Monday, October 11, 2010
Love Those L.A. Eats
I was in Los Angeles this past weekend for my college reunion and, as usual, I was blown away by the vegan options in the City of Angels. Seriously, there is so much good vegan food in L.A. it kills me. That being said, I want to fit all my weekend eats into one post, so I'll try to be brief. Let's go!
First up, Fatty's. If you're anything like me, this Eagle Rock restaurant's name conjures up vision of all things deep-fried and sugar-coated. Not the case. Instead, you will find an ambiance-rich dining room (twinkling lights, high ceilings, garage door front) serving up some very high-end vegetarian food, most of which can be made vegan. We started with 3 apps:
This is an appetizer after my heart. Simply called "Oils" it consists of 3 fresh-baked rolls and 3 different oils. In our case, there was California premium EVOO, pumpkin seed oil, and white truffle oil. I'm partial to all things truffley, but my favorite was actually the rich and nutty pumpkin seed oil. Go figure.
Fatty's calls their mushroom and rice balls "Cleopatra Balls" but I just call them tasty. The tomato, caper, and olive relish makes these little poppers irresistible.
Our last app was the potato tacos - a truly ingenious idea. Mini potatoes are hollowed out and the skins get fried to become taco "shells" before being stuffed with some of their original potato insides, corn, veggies, salsa and avocado. Addictive!
Wanting to save room for dessert, I had a nice light entree: The Farmer's Market Roasted Vegetable Salad. These were some beautifully cooked veggies, y'all. And I do so love a balsamic reduction. Highly recommended salad.
Speaking of dessert, meet "Fudgey". Anyone who knows me knows that there is no way I could resist a dessert with such a great name, and boy did it live up to expectations. Warm chocolate cake with a molten center, covered in toasted coconut and pecans and served with a dollop of chocolate frosting and strawberries? Um, yes. I'd eat it again and again. I'd also dine at Fatty's again and again if I lived closer. I so badly want to go back to try the vegan chocolate fondue. Sigh...
The next day, I went to Real Food Daily for lunch. I've been there before so I didn't break out my camera on this trip but, like everything on the menu, my salad with tahini dressing was super yummy. RFD is one of my faves. For dinner, I was still in Santa Monica but I wanted to try something new. Enter The Golden Mean Cafe. This was a Happy Cow find and quite a good one! In fact, I dare say they make one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had:
I got this bean, grain, and veggie patty with tempeh bacon and avocado and it came with a side of refreshing watercress salad. From the toasted bun to The Golden Mean's own special sauce, this was a real winner. Seriously tasty from first bite to last.
Dessert was no disappointment either! This apple tart with vanilla coconut ice cream was the perfect ending to my fun day in Santa Monica.
The next day was the reunion and there were plenty of vegan options there too. Check out my papaya and mango salad with plantain chips and veggie rice:
Beautiful right? Right. After the festivities, me and 16 or so other reuniting folks had dinner at Wolf Creek Brewing Company, where I had made a reservation. I chose them because they seemed to have space for a large party, they had a bar for everyone who wanted to keep the buzz going, and when I wrote to ask about vegan options, I received a prompt, kind, and extremely helpful email regarding their menu. For the record, the hummus and flatbread, bruschetta, pizza dough and sauce, guacamole and chips, and the veggie sandwich (sans mayo) are all vegan. The pasta all has egg, but most of the dressings are vegan so salads without meat and cheese are good to go. Here's my salad:
It was really good, though in an effort to make up for taking off the cheese, I think they added way too many walnuts, but whatever. I also had the hummus trio and all 3 were way better than I expected, with the sundried tomato version being my favorite. Others were helping me to devour that and I couldn't get a pick. Anyway, the moral of the story is that next time you find yourself in Valencia, CA looking for a place to eat well with others, check out Wolf Creek!
On our last day, we hit up The Veggie Grill in El Segundo before getting on the plane back to SF at LAX. I have wanted to eat at one of their SoCal location ever since reading about them on Quarry Girl, and it was awesome. I want a Veggie Grill to come to SF! To be clear, this is an all vegan, order at the counter, have your food brought out kind of place. Mostly burgers and wraps and salads, but everything we got was so good!
The husband consumed his Santa Fe Crispy Chicken within minutes and loved it.
My V-Burger was also really good. The pickles and relish and sauce really make this pop on the tongue, and the soft warm bun is the perfect vehicle to get it all in my mouth. As you can see, we both got the "Sweetheart" fries. Crispy sweet potatoes are the perfect addition to any meal, and these are superb.
I also had to order a side of the Mac and Cheese since a good vegan version is hard to find. This one was decent, but not my favorite. Oh well - there are so many other things on the menu it hardly matters. I am officially keeping my fingers crossed that Veggie Grill franchises its way up to SF SOON.
What a trip, eh? I had a blast and before you know it, I'll be off to NYC (5 days and counting!). Keep your eyes peeled for that, but meanwhile I'll be hitting up a new-to-me San Francisco spot soon. Stay tuned!