• March 29th, 2011mr meanercookbooks, recipes

    I don’t know about you, but every time I get an inter-Department Delivery in an orange envelope it’s usually something like a boring circular from HR or a “policy update” from the legal department. Imagine, then, how delighted I was to be sent such an envelope from Hot Knives containing not some pointless corporate drivel but a sneak peek at one of the recipes from their very first cookbook, “Salad Daze”.

    Now, Hot Knives (a.k.a. Evan and Alex) are known to us as the genius chefs behind both the Verdugo Bar Patio sessions of summer 2009, as well as the inaugural event at the pre-opening of our local pub, (and favorite bar in all of LA) the Surly Goat early last year. In fact these vegetarian, highly vegan-friendly chefs create such amazing dishes that we have been known to chase around after them like a couple of Grateful Dead fans from the 80s.

    If we had one criticism, though, it’s that there are way too few opportunities to experience their dishes – they don’t cook at enough events! So, the best bit about getting the sneak recipe preview wasn’t so much the preview itself, but the news that Hot Knives are publishing a cook book of some of their best recipes, so we can make their original and inventive dishes in the comfort of our own home. Truth be told, on occasion they will post a recipe or two on their blog, but nothing beats having everything at your fingertips in a good cookbook.

    The recipe they sent to us was called “Magic Shroom Dust”. The description alone blew us away (abbreviated here):

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • August 26th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, shojin

    oh shojin, i love you to bits! but who doesn’t?! i think we all can agree that the modest restaurant located in the little tokyo shopping center in downtown LA is one of the best vegan places to eat in this city, with its constantly changing menu and always inventive japanese cuisine.

    i hit up shojin recently with some friends, and as usual, the food was delicious. but i’m not here to tell you ONLY STUFF that you already know, i’ve also got news that shojin has added a new sushi roll to their regular menu. but more on that later, first let’s talk about our dinner!

    spicy rock shiitake tempura: tempura shiitake mushrooms tossed in spicy wasabi mayonnaise. $6.95

    we started with an order of the spicy rock shiitake tempura as an appetizer, because everyone is kind of obsessed with this dish…and you will be too once you try it. the small plate comes loaded up with little nuggets of breaded and fried mushrooms, all soaked in a scarily good spicy mayo-style sauce. holy shit guys, it’s unreal. no joke, everyone i know who has tried these has proclaimed them to be the “best mushrooms ever,” and i’m no different. there’s something about the crispy shell and the creamy mayo that makes these babies irresistible. trust me! order ’em!

    spicy seitan bbq roll. $7.50 shiitake & avocado roll. $5.95

    next, of course we got some sushi plates. shojin has by far the best vegan sushi in los angeles, and no visit to the restaurant is complete without a roll or two. pictured above are the shiitake avocado roll, as well as the spicy seitan bbq roll. the shiitake avocado is as you’d expect: rice tightly wrapped around big hunks of cool avocado and sliced mushrooms. what makes it special is the delicious marinade they soak the mushrooms in, as well as the added kombu cooked in soy sauce. the spicy seitan bbq roll is even better—shojin’s homemade wheat meat along with greens and kaiware sprouts mixed with spicy soy sauce and vegan mayo. i die!

    clear shio ramen: simple, delicate and profound. sea salted. sweet vegetables, baby bok choy and mushrooms. $10.95

    for my entree, i went with the clear shio ramen. the menu describes it as “simple, delicate and profound,” which is pretty accurate. in fact, this dish was a little too simple for my palate. the vegetables were fresh (i loved the kale!), and the noodles were spot on, i just found the broth to be a tad too basic for my taste. i chalk it up to a bad ordering decision—i should have gone with the “hot and spicy ramen” or the “creamy sesame ramen”, both of which sound divine. next time!

    so, let’s talk about that sushi roll i mentioned earlier in the post. according to their twitter page, shojin recently added the MOTHER FUCKING DYNAMITE ROLL TO THEIR MENU! pay attention!

    this roll started out as a special for shojin’s weekly sushi nights, and when i tried it, i was instantly smitten. it’s spicy mock tuna mixed with avocado, then wrapped in rice and topped with spicy mayo and green onion. seriously dude, seriously, the BEST VEGAN SUSHI I HAVE EVER HAD. i was ecstatic when i saw that shojin added this to the regular menu. so please, please, PLEASE go eat it and help keep it around. i’d hate to see this item axed due to low demand.

    that’s about it, kids. in closing: shojin still rules as one of the best restaurants in LA. always order the spicy rock shiitake tempura, fill up on sushi, and get adventurous with your ramen choice. oh yeah, and THE DYNAMITE ROLL IS AVAILABLE. i’m done.

    333 S. Alameda St. Suite 310
    (Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F)
    Los Angeles, CA 90013
    Tel: 213-617-0305

    Monday, Tuesday
    5:30pm – 10:00pm
    Wednesday, Thursday
    11:30am – 2:30pm,
    5:30pm – 10:00pm
    11:30am – 2:30pm
    5:30pm – 10:30pm
    12:00pm – 10:30pm
    Sunday, Holidays
    12:00pm – 10:00pm

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  • March 25th, 2010quarrygirlcacao mexicatessen, LA restaurants

    it’s hard enough to find any vegan-friendly mexican food, not to mention stuff that actually tastes good. so naturally when i heard that the popular cafe, cacao mexicatessen in eagle rock, had an entirely separate vegetarian menu…i was anxious to check it out.

    what i found at cacao was some of the most distinctive and delicious cuisine i’ve had in a while.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • February 23rd, 2010mr meanerelf, LA restaurants

    According to legend and folklore, an Elf is a “small, mischievous and magical” being, which probably explains why Elf Cafe in Echo Park is so aptly named:

    Small: Elf Cafe is tiny. There are two rows of cramped tables and a bar with a few high stools, leading to a very intimate dining experience. The tables are also very close together, so you have pretty much no option but to get to know your neighbors, whether you want to or not.

    Mischievous: I’d actually tried to visit Elf on three separate occasions before. Twice it was full with crowds waiting outside so I just walked on by, the third time I arrived at 5:50pm (the restaurant officially opens at 6) so I could be first in line, only to be told that they were running late “as usual” and wouldn’t open until 6:45pm. Also, the menu is different to what’s online, and there’s no reservations policy making Elf one of the more difficult places to eat at in LA. Mischievous Elf!

    Magical: When you do get a table you will be treated to some of the most magical flavors and textures you will ever eat. Every dish is original, and every ingredient fresh (bought that day in most cases) and wonderfully, inventively prepared. Also, the organic environment of stone, wood, exposed brick, flickering candles and new-age style music really does evoke something not of this world.

    elf before the evening crowd

    I’ll start out by saying that Elf is a vegetarian restaurant, catering mainly to vegetarians with what appear to be some menu items that just happen to be vegan. There’s a heavy emphasis on cheese throughout, and all the very best signature dishes are vegetarian rather than vegan. Notwithstanding that, there are some really good vegan items on the menu, I just wish they could optionally make some items vegan – I mean, to substitute a vegan dip for a bleu cheese dip on a particular dish, or make a vegan version of a salad dressing would hardly cause the kitchen to collapse in a morass of disorganization, now would it?

    Anyway, let’s get down to brass tacks. On our visit, we were the first people in the restaurant, glad to take a wonderful two-top table by the window. We were quickly seated, the bottle of wine we brought with us was spirited away to be opened (Elf is BYOB, and more on that later) and we were brought fresh minty water and menus. So far we’d been waited on by two people both of whom were nice and friendly. Once we’d had a chance to review the menu, we began to order.

    As a small appetizer we received complimentary crackers with a delicious chickpea and red bell pepper dip. The crackers were fresh, crispy and crunchy, dusted with some herbs and the dip was cool, smooth and clean tasting. So far, we’d spent nothing (or so we thought) and had some tantalizingly tasty food to whet our gaping appetites.

    The first dish up was the “Cornmeal and Herb Dusted Spicy Oyster Mushrooms” which the menu proudly proclaimed as “Our version of ‘hot wings’ crispy oyster mushrooms”. The dish usually arrives with the decidedly un-vegan “bleu cheese cream reduction”, but our server said they could be prepared sans-reduction so we asked for them that way. We were pleasantly surprised, though, when the mushrooms arrived and the server said “Here’s your spicy mushrooms, and we did a vegan version of our sauce. Hope you enjoy it!”.

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

    Did we ever enjoy it…. this is one dish that everybody has to eat before they pass on to the next world – we’re talking millions of sliced, lightly fried and crispy mushrooms all spiced up to the nines atop a cool pile of sauce, with a few thinly sliced celery pieces. It’s not only incredibly tasty, but getting a mouthful of crispy, steaming hot mushrooms with some cool sauce in your mouth is quite the pleasure. I’m really pleased that Elf was able to figure out a vegan sauce, as it really did make the dish. Hopefully they will add that as an option going forward – I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt them.

    elf salad: mixed greens with dill, avocados, potatoes, olives and green beans. $11

    Next up we went for the basic sounding “Elf Salad”, a veritable cornucopia of fresh green leaves, cabbage, dill, avocados and a bunch of other stuff including green beans and potatoes. We were blown away by the volume and quality of this salad so much that we had to force ourselves to stop eating it as there were another two dishes on their way shortly afterwards.

    roasted flatbread shawarma: similar to a shawarma sandwich served open-faced with crispy oyster mushrooms, spicy hummus, and savory cabbage salad. $12

    For one entree we rewound to the starters menu and opted for the “Roasted Flatbread Shawarma”, a mile-high serving of cabbage and spicy hummus piled on a fresh pita bread topped off with crispy and light mushrooms. This thing was really tasty – a real mix of flavors and textures that are tough to pull off and get right – we respect what the chefs did to make this, and would heartily recommend it as a very unusual and enjoyable dish. Seriously, one of the highlights of the evening.

    moroccan vegetable tagine: moroccan vegetable stew served over red quinoa with a side of spicy homemade harissa. $16

    Talking of highlights, the “Moroccan Vegetable Tagine” is probably the most under-described dish I’ve ever had on a menu. Don’t you usually find that menus talk up the items such that you’re bound to be overtly disappointed when they arrive? Not here, and not now. The entire description is somewhat pedestrian, almost boring: “Moroccan vegetable stew served over red quinoa with a side of spicy homemade harissa”.

    Let me fucking tell you that this thing off the planet. I’m talking about at least ten different vegetables, all embarrassingly fresh, clearly organic (brussels sprouts, potatoes, cauliflower, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, beets, green beans, carrots, etc. etc.) and all cooked for what tasted like hours in the most amazing red beet sauce then plopped down over crunchy red quinoa, and served with a side dish of some spicy harissa that (frankly) was as good as the main dish itself, despite its diminutive size. Grab a spoon, dip it in the harissa, scoop up some vegetables and sauce, rinse and repeat until you pass out. You won’t be sorry.

    we ended up getting much of the food to-go!

    We were way too stuffed to even consider desert, but there are always a couple of vegan options available.

    There are few places I’ve eaten where every course has been as astounding as the last, but all ain’t completely rosy in the world of Elf. Let’s haterize for a moment.

    One thing you have to know about Elf is that it’s incredibly trendy. Perhaps not as much now as it used to be a year or so ago, but it’s still very much regarded as a place one has to go and “be seen”. The clientele were all very much Eastside hip (I’d say hipsters, but that can be insulting I’ve been told) but all super nice and friendly. I could feel the creative juices flowing into me from the table of artists next to me. One guy even had a fury pirate hat and cape on, I guess just so he could stand out. See if you can spot him in the picture at the bottom of the post.

    I’d probably be 100% gushing about the place were it not for the sneaky $2.50 per person corkage fee, which wasn’t disclosed anywhere on the menu or by the server when she so gleefully took our bottle of wine away to be opened. After paying top dollar for our food we were punished with an additional $5 charge on the bill. I believe that it’s actually illegal to insist on such optional, non-advertised charges, so I recommend everybody refuse to pay it until they put it on the menu or tell you when they pick up your bottle.

    All in all, though, Elf really lives up to its namesake mythical being: Compact, kinda troublesome yet completely magical. I’ll be back soon, as I’m sure that most people who go there regularly will.

    2135 W Sunset Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90026
    (213) 484-6829
    weds-sun: 6:30ish?-11pm

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  • November 2nd, 2009mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), san francisco

    In a way, I feel sorry for Millennium restaurant in San Francisco. I mean, just about every vegan or vegetarian (and omnivores on occasion too) will say that Millennium has some of the best vegan cuisine in the world, and is probably North America’s finest vegan dining experience.

    Having enjoyed amazing meals at fine dining establishment Sublime in Fort Lauderdale, and the incredible Madeleine Bistro in Los Angeles, I had stratospheric expectations when I reserved a table for two at Millennium. Although the experience didn’t meet our very high expectations on a number of levels, we did have a thoroughly nice time dining on some of the most special food I’d ever eaten.

    It’s critical to make a reservation, as the place fills up hot and fast most evenings. As with anywhere this popular, you’re going to find the proprietors drawing a very fine line between retaining a pleasant environment, and packing people in like cattle. Sadly, Millennium crowds its patrons into small two-top tables, close together. There are a couple of larger booths by the entrance, but I bet you have to be Alicia Silverstone or Natalie Portman to get seated in them.

    Once you get over the cramped experience (you can literally hear every word uttered by both adjacent tables, as well as smelling the food they are eating), the menu hits you right between the eyes: on the night we were there dishes from France, Germany, Spain and Italy. And I’m not talking about paella and vegan sausages here, but full-on inventions, based on familiar European dishes, all prepared entirely vegan, non-GMO and organic.

    grilled flatbread: spring onion confit, black olives, "gorgonzola" cashew cream, dried chile flake & oregano., radicchio salad. $10.50

    grilled flatbread: spring onion confit, black olives, "gorgonzola" cashew cream, dried chile flake & oregano., radicchio salad. $10.50

    To start with, we ordered the Grilled Flatbread which was a scrumptious rendition of crispy bread, pizza-style with cool raddiccio salad, olives and a pungent, gorgonzola-style cheese. Although the tastes were interesting, this was the most unimaginative dish we had: it looked like somebody threw some vegetables on flatbread and plopped it down on the table. It reminded me of what I usually get when I order a vegan pizza from an omni pizza parlor: a selection of vegetables with no sauce or cheese on a crispy crust.

    sesame crusted oyster mushrooms: lemongrass-grapefruit-chile sambal, watermelon radish relish. $10.25

    sesame crusted oyster mushrooms: lemongrass-grapefruit-chile sambal, watermelon radish relish. $10.25

    Moving on, we ordered the Sesame-encrusted Mushrooms, which were much more up our street. This dish has been described as “the vegan calamari”, and I’m told (by people who have eaten calamari) that it mimics the taste and texture pretty well. I can’t vouch for that, but I can tell you it was the greasiest, oiliest and most scrumptious thing I’d eaten in a long time. While it might be organic this and non-GMO that it was anything other than healthy due to the thousands of calories of oily delicious madness.

    So, awash with flatbread and oil, our entrees arrived very, very quickly, leading to a theme I note about us feeling somewhat rushed. Cramped in + rushed = more $ for the proprietors…. Just sayin’. Oh and talking about that, Millennium charges $1 per person for a glass of tap water. That’s plain greedy!

    almond and black pepper crusted portobello: sesame, sea palm & scallion barley cake, saffron, IPA & french lentil sugo, seared jerusalem artichokes, carrot & escarole, spring garlic-sage tahini cream, parsley-meyer lemon salad. $23.95

    almond and black pepper crusted portobello: sesame, sea palm & scallion barley cake, saffron, IPA & french lentil sugo, seared jerusalem artichokes, carrot & escarole, spring garlic-sage tahini cream, parsley-meyer lemon salad. $23.95

    As luck would have it, I am also greedy, otherwise there’s no way I could have polished off the entrees. I plumped for the Almond and Black Pepper Portobello, a dish which took rather uninteresting (but sexily named ingredients) and delivered an intersection of tastes that were downright amazing. I found myself picking at bits of the food so I could enjoy each texture and flavor in and of itself, then scooping up a cross-section of the goods to get the mashup to my taste buds as fast as possible.

    mushroom and walnut strudel: flaky pastry crust, green garlic mashed potatoes, seared asparagus, herbed green peppercorn cashew cream, blood orange and black olive relish. $23.9

    mushroom and walnut strudel: flaky pastry crust, green garlic mashed potatoes, seared asparagus, herbed green peppercorn cashew cream, blood orange and black olive relish. $23.9

    Our other entree was Mushroom and Walnut Strudel, a sort-of pastry chimichanga crammed full of walnuts, mushrooms (yeah, pretty much everything on the menu was based around mushrooms) floating in a cashew cream sauce with an incredible olive and mushroom relish. Seriously, this is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten: crispy, decadent, filling. Words really defy this dish, other than it had more of the consistency of a dessert, like a cannoli, but without the sweet.

    Talking of dessert, as our tubby tummies were about to explode we made a pact NOT to order dessert UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Well, that was until the people NEXT to us ordered dessert. Once I laid eyes on what they had, I knew I had to have it. I feebly muttered: “errr, one of those, please….” as I pointed to the next table when the server asked if we were ready for the check (like I said, they were rushing us).

    vegan chocolate midnite pie

    vegan chocolate midnite pie

    Within about 11 seconds, something called a Chocolate Midnight Pie arrived on our table and was gone in not many more seconds. I can’t really describe its creamy chocolatey taste in any words, so I’m going to let you look at the picture, and can reinforce that the dish was at least 14X better than it looks.

    After the obligatory bottle of organic wine, our bill was well into car payment territory, but we felt that it wasn’t quite worth every penny. The obvious intent to turn many tables quickly really spoiled what would otherwise have been a perfect dining experience. The menu combines the exquisite with the mundane, and the descriptions really don’t give you much of a clue about what you’ll actually get. Add to that some rushed servers, and this place isn’t too friendly.

    millennium interior

    Also of note is that Millennium is in the lobby of a Best Western hotel, on the edge of Tenderloin: basically, Downtown San Francsico’s Skid Row. If you go West or South from the restaurant you’re walking through some pretty bad urban decay complete with all the trimmings: aggressive homeless people, syringes, toothless crackheads and all sorts of bodily ejected solids in your way.

    millennium in san francisco

    It was just our luck that we walked to Millennium from the south and west, so we were treated to several interesting run-ins with street-folk, and as we approached the restaurant watched somebody taking a noisy shit against the wall on the west side. After ducking into the restaurant, I was half-way through my meal when I realized the defecating gentleman (or his defecation, at least) was within about six feet of where I was eating.

    homeless dude chillin' on the other side of our table at millennium

    Millennium will risk your life with a dodgy journey, fleece you for every penny it can get from you, and pack you in like vegan sardines in a recycled, non-GMO can. I’d probably be back there in a heartbeat, though.

    580 Geary St
    San Francisco, CA 94102-1650
    (415) 345-3900

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  • August 13th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, zpizza
    one of the best pizzas i've ever had.

    one of the best pizzas i've ever had.

    i’m sure you’ve heard by now that zpizza, an awesome organic chain with locations all over the country, is offering vegan pizza with daiya cheese. they have a few locations in los angeles, and many throughout southern california. while most of the zpizzas in socal are already offering vegan cheese, every location across the united states should have daiya within the next couple months. if you haven’t stopped by and tried one of their vegan pies yet, well i don’t know what the hell you’re waiting for.

    i have been going to zpizza for ages, and until last night i always ordered the same thing: a build-your-own pizza with tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic. recently, on their facebook page, zpizza took the time to create a list of all their vegan-friendly pizzas and which substitutions need to be made to veganize them, as well as a list of which sauces and toppings are vegan. i was shocked by how many items off the “zpizza creations” menu were easily made vegan, and i was inspired to try something new.

    i went with the tuscan, which is easily veganized by omitting the feta and ordering it with daiya cheese instead of mozzarella.

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

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

    the vegan tuscan pizza came with a delicious mix of cremini, shiitake and button mushrooms as well as caramelized onions, truffle oil and thyme—all atop melty daiya cheese and homemade roasted garlic sauce. now i was already a huge fan of zpizza, and i can tell you this pizza blew my mind. i can’t believe a pizza chain could make something that tastes so unique and high-quality, and be VEGAN at the same time. i have heard people rave about the roasted garlic sauce, and they were absolutely right—no description could possibly do it justice. and the amazing sauce mixed in with truffle oil, sweet onions, and a variety of mushrooms was an absolutely heavenly combination. i cannot believe that i have been going to zpizza for so long and missing out on this bliss.

    another thing to note about this pizza is how perfectly distributed and melted the daiya was. they’ve gotten even better with the vegan cheese since my first vegan pie at zpizza a few weeks ago. with vegan cheese this good available, there is absolutely no excuse to be a vegetarian.


    really guys, i can’t speak highly enough of this thing. go to your nearest zpizza and get yourself a vegan tuscan pizza ASAP. oh and for a limited time, you can fill out this survey to $5 off your purchase at zpizza. i suggest you take advantage of this, as money off pizza is never a bad thing.

    in los angeles, daiya vegan pizza is available at both the west hollywood, burbank and larcmont zpizza locations. if you are going to any of the other zpizzas, i would call and check to be sure they have vegan cheese.

    truly amazing vegan pizza from a national chain. oh my friends, i never thought i’d see the day.

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  • February 25th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, mendocino farms

    today i had the unfortunate opportunity to be called for jury duty and report to the metropolitan courthouse in downtown los angeles. i thought i was totally fucked…and well, i was. i wasted several valuable hours that could have been spent at the office, i killed way too many brain cells surfing the free wi-fi with absolutely no purpose, and i was subjected to good morning america, the view, oprah, and dr phil all within a short period of time (the volume turned up to full)! luckily downtown los angeles had one spectacular thing to offer…LUNCH! i lunched it up proper today and finally got acquainted with a place people keep RAVING about: mendocino farms.

    vegan mushroom burger: veggan housemade mushroom and white bean burger with red onions, housemade pickles, tomatoes, sauteed greens and veganaise on ciabatta. $9.50

    vegan mushroom burger: veggan housemade mushroom and white bean burger with red onions, housemade pickles, tomatoes, sauteed greens and veganaise on ciabatta. $9.50

    yep, my whole shitty day was validated with just one sandwich. for quite awhile, i’ve been hearing mad buzz about the downtown la vegan-friendly sandwich shop mendocino farms. the place calls itself an environmentally-friendly and conscious eatery, offering local, vegan and organic options. laist, my fave local blog, highlighted its amazing vegan selection, and mendocino even got a ringing endorsement from buddy and fellow blogger jennshaggy, who told me i just had to check out the meatless sandwiches. the few vegetarians and vegans i know who have tried this place all swear by it, and after today i am no different.

    located in the 300 s grand business plaza, mendocino farms is smack dab in the heart of a bustling food court, with loads of busy angelist professionals lining up in really pro attire to grab a midday meal. when i arrived in rush mode from the courthouse, it was nearing 12:15pm, and i had to be back in the jury purgatory/holding room at 1:30. the line for mendocino was so bloody long, i seriously thought i’d never be able to eat there and get back in time. i’m not talking about just a “long line”. this thing was literally 65-70 people deep and would have taken at least an hour to stand in. i chatted to a chick near the top quarter of the queue, and she said she’d been waiting for about forty minutes. see for yourself. this line winds way around the building to the left. luckily i found my way around the madness.

    mendocino farms line, be sure to call ahead and skip it!

    mendocino farms line, be sure to call ahead and skip it!

    i took one look at that crowd and knew i couldn’t hang. here is a tip to all vegans who visit mendocino farms in the future, this totally worked for me: go to the shop and suss out the situation, if the line is massive, call the restaurant and order your food to go. they will give you a wait time of about 15 minutes, during which you can stroll around the grounds and check out the water garden…before returning to mendocino and BYPASSING THE ENTIRE LINE TO PICK UP YOUR SANDWICH. that’s what i did. yep, i called ahead, took a leisurely stroll and then grabbed a sandwich that was hot and ready. oh yeah, and i also stopped for a long moment to smugly grin at the dozens of people who arrived before i did and were still waiting in line. 🙂

    tricks and tips of the trade aside, my mendocino farms meal was very delicious and unique in its own right. a luscious vegan burger filled with beans, mushrooms and spices, piled high with crisp vegetables and creamy condiments on a fresh and crunchy ciabatta roll.

    super awesome vegan mushroom burger from mendocino farms.

    super awesome vegan mushroom burger from mendocino farms.

    the patty soft and mushy, but in a really good way. whole chunks of mushrooms and large white bean bits were all bound together to make a truly tasty burger. i gotta say, i was pretty impressed with the way they rushed out such a high-quality product in the midst of what seemed to be a million other orders.

    all i gotta say is, if i lived or worked in downtown los angeles i would be eating at mendocino farms nearly everyday! unfortunately they are only open for limited hours during the week, and always seem to be extremely crowded. the menu is so vegan-accommodating though, that you must check them out if you are in the area. beyond a clearly marked menu of vegan sandwiches, they also have daily vegan soups, vegan salads and even vegan cookies. every month they have a “secret sandwich” which is also often vegan, and you can keep track of it via their mailing list. for february, the secret sandwich is the Spicy Vegan Soyrizo Wrap: Vegan Soyrizo and Tofu Scramble with Roasted Potatoes, Shredded Romaine, Roasted Tomatoes and Veganaise on Grilled Tortilla Wrap for $9.50″ you should definitely give that a try in the few days we have before march and a new secret sandwich arrives!

    los angeles vegans: if you find yourself anywhere near downtown la, hit up mendocino farms for an extremely satisfying lunch. definitely one of the best, heartiest sandwiches i’ve had in a while. and be sure to call them in advance, or even call in your order once you get there…otherwise, you could be stuck in line for ages. and to all vegans serving on jury duty at the downtown la hill street courthouse, this is your motherfucking SPOT! park on grand avenue by moca and eat at the outside tables. you will make it back in tons of time.

    mendocino farms courtyard

    mendocino farms courtyard

    ah, that great great sandwich. i will be hitting up this place as often as humanly possible.

    mendocino farms
    300 South Grand Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90071
    (tel) 213-620-1114
    Hours 11:00am-3:00pm Mon-Fri

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  • February 16th, 2009quarrygirlliverpool, more restaurants (not LA)

    on our recent trip to england, we spent one day and one night in liverpool. being the birthplace of the beatles, we just had to pay the city a visit…and of course, we were on the lookout for good vegan food while we were there. you know veganism is spreading like wildfire when this even this grey, industrial, port city in england has its very own website dedicated to vegetarian and vegan life. scouseveg.co.uk was a valuable resource for us while staying in liverpool, and it lead us to a very lovely all vegetarian and very vegan-friendly restaurant called the egg cafe.

    the egg cafe in liverpool.

    the egg cafe in liverpool.

    the egg cafe is a sweet little vegetarian lunch spot with a rotating menu of daily specials, and several vegan offerings. there was so much to choose from when we were there, from sandwiches and curries to soups and desserts. we started the meal off with a bowl of vegan creamed cauliflower soup and a large slice of garlic bread.

    soup and garlic bread £3.25

    soup and garlic bread £3.25

    although everything we ended up ordering at the egg cafe was tasty, the soup and garlic bread combo was definitely the highlight of the meal. both were vegan, but both were incredibly rich and delicious. the soup was extremely creamy, and the bread was all thick and fluffy. plus, it was fresh and pipin’ hot, and the garlic and buttery spread on it was amazing. probably the best vegan garlic bread i’ve ever had.


    for a main meal, i ordered the hummus combination, which came with homemade hummus, pita bread, salad and pasta on the side.

    fresh hummus £3.95

    fresh hummus £3.95

    the fresh hummus plate really hit the spot, and i can’t fault it…however it did taste like something i could make at home. next time i visit the egg, i will go order something a little more special, like one of the vegan hot dishes. the hummus was creamy and covered in really great seasonings, definitely a great lunch if you are looking for something light. i didn’t touch the salad because it had bell peppers in it (which i HATE), but my husband tells me it was really good.

    my husband went for a curry-inspired dish: the vegan tandori mushrooms with creamy sauce.

    tandori mushrooms £4.95

    tandori mushrooms £4.95

    the white yogurty sauce was so convincing, we had to go double check it was vegan! all of it was quite excellent. the tandori mushrooms were plump and well seasoned. they were bright red and had the same flavor as tandori chicken of the same color. they also came with pita and side salads. it all wrapped up very nicely as a curry mushroom sandwich.

    overall, the egg cafe was a great find. all the food was good, and some of it was downright excellent. for vegans in liverpool, this place is a must visit. the atmosphere is pretty awesome too. you order at the counter and then sit at a long communal table. it isn’t crowded or uncomfortable though, and the decorations are fun and colorful. there’s no alcohol license, but feel free to byob!

    interior of the egg cafe in liverpool.

    interior of the egg cafe in liverpool.

    the egg is located up two flights of stairs, and the sign is on the ground. so be sure not to miss it! look out for the trippy purple building.


    the egg cafe
    2nd Floor, 16-18 Newington
    Liverpool L1 4ED
    Tel: 0151 707 2755

    oh, and by the way…any vegetarian restaurant with this on the wall is okay in my book. i love liverpool.

    beatles decorations at the egg cafe in liverpool. i particularly love the picture of paul.

    beatles decorations at the egg cafe in liverpool. i particularly love the picture of paul.

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  • February 15th, 2009quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    UPDATE 12/07/09: sadly eat and two veg has shut down. 🙁 this sucks. read update here.

    i have dined at loads of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in london, and one of my all-time favorites has to be eat and two veg. we go there at least once (usually twice) on every trip across the pond, and each visit leaves us loving it more and more. the trendy west end eatery has fashioned itself after an old school american diner—big red booths, a galvanized steel interior and neatly-dressed chefs (with white hats and all) make this place total 50s throwback heaven. big diffy is, while they serve up home cookin’, it’s all meat free and refreshingly healthy.

    take for instance the full english breakfast…you know, the standard british morning meal filled with animal bits that almost every pub, diner, and cafe sells. well, eat and two veg offers a slap-up traditional-style breakfast as well, except it’s all either vegetarian or vegan. we of course opted for the vegan version, which came compete with grilled tofu, baked beans, toast and an array of hearty vegetables.

    big vegan breakfast: tofu, tomato, mushrooms, beans, spinach and 2 toasts. £5.95

    big vegan breakfast: tofu, tomato, mushrooms, beans, spinach and 2 toasts. £5.95

    from looking at this picture, you may be thinking that this meal looks simple/boring/easy-to-make-at-home. let me tell ya, it was none of those things. this dish was exceptional. from the perfectly seasoned tofu, to the plump tomatoes and well sauteed mushrooms…everything was perfect. not to mention the excellent and insanely spicy fresh spinach, along with the crispy toast. if you ever go to london, don’t leave without trying this. it gives you the chance to enjoy the traditional english breakfast in all its vegan glory. you fucking deserve it.

    to be fair, eat and two veg only has a few vegan options on the breakfast menu, the big breakfast pictured being one of them. if that doesn’t look good to you, you may want to skip the morning menu. the main menu has even more tempting vegan offeringsl…so you kind of have no excuse not to visit them.


    plus, it’s not just about the food. all around eat and two veg is fucking immaculate and gorgeous. the service is great, the atmosphere is stunning and the ingredients are all top notch. they’re located in a really swish but quiet part of the west end called marylebone…just steps away from baker street station. go there.


    eat and two veg
    50 marylebone high street
    london, w1u 5hn
    020 7258 8595

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  • November 27th, 2008quarrygirlhugo's restaurant, LA restaurants

    yesterday i had the opportunity to check out a place i’ve been meaning to try for a long time, hugo’s restaurant. hugo’s is a well-reviewed eatery with a huge menu and more vegan options than i could ever get around to trying. they also happen to be the big brother to my new favorite taco stand, hugo’s tacos. hugo’s restaurant has 2 locations, one in studio city and one in west hollywood, both of which are said to be excellent.

    yesterday, my husband treated me to breakfast at the weho outlet, and i took the opportunity to get my thanksgiving on one day early. you see, hugo’s was offering a holiday dinner meal that looked way to good to pass up, even at 8am.

    happy happy holiday feast: two new american veggie patties, with vegan, gluten-free mushroom gravy. served with mixed seasonal vegetables, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. $13.75

    happy happy holiday feast: two new american veggie patties, with vegan, gluten-free mushroom gravy. served with mixed seasonal vegetables, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. $13.75

    the happy happy holiday feast was a great way to experience hugo’s for the first time, and the perfect early start to what non-vegans make a most depressing celebration. the thoughtless slaughter of millions of turkeys per year makes thanksgiving, by far, my least favorite day of the year. i was so impressed to see that the holiday meal that hugo’s was offering up was completely cruelty-free…and damn tasty as well!

    PLEASE NOTE: if you order this, be sure to order it without the mashed potatoes, as they are not vegan. my waitress mistakenly told me that they WERE, but according to commenter foodeater, they aren’t. my advice is to be safe and order the feast with extra vegetables instead. luckily, i barely touched the potatoes…but the fact i even had a bite still bums me out. totally gross.

    anyways…the new american patties were positively delicious. they tasted like excellent mini homemade veggie burgers mixed up with traditional thanksgiving stuffing all in one. all slathered in tasty and thick mushroom gravy, this was definitely a feast by any definition of the word. i ended up taking half of it home because it was too much to eat in one sitting.

    my husband opted for the more traditional vegan breakfast, and ordered hugo’s tofu scramble. i had a taste and i gotta say it is one of the best tofu scrambles out there.

    tofu scramble: organic tofu scrambled with potatoes, green onions, tomato, spinach, garlic and mushrooms with ginger-soy sauce. $11.50

    tofu scramble: organic tofu scrambled with potatoes, green onions, tomato, spinach, garlic and mushrooms with ginger-soy sauce. $11.50

    he ordered it with normal potatoes, instead of the sweet potatoes it usually comes with. they mixed up with the tofu very well, and everything was perfectly cooked. the tofu was juicy and plump, not like the mushy stuff in your typical scramble. a very welcome change.

    so overall, hugo’s was an epic win. all the food was great, and they offered a scrumptious holiday meal that involved no murdering of animals. i can’t wait to go back and try out more of their vegan offerings.

    have a great vegan thanksgiving!

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