sausage burger: big grilled beauties with seitan sausage, pommodoro, caramelized onions, vegan mayo, pesto and sweet roasted garlic. $10.35

    while the portobello & sausage burger is by no means a new item, it did used to cost only $9.50, and now it’s $10.35. don’t think i didn’t notice, native foods! while this burger was pretty tasty, it had waaaaaay too much oil. a more appropriate name would the grease & grease burger. seriously, the drippy pesto, globby cheese, and runny olive oil totally overpowered any protein. in fact, the burger got so covered in grease that the bun fell apart and i had to eat it with a fork. ick. a little too slippery for me.

    grease and oil on top of fat

    grease and oil on top of fat

    also, i just wanna add that the sausage patty tasted EXACTLY like a celebration roast. it even had the same little ridges on the side.

    not a bad thing, just makes me wonder if native foods has started buying in bulk.

    while navigating the new menu was a little bit intimidating for me, it was especially daunting for my husband, because he’d never ordered anything at native foods EXCEPT the malibu veggie burger. he decided to go with the new burger option that looked kind of similar. unfortunately, it wasn’t.

    veggie-mighty-vita burger: 100% angus friendly veggie patty, lettuce, carrots, sprouts, beets, onions, pickles, and 1000 island. $8.75

    veggie-mighty-vita burger: 100% angus friendly veggie patty, lettuce, carrots, sprouts, beets, onions, pickles, and 1000 island. $8.75

    the veggie-mighty-vita burger isn’t much to write home about, especially since it comes in at a buck more than the malibu veggie burger. the patty is smaller and thinner, and doesn’t have the same combination of grains and quinoa that made the malibu so luscious. the vita is kind of limp and bland. don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t BAD, and it did come stacked with a ton of lovely vegetables, as you can see…it just wasn’t great, either. ooh ooh ooh!–and another thing to note: all burgers used to come with a side of coleslaw, rice or black beans. now the default side is 8 pieces of slightly brown edamame that taste fresh out the microwave. hmmmm.

    one cool thing though, as the kind lady at the counter pointed out, is if the new menu is missing one of your old favorites, they can probably still make it for you with the ingredients that are still around…for now. oh really? let’s just see about that. i decided to return to native foods and give this offer a shot with the poltz burrito, a wildly popular item from the previous menu.

    poltz burrito: black beans, brown rice, original seitan, flamed banana salsa in a whole wheat tortilla, topped with salsa fresca, chips and guacamole. $8.95

    poltz burrito: black beans, brown rice, original seitan, flamed banana salsa in a whole wheat tortilla, topped with salsa fresca, chips and guacamole. $8.95

    i guess this emasculated version of a poltz burrito counts as making something off the old menu. but seriously, who would want this? i mean, does that look “topped with salsa fresca, chips and guacamole” to you? no! and the inside of it was even more depressing.

    pitiful

    pitiful

    this burrito used to be massive, overflowing with guacamole, beans and colorful salsas. why did they have to go and ruin a good thing?

    oh well, i’m sure i will keep going back to native foods anyways. after all, they do still have the awesome greek gyro on the menu, although it costs more now as well. it’s always a bit sad when menus shrink or prices rise…and it’s especially sad when these two things happen at once.

    R.I.P. all my old favorite dishes from native foods.

    here is the new menu for you to check out.

    and here is the old menu, if you wanna reminisce.

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  • October 2nd, 2008quarrygirlflorida, more restaurants (not LA)

    i’m usually not a huge fan of raw food. i mean, i’d like to be—i understand how healthy, sustainable and wonderful it is…but it’s usually so expensive and something about it doesn’t taste quite right. juliano’s and leaf are great every once in awhile, but in my book they are just no substitute for “normal” food. that being said, i was a little skeptical before trying lifefood gourmet in miami, an all raw restaurant that on their website describes their meals as “culinary masterpieces.” but after eating there, i can tell you their description is an understatement. this was without a doubt some of the best food i’ve ever had, raw or otherwise, and i would eat it every day if i had the chance.

    lifefood sampler: an assembly of crazy nachos with garlic bread and nori sheets topped with various pates. $12

    lifefood sampler: an assembly of crazy nachos with garlic bread and nori sheets topped with various pates. $12

    we started our meal off with the lifefood sampler and it was freakin’ incredible! i don’t even know which bit of it was my favorite because it was all sooooo good. the crazy nachos were insane, so much better than the attempt at “chips,” usually made of flaxseed, that i’ve had at other raw restaurants. these tasted just like really tasty nachos. they were topped with salsa, guacamole and fake meat, pine nut cheese and brazil sour cream. perfection.

    the nori were great as well, topped with a delicious cheese-flavored pate. they were crispy, light and devoured in about 2 seconds.

    the sampler platter also came with 3 scrumptious little cucumber rolls that were filled with a creamy substance that reminded me of pesto. topped with fresh vegetables and a tasty sauce, these bite-sized rolls were both pretty to look at and delish.

    as entrees, we decided to go with the life gourmet burger and the lifefood burrito. lemme tell ya, these raw dishes give their cooked counterparts a run for their money…and they are phenomenally healthy!

    lifefood burrito: superfood life tortilla, mild spiced brazil nutmeat, pinenut "cheddar," guacamole, marinated portobello, lettuce and tomato. $10

    lifefood burrito: superfood life tortilla, mild spiced brazil nutmeat, pinenut "cheddar," guacamole, marinated portobello, lettuce and tomato. $10

    i was hesitant to order this burrito at first, because almost always raw “tortillas” are pretty pitiful. i was scared this may show up wrapped in lettuce or something. instead, it came in a delicious wrap with a slight sundried tomato flavor and a chewy texture. i was very pleased. the burrito’s innards were equally impressive—the “nutmeat” (haha) tasted like soyrizo, perfectly spiced with a juicy and substantial texture. the pinenut cheddar and guacamole were packed with flavor as well and added a rich taste to the light vegetables and spicy meat. the succulent mushroom was well-marinated—i love that this burrito came with a portobello AND fake meat. i felt totally spoiled.

    not to be outdone by the fab burrito, the life gourmet burger was even better.

    life gourmet burger: sprouted quinoa and flax dehydrated buns, walnut pumpkin seed, brazil nut, onion, celery, flax oil patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard. $12

    life gourmet burger: sprouted quinoa and flax dehydrated buns, walnut pumpkin seed, brazil nut, onion, celery, flax oil patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard. $12

    i can’t believe this thing was raw! how the hell do they make a bun that tastes so good without cooking it? magical! the bun was thick and spongey, soft and not dry. serious yum. the patty was even better and can only be described as luscious. one of the best vegan burgers out there happens to be raw. who’d have thought?

    both dishes showed up with a top-notch salad as well—fresh leafy greens slathered in a creamy pesto-flavored dressing. i absolutely loved it.

    overall, i really can’t speak highly enough of lifefood gourmet. it’s vegan, it’s raw, it’s amazingly healthy, and everything tastes delicious. plus, did you see those pictures? everything shows up at the table so beautifully presented. it’s all almost too pretty to eat. A+ all the way around. the menu is huge as well, i’m pretty disappointed my trip to miami wasn’t long enough to eat at lifefood gourmet several more times! fortunately, they have a recipe ebook online, so i am definitely gonna download it and try to learn some of their secrets.

    watch out though, the restaurant is a little hard to find because it’s located on top of another great vegan restaurant.

    there’s no sign or anything, so just make sure to go in this door and climb the stairs to find your raw vegany heaven.

    so i don’t know what you are waiting for. if you are in miami, go eat at lifefood gourmet asap…and if you are anywhere else, check out their recipes online. best raw food ever. 

    stay tuned…one more miami restaurant, then we are back to los angeles!

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