• August 21st, 2009quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), portland

    now i can’t really say that i’m an expert on portland cuisine or anything, having spent less than four days of my life in the city, but i can tell you that the vegan breakfast at vita cafe was one of the best breakfasts i’ve ever had, in any city.

    sloppy biscuit sandwich: fried tofu, faux turkey, vegan cheese and gravy between a vegan biscuit served with potatoes. $8

    sloppy biscuit sandwich: fried tofu, faux turkey, vegan cheese and gravy between a vegan biscuit served with potatoes. $8

    before my visit, i read a rave review of vita’s vegan biscuits and gravy on ToLiveAndEatInLA.com, so i went in with pretty high hopes. i decided to go all out fatty-style and get the sloppy biscuit sandwich complete with fried tofu, mock turkey and vegan cheese all smothered in vita’s almond gravy with a side of breakfast potatoes. this meal was so damn delicious, it exceeded my expectations and definitely lived up to the hype.

    from the description on the menu, i was expecting the biscuit sandwich to be a like a hearty mcmuffin with some gravy on the side. what i got instead was a huge mound of fluffy open-face biscuits topped with a massive slice of fried tofu, loads of mock meat and melty vegan cheese. all this was drenched in the thickest, richest, most delicious gravy i’ve ever tasted. it was waaaaay too much food for me to eat, but by the end of the meal i was straight up licking the gravy off my plate.

    everything about this breakfast was perfect—the biscuits were soft and doughy, the fried tofu was crispy and not too greasy, the mock meat and cheese were salty and delicious, and the almond gravy was out of this world. garnished with chopped green onions and accompanied by a large side of excellent home fried potatoes, this is the best breakfast i’ve ever eaten. ever. EVER. and i have eaten A LOT of breakfasts.

    vita-cafe-biscuit-sandwich-side

    my husband went with the lighter, but equally delicious vita scramble. it came with chunky tofu, stir-fried vegetables and leafy spinach with a side of breakfast potatoes and biscuits. as far as tofu scrambles goes, this is one of the best i’ve ever tried. the vegetables were fresh, the tofu was well-seasoned, and it was packed with tasty garlic flavor. a+!

    vita scramble: tofu, veggies, red onion, garlic and spinach. $8

    vita scramble: tofu, veggies, red onion, garlic and spinach. $8

    so overall, vita cafe was one of the best meals and definitely the best breakfast we had in portland. the serving sizes are huge, the food is top notch, and the almond gravy is probably the tastiest thing ever to hit my belly. there are millions of appetizing options on the menu, and almost all of them can be made vegan, so i just can’t wait to go back. in fact, when ordering, i asked the waiter if my dish could be made vegan, and he assured me that there was even a “veganize” button on their computer that would tell the kitchen to replace all the non-vegan ingredients. how awesome is that?!

    oh and one more bonus, like almost every place in portland, vita cafe has good beer ON TAP. i am definitely hitting them up for dinner and boozin’ next time i’m in town.

    vita-cafe-ext

    when in portland, vita cafe is a MUST VISIT place for vegans. i just wish they’d open up a location in los angeles.

    vita cafe
    3023 NE Alberta
    Portland Oregon
    503-335-8233

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  • April 14th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, millie's cafe

    who doesn’t love going out for a big slap-up brunch on sunday morning? it seems like the right thing to do on the last day of rest before the start of a week: wake up late, lounge around, and then eat a ridiculous amount of food before lounging around some more…right? so imagine how bummed i was when i headed out with my husband on sunday to indulge in flore cafe’s all-you-can eat vegan brunch, only to find that the restaurant was closed. wtf!! i think it had something to do with a fictional character like jesus or the easter bunny or something, but either way we left empty-stomached and disappointed. luckily for us, there is always a very vegan-friendly plan b in silverlake at millie’s cafe just a few blocks away.

    millie’s cafe is a great little breakfast/lunch spot with loads of vegan options, open everyday (even on easter apparently) from 7:30am to 4:00pm. they have been around since 1926, and for los angeles that is one of hell of a long time. the staff is friendly, the service is quick, and most importantly the food is really good. so good in fact that by the end of our meal, i was pretty glad that flore cafe was closed. this was nice for a change.

    angel's mess: tofu scrambled with vegan sausage and casein-free soy cheese. served with your choice of toast and a delectable fruit cup. $11.95

    angel's mess: tofu scrambled with vegan sausage and casein-free soy cheese. served with your choice of toast and a delectable fruit cup. $11.95

    the angel’s mess is one of the heartier tofu scrambles at millie’s cafe, as it comes with vegan sausage and soy cheese. the menu even says the cheese is casein-free (isn’t that a relief?), and from the taste of it, i’m pretty certain they use follow your heart. the vegan sausage is pretty much the soy ground you can buy at the supermarket, but they season it and cook it up right nice. what really makes this dish though is the fresh salsa and guacamole. the cool vegetables and creamy avocado taste great all mixed in with the scramble. at 12 bucks the angel’s mess is a tad on the pricey side, but a really decent meal if you are craving some fake meat and cheese up in your breakfast. they also have a much cheaper tofu scramble with ginger soy sauce and fresh spinach if you are in that kind of mood.

    vegan chilaquiles: tofu, crisp corn tortilla chips drenched in ranchero salsa atop a bed of black beans and melted soy cheese, topped with guacamole and pico de gallo. can also be a burrito. $8.50

    vegan chilaquiles: tofu, crisp corn tortilla chips drenched in ranchero salsa atop a bed of black beans and melted soy cheese, topped with guacamole and pico de gallo. can also be a burrito. $8.50

    millie’s has a few really appetizing veganizable menu items, so i had a rough time settling on the chilaquiles. (the no huevos rancheros also sounded really tasty.) the chilaquiles ended up being absolutely delicious…huge chunks of soft tofu, black beans and crispy chips slathered in a delicious red sauce. all mixed in with vegan cheese and covered in chunky guacamole. this dish really hit the spot. and it was so much food for $8.50! millie’s has got the mexican food down.

    milies-chilaquiles-cu

    so i know it will be rough for vegans to make it over to millie’s cafe, since it’s located in between flore and flore cafe…but i highly suggest you suck it up and eat at this omnivorous restaurant, because their vegan stuff is worth a try. while the angel’s mess is pretty good, the mexican breakfast entrees are exceptional and much cheaper. either way, you can’t really go wrong. so much stuff can be veganized on the breakfast menu, plus they have vegan burgers, burritos and tacos on the lunch menu…and both menus are served all day.

    if millie’s cafe has been around since the 20′s, they must be doing something right. head over and eat some of their vegan stuff. you will like it. oh and plus, they were open on a jesus-y holiday when flore cafe decided to shut. bonus points for that.

    millie’s cafe
    3524 W. Sunset Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90026
    323-664-0404
    Open 7 days a week
    7:30AM to 4:00PM

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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 22nd, 2009quarrygirlflore cafe (closed), LA restaurants

    UPDATE 9/17: as of sunday 9/20, THE VEGAN BRUNCH IS BACK!!! please go support flore cafe! we don’t want to see this brunch go away again!

    UPDATE: unfortunately, due to slow business, the all-you-can-eat vegan brunch at flore cafe has been discontinued. you should still get over there ASAP though, as most of the brunch items are available on their menu.

    in breaking los angeles vegan news, flore cafe in silverlake is now offering an all you can eat vegan brunch for just ten bucks every sunday from 10am to 3pm. they kicked it off today with an epic breakfast feast, and i was there to enjoy it.

    flore cafe all you can eat vegan brunch for $10. pictured is the french toast, tofu scramble and vegan bacon.

    flore cafe all you can eat vegan brunch for $10. pictured is the french toast, tofu scramble and vegan bacon.

    flore cafe has sparked a bit of controversy on this site in the past, mainly because it occupies the same space as our all-time favorite restaurant, the vegan spot, which no longer exists. the only major grouse i’ve had with flore cafe in months prior is in regards to its decision to sell eggs in what used to be an entirely vegan restaurant…and also it’s owned by the same person who owns flore, an entirely vegan restaurant down the street. well, that issue doesn’t even come into play for the sunday brunch. everything offered is 100% vegan, and there wasn’t a single egg or blob of cream cheese in sight. pure, animal-free, sweet & savory goodness.

    my husband and i showed up mid-morning, and the place was already buzzin’ with people. we piled our plates high with tofu scramble, french toast and breakfast potatoes…and even ended up going back for seconds! the orange juice and coffee were flowing like water, and we didn’t want for anything. tons of our friends went throughout the day, and all of them said the crowd was hoppin’ and the food was excellent.

    two vegans get their fill of breakfast, orange juice, and coffee on sunday morning.

    two vegans get their fill of breakfast, orange juice, and coffee on sunday morning.

    i could really get used to a totally vegan all you can eat brunch in los angeles. flore cafe has stepped it up a notch and everyone should check out this sunday meal.

    while i still miss the vegan spot more than ever, it’s great that flore cafe has decided to leave out the eggs and offer a cruelty-free brunch for us los angeles vegans. go and eat it up!

    today the many brunch offerings included:
    tofu scramble, french toast, waffles, potatoes, fresh fruit, bread & jam, coffee and orange juice.

    all you can eat! vegan brunch! flore cafe! sunset blvd. and descanso! yeah!

    all you can eat! vegan brunch! flore cafe! sunset blvd. and descanso! yeah!

    check out the trays and trays of food, lined up right next to the health code department grade A on the window. flore cafe did raise a question today though (and lex of vegan-la also noticed) when they didn’t provide new, clean plates for each trip up to the buffet line. that could result in contamination and raise some eyebrows with the health inspector. i myself, go with the flow, though. that didn’t stop me!

    i filled my plate with the mainly the tofu scramble and vegan bacon, both of which were out of this world! i’ve written about flore cafe’s tofu scramble before, and this stuff was just as good. the chunks of tofu were thick, not all mushed up like in most scrambles, and it came with a generous helping of spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. the vegan bacon was really small and crispy, and had an absolutely delicious smokey taste. the fact that you can take all you want of this for ten bucks is total highway robbery.

    i also got a slice of flore cafe’s french toast. i’ve never had any kind of vegan french toast before, but i can tell you this was better than the real thing. there was a thin slice of really nicely fried bread beneath an absolutely delicious cinnamon batter. i topped it all off with some maple syrup…total perfect decadence!

    i asked for a vegan twinkie when i purchased my plate, but the dude behind the counter told me that they no longer stock them. total bummer. so no more vegan spot, no more vegan twinkies. wtf! i’m just so glad that flore cafe came up with the all you can eat brunch…it’s definitely something that will keep me coming back for more, no matter how disappointed i may be when my favorite stuff drops off the menu. and for all you twinkie stalkers, i hear from sources that they are available at native foods.

    bottom line is, los angeles vegans, the flore cafe brunch is truly incredible! head over there on sundays from 10am to 3pm to get your share of all-you-can-eat 100% vegan awesomeness. you won’t be sorry, and the food is fuckin’ great.

    flore cafe
    3206 w. sunset blvd.
    los angeles ca 90026
    323-667-0116
    all you can eat sunday vegan brunch. 10am to 3pm, ten bucks per person!

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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 29th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, mani's bakery (closed)

    mani’s bakery on fairfax is a must-visit for all vegans, as far as i’m concerned. i ran across mani’s awhile back when the bakery made an insane vegan cake for my co-worker’s birthday. i went to mani’s later to check it out and realized that their vegan menu was huge compared to other restaurants in town. i mean, they even have a full-on legend at the top of the menu for vegan and vegan-optional items. on top of that, the food is pretty damn good and they have great hours, plus they serve breakfast all day long. yay mani’s bakery!

    bread basket: an assortment of our freshly baked breads with 3 of our homemade spreads. $6

    bread basket: an assortment of our freshly baked breads with 3 of our homemade spreads. $6

    my husband and i hit up mani’s recently and were pretty impressed with the food. one of the vegan-optional starters at mani’s is the bread basket. being a self-contained bakery and all, mani’s definitely has the bread thing down. our basket included an impressive selection of piping hot crunchy slices, soft and chewy rolls, and thin and crispy chips. the spreads were black bean, pesto, and hummus; and each one was rich, flavorful and creamy. between me and my husband, the bread basket was way too much food to finish, but that didn’t stop us from trying.

    arugula artichoke salad: marinated artichoke hearts and crisp green beans with baby arugula make this salad a green dream. served with lime-cilantro dressing and braised tempeh. $14

    arugula artichoke salad: marinated artichoke hearts and crisp green beans with baby arugula make this salad a green dream. served with lime-cilantro dressing and braised tempeh. $14

    as a main, my husband ordered the vegan-optional arugula artichoke salad. while 14 bucks is definitely a lot to pay for a salad, this thing was pretty huge and they didn’t skimp on the tempeh. the artichoke hearts were shredded into delicate slices and marinated perfectly. the braised tempeh was amazing; why anyone would get this salad with the grilled chicken option is beyond me!

    tofu scramble hash: we start with organic tofu and scramble it with asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, miso and nutritional yeast to end up with a nourishing and wholesome dish. comes with veggie bacon. $13

    tofu scramble hash: we start with organic tofu and scramble it with asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, miso and nutritional yeast to end up with a nourishing and wholesome dish. comes with veggie bacon. $13

    i took advantage of the fact all day breakfast and went for the tofu scramble hash. it was insanely delicious. the tofu was scrambled up in big thick chunks and was all mixed in in with the vegetables. the soft mushrooms, spinach and tofu went perfectly with the crispy, crunchy asparagus. i got the vegan option, which came with sliced tempeh rather than veggie bacon, and it was quite tasty. the breakfast potatoes were top notch as well. good stuff all the way around.

    while the food is awesome at mani’s, it’s often crowded and dining in can be unpleasant. you will probably have to wait for a table, the restaurant is loud and cramped, and the chairs aren’t that comfortable. for the high prices, i would expect more of a dining experience rather than the quickie cafe feel that mani’s offers. fortunately for me, the food is just as delicious to go. 

    breakfast wrap: the whole enchilada's wrapped up for your morning meal. black beans, guacamole, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, cilantro and vegan tofu scramble in a whole wheat or spinach tortilla. served with ranchero sauce and pico de gallo. $10

    breakfast wrap: the whole enchilada's wrapped up for your morning meal. black beans, guacamole, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, cilantro and vegan tofu scramble in a whole wheat or spinach tortilla. served with ranchero sauce and pico de gallo. $10

    on a subsequent visit, my husband and i grabbed take-out from mani’s for dinner, and mine was every bit as tasty. i ordered breakfast again, but this time i got the wrap. the breakfast wrap is super because it’s pretty much the exact same tofu scramble as above, but it’s thrown in a tortilla with beans and guacamole. plus, it’s 3 bucks cheaper. score!

    tasty scramble, all rolled up.

    tasty scramble, all rolled up.

    this time my husband ordered the classic sandwich, veganized with kale greens. it was good, but not as good as the salad he’d had in the restaurant.

    the classic: like a timeless old hollywood standard. lettuce, tomato and our special-recipe tangy sauce atop breaded seitan and tempeh bacon. $11

    the classic: like a timeless old hollywood standard. lettuce, tomato and our special-recipe tangy sauce atop breaded seitan and tempeh bacon. $11

    i took a bite of the sandwich and thought the seitan was delicious, but my husband described it as “too chewy” and “glue-y.” maybe next time i will order it for meself!

    so overall, mani’s bakery is definitely worth a visit. whether you dine in or take-out, the food will most likely be delicious. they have a massive menu with loads of vegan options, just remember to specify. plus, they have a whole freakin’ bakery with fresh bread and vegan desserts! cakes, cookies, even almond roca…they’ve got TONS of stuff to choose from. i’ve just always filled up on the tasty food, leaving no room for their tempting sweets. thankfully, there’s always next time!

    mani’s bakery
    519 S. fairfax avenue
    los angeles, ca 90036
    (323) 938-8800

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  • December 18th, 2008quarrygirlflore cafe (closed), LA restaurants

    yo, los angeles: a new vegan-friendly restaurant opened today in silver lake and i was eating it. welcome to the hood, flore cafe. we are pleased to have you.

    flore cafe: LA's newest vegan eats!

    flore cafe: LA's newest vegan eats!

    flore cafe is the lesser little brother of the awesome los angeles vegan eatery flore. i say “lesser” because the menu is smaller, there are fewer places to sit, and um….IT ISN’T FUCKING VEGAN. that’s right, although flore AND flore cafe are owned by a vegan, flore cafe still serves up piping hot plates of chicken menstruation (eggs) and offers a bagel topping of puss and blood (cheese). a total disappointment coming from vegan management.

    don’t get me wrong, although flore cafe sins with disgusting animal by-products in some of their dishes, the place is super vegan friendly. 90% of the menu is animal-free…they just have tons of icky eggs on their breakfast menu, a real cream cheese option for the bagels, and pastries riddled with butter and other crap. the soups, salads, sandwiches, and wraps are all vegan. plus, they have an awesome selection of vegan waffles and vegan desserts. i will take what i can get.

    now before i get all into the food, lemme say…not long ago, i posted about the tragic closing of one of my favorite los angeles restaurants, the vegan spot. i posted time after time about this little sandwich shop that could(n’t), but sadly after a good run, they had to close their doors. well now it seems that just 2 weeks later, this new vegetarian coffee house has sprung up in their exact location. flore cafe is owned by a woman who is the sole owner of flore and was one of the two owners of the vegan spot. i guess she took the opportunity of the vegan spot’s failure to expand her flore empire, and add start selling eggs at the same time. eww. eww. eww. why?!?

    the upside of all this, for the vegan community, is that the super tasty breakfast items (which are only offered until 1pm at flore) are offered until 4pm at flore cafe. so that awesome tofu benediction, that tofu scramble, those cruelty-free waffles can be yours well into the afternoon. i hooked up the sweetest tofu scramble today at around 2pm. considering it was their grand-opening and all, i gotta say they cooked this up quite perfectly.

    tofu scramble: tofu, tomato, basil, mushroom, red onion & spinach. $6.95

    tofu scramble: tofu, tomato, basil, mushroom, red onion & spinach. $6.95

    while flore cafe is missing my favorite item that constantly appears on flore’s menu (KALE!!!!!!), they made up for it in tons of spinach and fresh avocado. my scramble was, to say the least, divine. i am looking forward to having it again. at $6.95, it was pretty fairly priced and came with large cuts of firm tofu, all mixed in with flavorful vegetables. they didn’t use nutritional yeast or beat the crap out of the tofu, like most scrambles i’m used to. this dish just had cubes of tofu sauteed with natural ingredients, all up in an impressive sauce.

    on top of a bloody great scramble, flore cafe eased my vegan spot separation-anxiety with the best dessert of all time: the vegan twinkie. vegan twinkies kind of put the vegan spot on the map. cooked up by no whey, a los angeles-based vegan baking company, these twinkies have gotten all kinds of press and have been known to sell out within hours of delivery. i was so stoked to see them at this new vegetarian coffee shop. i love it when good things stay the same.

    vegan twinkie. $3.50

    vegan twinkie. $3.50

    okay, so before i pass out from my food coma, let me remind you that the opening of flore cafe is both depressing and exciting news rolled into one. the best vegan food in los angeles, by far was provided by the vegan spot. they had amazing sandwiches, melty fake cheese, and my favorite meal EVER…the chef salad. now that they are gone, i am super glad a new vegetarian cafe has taken their place, but goddammit, it isn’t the fucking same.

    this flore cafe doesn’t have all the melty fake cheese, no insane mind-blowing wheat meats, and definitely no chef salad. it’s funny, how a vegan restaurant can turn its nose up at “fake meats,” refusing to offer them, then open a cafe that sells REAL FUCKING EGGS. i just don’t get it. why any vegan would open a restaurant and sell egg dishes and dairy-filled pastries is beyond me. ah well.

    furthermore, flore cafe is only open from 7am to 4pm. ok, great…they are open like 3 hours earlier than the vegan spot was. but all of those 3 hours are hours when i am usually asleep. i used to stumble out of the bar with my husband frequently on friday night at around 9pm and order an impromptu meal from the vegan spot. i guess that avenue of pleasure is forever closed off. hmmmm, at least if i am randomly in silver lake at 7:30 am, i know where to get some good tempeh bacon! ho hum.

    now that i have done a good job talking shit on the new development that is flore cafe, let me say they have done wonders with the space.

    i wish i could have gotten more pix of flore cafe’s interior, but dude, i was all self-conscious. busting out a camera and being outed as a blogger is the last thing i need. let me tell you, though, flore cafe has a new paint job, great furniture, and sweet decor. i felt so hip when i was there. rad.

    what used to be a shabby, depressing sandwich counter is now a shic little cafe with tons of sunlight, a pleasant interior and comfy seating. i would actually rather eat in at this coffee shop than at the real flore. they have huge windows, a booth, sweet little tables and chairs, barstools along the wall, and outdoor seating. the vegan spot just had a cracked-out chicken mural and some really depressing tables that looked like they were about to collapse. flore cafe, at least is trying.

    picture taken from a spacious booth. CLASSY DIGS!

    picture taken from a spacious booth. CLASSY DIGS!

    so, i’ve only been there once, but i can say i will be back to flore cafe. the food is awesome, the atmosphere is chill, and the prices are alright. HOWEVER…vegan spot, IT IS NOT!

    to break it down: a.) flore cafe has eschewed all fake meat, yet at the same time embraced NON-VEGAN shit like eggs and cheese and butter and whatever. that totally grosses me out. b.) flore cafe is not open when i want it to be. i can never get drunk at 9pm and decide i want some flore cafe…because it will have been closed for 5 hours. c.) there’s nothing new or inventive on the menu at flore cafe, almost all this shit can be found at flore itself. see for yourself:

    floremenu1 floremenu2

    tasty menu….BUT….god, did i mention HOW MUCH i will miss the vegan spot’s roast beef cheddar sandwich, philly cheesesteak sandwich, french bread pizza and chef salad?!?!??! i think that this will be a long and drawn-out break-up.

    so, vegetarians and vegans, hustle your ass over to flore cafe between 7 am and 4 pm. they have salads, bowls, twinkies and some tofu breakfast items. i’m so stoked that a vegetarian cafe filled the location of my old favorite restaurant. but let me tell ya, and i can’t make it any more clear…I STILL MISS THE VEGAN SPOT! boo hoo.

    but my tofu scramble was still mad decent.

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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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