Vegan Sandwich Shop in Irvine

This new sandwich shop opened in Irvine called Phoney Baloney (awesome name, right?).  It’s a little hard to find.  You first have to find this gym, then go inside, and you’ll see the counter immediately on the right.  They have a small seating area where you can feel guilty by watching people work out.

I got the Cali BBQ ($5,95): grilled Phoney’s beef slathered in cherry chipotle BBQ sauce and topped with slaw, pickles, and mustard on a sourdough sandwich roll.  I love sandwiches in general, but I really loved this sandwich.  The roll was a tad bit thick and hard to bite into, but other than that, the taste was wonderful.

Phoney Baloney BBQ Sandwich

BBQ Sandwich

And of course I had to try their Strawberry Cookie Monster – a spring sandwich special.  If they are still offering this sandwich, you have to try it!  It’s fresh strawberries, cookie butter, cream cheese, and agave drizzle that’s panini pressed between two slices of whole wheat sourdough. Genius combination.

Phoney Balony Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster

Good luck trying to find this gem.  It’s worth it!

4880 Irvine Blvd., Suite 102 (inside  Custom Bodies Fitness)
Irvine, CA. 92620
949-885-6237

Monday – Fri 11am – 9pm
Saturday 11am – 4pm
Sunday closed

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Veg Friendly at Taco Loco in Laguna Beach

Taco Loco is one of my favorite places to eat in Laguna Beach.  It is also one of the few places I go and get the same thing every time.  The location has been there for a while and is one of those surfer-type joints that is popular with the locals.

My vegan guy went with the Blackened Veggie Phish Burger ($6.50): spiced and blackened veggie phish served with mushrooms, guacamole, and salsa (make sure you get it with no mayo).  Of course I love this dish – it has a bit of spice and you get that fake meaty texture (if you’re into that).  My vegan guy didn’t have the same love for this dish I as do – whatever: he’s crazy.

Taco Loco Phish Burger

Phish Burger

I went with a different burger, but still wanted a small taste of the blackened phish.  Enter Blackened Veggie Phish Taco ($3.35): same phish as in the burger, but in a small soft tortilla.  It’s the perfect small bite – and a great choice for those small eaters out there.

Taco Loco Phish Taco

Phish Taco

I am not a small eater and needed a burger to go with my taco.  The Blackened Tofu and Mushroom Burger ($6) is my absolute favorite item at Taco Loco.  It’s blackened the same as the phish, but if you’re not into the fake meat, this is a wonderfully healthy way to have your burger.  Just like the phish burger, the tofu burger is served with mushrooms, guacamole, and salsa – and also say no mayo.  It comes as a taco, as well, but I like the burger a lot better.

Taco Loco Blacked Tofu and Mushroom Burger

Blacked Tofu and Mushroom Burger

Taco Loco has some (crazy) great hours.  In the summer, they are open really late (2am on weekends!).

640 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-1635

Monday – Thursday, Sunday 11 am – 12 am
Friday – Saturday 11 am – 2 am

M Cafe in Los Angeles

I’ve posted before about M Cafe’s macrobiotic eats and now I’m back again to tell you about another meal here.  A nice little pre-meal snack is their Shiitake Inari ($2.25).  It’s a wonderful bean curd skin filled with rice and marinated shiitake mushrooms.  Sweet and simple.

M Cafe Braised Shiitake Inari

Braised Shiitake Inari

I think I missed the boat in posting this.  This item is off M Cafe’s spring menu, but now it is summer so you probably won’t be able to get it anymore.  It’s a Dill Tofu Salad Wrap with a side of their Barley and Green Garbanzo Bean Salad ($8.95).  I loved this wrap.  It reminded me of an egg salad sandwich.  It was so fresh tasting.  The side salad was an interesting one.  I’ve never seen green garbanzo beans, but they were good.

M Cafe Tofu Dill Salad Wrap

Tofu Dill Salad Wrap

My vegan guy got the Carolina BBQ Seitan Burger ($11.95): thinly sliced grilled seitan basted with zesty barbeque
sauce and piled on a house-baked whole wheat bun with grilled onions, pickles and creamy cole slaw.  This burger has a spicy kick to it, but gets cooled down by the coleslaw.  If you can handle the heat, you’d like this one.

M Cafe Carolina BBQ Burger

Carolina BBQ Burger

Parking is no fun at M Cafe. There are a few spaces connected to the restaurant, but mainly you will have to find a spot on the street.

7119 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90046
323-525-0588

Monday – Saturday 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday 9 am – 9 pm

They also have a location in Beverly Hills at:

9433 Brighton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310-858-8459

Monday – Saturday 9 am – 8 pm
Sunday 10 am – 7 pm

Vegan Friendly at Rutabegorz

Rutabegorz is a very vegetarian friendly cafe featuring healthier cuisine.  It used to be not so vegan friendly, but one of my friends recently told me they updated their menu to solve this.  I went in expecting boat loads of new vegan options.  True, they had more, but not as many as I had thought.  They don’t label what is vegan, so finding these new items was hard.  I kept having to ask the waitress if there was egg in this or milk in that.  Rutabegorz, if you are reading this, please add a vegan icon next to your menu items that can be made vegan!

When I used to work near a Rutabegorz, my co-workers and I would get food from here a lot (mainly so “the vegan” could have something to eat).  I used to get their smoothies all the time.  I love smoothies that are only fruit and juices and Ruta’s lets you choose apple or orange juice and some fruits (none of those annoying ice and yogurt fillers).  Back then, the smoothies were bigger and sometimes that’s all I would need for lunch.  Today, the smoothies lost some weight, but not flavor.  I always got my Smoothie ($4.75) with OJ, strawberries and bananas.  Delicious and nutritious!

Rutabegorz Smoothie

Smoothie: banana, strawberries, OJ

While waiting for my meal, I noticed a sign on the table advertising their Mango Salsa with Chips for only $0.42!  Ruta’s always has some deal like this, but none have ever really interested me.  This was a nice little treat and for only 42 cents, not much to complain about.

Rutabegorz Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

The vegan option I chose was the Falafel Wrap (8.25): falafel patties, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and a creamy herb dressing and served with hummus on the side.  The creamy herb dressing is not vegan, so don’t get it.  This wrap was more of the rustic style Mediterranean food.  It was a good wrap, but did taste a bit on the “healthy” side.  The hummus on the side was also nice, but (again) was more of that rustic style cuisine.

Rutabegorz Falafel Wrap

Falafel Wrap

If you are in the area of a Rutabegorz with a bunch of lunch-seeking meat-eaters, I would suggest a stop here.  I’d like to go back and see if I can find other vegan items on their menu, but I’m not in a huge rush.  It’s a lovely place, but I’d probably go to  a nearby all-veg restaurant if I was on my own.

They have three locations:  Tustin, Orange, and Fullerton.  Check out their website to see which is closest to you.

Vegan Ice Cream at Scoops

It’s Summertime!  And that means vegans go out in search of frozen treats like non-dairy ice cream from Scoops.  They’ve been around for awhile and most LA vegans are already in the know, but some of our dear vegan friends outside the LA Metropolitan area are out of the loop.  I’m here to include those poor folks and let them know of a vegan ice cream option to try on their next trip to LA.  Scoops has two locations.  The original location is next to LA City College and the newer spot is in West LA.  Scoops sells a bunch of dairy filled ice creams (gross!) and two or more vegan varieties (yum!).  The flavors change daily, so you’ll never get bored.

My latest trip to Scoops gave me Raspberry Chocolate and Oreo Ice Cream.  I think it was either a very hot day or they changed the temperature setting on their freezer, because these scoops were a bit softer than I remember.  I think it made them extra delicious.  I also really loved the Raspberry Chocolate, because the raspberry really mellowed out the strong chocolate flavor.  Most of the time when I go to Scoops, they have a chocolate based flavor, but I always find the chocolate to be too much for me.

Scoops Raspberry Chocolate and Oreo

Raspberry Chocolate and Oreo

I have yet to go to the one in West LA, but they are nice enough to update a facebook page so you know what flavors are available.  The original location is very popular and sometimes sells out of the vegan flavors before closing on Saturday nights.  There used to be an awesome vegan restaurant across the street (RIP Pure Luck) and I asked if their closing had any influence on the amount of vegan ice cream Scoops was selling these days.  I was told that there was a decline at first, but now everything is about the same.  Good for them!  I’d hate to see the demand get so low that they would discontinue their vegan flavors.

Scoops East
712 N Heliotrope Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323-906-2649

Monday – Saturday 12pm – 10pm
Sunday 1pm – 6pm

Scoops West
3400 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
323-405-7055

Monday – Saturday 12pm – 10pm

118 Degrees in Costa Mesa

Awhile back, I had a Groupon to 118 Degrees.  It was a great deal.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, 118 Degrees is one of those reasons why I was turned off to raw cuisine.  118 Degrees was my second raw restaurant experience (after Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco – also not a very good experience).  It just didn’t grab me.  After two not so great experiences, I was not very interested in trying more raw cuisine.  Luckily, I found some raw food in LA that I liked and the best raw restaurant in Oklahoma City.  Be your own judge of the cuisine, but this is what I got.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Fried Avocado Mini Tostadas ($7): crispy buckwheat shells, spicy pepita cheese, chopped spinach, cilantro, corn, and fried avocado.  This appetizer is something I have had before and liked it.  However, on this trip, that crunchy coating on the avocados was lacking and brought the whole dish down.  On a good day, these actually are pretty good.  I can never really say anything bad about raw cheeses – I always like them, but I’m not a huge fan of dehydrated things resembling the bread (in this case: the tortilla).

118 Degrees Fried Avocado Mini Tostadas

Fried Avocado Mini Tostadas

My vegan guy got the Sweet Corn Tamales ($14): sweet corn masa with marinated portobello mushrooms – served warm with rojo salsa, guacamole, and napa slaw.  According to the restaurant, this one sells out fast and I can see why.  I enjoyed this much better than the raw stuff.  Besides being comforting and warm, it also had lots of flavor.

118 Degree Sweet Corn Tamales

Sweet Corn Tamales

I had the Fusion Pasta ($16): sweet miso, squash noodles in a chipotle shiitake creme with shiitake mushrooms, avocado, and dulse flakes.  When I think “squash,” I mainly think of butternut squash.  I’m a fan of butternut squash, so I thought I would like this dish.  When it came to me, I saw it was mainly zucchini noodles.  I hate zucchini.  I had about two bites of this before packing it up and bringing it to someone else.

118 Degrees Fusion Pasta

Fusion Pasta

And for dessert we got the Apple Cobbler ($9).  I love baked apple cobbler, but am not so much a fan of dehydrated apple cobbler.  The creme topping was nice.

118 Degrees Apple Cobbler

Apple Cobbler

And the Raspberry Cheesecake ($9).  I love Earth Cafe’s raw cheesecake, but sadly, I did not like 118 Degrees’ cheesecake.  I think I liked the filling better than the crust, but all-in-all, I would never order this again.

118 Degrees Raspberry Cheesecake

Raspberry Cheesecake

If you are into raw cuisine (and even if you’re not), you may like 118 Degrees.  I encourage you to try it out yourself.
2981 Bristol Suite B5
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714-754-0718

Monday – Saturday 9am – 10pm
Sundays 10am – 9pm
Brunch on Sunday 10am – 3pm

Brunch at Sage Vegan Bistro

I would like to share that this week So Cal Vegan Gal hit 1,000 views!  That means my vegan guy is super supportive of my blog!  No, no – he’s pretty normal… sometimes (wink, wink).  But really, I would like to thank everyone who visits my blog.  It really means a lot to me knowing that I am not just sending this information out into the cold, black space.  And I even get some views from pretty random places around the world.  I don’t know what brings them to a blog about being vegan in Southern California, but if you happen to be reading this from overseas, “Welcome!  Thanks for reading my blog!!”  I say very slowly and loudly, because we all know that if we speak to non-English speakers very slowly and loudly, they will understand.

And now back to the post.

Sage Vegan Bistro is one of those places that has a large and varied menu that changes often.  It’s a good thing if you don’t like what they offer one month, because, most likely, the next month they will probably offer something else.  However, if you absolutely love something, you might be disappointed the next time you dine here.  Both have happened to me.  Right now, though, lots look good to me on their menu.  I better start making more trips to the Echo Park area before these items disappear.

On a day with tasty-looking menu items, my vegan guy and I went in for brunch.  I started with the Polenta Cake ($8.95): fried polenta topped with tomato confit and sautéed spinach with green pesto sauce.  What a delightful dish.  The tastes just blended so nicely and I always feel like I’ve earned some bonus points by starting off my day with some greens.

Sage Bistro Polenta

Polenta Cake

I also ordered the BLTA ($11.95) served on a croissant.  For me, the bacon was too smokey.  After eating some of it, I really ended up just wanting that amazing croissant.  Next time I’m asking for the croissant with some jam.

Sage Bistro Croissant BLTA

Croissant BLTA

My vegan guy got the Spinach Avocado and Walnut Sausage Florentine ($11.95): served over fresh baked baguette, topped with hollandaise sauce, and comes with roasted potatoes.  From what I remember, I think he liked it all right.  Also from what I remember, I think I liked his dish more than my BLTA.

Sage Bistro Florentine

Florentine

Sage is located at:

1700 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
213-989-1718

Sunday 9am-4pm & 5pm-10pm
Monday-Wednesday 11am-10pm
Thursday-Friday 11am-11pm
Saturday 9am-4pm & 5pm-11pm

Brunch Saturday and Sunday 9am-4pm

BONUS: Inside Sage Vegan Bistro is a Kind Kreme.  Easily get your vegan dessert after your meal!

ROAD TRIP: Waiting for Vegan Food in Chandler, AZ

Thank you all for reading about my vegan adventures on my road trip to Oklahoma City.  Today’s post is the last post of this journey.  For our last meal, my mom and I stopped at 24 Carrots.  This all vegetarian cafe is located outside Phoenix in Chandler.  Not being from Arizona, I had no idea how out of the way this place was.  When we finally got there, we were greeted with a nice, fresh atmosphere.  We had about two people in front of us ordering, but it went quickly.  24 Carrots has a lot of juices and smoothies with a large selection of vegetarian food options (most can be made vegan).  Their brunch menu looked amazing and (luckily) they serve it all day.

However, this is where the post gets bad.  I mentioned before that two customers were in front of us at the ordering counter (not bad) and there were only a handful of other customers already there.  One wouldn’t think it would take long to get our food (especially at a place where you have to order at the counter).  It took 50 minutes to get our food!  They said it was because we ordered brunch and they have one grill, so when someone orders a lunch menu item, they have to clean the grill before working on a brunch menu item.  This is bullshit for two reasons.  First, if this is the protocol for brunch menu items, then they should just stop serving it at a certain time – eliminate the waiting time so they can clean their grill!  Second, EVERYONE was waiting for their food.  One person just told them to cancel her food order, because her friends had already gotten theirs and left and now she had to leave.  Plus, those 2 people that ordered before us only got their lunch menu order about 5 minutes before us.  Really?  I don’t think we would have driven completely out of the way to come here had we known we were going to have to wait that long.

Anyway, when we did get our food, we first tried the Arizona Bowl ($10.95): apple soyrizo hash, spinach, garden tofu scramble, cheese, avocado, jalapeno cilantro pesto, and aioli.  My mom loves soyrizo, so we decided to try this.  Sadly, there wasn’t much soyrizo in this – just tiny bits.  In fact, most of this dish was potatoes (something not even listed in the menu description).  It had an ok flavor, but I wouldn’t order this again.

24 Carrots Arizona Bowl

Arizona Bowl

They managed to redeem themselves a bit with the Fried Egg Sandwich ($11.95): fried “egg,” house bacon, cheese, tomato, house ketchup, garlic aioli, seasonal fruit.  This sandwich was very tasty, although a bit expensive when you look at what you are getting.  Would I wait 50 minutes for this?  No.  If I lived in the area and called my order in ahead of time, I would definitely get this again, though.

24 Carrots Fried Egg Sandwich

Fried Egg Sandwich

And last, we got the Carrot Cake Pancakes ($7.95), which I don’t see on their online menu anymore.  Maybe they are trying to change the quickness of their brunch items?  Or maybe people didn’t like them, because we thought they were a disappointment.  They tasted more like a cinnamon pancake –  we didn’t really taste any carrot.

24 Carrots Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot Cake Pancakes

If you have loads of time to kill and are in the Chandler area, check them out.  I wouldn’t say their food is terrible, but they definitely need to get their act together (they’ve been open for 4 years?!).

24 Carrots
6140 W Chandler Blvd Ste 2
Chandler, AZ – 85226
(480) 753-4411 <—- (use this to call in your order!!)

Sunday – Tuesday – 8am to 2pm
Wednesday – Saturday – 8am to 8pm

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WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED SO CAL PROGRAM. (thanks again for reading!)

ROAD TRIP: Eating Vegan in Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff is a wonderful mountainy community with a pretty awesome downtown.  Walking around makes you feel like you’re in the Route 66 past.  And the higher altitudes mean that Flagstaff has cooler weather than the rest of the state.  There is a large university located close to downtown, so the whole area has a young feel to it.  Young students also means that there will be places that cater to vegans.

One such place is Pita Jungle.  This Mediterranean eatery has a whole bunch of vegan options.  Their website even lists out all the vegan offerings.    The first thing we got was the Carmelized Cauliflower with Tahini ($3.99).  My mom loved this dish – like really loved this dish.  I am not a huge cauliflower fan, but thought it was good.  I would have been on my mom’s level of enjoyment had it been broccoli.

Pita Jungle Caramelized Cauliflower

Caramelized Cauliflower

The one dish I really loved was the Hummus ($4.99 small/$6.29 large).  It was so creamy!  In my opinion, it is hard to find this creamy style of hummus.  Most places serve what I call “rustic” or “hippie” hummus – kind of gloppy versions of the Middle Eastern delight.  This came with warmed pita and was devoured in minutes.

Pita Jungle Hummus

Hummus

We might have thought we were lacking on our greens, so we got the Spinach Pasta Salad ($9.29).  This salad is huge!  We ended up taking most of this home, because we could barely eat it.  It was full of flavor — and spinach!  It could be served as a nice, refreshing meal on its own.

Pita Jungle Spinach Pasta Salad

Spinach Pasta Salad

We also split a Falafel Wrap ($5.99): crispy croquettes of chickpeas in a regular pita with cilantro and spices, mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, pickles and tahini.   I put on a little bit of the hummus for added amazingness.  This wrap was delicious.  The falafel was perfectly crispy.

Pita Jungle Falafel Wrap

Falafel Wrap

BONUS:  For all the Vegan So Cal Gals and Guys there is a Pita Jungle out here!  They have one in Newport Beach, Pasadena, and San Diego!  Go now!

The next morning, before we made the long trek back to Southern California, we stopped for breakfast. Macy’s European Coffeehouse is the epitome of eclectic coffeehouse.  It has that cozy yet chaotic atmosphere.  We were a little confused as to where to order, but you can do this in the back of the coffeehouse next to the bakery display case.  Order your drinks, foods, and baked goods here.  They will bring the food out to you.  Since we were still kind of full from the previous night’s feast at Pita Jungle, we were set on just splitting a waffle.  But then I saw this Pecan Sticky Bun ($3.50) labeled as vegan.  I had to get it!  It was moist, sticky, and not overly sweet.  Love on a plate.

Macy's Coffee House Pecan Sticky Bun

Pecan Sticky Bun

And we got what we came for: the Vegan Waffle with Fruit ($5.95).  These were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Dare I say that these might have been the best vegan waffles I’ve ever had?!  Well, I just did.

Macy's Coffee House Waffle

Waffle with Fruit

Oh, and FYI – you do bus your own table at Macy’s – another thing my mom and I had a hard time figuring out (the bussing station was hidden).

Pita Jungle
320 S. Regent St
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-774-0086

10:30am – 10pm daily

Macy’s European Coffeehouse
14 S. Beaver St
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-774-2243

6am – 8pm daily

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COME BACK TOMORROW FOR THE FINAL POST ABOUT THIS ROAD TRIP.

ROAD TRIP: Vegan Comfort Food in Albuquerque

Albuquerque is a surprisingly huge city in the middle of New Mexico.  It is home to a large university, so I would imagine that some of those students are vegan.  Therefore, it would make sense that across the street from the University of New Mexico is Mint Tulip – and all vegan cafe with a focus on diner-type food.  I was seriously in love with their decor.  I think I might paint a room in my future house this minty color.

Mint Tulip

Mint Tulip

The minty color also inspired me to order a Mint Cookie Shake ($4).  My mom went with the humble Chocolate Shake ($4).  They make their shakes with their vanilla soft serve and are insanely good!  They had many more flavor combinations that I wished I had room in my belly to try.

Mint Tulip Mint Cookie and Chocolate Shakes

Mint Cookie and Chocolate Shakes

The food at Mint Tulip focuses on sandwiches/wraps and salads.  They also come with a side that you get to choose from a whole list of options.  Our first food item was a Buffalo Ranch Wrap with a Pasta Salad side ($9).  I took one bite of the wrap and immediately went into panic mode.  It was so spicy that I couldn’t even eat the rest of it.  If you can handle the heat, go for this item – apparently it is one of the more popular dishes.  The pasta salad I could handle.  It was so light and refreshing. I could eat a whole plate of this as a nice dinner.

Mint Tulip Buffalo Ranch Wrap

Buffalo Ranch Wrap

The Grilled Cheese with a side of Fruit ($6) was the star of the entrees.  This tasted like childhood.  The bread was so crispy and the cheese was so melty (wouldn’t have guessed it was Tofutti American slices).  A shake and a grilled cheese is a winning combination in my book.

Mint Tulip Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese

The Reuben with a side of Slaw ($9) was the second favorite.  Made with the perfect proportions of Tofurky slices, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing.  They certainly know how to grill a sandwich at Mint Tulip.

Mint Tulip Reuben

Rueben

They also make a Burger ($9) with housemade patty, tomato, onion, pickle, spinach, and Vegenaise.  We ordered this with a side of Potato Salad.  I liked this burger well enough, but if I had to get one thing here, it would be the grilled cheese.

Veggie Burger

And we couldn’t leave without trying their unadulterated Soft Serve.  My mom and I both agreed that we liked it better in a shake.  On its own, it kind of had a gummy texture to it – something we couldn’t detect blended up.

Mint Tulip Soft Serve

Soft Serve

You can see their full menu here.  This place might have been the favorite meal of the trip and would almost be worth living in Albuquerque… almost.

Mint Tulip
2110 Central Ave SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-242-1320

Monday – Thursday, Saturday 10am – 4pm
Friday 10am – 9pm