I just got back from the most kick-butt weekend in SoCal. My main objective was attending a friend's bachelorette sleep-over at Lake Arrowhead, which was SO much fun, but I also got to hang with a few pals in LA proper.... and eat some damn good food of course! I've been to Real Food Daily a million or so times, so I decided not to even bring the camera and to just enjoy. Highlights include the best potato salad ever and a ridiculously sweet and rich Oreo Cake. Yum. Now let's talk about some first visits:
M Cafe de Chaya is a macrobiotic joint (read: all vegan except for some fish items) with two locations. I hit up the one on Melrose at lunch hour on a weekday. It was packed, but my friend and I were able to snag a table pretty quickly as people were eating and running. Feeling the need for greens (as I often do) I got their green salad which had tamari-roasted almonds, beets, and pickled lotus root. It had a sweet balsamic dressing that was very well-balanced. I was still hungry after just the salad though and so I had... another salad. I kid you not. It was so good and it was too early in the day for my sweet tooth to kick in (a real shame as you can tell by looking at the cupcakes and case full of other goodies below) so I decided to stay the course and get more of the same. I did, however, try to sesame dressing this time, and I'm glad I did. It's Thai flavors were great on my greens and I left completely satisfied, tastebuds dancing on my tongue. Same goes for my companion who ordered an amazing-looking tempeh BLT. I should also say that one of the girls I met in Lake Arrowhead went on and on about said 'bacon' and now I feel bad I didn't try it myself. Next time I suppose... I will certainly go back to M Cafe next time around.
SO, M Cafe was actually supposed to be where I went for dinner that night, and having crossed it off the list, I had to pick somewhere else to go. Luckily, I didn't have to look far. While I was at Whole Foods that morning, I noticed that Native Foods was right down the street, within a miles or so of my hotel. My friend and I met there and were not disappointed. I was expecting a sit-down restaurant - maybe because the website is so nice? - but NF, like M Cafe, was an order-at-the-counter-and-we'll-bring-it-to-you joint. Not a big deal though, and after pouring over the extensive menu, I decided on the Voluptuous Veggie Pizza. I was in love with this square of pillowy organic dough covered in pesto, veggies, and a ton of kale. My only complaint is that it is served on the metal baking sheet, and not cut all the way through. They should either cut it all the way, or serve it on a real plate because trying to cut through the pizza on the wobbly baking sheet was difficult and messy. The taste, however, made up for this hardship and then some. My friend ordered the Soul Bowl because she liked the idea of its BBQ sauce and ranch dressing stylings. Even I was impressed that a vegan version of something with those flavors satisfied my meat-eating pal... and it had cornbread to boot!
So, while I still put RFD at the top of my list, these places will do in a pinch to say the least. I was particularly impressed with the M Cafe and hope to be back to eat more sometime soon. Meanwhile, there's still plenty of food left to try in San Francisco so I better get some rest....