vegans in los angeles: have you been to stuff i eat yet? if the answer is no, you are really missing out!
stuff i eat is one of our favorite places to eat in town by far (after all, we did name it one of the top 5 vegan restaurants in LA)…and every time we go there it’s better than the last. we hit up the small inglewood eatery this weekend with an out of town friend, and everything was beyond delicious.Tags: burrito, inglewood
September 27th, 2009LA restaurants, madeleine bistro, products, pure luck (closed), shojin, stuff i eat, vinh loi tofu
Following three years of eating out on LA’s vegan restaurant scene we thought it would be good to come up with a “top list” of the establishments we, and the commenters on this esteemed blog, thought were really good. Check out the end for honorable mentions, restaurants that didn’t quite make the list. Want to bump a mention off the list, or add your own? Please comment. Don’t be shy. We had to start somewhere.
Advice when visiting Madeline Bistro: Sit facing away from the window and forget that you walked past the exotic lingerie store a few doors down, after an excruciatingly long drive from pretty much wherever you live. If you can suspend the belief of where you are and how you got there for long enough, you’ll enjoy some of the most incredible vegan food on the West Coast, and probably in the world.
Chef Dave Anderson has spared no expense or time in thinking through and preparing the most minute details of every menu item. From a doughnut that is so light and fluffy it practically levitates, to a veganized carbon-copy emulation of a Big Mag (which I’m told by omnivores tastes way, way better than the real thing), through magical soufflés and German Mac ‘n’ Cheese (complete with Bacon bits!) you are certain to delight in the experience of fine vegan dining with a menu as inventive as it is familiar. Every dish at Madeleine’s has that “HOW DO THEY DO THIS?” question mark hanging over it. Dave Anderson is a culinary genius, and we should all be glad he decided to practice his art on us vegans.
Situated on a quiet street a block from busy Manchester Blvd. on the edge of Inglewood is an absolute gem of a vegan restaurant: Stuff I Eat. With an eclectic menu of options spanning the gamut from soul food through Mexican-inspired and down to earth, honest to goodness, American-style favorites, Stuff I Eat excels in every category. The staff are all so helpful, polite and caring that one feels grateful to be in ‘their’ restaurant. The portions are HUGE, and the quality of every food item, from the way it looks to the way it tastes cannot be overstated.
Feeling hungry? The $18 “Organic Soul Food Platter” will fill you up, as well as one or two of your guests. The burritos are to die for (how many burritos have fresh, steamed broccoli topping them?). Any place that has a menu item called “Sumthin-Sumthin”, makes its own dressings from scratch every day and serves a $5 taco with so much filling that they throw in an extra tortilla so you can “make two out of one” clearly has an appreciation of food. If you have the same (or even if you don’t), Stuff I Eat will be some of the best Stuff you will EVER Eat.
Kevin Tran, the chef/owner/cashier of Vinh Loi Tofu is probably the King of Los Angeles vegan cuisine. Sitting on his throne behind the counter at Vinh Loi Tofu, he rules his mini-kingdom of obedient, smiling tofu-preparing workers who create some of the most stunning vegan food in town. In his modest Reseda restaurant (about the size of a donut shop!) he manages to squeeze in not only a tofu factory but also a kitchen that prepares no less than 126 vegan specialty menu items, along with several “new inventions” that Kevin has cooked up to try out on us unsuspecting, but very lucky, vegans.
With so many menu items it’s really hard to choose favorites (and, to be fair, I try to mix up what I order, but in a lifetime one can only scratch the surface of Kevin’s creativity). Signature dishes we see people ordering time and time again include the Banh Mi subs (of which there are 13 varieties) ranging between $4.50 and and extortionate $6! Kevin’s tofu and fake meats blend perfectly with fresh vegetables in his soups, stir fries, teriyaki noodles and salads. If you’re feeling really adventurous, just ask him for his “special of the day”. You won’t be sorry.
On our first visit to Pure Luck, we were intrigued to watch a tattooed dude (who we later discovered was Ben, the guy who dreamed up the establishment) wheeling a toilet through a busy restaurant and out of the door. He returned to climb, precariously, above the food area while he installed a WiFi access point suspended from the ceiling by green cables, that’s still there to this day. While this entertainment was going on, my friends and I got quietly drunk on craft beer, and full of potato pals, followed by several plates of fresh salads, rolls with exotic ingredients and burritos. Pure luck doesn’t quite have the atmosphere of a bar, but you can squint your eyes and fake it real easy, with at least 10 beers on tap and an endless supply of comfort food you can’t go wrong.
Must-have dishes are the jackfruit-anything (especially the Todd’s BBQ Sandwich or Torta), Fresh Noodle Salad and the deep fried stuff (Potato Pals, Rosemary Fries, Sweet Potato Fries). The Tofu Pesto Sandwich is also an excellent choice, arriving on a crusty, fresh La Brea Bakery roll. Chow on some great bar food, drink some of LA’s finest beers and smile in the haze of how great it is to be vegan in this day and age. Thanks, Pure Luck, for all the good times.
Oh, and the toilet was abandoned in the parking lot by the dumpster when we left.
I recall hanging out as a teenager in the Tokyo district of Akihabara, where bright lights, video arcades and electronics stores are punctuated only by sushi bars and upscale dining. The shopping mall in Little Tokyo (just south of Downtown LA) contains all of the above plus an amazing find if you trudge to the top of the escalator: Shojin Restaurant. to call this place “fine dining” would be an understatement. Hand polished silverware resting on starched tablecloths await your vegan self. Nuvo-Japonaise decor and Frank Sinatra on the speakers round out this most eclectic of dining experiences. Your shy, yet overly-attentive and awkwardly chatty serving staff will do whatever it takes for you to have a great time, as plate upon plate of amazing food spirits itself out of the kitchen to your pristine table.
Whether you go for the sushi (with seitan, tofu and other faux-fish accoutrements), the pan-fried seitan stir-fry or the incredibly tasty hand-made deserts you will know that such care has been put into preparing your food with prime, organic ingredients that you just can’t go wrong. Order as much stuff as you like — the portions are small, but the taste is big.
Check back tomorrow, for our list of the top five vegetarian restaurants that are vegan friendly.Tags: downtown la, east hollywood, inglewood, the valley, top 5
okay, so there’s three events going on this weekend that you should be aware of. choose wisely.
1.) vegan soul food bbq
get your weekend started right with a back-to-school vegan bbq in inglewood sponsored by a taste of life. food will be served from 10am to 3pm, plus there will be live music, kids’ activities, speakers and more. if you don’t have plans today, this would be a good bet. a taste of life serves up the best soul food i’ve ever had, and some of the best vegan food in all of los angeles. for info on this event, check out their flyer or PETA’s website.
2.) rockin’ vegan breakfast
the first thing up tomorrow is a vegan breakfast concert at downtown venue the smell. the headline act is ted leo and the pharmacists, supported by davila 666 and moses campbell. the menu consists of vegan pancakes, tofu tacos, and coffee. show starts at 11:30am, it’s 8 bucks, and it’s all ages. for more info check out the announcement on losanjealous.com.
3.) vegan vietnamese and beer
if you wake up a bit later on sunday mornings, or if you are still feeling hungry after your large helping of rock and vegan pancakes…head on over to the verdugo bar for board games, beer, and (vegan-friendly) bbq. while it may not prove to be the epic 100% animal-free feast that was the hot knives gnosh pit a few weeks ago, the up and coming soon-to-be vietnamese food truck mandoline grill will be serving vegan friendly offerings including cha gio (spring rolls) and lemongrass tofu banh mi.
although the event isn’t entirely vegan, the verdugo is just about our favorite bar in town, so the fact they are offering a patio session with stuff i can eat is enough to get me down there. plus, i spoke with the person in charge at mandoline grill and they knew their stuff: no bone-char sugar in the ingredients, separate utensils, and fancy egg-replacer to boot. vegans, go check out the scene if you have a chance.
have a great weekend. let me know if you hear of any more vegan events going down. and if you go to either of the shindigs i blogged about here, let me know if you had fun.Tags: bbq, beer, breakfast, downtown, inglewood, music, soulfood, verdugo
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.
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!
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!Tags: breakfast, burrito, grits, inglewood