• May 18th, 2009quarrygirlchango, LA restaurants

    in the mood for a huge, hearty, warm, melty, fake-meaty vegan sandwich for under $10? look no further than chango coffee house in echo park. the hipster cofee shop/art gallery is located at echo park avenue and delta street, a spot that locals have dubbed “chicken corner,” and has recently added two unbelievably tasty vegan sandwiches to their menu. i had the chance to try both over the weekend, steak & cheese as well as chicken pesto, and each one brought a kind of sandwich satisfaction that isn’t available anywhere else in town.

    vegan steak and cheese sandwich. $7.50

    vegan steak and cheese sandwich. $7.50

    the vegan steak and cheese sandwich is basically a vegan version of your typical “philly cheesesteak,” with thick soy steak strips and dairy-free mozzarella, along with sauteed onions and mushrooms. chango toasted the sandwich when i ordered it, so the bread was warm and crispy and the soy cheese was perfectly melty. for the steak chango uses gardein, and for the cheese they use teese from chicago soy dairy…each being the best replacement out there for its animal-product counterpart. i can tell you, this steak and cheese sandwich was so amazing, even a meat-eater would fall in love with it. not since doomie’s or the vegan spot (both are closed down now) have i had such a great vegan sandwich.

    vegan chicken pesto salad panini. $7.50

    vegan chicken pesto salad panini. $7.50

    the vegan chicken pesto sandwich was equally impressive, with thick chunks of gardein protein, creamy cheese-less pesto sauce, fresh basil, crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes. the pesto was really garlicky, just the way i like it, and the bread heated up to be perfectly toasty and crunchy. where else can you buy a big chunky chicken pesto sandwich that’s vegan in los angeles?!? …that’s right. nowhere.

    the thing i love about chango’s new sandwiches, are they are unlike the normal “vegan” sandwich options you can get just about anywhere. rather than just some grilled vegetables and maybe tofu on a bread roll, chango take its vegan sandwiches to the next level with fake meats, soy cheeses, and incredible homemade pesto sauce. plus, they are really well prepared, perfectly assembled with just the right amount of ingredients, and toasted to absolute perfection. you aren’t gonna get any other sandwich this good for well under 10 dollars, i guarantee you.


    the atmosphere is also great at chango, it reminds me of a hip seattle coffee shop with its bohemian customers, shelves full of books to peruse, and bright art adorning the wall. seriously, it’s the perfect place to sit back and relax with a cup of caffeine and a huge vegan sandwich. get your ass over to chango asap and see what this food is all about. the vegan items are listed right now on the “specials” chalkboard to the left of the counter, not on the main board.


    chango coffee house
    1559 Echo Park Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90026

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  • March 27th, 2009quarrygirlastro burger, LA restaurants

    for vegans in hollywood who are looking for some quick, cheap and decent fast food…astro burger is your place. located on the corner of melrose and gower, the legendary burger joint has been around since the 70’s and has a really impressive vegetarian menu, with vegan items clearly marked.

    i hit up astro burger for the first time with one of my vegan homies, and we both left stuffed and feelin’ happy. most of the vegan items at astroburger are provided by gardenburger; they offer several of their products including the chik’n grill, bbq riblets, flame grilled burger and more. while the food is mass-produced store-bought stuff and isn’t exceptional, it’s really well-prepared at astro burger and pretty inexpensive. (everything costs around 5 bucks)

    chik'n grill vegan sandwich with no bbq sauce, + mushrooms, + onions, + avocado

    chik'n grill vegan sandwich with no bbq sauce, + mushrooms, + onions, + avocado

    my friend ordered the chik’n grill sandwich and (being the astroburger pro that she is) got it modified with from average to delicious by adding extra toppings. she shared some with me and i was wishing i had ordered this for myself as well. the chik’n grill normally comes with lettuce, tomato and bbq sauce…but she got it without the sauce, plus grilled onions, mushrooms and avocado. absolutely wonderful. the chik’n patty was really thick and juicy, the onions and mushrooms added tons of flavor, and the avocado provided a cool and creamy texture that complimented the cooked vegetables perfectly. it may have been falling apart, but it was one of the better vegan fast food sandwiches in los angeles, for sure. it would have been much more boring with just lettuce and tomatoes on it.

    flame grilled vegan gardenburger

    flame grilled vegan gardenburger

    i ordered the vegan flame grilled burger which came with lettuce and tomatoes, and tasted like a standard store-bought gardenburger. not much to really describe about this one, it was lightly grilled and didn’t have much flavor…next time i am totally gonna add some onions and mushrooms.

    vegan chili fries

    vegan chili fries

    we also split an order of vegan chilli fries, which were excellent. i was expecting the chilli to contain fake meat and probably be out of a can, but instead it was just beans with a really thick sauce, sliced round carrots, and huge chunks of chillies. the crispy fries were absolutely covered with it, and it was all topped off with a load of fresh chopped onions. i really, really dug the chilli fries and would definitely order them again. between the two of us, not a single fry or bean was left behind.


    so there you have it, astro burger is definitely a place to grab some vegan fast food if you are hungry in the hollywood area. they have a parking lot and a drive thru, which is super convenient but they are cash only, which is not so convenient. they also have an atm inside the restaurant if you don’t mind paying a buck fifty surcharge in order to buy a burger.

    oh and don’t get this astro burger on melrose and gower confused with the one in weho on santa monica blvd. i think they are owned by the same people, but the vegan menu at the melrose/gower location is much more extensive. and yes, the vegan items are cooked on a separate grill with separate utensils, it even says so on their website. enjoy!


    astro burger
    5601 Melrose Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90038
    (323) 469-1924

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  • February 13th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, mama-z (closed), sante la brea

    sante la brea, one of our favorite vegan-friendly spots in town, has recently undergone a complete make-over. not only has it added a brand spankin new vegan thai menu in addition to its own, but it has brought on a new chef, george tigre, who has come up with even more vegan options to impress the los angeles herbivore community. my friend and i hit up sante today for lunch and we seriously felt like guests in tigre’s own personal dining room. the food alone is enough to make me want to return to sante, but the level of service and the all-around experience makes me want to go back asap!

    first off, the straight up food we ordered was absolutely incredible. i chose from the traditional sante menu, while my friend opted for some thai food from the vegan mama-z menu.

    vegan mushu: unchicken, mushroom, cabbage and carrots in flatbread. $8

    vegan mushu: unchicken, mushroom, cabbage and carrots in flatbread. $7

    my meal of vegan mushu was perfect. soy chicken bits well marinated and chopped with the finest of vegetables, all rolled tightly into fresh flat bread and garnished with an excellent salad. i highly recommend it.

    on a vegan thai note, my friend ordered the papaya salad and chicken satay.

    chicken satay: served with peanut sauce and cucumber. $6

    chicken satay: served with peanut sauce and cucumber. $6

    papaya: green papaya, carrot, green beans, tomato, lime juice, chili and peanut. $8

    papaya: green papaya, carrot, green beans, tomato, lime juice, chili and peanut. $8

    i tried a taste of the papaya salad and it was in-fucking-sane. my pal is a huge connoisseur of vegan thai food, and she said that this was by far some of the best.

    it appears that sante truly has become two great restaurants under one roof. you’ve got the incredible healthy sante fare, almost all of which can be veganized…as well as a whole vegan thai menu, that trumps most other vegan thai places in town. but wait, i haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.

    the new chef tigre came over to our table, and during our chat he learned that we had missed out on the vegan-friendly “preview nights” that sante has been holding to promote its new menu. he then insisted on bringing us some complimentary samples, after all, that is the same kind of treatment we would have received on a preview night, had we actually attended. so there we were, two vegans faced with tons of free awesome food. even though it was more than we could handle, it was all so delicious that we couldn’t say no.

    tigre started off the samples with an amazing bowl filled with pate and chips for dipping. consisting of roasted pumpkin seeds, walnuts and mushrooms, this was a total delicacy.


    following the pate, the chef stocked our table with some premium sushi. organic brown rice, avocado and red bell peppers are what these little rolls were all about.


    if you know anything about me and what i eat, you probably know i bloody detest bell peppers. seriously, the hatred for them is so intense, i took one look at these rolls and nearly bolted. however, i decided for the sake of adventure to pick around the bell peppers and try the roll anyways. even though i left some sliced b-pepps discarded on the plate and the chef probably thought i was being completely rude, i actually quite enjoyed this sushi. the brown rice was a bit odd and “healthy” tasting, but the dish overall was very delicious and satisfying.

    but it wasn’t just food that chef tigre showered us with. he also provided us with a sante green drink. an awesome elixir that intersected at taste and health. so fucking refreshing!

    sante green aid: alkaline water, agave nectar, lime juice & chlorophyll

    sante green aid: alkaline water, agave nectar, lime juice & chlorophyll

    this juice was completely addictive and tasted just like gorilla life. i give it two thumbs way up, and couldn’t believe when the chef himself kept returning to our table to refill it. talk about service, i’ve never seen anything like it.

    lastly, as we were on our way out, chef tigre ran to the table and offered us some dessert options. i was already in a hurry to get back to the office, but we just couldn’t decline, so he brought us two very special parfaits.

    blueberry banana cheese cake parfait and almond peanut butter cookie crumble parfait

    blueberry banana cheese cake parfait and almond peanut butter cookie crumble parfait

    these parfaits were CRAZY AWESOME WOWOWOWOW SUPERB. although we were too full to finish them, i can tell you each one was spectacular; i really suggest you try them both. my favorite was the almond peanut butter cookie crumble one, though. tons of either chocolate or carob with creamy insides and crunchy layers combined; i’ve never had anything quite like it. next time you go to sante, be sure to request the tigre desserts; they will blow your freakin’ sox off.

    parfait perfection from sante.

    parfait perfection from sante.

    overall, i gotta say that sante la brea was a home run. my friend and i got amazing food off of two totally separate menus, plus a very generous sampling of food from the new and talented sante chef tigre. VEGANS: hit up this place as soon as possible. order the pate, the sushi, the desserts and ANY of the easily veganized items on the huge menu. you won’t be sorry. and just drop the fact that you are vegan looking for some good food; i promise you will be treated like royalty.

    oh, and be sure to add sante la brea on facebook. that way you can be updated on all the deals and kick ass events this place has to offer. sooner of later, i’m sure i’ll see you there!

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  • July 9th, 2008mr meanersalads

    Back in 1983 I was fortunate enough to play chess with Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players of all time. Actually, about 60 school-age kids and I played him simultaneously in a large hall as he walked systematically from table to table making move after move. Each of us had a while to plot our next move before Kasparov arrived at our table, yet he still beat every one of us, including me when I was mated after only 11 moves.

    What stands out most about that experience, though, is not the humiliating (but expected) defeat rather his intriguing lunch salad of curry-covered chicken on a bed of spinach that he seemed to very much enjoy, despite the fact it came out of a polystyrene container.

    This food item haunted me for years, as I was almost a vegetarian by then, and as a vegan now I longed to create the same dish that the soon-to-be World Champion (he was crowned in 1985) so nonchalantly downed while taking me, and 59 of my friends, down some 25 years ago.

    Kasparov Salad – Curried Vegan Mayo with spicy “chicken”, tomatoes and mushrooms.
    Read the rest of this entry »

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