Inexpensive Vegan (Los Angeles)
Okay, WOW. Mas firme que WOW! (Stronger than WOW!) Cafe La Casita happens to have one of the most incredible Acai Bowls that I have had not just in Los Angeles, but perhaps anywhere. I'm not even being emphatic here, okay maybe a little. But I never thought I'd see the day where I'd find my beloved Acai Bowls from when I lived in Santa Cruz in Los Angeles. This little house is inside of the 'Sunset Padel', which consists of a club and four courts for a Spanish style racquetball game called padel, offers not only the best, but the only place with an Acai Bowl that's under $10, much less under $8, much less $7.50.
I haven't had such a delicious Acai Bowl since back in the days when I went to an Acai cafe that was run by a Brazilian woman on one busy road along the edge of Santa Cruz who knew the ins and outs of making incredible Acai Bowls. Their Acai is richly blended and fresh with a well-proportioned amount of granola, berries, bananas and coconut shavings and served in a larger-than-expected plastic bowl. You could probably share this thing if you want to go on a nice date with someone because this is quite a full meal in itself. With the atmosphere looking more like a park in Europe that's underneath flags and full of modernist/minimalist patio furniture, it is a surprising find on the somewhat dreary area of Sunset that's ridden with lots of cracked, old pavement. Their murals hardly stand out but it's located before the Normandie intersection on the Northwestern corner.
I am assuming that Acai Bowls must also be popular in the places where Padel is played - which is primarily Argentina, Mexico and Spain. I never even heard of this sport before visiting this place so was quite excited to look it up once I saw the padel players. Oh yeah, I must mention the padel players. If you're into incredibly hot and tall hispanic men and women with lean athletic builds, watching them play and teach kids how to hit those balls with the padel rackets was a lot of fun.
FIVE LARGE STARS.
踢屁股 means kick ass wok (in Google Translate Chinese.)
Chinatown Express in Echo Park is one of a few handful of places that you can order a solid vegetarian or vegan meal for under $5 in the area. I work at the coolest music venue in the vicinity. And although I am not from China, one of those trendy mail-in DNA tests might prove otherwise because I love Chinese food.
I know every restaurant in this area and bypass everything on Sunset to get their $4 vegetarian meal with a side of rice. To give you an idea of how expensive restaurants are around the area, it costs less than a small chai at Sage Organic around the corner.
As for vegetarian and vegan options are concerned, this is my favorite Chinatown Express for what they offer. These have a really delicious stir-fried green bean dish with black beans that they offer as the vegetable dish instead of the soggy vegetable chop suey that all the other Chinatown Expresses offer.
The only issue is that they will run out of this amazing stir fried green bean dish by around 6 to 8pm and will not make more. I've been meaning to add this place to my inexpensive vegan list, so welcome to the club.
Bim bim bop ba bim bim ba bop ba bim bim bop ba bim bim bop bop!
Korean food is cool because you get hot green tea in a tall plastic soft drink cup. You get one kim chi and two kinda-kim chis amongst eight other tiny dishes that don't quit at Western Doma Noodle. In ayurvedic taste terms - you get a ton of bitters and astringents in pickled form. Eating bitter and astringent food is balancing, since Western food of the non- Doma kind is often salty and sweet.
If you are hot, you can get a big bowl of cold noodles to combat with hot sauce. You can get a vegan bim bim bap here, with no meat and no egg and it doesn't taste like it lacks either! The hot sauce it is served with is creamy thick! Like a spicy and thick BBQ. Be sure to constantly mix the rice with the vegetables and hot sauce in the black cauldron to not get stuck rice on the bottom.
There is a term for Korean middle aged woman with permed hair - ajumma - which Korean feminists say is a perjorative and sexist term that emphasizes on her supposedly lower status in society, being working class and pushy. But nonetheless they have one of those here. And she isn't pushy - it took us asking her three times to get waters well after our food came and was finished.
Berlin Currywurst is perhaps the only delicious, inexpensive non-chain food option in the Hollywood/Cahuenga area. I prefer this Berlin Currywurst to the one in Silver Lake, which is tiny and less comfortable to hang out at in comparison.
But what's even better than the food is the atmosphere: their Biergarten is literally a Beer Garden. They have alcohol here and a very massive, well-maintained garden in back. It has a very bohemian, non-Hollywood feel to it. I was impressed.
I enjoy vegan tofu kielbasa at level 3 spiciness and the original sauce. It's well-cooked, savory and spiced perfectly. Since Hollywood/Cahuenga is in a moderately touristy area, they have hot dog bun options for those who do not prefer the authentic fresh bread that doesn't wrap around the meat.
Actual real-life Germans hang out here! They were speaking to one of the workers in Deutsch.
Tierra Cafe offers an incredibly delicious vegan club sandwich with a satisfying salad under $8.
I was in the 7th Street/Metro area of Downtown Los Angeles and was looking for a delicious vegan option besides Mendocino Farms nearby. Tierra Cafe fulfilled this. The cafe is located on the ground level of a large building in a dim and outdated 80s plastic/faux brick motif yet the cleanliness of the cafeteria makes up for its bleakness.
I was greeted by a very old asian guy. I honestly don't think he could understand complex or perhaps even simple sentences. His English was broken. After realizing this, I said, very clearly:
"Hi. Vegan. Club. Sandwich."
He understood me. He told a woman in the kitchen who was old. It seemed that she was his wife. But who knows.
The sandwich, with a price listing of $6.45 on the chalkboard, was $7.70ish after I was charged. The opaqueness of the $1.30 price difference between the $6.45 chalkboard price plus 16% "tax" tarnished my confidence in how they operated. Nonetheless, I did not want to fuss over a dollar with someone who is almost triple my age and cannot speak English.
The club sandwich was incredible. It was well-made with fresh sourdough bread and I actually would give an extra star, five stars, if the price difference was more clearly reflected on the menu. The turkey was fresh, veganaise was sufficient. The salad that it came with was delicious with a nutty-flavored dressing.
I am so grateful that a cafe-store like this exists. Not only does the vegan reuben blow my mind out of this world, but it is $6 for a thick wedge of this sliced soy goodness on rye.
Many moons ago, I thought it would be smart to bike up to the Hollywood Sign from North Hollywood and back without eating. It took two hours. When I biked down and down and down and seriously all the way down from the hills, I was famished for a sammich.
I have been here many moons before that ride and thought of the cafe-store more as a corner market and mostly was underwhelmed by the varying selection in the refrigerators, which all looked good but require me to go back to my place to drop off perishable food.
I finally came here and ordered food. The reuben is juicy, the bread is fresh and the taste was out of this world. I am not surprised that it won a best reuben prize of LA or something.
I sat here and ate my reuben in a basket here twice. The atmosphere constitutes refrigerators and shelves and vegetarians who are more weight-conscious than conscious. The tables are so close to each other, that I try to savor the food more than a fraction of the gossip I could swallow.
With only 112 menu options, you're likely to find really good food at Vegan House. I finally did. I tried the Kung Pao fish and the coconut soup with tofu. The Kung Pao sauce is so good but the dish comes with too many bell peppers. The Thom Kha tofu (coconut tofu soup) is the best I've ever had. It's a perfect blend of sour lime juice mixed in with the coconut. I recommend the Thom Kha with vegetables or tofu because the soup is very rich and too much flavor would spoil it. The Thai iced tea and their desserts are delicious as always.
What the heck is with their fish? The fish option is delicious but it tastes more like chicken than their chicken does! The fish has a tougher consistency while the chicken is soft and tastes peculiar like Yves veggie meat. I believe it's a prepackaged aftertaste. I did not like that aftertaste mixed with other foods on previous visits, specifically Thai food like the red curry.
Vegan House is a quaint little eatery located in a strip mall with ample parking. My only problem is the kitsch. The restaurant is way, way way too decorative in a repulsive way. The eatery includes saloon doors, Americana and too many Halloween decorations. Sorry, but you shouldn't act so cutesy especially if your restaurant is rated a B by the Department of Health. So it really creeps me out to eat your food underneath tiny plastic spiders and fake cobwebs. The food is delicious with or without the kitsch, lose it.
I have tried all vegan/vegetarian pad thai options in possibly every single part of Thai Town, and this vegetarian pad thai (with or without egg) is not only outstanding, they specifically offer a vegetarian pad thai option on the menu for lower the price than the meat one.
The tofu is specifically made to suit the pad thai, versus other places where tofu is a meat option, and comes in huge chunks on top of the pad thai, almost separate to the noodles. The tofu is firm and compliments the noodles. The sauce and the texture of the noodles is unbelievable. The noodles are firm and the sauce is rich.
If you are specifically looking for vegetarian pad thai, there is no place that comes close to Ord Hoyka anywhere in Los Angeles. Plus, while it's better, it is also cheaper than any other Thai Town restaurant, which offer a vegetarian/vegan option at the same price as their meat options. The one here, I believe, is $6.25.
There's a new vegan cafe in town! And while it seems these days for every two vegan restaurants that close down, one new one opens up, the new ones seem to be offering more types of meatless meat. The Vegan Joint is a Thai-style vegan restaurant, think along the lines of Vegan House in Hollywood or Green Leaves in Los Feliz. The food is a mix of different styles of Thai fusion food and non-thai food, think of wraps and burgers with every imaginable soy or wheat meat imaginable. There is also soy cheese for quesadillas and peanut sauce for spring rolls (both listed on the appetizer section.) There are also more typical thai fare curries and rice/noodle dishes.
Even though I got a Thai iced tea, I decided to go bold and try something not very Thai. I got excited to see tofu scramble here and decided on the tofu scramble burger with fries. I sat on the front glass table in the front of the restaurant. It is located on the second floor of the shopping center it is in, on top of a Filipino restaurant. It was very quiet up there and the four people who seemed to work there, were very happy to have someone there. Upon my sitting down, one of the workers quickly windexed and wiped the glass table (which already appeared clean) and then the food came three minutes later. The food came with fat fries and Trader Joe's ketchup. Everything was good, but the burger is one that cannot be eaten without utensils as the scramble, which was delicious, did not fully stay in the burger.
All in all, it was good. If you like the vegan Thai fusion places in and around greater LA, you probably enjoy this place too.
All About the Bread has a seriously legit veggie sandwich. I am surprised that no vegetarians or vegans review this place. Perhaps it is because the vegetarian sandwich is not included on their actual sign. See proof to my claim on their online menu, here: allaboutthebread.com/menu (See how much avocado they put on their Vegetarian sandwich?)
The Vegetarian sandwich (I get mine with no cheese, thus making is vegan) is incredible and for a far less expensive price than that for a comparable sandwich at Mendocino Farms! Everything, including the bread, is really fresh. I like this veggie sandwich as much as the one at Larchmont Wine & Spirits, but what this place offers that's special is Vegenaise. Vegenaise, for those who don't know, is a mayonnaise that is vegan and without the eggs. The avocado is really fresh and plentiful; and given in a high proportion compared to lettuce. (Who wants a sandwich swimming in lettuce?) Their half-sandwich is also huge as is the slices of soft bread. In fact, I cannot eat a full sandwich here, thus I find the price also to be reasonable at around $6 for something smothered in avocado, Vegenaise and bread. I also appreciate that this place has a lot more seating than Larchmont Wine & Spirits.
I am reviewing All About the Bread after I finished watching a documentary called Fat Head that argues that wheat is more unhealthy for you than saturated fat. If I become obese due to my love for their fresh bread atop of their delicious veggie sandwich with Veganaise, then let be become jiggly.
Perhaps the most amusing thing about this place are the fussy rich people from every demographic waiting on line to order sandwiches. A muscular teenage boy in front of me wanted arugula instead of lettuce on his half vegetarian, half turkey sandwich, turkey placed on the other half of the sandwich. An older woman, kind of shriveled looking with the large jewelry she was wearing from behind me, made the worker redo the entire sandwich because the worker apparently put too much vinegar on hers. The sandwiches are good, hardly the 'best in LA' but they are good, the italian bread is fresh enough and the half-sandwich is reasonably filling. A half sandwich is $4.50 and is surprisingly quite large, about the size of an average burrito.
I definitely come here partly for the ridiculously amusing line-waiting and for the low price, on top of a solidly good sandwich, because even a short line takes a long time with the fussy rich people making modifications on every ingredient placed in their sandwich.
I have no comment on the wine and cheese!
I enjoy reading the two-and-three-star reviews of people who claim to have had ramen their entire lives, proclaiming that there is so much better elsewhere:
How the magical utopian ramen shop is such-and-such down the street, or how this place is dry bones in comparison to the 'real' ramen shops in big Tokyo.
I admit that I have never experienced a genuine meat ramen and the only ramen I have ever had before this place was called 'top ramen' and it came in a styrofoam cup. So maybe I really don't know what 'good' ramen is.
However, I do know that, unlike the other 'better' ramen places, they offer vegetarian equivalents to the beef or chicken broth.
So being the l'enfant terrible vegetarian ramen eater that I am, this place is incredible! The spicier (level 4 and up) vegetarian ramen with veggie miso broth offers a satisfying punch on my temples, because I begin to sweat there when I eat and sip this. The spiciness is thrilling. The level 3 and 2 spicy is very, very spicy (increasingly so). It delivers spiciness that no other soup place I've ever been to does. It brings me joy to see other people sweating while they eat their spicy ramen.
The location hovers on top of a cloud as you ascend three flights of stairs to get to it. When you reach the heavenly gates, the host who greets you is a tattooed guy wearing bright pink nail polish. The prices are reasonable!
Los Angeles desperately needs food stands that are not exclusive to farmers' markets. This food stand, which can be found at farmers' markets, does not have a fixed location. That being said, do not go to 1277 N Wilton Place Los Angeles, CA 90028. 'Dave's Gourmet Korean Food' at 1277 N Wilton Place is not open here and looks like has been abandoned for three or four years.
If they make the actual food at this location, delicious things can be made in ugly packages! I really only like the $5 container of Spicy Tempeh. It is incredible. The tempeh is freshly cooked and tender and comes with a perfect amount of spice. I never really get anything else, as I have tried a few other vegetable-based things, but they are forgettable in a Whole Foods salad bar kind of way. Some of the food is pickled and some are pickled vegetables. I think that charging the same $5 price for spicy cucumbers is ridiculous. I tried the cucumbers based on a mistake as a kind of curt longhaired woman at the Silver Lake location once gave me cucumbers rather than the spicy tempeh and left me feeling hungry after eating them.
The only helpful thing that could help enhance the incredible falafel pita here is remembering what the bottles of dressing that they offer are for. There are a ton of bottles of delicious sauces besides the white-colored tahini or tehina sauce that confuse me, regarding associating the color and name of the sauce/puree to its taste. Apparently all of these can be dumped on top of a falafel, each one will modify the taste slightly. I have trouble associating the best sauce to use. I am posting this more for me, suckas:
Sesame seed paste
Taste: Mild and creamy. It's a hummus without chick peas.
How to remember this one:
I don't have to. Tahini is in everything.
Chili, garlic and lemon paste
Taste: Spicier accompaniment to falafel than tahini
How to remember this one:
Red is spicy, and reminds me a little of salsa. I will associate the red bottle to salsa.
Jalapeno and cilantro puree
Taste: I don't recall tasting this one. I presume a very spicy cilantro! Since it has jalapenos, I presume this is the spiciest accompaniment to falafels with a cilantro emphasis.
How to remember this one:
I associate the green sauce with cilantro and the 's' for 'schuge' with spice.
Pickled mango puree
Taste: Sour! If you prefer sour over spicy, this is your best friend. I don't really like this one personally but you use this one as you would (in burger terms) a pickle in a burger.
How to remember this one:
I associate amba with amber and the color of mango. Amba has four letters like 'sour' does.
Ingredients: Garlic and olive oil paste
Taste: As pungent as garlic gets! If you want more of a pungent (versus spicy) taste to your food, this one should do it.
How to remember this one:
This is the white stuff that isn't tahini.
Cruzer is in my good graces again!
No more hose on the bicycle rack! (There's more than one rack now!)
The most economical choice ($8) is the calzone. The calzone is basically a goo sandwich. It comes with tons of daiya in a pizza pocket. It comes with dipping sauce. In order to combat the sameness of the daiya taste, there is also garlic powder, which they provide a cup of.
The issues I still take exception to are that about 15 x 15" corrugated cardboard pizza boxes are still provided upon eating here. Why not just have paper plates in stock? The box doesn't even fit in the plastic garbage can without jamming it in. The choice of seating here includes a handful of stools and two chairs.The daiya goodness of their vegan pizzas and calzones here is as good as daiya-made food gets.… En savoir plus
Two Boots. Their pizza is wonderfully never perfect. Sometimes the slices are toasty and hard. Sometimes it takes ten minutes to get a slice of pizza, a slice that enters the heating oven and disappears in its jowls, a heating oven monster.
Sometimes you gotta remind them, re-remind them and then compete with a funny fro-headed guy for the first vegan pizza slice to finally come out. I am always competing with the funny fro-headed guy here for pizza.
But damn. It's the only place that you can get a yummy V-for-Vegan pizza slice for $4, much less under $10, much less a grab-and-go kinda vegan pizza. Where else in LA can one leave a pizzeria with a single handheld vegan daiya pizza? It's rich with daiya goodness and comes with a drizzle of mystery green, a kind-of pesto.
The garbanzo bean house salad is a huge sack of monumental goodness too! With vinaigrette.
Last but not least, the workers are terribly awesome.
Ever since I embarked on sushi trips to West Hollywood, I had gotten hooked on bastardized but incredibly delicious vegan tempura rolls. These vegetable tempura rolls I had were so delicious, that I was subconsciously on the hunt to find them in more of a casual setting, a place that didn't have cloth napkins, life-size fountains and mood lighting.
Add six or seven months and I found myself hungry while bicycle riding on Vermont. I discovered California Bowl offered tempura rolls but meat ones and asked them if they could make the vegetable California rolls into tempura ones. They could!
And not only could they, they are reasonably priced! These incredibly delicious secret option is not on the menu but it should be, because they're um, in one word, amazing! Basically, they're the veggie roll option dipped into tempura. Given that it is difficult to mess up veggie rolls, the cucumbers and avocado taste very fresh and are well-made. (See picture.) The tempura is perfectly crispy and the right amount of wasabi and ginger are given.
The place is very simple and casual, sit-down plastic tray, styrofoam water cup kind of place. No pretensions, no fountain, I love it.