• July 24th, 2010brittanyflorida, more restaurants (not LA)

    so during my recent trip to visit my parents, my mom, being this awesome mom she is, drove me 2 hours through the glades to have dinner at sublime. i’ve told you about it. BUT i didn’t tell you about how we spent some time earlier that day in miami. i’d never been and i wanted to experience south beach, so our dinner trip turned in to a day trip.

    by the time we got to south beach we were both ready do jump out the window, having chugged water the entire drive over, & south beach is CROWDED and full of confusing one-way streets. my mom wanted to see where they shot the movie “birdcage” (don’t ask) so we navigated to the art deco district and found the first available parking spot. i then used my handy-dandy VegOut app on my iphone to find the nearest vegan-friendly food joint. we’d lucked out and parked about two blocks away from juice & java, so we quickly headed over.

    ok, before i talk about the food, i must say the bathrooms were absolutely gross. GROSS. the womens’ room was backed up with paper towels and there was piss all over the seat, so i went in to the mens’ room which was surprisingly cleaner. although not much.

    i was a bit skeptical at this point but the food areas seemed to be more clean and i was hungry. my mom and i skimmed the menu, which was huge. my mom squealed with delight when she saw they had seaweed salad. it went like this: “OOH! OOH! BRITTANY! THEY HAVE SEEEAWEEEEED SALAD!!!!!” so we had to get that.

    seaweed salad: a rich source of calcium, zinc andiron. $4.95

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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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  • October 1st, 2008quarrygirlflorida, more restaurants (not LA)

    when i headed across the country on my recent trip to miami, there was one place in my mind that i knew i had to check out no matter what: beehive. the happycow and yelp reviews were down right intriguing, describing the place as unbelievable. lex of vegan-la even wrote me an email when he found out i was traveling to florida, urging me to specifically check out beehive no matter what. this place got so built up in my mind, i didn’t know quite what to expect.

    rainforest burger: vegan burger in pita bread with lettuce, carrots, beats spinach and tomato.

    rainforest burger: vegan burger in pita bread with lettuce, carrots, beats spinach and tomato.

    i knew beehive was a small cafe with just a counter and a few stools located at the back of a health food store…and here just a few of the other things the reviews promised: a friendly and humorous chef who offers up free samples of whatever he’s cooking, a huge rotating menu consisting of tofu, seitan empanadas and soup, and a cramped bustling seating area with a wait. when i arrived on a friday afternoon, the place was empty and i don’t think the chef was even there…just some gruff dude chopping up vegetables who snarled at us as we sat down.

    i had read on yelp that this place was vegan and maybe even a bit snobby towards omnivores, so i was a little surprised to see jars of honey sitting amongst the condiments. oh well, maybe they just aren’t that strict, i thought. i was looking forward to trying the seitan, and since i didn’t see any specials getting cooked or anything, i just went ahead and ordered off the huge menu board that hung above the counter: 1 tofu sandwich and 1 seitan sandwich. the dude told me they were out of both those things…actually they were out of everything on the menu except tuna sandwiches and veggie burgers. tuna sandwiches, WTF?!?! i thought this was a vegan place…or at worst, lacto-ovo. why the hell is fish 50% of the menu right now?! oh well, i just shrugged it off and ordered the burger…which ended up being pretty damn tasty!

    the patty was huge, and definitely homemade, which is a plus. the pita was soft and totally overflowing with all the fresh vegetables. not bad. the leafy spinach in particular was especially delicious. also, the dude gave us two huge squezzy bottles of tahini and hot sauce to pour all over our burgers. mmm. mmmm. MMMM! that really hit the spot.

    so, even though i definitely hit up beehive on a very off day, my journey there had a happy ending: a very respectable vegan burger. i will definitely try to go back some day and hope that the chef is there, i mean the reviews on happycow make it sound way out of this world. they go on and on and on and on about all the different dishes and specials that the chef thinks up each day. even the set menu on the wall was massive, i would have been so content ordering from it, if only they weren’t out of everything! motherfuckers!

    huge menu, right?

    huge menu, right?

    even as i sat chomping away on my burger, i couldn’t help but notice a bunch of rave reviews of the cafe from local magazines with pictures of all the awesome food, hanging on the wall and mocking me. damn…i wish that chef was there! i will go back next time i’m in miami. hopefully it will be on a good day.

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  • September 30th, 2008quarrygirlflorida, more restaurants (not LA)

    navigating a new city veganwise can be very difficult and miami, FL is no exception. that’s why i rely on trusty sources like happycow and yelp to tell me all the cool meatless places to try out. the husband & i like to eat at as many all-vegan restaurants as we can, just to support them and make sure they stay in business. so when we heard about om garden, we knew we had to pay them a visit.

    located in downtown miami, om garden was just a short drive away from my beachfront hotel. the atmosphere was bright and relaxing, the staff was friendly, and OMG the food was delish. this is one of those places that serves up really great meals that are guilt-free and astonishingly “healthy” tasting. everything is fresh, nothing is greasy, and there is something so light and refreshing about each bite. after eating a vegan burger at most places, i feel like someone has implanted an anchor in my gut. but after the burger at om garden, i felt energized and alive, active and alert.

    happy cow veggie burger: our house special, served a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard and mayo. with roasted potatoes.

    happy cow veggie burger: our house special, served a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard and mayo. with roasted potatoes.

    the whole wheat “bun” was actually more like a thin pita pocket, which suited me just fine. who needs a bunch of thick bread overpowering the delicate tastes of a vegan patty? speaking of the patty, it was superb. vegetables, grains, and other good stuff all mashed together and seasoned perfectly. i don’t remember how much the burger cost, but i think it was around $10. well worth it. especially since i could tell i was eating something made with the finest ingredients.

    the roasted potatoes were also excellent. bursting with flavor and not too oily, they tasted so good and like they were so good for me.

    the other entree we ordered was the supersonic sandwich. it came with a choice of tofu, tempeh or portabella. in keeping with the healthy theme, we opted for the mushroom. while my favorite was definitely the burger, this sandwich was still scrumptious in its own right.

    supersonic sandwich: portabella mushroom served on a sprouted grain bun with lettuce, tomato, avocado veganaise, ketchup & mustard. comes with a side salad.

    supersonic sandwich: portabella mushroom served on a sprouted grain bun with lettuce, tomato, avocado veganaise, ketchup & mustard. comes with a side salad.

    this sandwich was also, i think, around ten bucks and came on a pita instead of a bun. it was great, except it had to be eaten with a fork because the savory sauces and mushroom juices made the pita too soggy to pick up. that doesn’t matter though, it still tasted amazing. the succulent portabella was huge and juicy—who would have thought a plain old mushroom could be such a perfect meat substitute?

    because i eat everything with hot sauce, i was a little disappointed that om garden didn’t have any. what they did have, though, was a little bowl of hot powder. sprinkled on the sandwich, it totally did the trick, without all the evil sodium that’s packed into my favorite liquid.

    lastly, i definitely have a penchant for falafel…so when i saw on the menu that om garden sells them by the ball, i had to indulge. who the hell orders ONE falafel ball? me. and it was gone in one bite.

    falafel ball $1.50

    falafel ball $1.50

    he was a pretty healthy tasting falafel ball, and even came decked out in a little hat made of hummus. doesn’t it look like he’s smiling in the picture. awww. very nice.

    in addition to the tasty food and fresh ingredients, the ambiance at om garden is very pleasant. colorfully decorated with lots of windows that look out on green surroundings, om garden is a great place to relax and enjoy your big plate of vegan goodness.

    so when in miami, add om garden to your list of places to check out. dine there when you want a light healthy meal, not something decadent. it’s the perfect thing to eat before you go strut your stuff on the beach with all the fit and beautiful locals.

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  • September 29th, 2008quarrygirlflorida, more restaurants (not LA)

    recently i took a trip to florida, and in addition to soaking up sun and bobbing around in the ocean, i made it a point to visit as many vegan eateries as i could. over the next few days, i’ll bring you stories of meat-free food from ft. lauderdale, downtown miami, and the beach areas…starting with south beach, which is where i stayed.

    i did a lot of research before visiting florida on sites like happycow and found that there weren’t really any vegan restaurants near my hotel—i was pretty much resigned to the fact i would have to drive over the bridge to try out the really good places. so imagine my surprise when i was walking down lincoln road, a trendy little street of shops and restaurants reminiscent of 3rd street promenade, and spotted a menu propped up on a stand with the word VEGAN clearly labeling an entire list of items. the vegan-friendly menu belonged to books and books, a hip little book store that also functions as a café. of course the husband and i had to try it out. the result was pure delciousness.

    black bean and hummus sandwich $6.95

    black bean and hummus sandwich $6.95

    while the menu had a lot of vegan options, many of them contained bell peppers, which i absolutely hate. one tasty dish, however, that could be easily made without peppers was the black bean hummus sandwich. black bean hummus sounded way too good to pass up, and i was right…it was soooo freakin’ yummy. i inhaled it in like 4 seconds, but from what i remember, it was pretty damn perfect. the hummus was thick and substantial, not as runny or mushy as normal hummus, so it made for a hearty sandwich filling. the black beans added so much flavor and an unexpected crunchiness to the chickpea puree. plus, the sandwich was piled high with crispy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes. a very good find.

    vegan chicken sandwich $9.95

    vegan chicken sandwich $9.95

    the vegan chicken sandwich was also quite lovely, but definitely not worth $3 more than the hummus sandwich, which i preferred. the fake chicken was nicely grilled, but it did taste like it was probably a frozen patty to begin with. that’s not bad, though, for an omnivorous restaurant in miami beach. i’m just stoked they have vegan options at all, let alone actual fake meat! the vegetables were also scrumptious on this sandwich: a big thick slice of avocado, tomato, and mixed greens all added fresh flavor to the succulent little piece of chicken.

    while so many other things on the vegan menu sounded amazing, these sandwiches really hit the spot for quick and satisfying light lunch. the side salad was quite tasty as well, boasting tons of dark leaves, a mound of shredded carrots and a zesty vinaigrette. plus, the sandwiches came already cut in half so they were perfect for sharing. we pulled our favorite trick: ordering 2 and then swapping halves.

    besides the fact that the food is pretty awesome, i urge you to support books and books for boldly dedicating an entire section of the menu to clearly-marked vegan items. it was so lovely to sit in the sun, amongst all the shoppers, in a city with few vegetarian restaurants, eating food i knew to be vegan at a “normal” café. the servers were also unbelievably helpful and friendly. one even mentioned that during breakfast hours, any egg dish can be made vegan by subbing tofu or modifying the ingredients. sweet!

    so if you ever head down to miami beach, check out books and books. great atmosphere, super service and a bunch of vegan options. and they do have a lot more than just sandwiches, but lemme tell ya, the sandwiches are damn good!

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