Native Foods – 1, Big Ag – 0

I have this friend that was once a vegetarian for many years and is no longer.  Doesn’t it make you so sad when you see a vegetarian/vegan turn back to the dark side?  I mean, you’ve seen them thrive on a veg diet, watch them eat delicious veg food, and then ultimately go back to eating meat.  Why?  I don’t know – but it breaks a little piece of my heart.

So back to this friend.  Whenever I have a visit with him, we always go to a vegan restaurant.  He knows veg food is good, so why shouldn’t we eat it when he comes to town?  In honor of his latest visit, we went to Native Foods.  I think most vegetarians in California know about this place.  They are popping up everywhere these days.  And, since the founder has stepped aside, the new owners have expanded to even more places out of state (Oregon, Illinois, Colorado…).  It’s a very exciting time for Native Foods.

The menu is quite large at Native Foods and it keeps changing (which can be good or bad, depending on if your favorites get removed or not).  I once had an amazing burger one week, and the next week it was gone.  One menu item that never seems to go away is the Native Chicken Wings ($6.95).  And there is good reason these don’t go away – they are really delicious.  They are lightly fried and not too heavy.  The ranch dressing that they come with is also super good.

Native Foods Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings

The Saigon Roll ($5.95) was once a special, but came back as a smaller appetizer version.  No matter what the size, I love this roll.  It is prepared with lemongrass tofu, pickled daikon, carrot, brown rice, cucumber, cilantro, and basil.  And my favorite part about it is the peanut sauce.  I love peanut sauce!  This is also a good dish for omnivores that like tofu and are weirded out by the fake meats (like some former co-workers of mine).

Native Foods Saigon Roll

Saigon Roll

My friend got the Portobello and Sausage Burger ($9.95) with a side of sweet potato fries.  This burger is prepared with grilled portobello, homemade seitan, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, salsa, pumpkin seed pesto, and mayo.  I think he liked the burger.  I remember his one comment was that it was very garlicy.  I’ve tried this before and thought the seitan was rather chewy.

Native Foods Portobello Mushroom and Sausage Burger

Portobello Mushroom and Sausage Burger

I went with the Twister Wrap ($9.95): greens, avocado, salsa, chipotle sauce and your choice of crispy or grilled chicken.  I really like their chicken and I love wraps, so this one is a no-brainer.  It’s good.  I went with the regular fries as my side, since I’m not a huge fan of their sweet potato fries (I think Veggie Grill’s are better).

Native Foods Twister Wrap

Twister Wrap

And how could we not complete this fabulous meat-free meal without my favorite Native Foods dessert??  The Peanut Butter Parfait ($2.95) always hits the spot.  Creamy and full of delicious goodies – I wish I knew the recipe!

Native Foods Peanut Butter Parfait

Peanut Butter Parfait

So maybe the meal didn’t turn my friend back to forgoing the dead animals, but at least this one meal didn’t need to kill anything.  Now I need to work on the other 1,094 meals this year.

Sandwiches from Locali in LA

Locali is a cute little shop that sells packaged foods, eco home products, and freshly prepared sandwiches.  They have a lot of meat sandwiches, but most can be made vegan.

The two most famous vegan sandwiches here are their Baaadasss Breakfast Sandwich ($5.99) and their Reuben.  The Baaadasss Sandwich is made with vegan sausage, vegan cheese, chipotle sauce, and maple syrup on an english muffin.  It’s very sweet and salty.  I think I might have liked it with just Vegenaise instead of the chipotle sauce, because it was a bit spicy for me.  Otherwise, this was a very good breakfast sandwich.

Locali Badass Breakfast Sandwich

Badass Breakfast Sandwich

The Reuben ($10.50 full/$5.99 half) is made with tofu deli slices, vegan cheese, sauerkraut, and vegan russian dressing on rye.  I can see why this is one of the favorite sandwiches.  It’s very juicy and that dressing is wonderful.

Locali Reuben

Reuben

And one item that is not on their menu, but was special when I was there is the Hot Mama Pastrama.  It came with Pastrami seitan, Daiya, and spicy homemade giardiniera.  The seitan was very good – the only thing I liked about it.  The veggies (aka giardiniera) were too chunky for me and didn’t have the best flavor.

Locali Pastrami

Pastrami

I do like Locali’s sandwiches.  The one thing that was grossing me out, though, was the fact that when I was there, there was only one guy on duty.  He had to deal with customers, ring them up on the cash register, and prepare the sandwiches.  Luckily when I was there he only paused to ring up people paying with credit cards (a bit cleaner than cash), but there just wasn’t that awareness of washing hands after handling non-food  items that I would hope there should be.  I know Locali is trying to be eco-friendly and constantly washing your hands makes for a lot of wasted paper towels, but I think a lot of us can agree that we don’t want dirty hands preparing our food.  This won’t deter me from coming back, though.  And, in fact, there will be a Vegan Hot Dog Fest this Labor Day weekend that I hope to go to.  And you should, too, because it’s supporting ARME – Animal Rescue, Media & Education.

5825 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-466-1360

Open Daily 8am-10pm