• July 7th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, true food kitchen

    i am very much a hollywood creature, and it isn’t often that i venture to the west side. when i do make the trek to santa monica though, it usually isn’t for the cool breeze or sandy beach—instead, it’s almost always to either visit friends or nosh on vegan eats. last week’s visit was a combination of both, when chloe coscarelli invited me for lunch at the newly-opened true food kitchen.

    the restaurant occupies an absolutely massive and elegant space in the recently refurbbed santa monica place, and i was pretty wowed with the atmosphere. there’s a gigantic seating area indoors with comfy booths and an open kitchen, as well as a large patio area outside to take advantage of the never-ending LA sunshine. the service is at true food is excellent, from the complimentary valet on 2nd street to the overly attentive waitstaff.

    the menu is very “california” style—local and healthy for the most part, with a huge focus on “sustainable” meat (grrr!). if you can look past that, they have lots of great vegan items which are clearly marked on the menu. i absolutely love it when restaurants have a separate vegan symbol…it takes all the guess work out of ordering!

    to start, we split an order of the shiitake tofu lettuce cups from the appetizer menu, and they were absolutely wonderful.

    shiitake and tofu lettuce cups: ginger, cashew and toasted garlic. $9

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  • May 28th, 2011quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), philadelphia

    hey peeps, time for a field report from one of our favorite people! kevin from veganbrew.com brings us this awesome post regarding vegan thai food that doesn’t suck (a rarity to angelenos!) enjoy…

    Living in South Philly for the past decade, I don’t know how I didn’t check out Circles sooner – even though several people I know have raved about it. It took a “Hey, wanna check out Circles tonight?” text from one of my friends yesterday to finally get over there.

    Circles has been around for a few years for takeout & delivery, but only recently opened up a “dining” room restaurant extension. It’s not really an extension so much as another building across the street, where food gets shuffled back and forth over a small, slightly-larger-than-an-alley South Philly street. I love Thai food, but I’m always suspicious of places that are overly vegan-friendly – I hate playing a game of 20 questions (fish sauce? shrimp? oysters? etc) which has been my experience.

    Circles clearly marks everything on their menu that is vegan, and most of the menu is able to be made vegan. Yay!

    My friend and I started out with some appetizers:

    Seitan Satay: Grilled thinly sliced marinated seitan served with peanut sauce and cucumber relish. ($6.95). Vegetable dumplings: Sauteed leeks with an Asian ginger seasoning and a vinaigrette soy sauce. ($5.95)

    Seitan satay, which are yummy grilled thin strips of seitan on skewers served with a peanut sauce. Awesome! And Pan Fried Dumplings, which had a nice spicy kick to them.

    Then we ordered two gigantic entrees as well:

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  • tuesday evening was pretty awesome because it marked the launch of highland park’s din din a go go, a weekly vegan-friendly truck feast in the parking lot of figueroa produce. i arrived at right at the beginning (5:30pm), and there were already tons of hungry peeps milling around, waiting to get their grub on.

    when i saw the multiple trucks lined up neatly behind figueroa produce to the right, i knew it was gonna be an epic night. all the trucks had vegan items on their menus (many added specifically for this event), so i had a pretty tough time deciding what to order. i chose my meals (yes, i ate multiple meals) depending on who was ready to serve and had the shortest line. first up, lomo arigato.

    tofu lomo saltado: tofu sauteed with onions, tomatoes, french fries, soy sauce, and red wine. served over peruvian rice.

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  • September 20th, 2010quarrygirlbay area, more restaurants (not LA)

    i’ve eaten at countless restaurants all over the country, and if you were to ask me to name my favorites, souley vegan would be near the top of that list.

    the modest oakland eatery is miles ahead of most of the places we have here in los angeles, what with its home cooked animal-free menu, fried food sensibilities, friendly service, and spacious interior. we hit up the northern california soul food joint recently with laura of vegansaurus fame, and it was a meal to remember.

    the menu at souley is on this huge chalkboard posted on the wall, and is a little intimidating at first glance. it’s hard to believe that so much vegan goodness exists under one roof.

    click to enlarge

    they’ve got everything from collard greens to southern fried tofu, and prices range from 6 bucks per dish to 8 bucks for 2 dishes, and increasingly better value right up to the “everything plate,” which includes almost every side dish available for $19. naturally, that’s what we ordered.

    the everything plate is one huge platter stacked up with collard greens, cornbread, black eye peas, southern fried tofu, lentils, potato salad, bbq tofu, mac n cheese, and yams. to call it epic would be an understatement. you can see it pictured at the top of the post from one angle…and below is a shot of it from behind.

    the everything plate: collard greens, cornbread, black eye peas, southern fried tofu, lentils, potato salad, bbq tofu, mac-n-cheese, and yams (YES, those are YAMS, you sicko!) $19

    make no mistake—those orange things are yams, okay?! anyways, this plate was amazing. where do i start? the bbq tofu was well-seasoned and sweet, while the mac and cheese was mild but extra gooey and velvety. the lentils were earthy and tasted great all mixed up with the collard greens (which you can’t even see, because there was so much food on the plate). the potato salad was so damn creamy, i had a hard time believing it was vegan…and the cornbread was like a delicious oily sponge. for an extra $6, you can add fried okra along with beans and rice to your order, but we simply didn’t have room for that. next time!

    southern fried tofu. $6

    not knowing how much food would arrive, we also got a side of the southern fried tofu on its own. this proved to be a good decision though, because the this tofu was definitely one of the most delicious things on the table. all coated in batter and fried up in a fantastic blend of spices, the skin on this stuff was probably half an inch thick. i’m so glad they served it on a piece of lettuce, because that totally makes this meal healthy, right?

    the crispy. $6. plus $2 per side.

    laura was all about ordering the “crispy,” a fried tofu sandwich that she said is one of the best things she’s ever eaten in her life. it came with the same beautiful hunk of tofu we ordered along with condiments and toppings on a bread roll for 6 bucks. you can add sides to your sandwich for just $2 each…so i think next time i am gonna go with this option rather than the everything plate.

    inside, souley vegan is nice and roomy with two separate seating areas to choose from. it was empty when we were there (at around 11am), but we were told to get there early because the place can get packed. with food this good, i don’t doubt it.

    if you are ever in the bay area, souley vegan is a MUST VISIT. it’s just a short train ride from san francisco, and the restaurant is walkable from the station. deep fried vegan has never tasted so good!

    souley vegan
    301 Broadway
    Oakland, CA 94607-3804
    (510) 922-1615

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  • September 8th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, p.f. chang's

    i can’t say that we’ve eaten at pf chang’s very much since our last somewhat damning post on the chain restaurant, but we have been back a few times. if you are dining out with omnivores, or are in a city without much vegan food, pf chang’s can be a life saver. they’ve got locations all over the country, and some decent animal-free options. in fact their entire vegetarian menu is free of animal ingredients, and might be considered vegan, depending on whether or not you eat bone char sugar.

    buddha's feast: vegetable medley with five-spice tofu served steamed or stir-fried.

    i contacted pf chang’s recently to find out exactly what was vegan on their menu, and within a few hours, i got the following response:

    “Thank you for your note and inquiry! There are a couple of items on our menu that are vegan and others that can be, when modified. If cane sugar is not an issue for you, I recommend any items from our “Vegetarian Plates and Sides” and vegetarian marked menu items. If cane sugar is an issue, I recommend the following:

    Steamed Buddha’s Feast – you can add soft tofu or pressed tofu to this dish.

    Stir-Fried Spinach – garlic, salt and pepper. You can add soft tofu or pressed tofu to this dish.

    Garlic Snap Peas – garlic, salt and pepper. You can add soft tofu or pressed tofu to this dish.

    You can also order any vegetable or tofu with a modified sauce. Please ask to speak to a manager and they will be happy to accommodate you accordingly. I hope this information is helpful.

    Thanks and have a wonderful day!”

    excellent! so basically all the vegetarian dishes are safe to eat, unless you wanna avoid bone char sugar. then you can stick with buddha’s feast, the spinach, and the snap peas.

    we hit up pf chang’s recently to give the vegan dishes another whirl, and while i wasn’t blown away by the food, it wan’t as bad as i remember it. i got the steamed buddha’s feast, pictured above, which is basically a big old lump of vegetables and sliced tofu. it was tasty and well-prepared, but definitely something i could make at home.

    spinach stir-fried with garlic: the name says it all!

    we also got the spinach stir-fried with garlic to share, which was great. again, a pretty standard dish that i could probably re-create.

    ma po tofu: sichuan's famous dish of crispy silken tofu in a vegetarian sauce with steamed broccoli

    my husband ordered the ma po tofu (which contains the evil sugar), and it was by far the best dish on the table. the tofu is just cooked so nicely, all crispy and gooey on the outside and so soft in the middle. plus, it comes with a ton of steamed broccoli.

    although pf chang’s uses the bad sugar, i’m super stoked that their entire vegetarian menu is free of dairy and eggs. they do have an egg noodle dish, but the menu doesn’t specify it as vegetarian…so that’s cool. so if you are in a pinch, pf chang’s is a great chain to hit up, unlike most chinese restaurants where the only vegetarian option looks like this:

    check out pf chang’s website for locations.

    PS: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BONE CHAR SUGAR? i’m curious. because we all love ronald’s donuts, right? they use bone char sugar. so does zpizza, i think. and i bet sriracha does too. check out this forum thread and chime in.

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  • January 16th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, vinh loi tofu

    it’s a whole new year, and that means a whole lot of new food at vinh loi tofu. if you haven’t heard of vinh loi, they are an amazing tofu factory/vietnamese eatery that we named one of the best vegan restaurants in los angeles. seriously, this place is incredible. not only do they make their own tofu and tofu-based products…but they have the best, spiciest, and most authentic meat-free asian cuisine in town.

    kevin tran is the mastermind behind vinh loi tofu…and like any genius, he is always perfecting his art. in the new year he decided to add a whole slew of items to VL’s menu, and they are items that you would only really know about if you befriended the restaurant on facebook. practically everyday kevin posts a new crowd-pleasing special, appetizer, or noodle dish on his “wall”. (after all, that’s how i found out about vinh loi’s amazing holiday turkey!)

    earlier this week we trekked all the way out to reseda in order to try some of kevin’s new creations, and boy, we were not disappointed!

    soup 2010: udon, vegan duck, sesame seeds, chilis, lemongrass, peanuts, cilantro. $9.50

    we shared a couple entrees, the first being kevin’s facebook advertised daily special: the soup 2010. like most of vinh loi’s delicious liquid-based meals, this consisted of a spicy broth along with thick noodles, loads of fake meat and fresh cilantro. i am a big fan of kevin’s soups, but this was better than any i’ve tried before. not just was it tasty and uber satisfying, but the soy duck was better than any of his other fake meats and the to-go packaging was perfect: VL packed the liquid in a huge container protected by a plastic bag, with the noodles and vegetables all stowed separately to maintain ultimate freshness. i appreciate that.

    beef udon salad: thick udon noodles, vegan beef, salad greens and vegetables, chilis. $9.50

    our next main dish was a new item that kevin highly recommended, the vegan beef udon salad. wow, this thing was the perfect—full of vegetables, greens, salty soy meat, fat ass noodles, and special seasonings. what more do i require?! at under 10 bucks, this was also a bargain. seriously, go to vinh loi and request this dish pronto!

    vegan ham roll: tofu ham, brown rice, seaweed, nori. $4.50

    we also tried the “ham” roll sushi, which was probably my favorite find of the evening. leave it up to kevin tran to give vegan sushi a completely new take—this was the meatiest, stickiest, most flavorful roll i’ve ever had. with no vegetables, it relied solely on the vinh loi vegan meats for flavor, which i love more than anything! plus the seaweed was excellently sticky, and each roll held together just perfectly. guh, i should have gotten some of these to stockpile!

    veggie bun: wheat flour, cabbage, mushroom, soy bean oil, seasoning. $2

    aside from trying the new menu items, we also tasted some vinh loi classic dishes, the first being the veggie steamed bun. whoa, this things is all kinds of yum! it reminded me a lot of the seitan bun from the new year’s eve menu at madeleine bistro, except this was full of vegetables and served in a to-go fashion. it was a whole mess of savory vegetables and sauce encased in a sweet sticky bun, PERFECT.

    lemongrass and chili $1.25

    lastly, as usual, we had to get an order of kevin’s homemade tofu. he has several flavors to choose from including plain, lemongrass and chili, and mushroom….all for just $1.25 per serving. i am not kidding when i say this is the best tofu i have ever had, and every time i visit vinh loi i have to buy at least a couple portions. this makes normal tofu taste like ugh. this is the BEST TOFU EVER!

    so the moral of this whole story is: if you haven’t checked out vinh loi tofu already, you are missing out. AND EVEN IF YOU HAVE CHECKED OUT VINH LOI TOFU, you are probably still MISSING OUT!
    the only way to get the full on low down/experience is to befriend vinh loi on facebook. it’s so worth it for the daily specials, holiday offers, and new menu items.

    come on, be a vegan in the know!

    vinh loi tofu
    18625 Sherman Way #101
    Reseda, CA 91335

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  • January 1st, 2010mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    You can tell a classy lady just by looking at her, and the same is true of Manhattan’s Candle 79. Ensconced on a wide, tree-lined street in the affluent Upper East Side and surrounded by some of the world’s finest restaurants (and most expensive real estate), Candle 79 has incredibly sexy curb appeal and, like that classy lady, proves that beauty is not only skin deep but the real treasure is what lies within.

    On our recent visit, we were treated to some of the finest cuisine we’d ever experienced, in an atmosphere that rivals only Sublime in Fort Lauderdale (the East Coast’s only other vegan fine dining establishment). Probably because we reserved for 6pm and arrived a little early, we lucked out with a great table (actually, a large booth beside the cocktail bar).

    Our very attentive server ran over over the menu with us, explaining that the restaurant is entirely vegan, and if the menu said “cheese” or “ice cream” the ingredients were, in fact, vegan. Clearly, this explanation was somewhat reassuring! He then took our drink order, which was a reasonably priced bottle of organic Côtes du Rhône that arrived with a couple of small and complimentary appetizers of sliced zucchini, with a spicy vegetable-infused cream cheese combination atop. They were each gone in one scrumptious bite, and set a realistic expectation for the meal that was to come.

    It took us forever to decide what to order as everything on the menu looked astounding. In the end, we mixed up the flavors by going for a Mexican-style appetizer followed by American and Italian-style entrees.

    The appetizer was “Angel’s Nachos”, an incredible creation that tasted better than I remember vegetarian nachos being. Here in LA, we have a similar dish from Real Food Daily, which not only costs a few bucks more, but uses chips FROM A BAG (yes, the kind you’d get in a grocery store). Not at Candle 79, as these were freshly fried (one could taste the warm oil), and crunchy. Combined with the the vegetables and seitan created an amazing mouth texture, especially when mixed up with the layers of Daiya cheese, fresh guacamole, salsa and tofu sour cream. These are far and away the best vegan nachos we’d ever eaten, and are worth a trip to Candle 79 alone. Even if you have to walk all the way there from Downtown.

    Angel's Nachos: corn chips, cheddar and mozzarella, tomatoes, refried pinto beans, chili-grilled seitan, guacamole, salsa, tofu sour cream, romaine lettuce. $16

    Next up were the two entrees. We opted for the black-pepper grilled seitan, in honor of New York’s legendary prowess as the steak capital of the world. Oh, and this was amazing. I’d never had anything grilled with a balsamic base before, and this turned me on to a whole new avenue of taste. The texture of the seitan was very “grill-like”, with burned edges and a soft, succulent interior – rather like the descriptions I found online of high-end fillet steak.

    Black Pepper & Balsamic Grilled Seitan: sautéed haricots verts, leeks, almonds, cornmeal crusted onion rings, celeriac purée. $23

    This, combined with green beans, and a celery mashed potato-style base, all drizzled with a tasty and tangy sauce was an incredible mash-up (no pun intended!) of taste. I would be remiss not to mention the onion rings, which were perfectly crunchy and had a cornmeal batter, making them rather interesting, and a perfect compliment to the tasty seitan.

    So, after paying vegan homage to NYC’s steak-house history we decided to move things up a notch and go for something Italian-style, as Italian food is usually better here than in Italy itself (go ahead, argue in the comments). Our Italian-style entree was a mixture of succulent vegetables (mainly wild mushrooms) and porcini crusted tofu sauteed up a treat in a smooth and slightly sweet red wine sauce with a layered cheese and root vegetable gratin, all on a bed of spinach, soaked in the red wine sauce.

    Porcini Crusted Tofu: sauteed spinach, root vegetable gratin, wild mushrooms, red wine sauce. $22

    Again, an amazing intersection of taste and textures with perfectly cooked ingredients coming together in just the right way. The layered cheese thing was out of this world – I wish I knew exactly what it is as I’d be most interested in trying to create it myself. Not that I could, but it’s nice to pretend.

    Finally, for desert, we continued the Italian theme with a warm cannoli, filled with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate chip ice cream. The server also bought us some complimentary home-made ice cream (see later for why we got it for free), which went down extremely well with the cannoli. I think one of the successes of a vegan desert is that it should not taste “vegan”, and none of this stuff did. The vanilla filling was like a heavy-cream and powdered sugar filling in a non-vegan cannoli, and the ice cream tasted just like, well, very nice ice cream you’d buy in an up-market ice cream parlor. The desert was amazing, and we were very full upon leaving the restaurant.

    Cannoli: vanilla cream filling, vanilla chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate drizzle. $12

    On this visit, the service was excellent, but being early the place was only starting to fill up as we left. We tried to visit Candle 79 a year or so before, waited 30 minutes for our table (even after our allotted reservation time was up), got the shittiest table in the place and finally walked out after another 20 minutes as nobody came to serve us. Also, even on this trip, we did find the staff a little snooty – I don’t think they appreciated my bright yellow bobble-hat I wore upon arriving out of the 20 degree cold. When we ordered dessert, the server asked if it was our first trip to Candle 79, and we recounted (politely) our experience the first time around. He apologized, and kindly gave us some free ice cream “for your inconvenience last time”. See told you they were a little snooty, but this gesture was much appreciated.

    Homemade Ice Cream & Sorbet Sampler: chef's daily selection. $9

    Also, our server neglected to tell us they had any specials, and I listened to several other customers getting a run-down of some amazing-sounding specials. Not that I’m really upset as I liked what we ordered, but it would have been nice to have the same choices as the other guests. Maybe he was just too much in shock about my bobble hat…?

    So, to sum up, if you’re lucky and you get a nice table and a good server you will have one of the finest vegan dining experiences possible. Yeah it’s was pricey (our bill came to just shy of $150 with tip), but, like a classy lady, Candle 79 really is worth every penny.

    Candle 79
    154 East 79th Street
    New York, NY 10021
    (212) 537-7179

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  • November 28th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, shoop's

    UPDATE: just received the following comment from shoop’s. apparently vegan diners should order sandwiches on the baguette. be sure to double check that your bread is vegan when ordering.

    Hi! I’m from Shoop’s. And yes, we do our best to accommodate all of our vegan customers. I just wanted to clarify about the bread. The above pictured sandwich is on a baguette, which is vegan. It’s the Foccacia which has an egg wash. We also have a great German multigrain bread. Thanks for the review!!

    located on hayworth right at santa monica blvd in weho, shoop’s is a modest hole in the wall shop with an impressive menu of breakfast items, wraps, hot and cold sandwiches, soups and salads. but the place is so tiny and tucked away, that if you didn’t know it was there you would totally miss it. while shoop’s is by no means a vegan mecca and i wouldn’t suggest herbivores make a special trip there, it has some great animal-free selections.

    when i hit up shoop’s a few weeks ago, the owner was working behind the counter. she was super-friendly and willing to answer all my questions about which menu offerings contained animal products. in fact she told me she used to be a vegan herself, and warned me not to order my sandwich on the baguette (egg wash), nor to order anything with soy turkey (egg whites). i knew i was in good hands. she also told me that for vegans, shoop’s would be willing to sub tofu and vegan mayo on any sandwich…so feel free to modify.

    timber's tofu filet: grilled marinated tofu, avocado, roasted red peppers, sprouts and vegan mayo. served with fruit. $8.95

    timber's tofu filet: grilled marinated tofu, avocado, roasted red peppers, sprouts and vegan mayo. served with fruit. $8.95

    i wound up ordering timber’s tofu filet on focaccia bread, a hot sandwich stacked with grilled marinated tofu, avocado, roasted peppers (which i left off), sprouts and vegan mayo. this sandwich was simple, but really excellent. the bread was extremely high quality, crunchy and fluffy stuff—shoop’s obviously doesn’t cut any corners—and the grilled tofu was tender and deliciously marinated. the owner even made a remark to me that she thought their tofu was better than most places because shoop’s doesn’t “just soak it in soy sauce.” i don’t know what they do marinate it in, but it was tasty.

    timber's tofu filet at shoop's

    as i was packing up the second half of my sandwich (it was way too big to eat in one sitting), the owner brought me a small cup of lentil soup. she explained that shoop’s daily soup is almost always vegan, and i should try it out. yum…thick and hearty with soft lentil chunks, this thing really hit the spot.

    vegan lentil soup at shoop's in west hollywood

    while there isn’t a huge vegan selection at shoop’s, it’s nice to know that there is a sandwich shop willing to accommodate us. the place is SUPER vegetarian-friendly, so maybe if we bother them enough they will switch to a brand of soy turkey that doesn’t have egg whites in it!

    just remember, get your sandwich on focaccia NOT a baguette! ….and order it with fruit, the coleslaw isn’t vegan.

    1107 north hayworth
    west hollywood, ca 90046

    oh oh oh, and they have a santa monica location too!

    2400 main st. #a-l
    santa monica

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  • November 25th, 2009quarrygirlhealthyca, LA restaurants

    over the past couple weeks, i have been heading out to the valley to lunch it up at north hollywood’s hoppin’ little take-out and delivery restaurant, healthyca. the place is just a tiny hole in the wall on lankershim with short weekday only hours, but it has loads of vegan options with several salads, sandwiches and hot plates to choose from. i’ve tried a few things off the menu at healthyca, and so far the way i feel about the food there is, i either love it or i hate it…or i think it’s okay.

    vegan feast: tofu trio (teriyaki, tomato and ginger olive) on a bed of red cabbage. $9.95

    vegan feast: tofu trio (teriyaki, tomato and ginger olive) on a bed of red cabbage. $9.95

    let’s start with the dish i absolutely loved…the vegan feast. it was the first thing i ever tried at healthyca, and i was so blown away by it that i was ready to call this place my new favorite restaurant. a vegan feast it is indeed with a hearty portion of well marinated tofu, and your choice of two sides. to make things super easy, all the sides at healthyca are vegan except for the potato salad. i ordered this with red mashed potatoes and grilled white asparagus, and dude…it was all phenomenal.

    white asparagus at healthyca in los angeles

    i am such a lame foodie that this was my first time ever eating white asparagus, but i think it’s safe to say that i will now be a fan for life.

    tofu feast at healthyca in los angeles

    the best thing about this feast, though, was the mound of thick grilled tofu chunks, soaked in a most exquisite and flavorful sauce. it was super tomatoey and oily, and went great with all the cilantro and purple cabbage. there was also so much of it, i ended up stuffing myself and still taking a bunch of food home.

    now for the dish i hated: the veggie delight.

    veggie delight: vegan macrobiotic tofu-grain patty with pesto sauce. $9.95

    veggie delight: vegan macrobiotic tofu-grain patty with pesto sauce. $9.95

    the veggie delight sounds well and good from the menu description, a vegan macrobiotic tofu-grain patty served with pesto sauce with your choice of two sides. it’s the same price as the vegan feast, so i was a bit disappointed and underwhelmed when it showed up looking so small. instead of a massive pile of tofu, this hot plate comes with two thin patties that without much texture or flavoring. i was expecting them to be much more hearty made of grains and tofu like a good veggie burger, but these limp things just tasted like mashed up garden vegetables. to be fair, the sides of quinoa and asparagus i got with them were awesome, and the tofu pesto sauce was decent, but the patties were just blech.

    veggie delight at healthyca in los angeles

    lastly the dish that i thought was okay: the healthyca sausage (be sure to say “NO MAYO”!)

    healthyca sausage: homemade vegan sausage on sesame roll with tomato, lettuce, grilled onion, tofu pesto and red pepper sauces. $9.25

    healthyca sausage: homemade vegan sausage on sesame roll with tomato, lettuce, grilled onion, tofu pesto and red pepper sauces. $9.25

    to be fair, this dish didn’t belong to me….it was ordered by my lunch partner brittany from sickoflettuce.com. i did get to taste it though, so i figure i’m allowed to have an opinion on it. at $9.25, this thing really was a good deal. the sandwich was huge, and it came with a healthy-sized side of your choice (she chose quinoa). it actually arrived at our table looking a lot bigger than the veggie delight, which cost 70cents more. hmph. while it was really attractively priced and the portion was large, i thought the sandwich was just alright. it advertised itself as a vegan sausage, it was more like the same vegetable patty i had in the veggie delight! there was nothing mock-meaty about it. brittany seemed to think it was decent, but i definitely didn’t hear her raving about it or anything.

    healthyca vegan sausage

    so there you go, a quick little run down of some of the vegan offerings at healthyca. while i thought the veggie delight was gross, and the healthyca sausage was nothing to write home about, i can’t stress enough that the vegan feast was fucking amazing! i know i will be back soon to eat that again. for all you peeps who work in the valley or are jobless, this is a great place for a weekday lunch. for everyone else, unfortunately healthyca is closed evenings and weekends. oh well.

    for more pix and reviews of healthyca, you should check out this category on foodeater’s blog toliveandeatinla.com. i think she has eaten practically everything vegan there is to try on the menu! so check it.

    4724 lankershim blvd
    noho, ca 91602

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  • October 28th, 2009quarrygirla votre sante, LA restaurants

    are you looking for a place to recharge with some healthy food after dining out on all the rich and decadent vegan cuisine that los angeles has to offer? well then look no further than a votre sante in brentwood. the cozy eatery offers light and simple natural cuisine that’s healthy yet extremely delicious.

    we hit up a votre sante recently with none other than the healthy vegans, who turned us on to the place, and had a 3 course dinner that left us feeling energized and satisfied rather than stuffed and bloated.

    Dragontail: Fresh vegetables, hijiki, organic tofu, ginger tamari sauce, organic brown rice, organic black beans, and soy tahini.  $13.95

    Dragontail: Fresh vegetables, hijiki, organic tofu, ginger tamari sauce, organic brown rice, organic black beans, and soy tahini. $13.95

    for my main course i ordered the dragontail from a votre sante’s vegan menu. although the restaurant has a separate vegan menu, don’t be fooled—most of their other offerings are vegan as well. for instance, they have a health mex menu on which almost everything is vegan. anyways, the dragontail was a winner. the bowl of food was absolutely massive and filled with vegetables, tofu, rice and black beans…all covered in tamari, tahini and hijiki. man, this thing was incredible. so fresh and simple yet packed with flavor. i don’t know how i managed to eat it all, but i did! the rice was some of the fluffiest i’ve ever tried, and the tofu was soft and juicy. i couldn’t get enough of the sauce either—at the end of the meal, i was practically licking the bowl.

    Blackened Tofu Feast: Blackened organic tofu, steamed vegetables, organic brown rice, and soy tahini sauce.  $13.95

    Blackened Tofu Feast: Blackened organic tofu, steamed vegetables, organic brown rice, and soy tahini sauce. $13.95

    mr. meaner also dined off the vegan menu, and ordered the blackened tofu feast with steamed vegetables and brown rice. this perhaps wasn’t the best angle to take the picture from, because you can’t really see the huge mound of marinated and blackened tofu! oh well, at least you can see that a votre sante didn’t skimp on the vegetables. i tasted a bit of the tofu and it was awesome…however, i still preferred my dragontail. this is definitely a super healthy option though, as you can see the plate is 80% vegetables, paired with extremely high quality rice and tofu.

    our dining partners lex and kristin ordered some salad and pasta dishes, both of which looked delicious. they also ordered their entrees oil-free, and a votre sante was happy to accommodate…good to know, if you are in the mood to eat something uber-healthy.

    soup du jour: corn chowder. $3.95

    soup du jour: corn chowder. $3.95

    but lemme back up a bit, i forgot to tell you about the soup! everyday, a votre sante offers two vegan soup options, served with a vegan corn muffin. we got cups of soup around the table; mine being the corn chowder (pictured above) and mr. meaner’s the vegetable (below).

    soup du jour: vegetable. $3.95

    soup du jour: vegetable. $3.95

    both soups were extremely tasty and hit the spot—i really can’t fault them. the perect warm, comforting starter on a blustery autumn night.

    pumpkin pie

    pumpkin pie

    even after all that food, we still saved room for a bit of dessert. we got the pumpkin pie (we are less than a week away from halloween, after all!) and it was awesome. it was thick, moist and oozing with sweet pumpkin and cinnamon flavor. it definitely tasted “healthy,” but not in a bad way…just in a way that made me feel really good about eating it. the crust was thick and chewy, and it was even topped with a swirl of vegan whipped cream. total yumz!

    i can’t believe it has taken me so long to eat at a votre sante, and i would highly reccommend it for a refreshingly light and tasty meal. the vegan options are plentiful, they use high quality ingredients, the service is polite, and the atmosphere is relaxing. i am thinking i will be back very soon for a healthy lunch prior to a stroll on the beach. we definitely need more places like this in LA!

    a votre sante
    13016 San Vicente Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90049
    (310) 451-1813

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  • September 25th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, pure luck (closed)
    beer beer beer. on tap.

    beer beer beer. on tap.

    it’s no secret that pure luck is one of the best vegan restaurants in los angeles. the small eatery has an inventive menu with lots of mexican-style cuisine and sandwiches and also boasts a great selection of micro brews at a reasonable price. i’m talking 16 ounces of stone ipa and pliny the elder for $5! best deal in town!

    i wanna just take a minute to show you some of my favorite things i’ve ever eaten at pure luck. i hope this gets you drooling.


    you are not allowed to eat at pure luck without trying the jackfruit. they make the most insane “carnitas” tacos out of marinated jackfruit that impresses every omnivore i know.

    taco combo plate: 2 tacos with rice and pinto beans, or side cesar salad. $8

    taco combo plate: 2 tacos with rice and pinto beans, or side cesar salad. $8

    they can also throw those carnitas in a mexican sandwich called a torta with tomato, onion, avocado and vegenaise. made on soft, fluffy la brea bakery bread, this is one of my favorite items on the menu.

    jackfruit torta: sauteed jackfruit “carnitas”, plus pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, tomatillo salsa, sliced avocado and vegan mayo on a grilled rustic roll. $9

    jackfruit torta: sauteed jackfruit “carnitas”, plus pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, tomatillo salsa, sliced avocado and vegan mayo on a grilled rustic roll. $9

    other amazing sandwiches include the tofu pesto…

    tofu pesto sandwich: grilled tofu and fresh basil-spinach pesto on a rustic roll, with romaine and onions and vegan mayo. $8

    tofu pesto sandwich: grilled tofu and fresh basil-spinach pesto on a rustic roll, with romaine and onions and vegan mayo. $8

    and angelica’s garmabanzo salad sandwich (think tuna sandwich, but way better)!

    angélica’s garbanzo salad sandwich: Need a comfort food fix? You won’t be disappointed by our Garbanzo salad. Served on a grilled rustic roll with tomatoes, onions, lettuce and pickles. $7

    angélica’s garbanzo salad sandwich: Need a comfort food fix? You won’t be disappointed by our Garbanzo salad. Served on a grilled rustic roll with tomatoes, onions, lettuce and pickles. $7

    as a side dish, i highly recommend the vegan soup of the day.

    vegan soup? yeah!

    vegan soup? yeah!

    or some potato pals! just ask your waiter or waitress for these and they will hook you up…even though the pals aren’t listed as a side on the menu.



    the salads at pure luck are pretty damn good too. they make the best vegan ceasar that i’ve ever tasted.

    cesar salad with tofu: romaine lettuce topped with grilled tofu, sliced avocado, onions, croutons and our lemon-garlic César dressing. $8

    cesar salad with tofu: romaine lettuce topped with grilled tofu, sliced avocado, onions, croutons and our lemon-garlic César dressing. $8

    just look at that juicy little bite of marinated tofu. i wanna kill it!


    doesn’t that all look delicious?! don’t get me wrong…pure luck has some annoying flaws that have to be mentioned. let’s go through this very quickly:
    1.) the food is inconsistent. somedays it’s better than others.
    2.) the soy fish at pure luck may contain casein. (i avoid it just in case)
    3.) pure luck used to have really comfortable seating and then they replaced most of it with high tables and bar stools that nobody wants to sit at. there are still a few decent seats though.

    even after those gripes, pure luck is one of the best restaurants in los angeles. so there you have it: i am totally butt-crazy in love with pure luck. if you like vegan food, beer, or awesomeness, you should eat there as soon as possible.

    pure luck
    707 N Heliotrope Dr.
    Los Angeles, CA 90029
    (323) 660-5993

    open 11am to Midnight, Mon – Sat
    closed Sundays

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  • September 21st, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, toi

    one thing we have way too much of in los angeles is vegan thai food. from west LA, to silverlake, to the valley, there seems to be a thai restaurant with the word vegan in its name popping up on every corner. after a few of these restaurants turned up sketchy results when we tested their food for non-vegan ingredients a few months ago, i have pretty much been avoiding them all together.

    thankfully when i do need a thai food fix, i can head on over to toi on sunset. the omnivorous restaurant has loads of vegetarian and vegan options with plant-based sauces, fresh vegetables and tofu. the fake mystery meat will never be missed.

    buddha chili: eggplant, pumpkin and fried tofu in a light soybean and garlic sauce with broccoli, mushrooms and spices. $11.95

    buddha chili: eggplant, pumpkin and fried tofu in a light soybean and garlic sauce with broccoli, mushrooms and spices. $11.95

    toi has an entire vegetarian section on their menu with various noodle, curry, and vegetable selections…all of which can be made vegan. the thing i love about these dishes is their delicious simplicity. the sauces are light, the vegetables are fresh, and the flavors are all spot on.

    a some of my favorite entrees include the buddha chili (i get it without bell peppers), a plate of chunky pumpkin cubes, fried tofu, eggplant, and broccoli all mixed up in a garlic sauce—or pad thai with no egg, a vegan take on the popular noodle dish that usually contains fish sauce.

    vegi pad thai (no egg!): thai noodles with mixed veggies, tofu, beansprouts, w/ peanuts on the side. $9.95

    vegi pad thai (no egg!): thai noodles with mixed veggies, tofu, beansprouts, w/ peanuts on the side. $9.95

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • June 25th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, swingers

    UPDATE 4/25/2011: DON’T EAT AT SWINGER’S. they put lard in “vegan” items.

    i know in los angeles we have loads of vegan-friendly restaurants, but sometimes it can still be really hard to find a vegan meal. for instance, after a late night at 2am or early in the morning at 7am…it’s sad, but none of the favorite spots are gonna be open at those hours. rest assured to know when other restaurants are closed, you can always turn to swingers—the all american diner has plenty of vegan options, is open 21.5 hours daily, and has 2 locations (one in santa monica and one near weho). they also serve booze and offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long.

    recently my husband and i found ourselves stranded and hungry at 6:45am, and luckily swingers on beverly came to the rescue.

    vegan soyrizo scramble: organic tofu scrambled with soyrizo, served with black beans, salsa, and your choice of tortilla. $7.95

    vegan soyrizo scramble: organic tofu scrambled with soyrizo, served with black beans, salsa, and your choice of tortilla. $7.95

    i’m a big fan of the breakfasts at swingers, and they have loads vegan-friendly choices that are clearly marked on the menu. from tofu rancheros, to vegan nachos, to a vegan breakfast burrito there are more than enough options. on our most recent visit, i went with the veganized soyrizo scramble, with organic tofu rather than eggs.

    i must say that this scramble was exceptional. they mixed the fake meat and tofu all together thoroughly and the fried it on the bottom so it had a really “scrambled eggy” texture, but with none of the gross egg taste. the plate came with a mound of black beans, fresh chunky salsa, and a huge fluffy flour tortilla…damn good value for under $8.


    despite the fact that it was earlier than 7am, my husband wasn’t in the mood for breakfast, so he went with the swingers salad. on it’s own the salad is pretty simple, but for an extra $2.50, you can add some damn fine sauteed tofu. i wouldn’t call this salad amazing or anything, but it’s good, it’s vegan, and it’s available to eat at 6:30am.

    swingers salad with tofu: organic mixed baby greens, tomatoes and carrots with choice of dressing and sauteed tofu. $9

    swingers salad with tofu: organic mixed baby greens, tomatoes and carrots with choice of dressing and sauteed tofu. $9

    so there you have it. when other places aren’t open and you are craving some vegan grub, swingers will always save the day. sometimes the service can be hit or miss, but i’ve always left with a belly full of decent food.

    8020 Beverly Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    (323) 653-5858
    6:30 a.m. – 4:00 a.m.

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  • May 27th, 2009quarrygirlau lac, LA restaurants

    if you live in los angeles and want to have a completely unique vegan food experience, lemme tell you, it is definitely worth making the hour-plus drive to orange county to visit au lac. located in fountain valley, the humanese restaurant offers an entirely vegan menu, with several raw and cooked selections. all the raw foodies i know have nothing but wonderful things to say about this place, so my husband and i stopped in to check it out a few weeks ago when we were in the area.

    we decided to go all out, ordering appetizers off both the raw and cooked menus, plus dessert (which is only available in raw). thankfully, although we ordered several dishes, the some of them were quite small, so we left feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.

    dau hu rang muoi: battered soft tofu seasoned in salt, black pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. $8

    dau hu rang muoi: battered soft tofu seasoned in salt, black pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. $8

    for our cooked appetizer, we started with a flash-fried tofu dish called ‘da hu rang muoi,’ which consisted of ultra-soft tofu in a light batter and cooked with salt, pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. this may sound like a typical asian tofu appetizer, but oh my word, it wasn’t! probably the best tofu dish i’ve ever tasted, it was barely coated with batter, completely covered in seasoning, and perfectly soft and moist in the middle.

    for our raw appetizer, we went with the chimichurri, which turned out to be two slices of doughy bread with an oil and herb sauce for dipping. i seriously have no clue how they got ‘raw’ bread to taste so fucking good, but this dish was spongy, soft and porous beyond belief. even if you aren’t in to raw food, i’d recommend the chimichurri. not to mention the perfect infusion of fresh herbs and oil…excellent dipping sauce any way you look at it. at $5, it was pretty pricey for two pieces of bread, but i definitely think it was worth it.

    chimichurri: dip with garlic bread. $5

    chimichurri: dip with garlic bread. $5

    for his main course, my husband ordered the ‘bo luc lac’, which was a massive plate of watercress and vegetables tossed in a light vinegar dressing, all topped with several slabs of faux beef. for just ten bucks this thing was absolutely huge, and everything tasted amazing. the soy meat was tender and well seasoned, and all the vegetables tasted extra fresh. i stole several bites of this throughout the meal.

    bo luc lac: watercress, soy beef, garic, vinegar dressing, tomato, onion. $10

    bo luc lac: watercress, soy beef, garic, vinegar dressing, tomato, onion. $10

    i went raw on my main dish and ordered jino’s pizza, a small round of raw bread covered in vegetables and a ‘cheese’ sauce. while i ended up liking my pizza in the long run, my enjoyment was overshadowed by the fact it arrived about 20 minutes later than my husband’s main course. in fact, he finished his food before i even started mine! when the pizza finally did arrive, it was delicious, albeit rather small for $12. i guess raw food is just phenomenally expensive any way you look at it, so at least this tasted really good. the crust was soft and squishy, kinda like the chimichurri appetizer, and was covered in just the right amount of herbs and vegetables. the cheese sauce was exceptionally creamy and tangy, and i couldn’t help but wonder what it would taste like on a plate of raw nachos. don’t let the picture fool you, the pizza was very small, maybe 3 or 4 inches across, i’d say the size of a medium pancake.

    jinos pizza: roma, sundried tomato, marinara, basil, melted mozzarella. $12

    jinos pizza: roma, sundried tomato, marinara, basil, melted mozzarella. $12

    au lac offers a raw dessert menu, and i was told by several people not to leave without trying the donut holes. while i was a bit skeptical of raw donut holes, these suckers definitely converted me. covered in a sugary powder, the round little treats had a distinctively nutty flavor and were filled with a thick rich syrup.

    raw donut holes. $7

    raw donut holes. $7

    i actually almost spilled the syrup all over me when biting into the first one, because i didn’t know what to expect! while my husband wasn’t a fan of the donut holes at all, i thought they were wonderful. definitely like nothing i’ve ever eaten before, i highly recommend them.


    so overall, our visit to au lac was a great success, leaving us filled to the brim with healthy vegan raw and cooked food. the cuisine there is definitely unusual, as is the decor (think asian-inspired 1980s), so this place may not be for everyone. although if you have an appreciation for raw food or humanese cuisine, or if you are just in for a tasty adventure, au lac will not disappoint.


    plus, did i mention they have the coolest parking spots ever? check out the one above…reserved just for me. 🙂


    au lac
    16563 Brookhurst St
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    (714) 418-0658
    Tue-Sun. 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Tue-Sun. 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

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  • May 21st, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, newsroom

    if you live in los angeles, you probably know that beverly hills is a part of town where it’s hard to find vegan food. however the newsroom cafe on robertson is an extremely vegan-friendly eatery that’s often overlooked. they’ve a huge menu of healthy-style options, a full juice bar, hearty breakfasts, baked goods, desserts….even beer, wine and fresh-fruit-filled cocktails.

    i used to frequent the newsroom often a couple years ago, though i always found it a bit trendy and over-crowded with ‘celebrity’ clientele and health-nut yuppie types. fortunately and unfortunately, the place was smacked with a C rating from the health department a year ago, and business has slowed down a bit. while at first i was horrified about the low grade, i later found it was due to meat refrigeration temperatures and i talked myself into thinking, “fuckit, i’ll still eat there. serves those carnivores right! meat’s murder after all.” so now after a long break, i have finally returned to the newsroom, which is much emptier than i remember it, but the food is still bloody spectacular.

    Monja's Tofu Scramble (no cheese): tofu scrambled with spinach, bits of broken vegan sausage and caramelized oninos with ciabatta toast. $11.25

    Monja's Tofu Scramble (no cheese): tofu scrambled with spinach, bits of broken vegan sausage and caramelized oninos with ciabatta toast. $11.25

    today with my husband, i visited the newsroom after a very long break and i went with something i’d never ordered before—monja’s tofu scramble with no cheese. when my food arrived, the huge plate was loaded up with well-seasoned scramble, thick soy sausage bits, sauteed spinach, caramelized onions, and more crispy breakfast potatoes than i could ever eat. albeit a tad expensive, this dish was a serious food score…i highly recommend monja’s. plus, as a side it came with two ginormous slices of ciabatta bread that were so crispy i could barely eat them…in a good way. although it was a seemingly boring tofu scramble, monja’s managed to be a completely unique and refreshing take on vegan breakfast. here here.

    my husband stuck with the good ‘ole spicy tofu cancun, which i’ve blogged about before, but was every bit as excellent this time around.

    spicy tofu cancun: spicy tofu scrambled with salsa chipotle, baked corn tortilla rajas, tomatillo salsa and salsa quemada w/whole wheat tortilla. $10.50

    spicy tofu cancun: spicy tofu scrambled with salsa chipotle, baked corn tortilla rajas, tomatillo salsa and salsa quemada w/whole wheat tortilla. $10.50

    i used to eat the tofu cancun at the newsroom at least twice a week back in the day, and when i tried it this morning, it tasted better than ever. something about the steaming chunks of seasoned tofu all mixed in with softly cooked tortilla chips, then slathered in hot sauce…where can you go wrong? definitely give this thing a whirl; i’d say it’s up there with the best breakfasts in los angeles.

    so at the end of the day: i know i have condemned the newsroom for having a low health score before, but i cannot lie…their food is brilliant. go load up on a huge vegan breakfast with fresh juice and a few animal-free sides next time you get the chance. it will cost you, but it’s definitely worth it. and if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, hit up the sister-location interim cafe in santa monica…the menu is almost the same, except even more vegan friendly and less expensive.

    oh also, let’s take a moment to look at the silver lining. the newsroom used to be filled to the brim with total d-bags. now that they have had health department dramz, the place is mellow and much more enjoyable. since the issues were eventually about the meat storing systems, i think i can look at the dramz as their loss and my gain. let’s go enjoy the newsroom before it gets full of yuppie cuntz again.

    newsroom cafe
    120 N Robertson Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90048

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