this is all kinds of exciting! mendocino farms, my favorite LA sandwich shop, is launching a new location in my hood on november 3rd and they’re letting me send FIVE readers (with their +1’s) as guests to their private complimentary pre-opening event this tuesday from 6:30-8:30pm.
while the restaurant isn’t exclusively vegan, at the party they’ll be serving up tempeh club sandwiches, wheatberry fingerling and fingerling potato salad, israeli cous cous, and possibly a vegan potato salad as well…all cocktail style! the latest mendocino farms shop (they’ve already got locations in downtown LA and marina del rey) will be at 7100 santa monica blvd, right next to target. i am super stoked that they’re opening this week, and look forward to consuming many many many vegan sandwiches in the future.
so who wants to go to the pre-opening party with a guest and eat free food?! we’re picking 5 winners, so the odds are better than ever. the rules are simple…Tags: sandwiches, weho, west hollywood
…that’s right! the vegan tofu caprese potato pancake sandwich is comin’ back for the holidays!
the special will make its 2011 hugo’s debut wednesday 11/2 at the studio city location, thursday 11/3 in weho, and wednesday november 16th in agoura hills. we’ve blogged about this sandwich before, and it’s ridiculously good. it’s a double decker stacked with firm tofu, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh basil all sandwiched between thick fried potato pancakes. this time around, hugo’s is also adding the option of gluten-free flatbread. i think i’ll stick with the fried potato. anyways, go check it out…and be sure to specify you want it vegan.Tags: specials, the valley, west hollywood
so exciting! los angeles has a new super vegan-friendly restaurant with a huge menu full of specialty pizzas, salads, wraps, inventive appetizers, wine and craft beer. EVO kitchen opened up its doors last week in the old hollywood/weho pizza fusion location, and we’re already huge fans. it focuses on organic, locally sourced ingredients, and is family owned by the same folks who ran the previous restaurant. with the re-branding, the menu still includes our favorite items (what up, beer floats and wraps!) plus it has grown to include even more vegan (and gluten-free if you care about that) options, and the food is even better than before.
we hit up EVO for a slap up feast this weekend, and sampled as many vegan dishes as we could. we still didn’t get through half of them though—i guess that means another visit is in order! check out what we ate:
we started off with a slew of appetizers, the first of which was the vegan garlic cheese bread. as with all vegan cheesy items at EVO kitchen, this came with a choice of soy cheese (follow your heart) or daiya. we opted for the soy cheese in this case, and the daiya cheese for other dishes (more on those later!). the cheese bread was phenomenal—crispy and pipin’ hot, dusted with herbs, and served with a pot of tangy marinara.
next up, one of my favorite dishes of the evening: the vegan mini bbq burgers. SLIDERS…Tags: beer, daiya, follow your heart, pizza, salad, sliders, sunset, weho, west hollywood
listen up! tonight you have the chance to eat tasty food and help animals at the same time, as the veggie grill is hosting fundraisers at two separate locations.
mention the ASPCA tonight when you dine at the farmers market veggie grill, and kitt crusaders when you eat at the sunset restaurant. when mentioned, each location will receive 50% of your bill in donations.
more info after the jump…Tags: charity, hollywood, west hollywood
xiv restaurant in west hollywood is probably the only place in los angeles where vegans can get a true high end dining experience. created in partnership with celebrity chef michael mina, and with a modern interior designed by philippe starck, the swanky sbe restaurant is the epitome of gourmet fanciness. unlike most high rollin’ eateries though, xiv offers an entirely separate vegan menu with many entree items and the option of an 8, 11, or 14 course tasting. naturally, dining at xiv is not cheap—even for vegans the average price of meal with alcohol is around 100 bucks per head. but hey, what the hell, sometimes you just gotta treat yourself. and that’s exactly what we did last week.
Tags: alcohol, cocktails, tasting menu, west hollywood
just a brief bit of vegan news for you all in los angeles…
on tuesday september 29, veggie grill is opening its newest location in west hollywood. 8000 sunset to be exact, at crescent heights in the sunset 5 complex. woo hoo!
veggie grill already has a few locations in southern california, and they make awesome fast-food style cuisine using mock meats such as gardein. get over to weho and check them out asap.
welcome to the neighborhood, veggie grill!
veggie grillTags: gardein, west hollywood
8000 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Let me set the stage. One of my most critical and trusted vendors (whom my company spends a lot of dollarz with every month) invited us out for a “nice dinner in West Hollywood” with him and his wife. After I suggested a few low-end vegan-friendly places, it was clear that he wanted to take us somewhere “much nicer”. Randomly, I suggested Real Food Daily, and he said “My wife went to the one in Santa Monica and really enjoyed it. I’d love to go there!”. So, it was with much delight that we met up for dinner.
From the minute we were seated, it was clear that we were unwelcome. Each time our server approached the table she just began to ask her questions with NO preamble, loudly interrupting our conversation in such a rude way. She clearly wanted to turn the table as fast as possible, and rushed us through the ordering (clearly, we were not all ready to order). Rather than go away and come back she stood by our table looking fed up while we all placed our orders. We started with some nachos – which were pretty tasty and arrived within about 2 minutes of us ordering them (probably because they were a pre-made popular item in the kitchen).
About 5 minutes after the nachos arrived, two servers showed up with our food, and started shoving it down in front of us, moving our nacho plates out of the way or (in my case) removing it entirely, even though I was mid-bite. One guest at the table grabbed her nacho plate and was left holding it with nowhere to set it down after the entrée plates were delivered to the tiny four-top.
While the food was “OK”, it was VERY bland. There’s not one distinctive taste in any of it, and my choice (the TV dinner) I could prepare at home for a lot less than $14. During the brief time we spent there, our server never had eye contact with us once, the environment was so unpleasant that we could not wait to leave and the food so overpriced (with necessary “extras” costing $3 or more ON TOP OF entrées that were pushing fifteen bucks. One exception was the “Taco the Town” tacos, which got rave reviews.
To my utter embarrassment, the person that invited us there, and paid for the meal had only a couple of bites of his food. I asked him if everything was OK, and he said “well, it seems to be all bell peppers and rice – not very good at all”.
I’ve always disliked RFD, even after giving it many, many chances to succeed for me. There are no positives in my mind, but plenty of negatives: Rude staff, indifferent service, expensive and useless valet service, expensive and bland food, cramped tables crammed together, pre-made food that arrives WAY too quickly for it to be freshly prepared, an atmosphere of omnivores “trying” vegan food with vegan/trendy/vegetarian friends and a general shitty vibe about the entire place.
I was terribly embarrassed that I suggested RFD as a dinner location for somebody generous enough to invite us out, and drive all the way from Santa Monica with his wife to spend time with us. I HATE RFD, and I will NEVER go back, EVER. Fuck their brunch, screw their servers that rudely interrupt conversation and damn to hell the fucking valet that left me standing there for 10 minutes in awkward conversation.
Real Food DailyTags: mexican food, seitan, tacos, west hollywood
414 N La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
hey los angeles! i just wanna update you with one more place in this town you can get vegan cupcakes, cake and art on santa monica blvd in west hollywood.
to be honest, until recently i didn’t know this place existed. their website doesn’t even advertise vegan cupcakes, but they carry both a chocolate and vanilla flavor that are delicious. last week i had some friends over, and one of my vegan homies showed up with a box of mini cupcakes from cake and art. the moist little cakes were topped with loads of rich creamy frosting, and they were so good that we all stood around the kitchen fighting over them until not a crumb was left.
i live pretty close to west hollywood, so it’s pretty dangerous knowing this place is around. a shop where i can stroll in off the street and get cupcakes this good is bound to lead to disaster.
cake and artTags: bakery, cupcakes, dessert, weho, west hollywood
8709 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
well, well, well…back in the day, my companion mr. meaner wrote a review of mao’s kitchen on melrose in which he commented on the delicious food, yet unpredictable service and portion sizes. the stark and modern byob chinese cafe is the newer sister restaurant to mao’s kitchen in venice and offers really decent, healthy-tasting asian food with loads of vegan options. i have always loved the food there, but last june my experience was so annoying (slow service, overcharging on the bill, and skimping on the main ingredients in our dishes), that i vowed to never return.
after about 9 months of cooling down and recovering from the situation, i was convinced by my husband to break my protest against mao’s kitchen…after all, they have damn tasty tofu. however when we headed over for lunch one saturday, although i was no longer protesting mao’s, several angry chinese people were. that’s right, there was a fucking picket line outside the melrose cafe, with angry dudes shouting into bullhorns and carrying signs that said things like, “MAO’S KITCHEN = HITLER’S BBQ!! RENAME YOUR RESTAURANT!!” there was such a scene going down, we decided it was all too much and went to bulan instead. i mean, i’m not a fan of mao himself or anything (c’mon, anyone john lennon personally disses in a beatles song is probably a total cunt), but didn’t these chinese protesters have anything better to do? isn’t there some actual violence to object to, rather than picketing outside a cafe owned by ignorant white people who are probably just trying to be trendy? sheesh!
luckily, i did get a chance to return to mao’s recently with a friend for lunch…no angry mob in sight. the meal was so absolutely delicious, i think i can put all my hard feelings about mao’s kitchen waaaaaay behind me. the portions were huge, the vegetables were plentiful, and our waiter was delightful.
my friend ordered the green curry with tofu, which i took a pretty huge helping of. i usually don’t order asian curries in restaurants, because coconut milk strikes me as a bit meh. this stuff was amazing though. the sauce was thick with a darker color to it and was packed with spices and tons of heat. floating in the savory and drool-worthy sauce was an ample amount of crispy fresh asian vegetables. no complaints what-so-ever about this dish. oh, and it also came with a grip of fluffy rice (not pictured) to mop up all the curry goodness.
i went for the long march camp-fry which is normally 7 bucks, but i added tofu which brought it up to $9. this dish was nothing short of w00t. seriously, if you are in a healthy-kick kinda mood and want billions of vegetables with baked tofu in a light vegan (yet extremely flavorful) sauce, eat this! i have been to mao’s several times and never ordered this before, but now i know it will be one of my standard go-to dishes. it was packed with really scrumptious vegetables like cabbage, tomato, peas and my new favorite…wood ear mushrooms! the fluffy little mushrooms look like dark leafy greens but pack all the texture and flavor of a really tasty portobello. i’m going into food high just thinking about it. i especially recommend the long march camp-fry if you are dining out with others and want a vegetable dish to share. it’s artfully prepared, well-balanced and above all delicious. i’m never ordering steamed vegetables again.
oh and one more thing, the food at mao’s kitchen is very good…so be sure not to fill up on the tempting vegan crack they bring to your table for free when you are seated. these deep fried crackers with sweet vegan sauce will sneak up on you…then all of a sudden…half the bowl is gone and you have no room for food because your brain is swimming in huge amounts of grease you just consumed. beware.
hit up mao’s kitchen on melrose for really awesome vegan chinese food. to avoid any contamination, just let them know you are vegan and that you want all your sauces animal-free. they seem to be pretty knowledgeable and always able to accommodate. good luck in there…hopefully you won’t run into crazy/bored protesters like me and the mr. did. if you do, there is always bulan or m cafe just blocks away. 😉
P.S. mao’s kitchen has a parking lot (epic melrose score!), it isn’t busy at lunch time, and you can take in your own booze. you officially have no excuse not to eat there.
mao’s kitchenTags: chinese, communist, curry, tofu, west hollywood
7315 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
open 7 days
11am – 12am
Well, not IN the Beverly Center, but right across the street across from Souplantation on 3rd St., just East of La Cienega. Holy Cow is an honest to goodness fast-food style Indian eat-in/carry-out kitchen with a range of veg and non-veg offerings. As is common with many Southern-Indian restaurants there’s no beef on the bill of fayre (probably due to quasi-Hindi leanings of its owners) which leaves an extra-large gap in the menu for vegetarian food, much of which is either naturally vegan or can be made as such.
On our recent visit, we rolled up at 8pm on a Saturday evening, and made that classic mistake: allowing cell a couple of ‘phone babbling people to go into the restaurant ahead of us. By the time they’d figured out what they wanted to eat, changed it three times, and had any number of ‘phone conversations with friends about the menu selections, we’d been standing by the counter for a good 10 minutes. However, the experience was rather educational as we deduced the gang in front of us were somewhat observant Jewish people, most particular to ensure that there was no dairy in anything they ordered – in this way, we got a good grounder of what could, and could not be, veganized without having to go through a big Q&A with the person taking the order.
When it was finally our turn, a very nice Indian gentleman of some stature and presence politely engaged with us, helping guide our choices. As is common with West Coast outlets like this (especially Indian), ordering a “dinner” is excellent value. For only a couple of bucks more than an a-la-carte single main dish one can get a appetizer, main dish, side of vegetables, rice and bread. Sadly for us, the naan bread contained eggs, so we had to order a-la-carte, even though a better economic decision might have been to order the dinner and trash the naan bread. But that’s not very vegan, now is it?
We started off with two Vegetable Samosas – at only $3.95 they were exceptional value and extremely tasty, being freshly prepared in the kitchen when our order was taken.
They had that crispy outside with hot steamy inside that is so unique to this dish. The nearest thing is a Chimichanga – that decadent Mexican-style deep-fried burrito, but I’d rather a samosa any day!
I have a complete weakness for Potato and Cauliflower curries, particularly the Aloo Gobi which, if done right, can be a sublime dish. There’s something about the intersection of basic ingredients like vegetables, spices and oils that Indian cuisine does so well, and Holy Cow’s rendition holds up to the highest standards.
Our other entrée was Saag Aloo with Tofu – basically pureed spinach (spinach haters stop reading this paragraph now!) with chunky potatoes, spices and small, firm tofu pieces. This can very much be a hit or miss dish in many Indian restaurants because the cooking times of everything vary so much – seconds for the spinach, but 30 minutes or more for the potatoes and tofu, so a juggling act in the kitchen is needed to pull this delicate dish off to perfection – and whomever was back-stage at Holy Cow knows exactly how to make Saag Aloo happen: the end result being perfection.
Finally, we ordered White Rice, which was a bit misleading (albeit in a good way), because the rice was actually cooked in herbs and spices, including turmeric, which gave it a yellowy look and, spicy flavor that complemented the food perfectly.
So, bottom line, Holy Cow was a GREAT, inexpensive Indian take-away very much in the tradition of my homeland in England where you can take home the curry or sit in a brightly lit restaurant and eat it there. Holy Cow has the ambience of a vegan Thai restaurant, but the food is so much better.
With convenient parking, incredibly polite and helpful staff as well as completely above-average food, you can’t go wrong. The only competition is Samosa House, which is distant competition both in miles to travel (it’s in Culver City) and taste of the food.
Thanks for being there, Holy Cow, and thanks for understanding about vegans and our standards. We’ll be regular customers.
8474 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
monday – fridayTags: beverly hills, curry, indian food, samosa, spinach, tofu, west hollywood
sat and sun
los angeles vegans, i know you’ve had your fill of vegan thai food. on every corner there’s a vegan express, vegan house, vegan plate, or vegan-whatever-the-fuck…all dishing out indistinguishable pad see ew, freshy rolls and garlic pepper entrees. well now if you need an asian fix, you can put the thai habit on hold and grab some vegan-friendly chinese food from kung pao bistro.
the asian eatery has two locations, one in studio city and one in weho, and both serve up loads of vegan options. they have an entirely separate vegetarian menu, plus the option to make any meat dish vegetarian by subbing faux for real meat at a $3 charge. while some of the fake meat has milk powder in it, plenty of it doesn’t, so rest assured…there are plenty of vegan options.
i’ve been to kung pao bistro a few times. the weho location is close to my office, and has ample parking, so it’s usually a pretty no-brainer place to meet my mom for lunch when she’s in the area. while the vegetarian menu looks pretty inviting, we always get the same thing off the omnivore menu and veganize it for an additional 3 bucks…because it is so damn good.
the pan fried noodles are like nothing i’ve ever had. they are the weirdest middle ground between soft and fried…they are crunchy yet soak up all the sauce, brittle and chewy at the same time. i love ordering them because they taste nothing like the vegan asian cuisine i’m used to, which of course consists mainly of thai food.
the soy beef is delicious as well. it isn’t too sweet like it is at many asian places, and the texture is realistic and hearty but not gross. another good thing about the soy beef is it is definitely vegan. kung pao bistro clearly states on their website: “Not all dishes are vegan. Some of the vegetarian meats are made with milk or whey protiens. Please make sure when ordering to ask which dishes are vegan friendly.” well, unfortunately the staff doesn’t know shit about what is vegan. seriously, the few times i’ve asked them, they said all fake meats were vegan. i got to the bottom of the issue and emailed the restaurant directly. the manager wrote back and confirmed that the soy beef, normal soy chicken, and soy fish are vegan. the breaded soy chicken items such as orange chicken and faux shrimp both contain a milk protein. the dude totally knew what vegan meant, and if you have any additional questions, totally email him. just be sure vegans, if you order chicken at kung pao to make sure it isn’t of the breaded or battered variety.
i went with whiter-than-white, all-vegan beef and it was delicious! even my mom loved it! and she doesn’t suffer crappy meat substitutes well. seriously.
we also split a side of broccoli which was absolutely delicious, but a bit of a butt-rape at $7.50.
cooked to perfection and flavorful as can be, i really can’t fault this stuff. but come ON! over 7 bucks for a plate of broccoli?!?! this is a $4 plate, tops. anyhow, i keep coming back to it because it’s really good. but i know i’m getting the shaft every time.
when you are all done eating, kung pao serves up not just the bill, but VEGAN FORTUNE COOKIES! yep. the one pictured was totally animal-free. read the label on the one you get before you eat it, because it coulda been just a lucky coincidence; i mean, who knows who their distributor is? if you are fortunate enough to have a vegan fortune cookie (ha ha), don’t waste that shit.
that’s all, kung pao bistro is a great vegan-friendly find. it isn’t necessarily a destination to travel to for some amazing experience or anything, but it’s damn good chinese food that you can trust to be free of dead animal bits. that’s not something we vegans get to eat very often, as most places are beyond sketchy. i will continue to go back, and next time i will try to order something different. (but damn those noodles are GOOD.)
kung pao bistro
7853 santa monica blvd
west hollywood, ca 90046
studio cityTags: beef, broccoli, chinese, noodles, soy meat, west hollywood
11838 ventura blvd
studio city, ca 91604
a couple of weeks ago, i had the pleasure of eating a much anticipated lunch with fellow vegan blogger, foodeater of to live and eat in la. we had been planning a meal of epic proportions for quite sometime and finally chose real food daily in west hollywood as the location for our feast. after all, it’s pretty fancy and very well-reviewed. plus, i never get a chance to go there because mr. meaner, my dining partner and the other half of this blog, fucking hates the place!
since we considered the lunching of quarrygirl and foodeater a pretty special occasion, we decided to share a decadent appetizer to start, the better with cheddar nachos.
i have heard a ton of good things about real food daily’s nachos, and i can add to the hype by saying they were very tasty. the plate was huge and overflowing with crispy chips, black beans and guacamole. we just about finished it all off between the two of us, and i seriously have no idea how we still had room for any entrees.
although we ate them right up, i gotta say, somethings about the nachos were a let-down for me. the cashew cheese wasn’t anything like real cheese; it had no melty texture, it was more of a just a yellowish sauce. plus, we ordered jalapeno cheese, and while there was a slight hint of flavor, it really wasn’t spicy at all. while the cashew sauce wasn’t bad, i was just expecting something more thick and well…cheesy. similarly, the tofu sour cream was a little disappointing. it was drizzled over the top of the nachos, when i was wanting something more like a big blob of sour cream. the guacamole and black beans were perfect though, and the nachos were overall yummy, even if they weren’t what i expected. worth 12 bucks?…maybe.
after piling half a ton of nachos down my gob, i decided to stick with the mexican theme and order some enchiladas.
i love ordering mexican food whenever i can, because in most restaurants the stuff is riddled with chicken fat and lard. real food daily’s fine-dining take on the classic enchiladas was pretty decent. the soft corn tortillas were delicate, filled with all kinds of unusual vegetables, and slathered in a rich red sauce. again, the tofu sour cream was almost nonexistent and a little disappointing. the guacamole and the salsa were amazing, as was the light and healthy-tasting enchilada filling. i can’t even place what it consisted of, but i know it was a blend of RFD’s delicious crumbled tempeh and assorted vegetables including onions and chilis. although this was a million miles away from the old-school mex enchiladas i’m used to, it was still tasty in its own right. but honestly, not worth 14 bucks.
the lovely foodeater went a completely different route with her entree, but i will let her tell you all about it when she does a write-up on her blog. going into this lunch, i definitely planned on getting some dessert, especially since my last birthday cake from RFD was so bloody delicious. unfortunately, though, we were so full after all the nachos and main courses that we just couldn’t stomach it. oh well, i guess that just gives me an excuse to go back.
overall, the food i had on this visit to real food daily was very tasty. it wasn’t incredible or spectacular though, and not worth the insane prices. i sooooo don’t mind paying a lot if i am getting something really special, and RFD just didn’t quite deliver. plus, they sat us at a really crappy table next to the bathrooms and kitchen, and there was a huge distracting ruckus going down right on the other side of the wall. the service was great though, and the presentation was beautiful, so i will definitely be back to real food daily to give it another try.Tags: enchilada, mexican, nachos, west hollywood
In English: “We’ll eat”! And so we do. Probably around once a month or whenever we get around to it. Ari-Ya is a wonderful sushi bar in the heart of vibrant West Hollywood, on Santa Monica Blvd. almost next door to Celebuhangout Pinkberry. I was a late starter to Sushi – Asian food (other than Cantonese) didn’t really exist when I was growing up in the UK, so on my trips to Japan I’d always opt for french fries at every meal.
Only after I’d lived in LA for a while did I try sushi (at the behest of a friend who insisted on it), and I randomly chose a restaurant that was very close to where we were hanging out. Back then it was called Murakami (of Murakami Salad fame), but of late it’s been renamed to Ari-Ya, yet has the same menu and some of the same staff.
The sushi spectrum runs from the incredibly exotic to grocery-store style mass produced stuff, but neither suit me very well. I like good mid-range sushi served in a relaxing environment with plenty of vegetarian/vegan options. You will not find that in LA at anywhere better than Ari-Ya.
The thing I like best about Ari-Ya is the consistently high quality of everything they serve, the quick and polite service and the best sesame tofu salad I’ve ever eaten. They have a couple of vegan options that work well, and can be surprisingly filling. We usually order the edamame to start with, which is usually a large enough portion to last through the meal along with one or two Tofu Seaweed Salads along with two orders of Veggie Maki Roll.
The Veggie Maki Roll has lovely crunchy avocado, mini carrots and asparagus in just the right proportion to be readily soaked in wasabi-infused soy sauce. Two orders are a pretty healthy size.
Read the rest of this entry » Tags: sushi, west hollywood
NEW UPDATE 07/25/09: ZPIZZA is replacing their non-vegan soy cheese with DAIYA VEGAN CHEESE! the NEW VEGAN CHEESE is AVAILABLE AT THE WEST HOLLYWOOD LOCATION. soon, it should be available at all zpizzas!
UPDATE: VEGANS, DON’T EAT SOY CHEESE AT ZPIZZA 🙁
this truly is a sad day because i have to recommend that my fellow vegans refrain from feeding their mock-mozzarella fix with zpizza soy cheese. i am sorry to announce that sources have confirmed the soy cheese at zpizza lacks total veganocity. i’ve gotten many mixed messages from both fellow vegans, and the corporate office of fransmart (the company behind the zpizza franchises) regarding the casein content of their soy cheese…to the point that i definitely don’t feel comfortable eating it! details to follow. and many thanks to scvegan for bringing this issue and new information to my attention.
now, all you awesome vegans can resume eating at damiano’s.
it is with great pleasure and relief that i can finally announce to the world, vegan zpizza in west hollywood is back!
for 3 weeks there was a huge gaping hole in my life, when zpizza mysteriously stopped carrying their amazing soy cheese. this was seriously life-altering cheese that made it possible for me to be a vegan. i’ve never found anything like it, follow your heart came nowhere near. it melted almost like REAL cheese, and i’d grown addicted to it, needing zpizza once a week at the very least!
that being said, you can imagine how my dreams were crushed one friday night when i called in an order after a peroni session at the formosa cafe only to find they were out of soy cheese! damn…surely it will be back tomorrow, i thought. but when i tried again the next day, still nothing—and it didn’t stop there! weeks passed as i called and called the restaurant and each time they assured me the cheese would be back soon. i was beginning to believe i would never taste this beautiful zpizza again.
Tags: caseine, pizza, soy cheese, west hollywood, zpizza