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.

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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

More from Bulan Thai Vegetarian

Back when it was colder, my vegan guy and I went to Bulan Thai Vegetarian.  While it was still tasty, I think the food we order was not as good as what we had ordered before.

I wanted to try the appetizer of Seaweed Rolls ($8): deep fried nori sheet stuffed with tofu, glass noodles, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms and served with a sweet and sour sauce.  When they say these are deep fried, they weren’t joking.  I think they might have been too fried for me.  The filling and sauce were mighty tasty, but I think I’ll stick with the Summer Rolls.

Bulan Thai Seaweed Rolls

Seaweed Rolls

My vegan guy got the Rad Nah ($9): crispy vermicelli noodles topped with broccoli, shiitakes, and protein choice in gravy.  He ordered this with tofu.  I had a bite and thought it was good, but would choose pad thai or pad see ew instead.

Bulan Thai Rad Nah

Rad Nah

Because it was a colder day, I was craving a warm soup.  They have a new soup item: Thai Style Pho.  You’ll see it displayed at your table.  I definitely prefer Vietnamese Pho places better, but this soup was still pretty good – especially since vegan Vietnamese pho is hard to come by in the central LA area (don’t you hate going to a Pho place and finding out their vegetable Pho is made with meat broth?! Yuck.).

Bulan Thai Pho

Thai Style Pho

Go to one of these locations – just don’t order these items. (Sorry Bulan!  I still love you.)

7168 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323-857-1882

4114 Santa Monica Blvd
Silver Lake, CA 90029
323-913-1488

Brunch at Real Food Daily

Real Food Daily is an all vegan eatery serving up healthy, organic food.  They now have three locations: Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and the newest in Pasadena.  My vegan guy and I used to go here often for their Sunday brunch, but when their tofu scramble portions got smaller and smaller, we stopped frequenting them as much.  The Santa Monica location has a full bakery attached to it that specializes in healthier-for-you desserts.  If you want to star gaze (or impress out of town guests) the West Hollywood location often has celebrities dining in.  I’ve often spotted one on a trip to their Sunday brunch.  Once, we sat next to Leonardo Di Caprio and Tobey Maguire (swoon!!)!  Sorry, vegan guy, but I’ve been in a relationship with Leo long before I met you.

And now back to the food.  I got the Breakfast Burrito ($13.75): whole wheat flour tortilla, scrambled tofu, tempeh bacon, spanish rice, black beans, onions, peppers, topped w/ ranchero sauce, cashew cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo with hash browns or fruit.  This thing is huge and (as you can see) loaded with goodness.   I got it with a side of hash browns, which were crispy on the top and softer underneath.  The tempeh bacon is too smokey for me at Real Food Daily, so I gave the side to my vegan guy.

Real Food Daily Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

My vegan guy went with his standard RFD brunch item: Ava B ‘n’ Cheez Scramble ($12.95): avocado, crumbled tempeh bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, cashew cheese (only he gets chopped tomatoes instead of the sun dried tomatoes).  It also comes with hash browns or fruit and a side of toast.  While it looks like a lot in the picture, it’s actually a bit small (especially for the price).  When you see that my meal was less than a dollar more, I would expect almost as much food.  It is still tasty food, but beware if you have a larger appetite.

Real Food Daily Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble

I was so stuffed from my burrito, that I couldn’t eat anything more.  However, I saw in the bakery display case a glorious looking cheesecake, so I got it to-go.  The Caramel Pecan Cheesecake ($6.95) was nice and creamy.  I liked it, but my vegan guy thought the tofu flavor was too strong.

Real Food Daily Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

Check out their website to see which of their three locations is closest to you.

Comfort Food From Doomie’s Home Cookin

Omnivores may think that vegans only eat grass (and there are some that basically do!), but some of us vegans still crave those good ol’ classic dishes.  LA is home to Doomie’s Home Cookin – the latest vegetarian restaurant to bring humane alternatives to fried chicken, burgers, and pasta dishes.  Doomie’s is mostly vegan – with the exception of an option of dairy cheese.  I think from the people I know, some people like Doomie’s and some don’t.  I am also a lover and a hater of Doomie’s.  Some items I love and some items I just don’t like.  I have tried about every menu item and have found the ones I love, so I stick with those.  If you aren’t into the occasional unhealthy food, you may not like Doomie’s.  See why the health nut may not be interested in Doomie’s below.

My absolute favorite item at Doomie’s is their Clam Chowder ($4.95/cup).  Sometimes they even put it in a bread bowl – soooo good!  Unfortunately, this soup is only available on Fridays (bummer!).  What luck I had on Saturday, when they had clam chowder available.  I got a cup of it with my entree and (as usual) loved it.

Doomie's Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Another option to get with your entree is a Salad.  I got mine with Ranch dressing.  This is your typical salad, but their Ranch dressing makes it better.  Nice and creamy.

Doomie's Salad with Ranch

Salad with Ranch

I enjoy their Chili Cheese Fries ($6.95), but prefer Chili Addiction’s a bit better.  Doomie’s chili is really runny – you’ll need a fork to eat this one.

Doomie's Chili Cheese Fries

Chili Cheese Fries

My vegan guy gets their Nachos ($7.95) quite often.  I’m not a huge fan of this dish, but do enjoy a few chips when he gets it.

Doomie's Nachos

Nachos

And the pièce de résistance – Doomie’s Fried Chicken Entree ($11.95).  We got our side of mashed potatoes with gravy.  It also comes with corn, bread roll, and coleslaw (upon request).  I can’t eat this often (too much fried foods don’t sit well with me), but when I get the craving, it is wonderful.  The chicken reminds me of what I used to eat at KFC – and it doesn’t gross me out, because I know it’s not a dead animal.  The flavor is just so delicious.  I am also a little obsessed with their bread rolls.  I know they are so basic and packaged, but something about them makes me happy.  Maybe because I normally eat more nutritious breads at home and find it to be such a treat.  My vegan guy doesn’t get it, either.

Doomie's Fried Chicken Dinner

Fried Chicken Dinner

Doomie’s is now open everyday: 12pm – 10pm.  You can get your comfort craving filled at

1253 N Vine St Suite #9
Los Angeles, Ca 90038
323-469-4897

And they also have a secret menu that includes such things as a Big Mac, Double-Double, and Dino Egg.

Bulan Thai Vegetarian on Melrose

My vegan guy and I went on a double date to Bulan Thai Vegetarian.  We know how good this place is, but wanted to show some omnivorous friends what good vegan food tastes like.  The four of us ate every last bit of what we ordered and we proved to our friends how wonderful this place is.

Our first appetizer was the Summer Rolls ($8): baked tofu and vegetables wrapped in clear wrappers and served with a Vietnamese dip.  I love summer rolls.  I get so sick of the fried egg rolls (sometimes you just want something fresh!).

Bulan Thai Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Our second appetizer was the Grilled Dumplings ($6): stuffed with mixed vegetables and bean curd and served with spicy soy vinaigrette sauce.  I’m not a huge fan of dumplings, but my vegan guy loves them.  He also thinks that Bulan makes them really well.

Bulan Thai Grilled Dumplings

Grilled Dumplings

The Pineapple Fried Rice ($9) was very simple but so good!  Made with pineapple, cashews, raisins, onions, bell peppers, and curry powder.  We got it with pepper steak, which is chewier than the other protein options.  I normally don’t get fried rice, but maybe I should.  I was craving this for weeks after I had it.  Although, next time, I think I’ll get it with a different protein option.

Bulan Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice with Pepper Steak

I am also always craving the sweet stuff, so we got some Orange Chicken ($11): crispy battered veggie chicken tossed in an orange sauce.  This was nice and crispy on the outside and sweet in the sauce.

Bulan Thai Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

And how can one go to a thai restaurant and not get some Pad Thai ($8)?  This normally comes with egg, so request it vegan.  Nothing like some rice noodles in a peanut sauce.

Bulan Thai Pad Thai

Pad Thai with Tofu

Even after everything we ate above, three of us were still a bit hungry, so we got one more entree.  Crisp Fish with Green Apple ($12) is crispy veggie fish served with fresh green apple, cashew nuts, red onions, chili, cilantro, and special dressing. They certainly named this correctly – it was super crispy.  The lack of sauce is both good and bad.  It’s good, because the fish won’t get soggy.  The bad is that it was kind of plain.

Bulan Thai Crisp Fish with Green Apple

Crisp Fish with Green Apple

Bulan Thai Vegetarian has two locations.  I’ve only gone to the one on Melrose, but I’m sure Silver Lake folks will be happy to have one closer to them.

7168 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323-857-1882

4114 Santa Monica Blvd
Silver Lake, CA 90029
323-913-1488

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 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

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!

Getting Warm at Leaf Cuisine

I have gone to Leaf Cuisine a few times recently and I have discovered that I am more of a fan of their fusion cuisine than their raw cuisine.  Their fusion cuisine consists of cooked and raw foods combined.  I especially like their fusion wraps.

Their Chick’in Pesto Wrap ($10.99) is really good – Soy Chick’in mixed w/ cashew kreme cheeze, sauerkraut, pico de gallo, sour kreme & sprouts.  This wrap was very flavorful – I loved the pesto used to drizzle on it.  It was also a large portion, so you can always take the one half home and enjoy it later.

Leaf Cuisine Chick’in Pesto Wrap

Chick’in Pesto Wrap

Another wrap is the Philly Cheeze Stake Lavash ($10.99) –  Soy Beaf Stips w/ melted vegan cheeze-, marin onions, spicy sour kreme, cashew kreme cheeze, sauerkraut, tomato & spring mix.  I didn’t taste this one, but my vegan guy enjoyed it.

Leaf Cuisine Philly Cheeze Stake Lavash

Philly Cheeze Stake Lavash

We also got a dessert to go (well, it was given to us, because of a mistake in our order).  I obviously had a lapse in judgment, because I went with the Raw Chocolate Cheesecake.  I should have known I wouldn’t like the bitterness of the raw chocolate, because I never do.  And it was bitter.  The raspberry filling was also way too tart for me.  The only good thing about this dessert (besides being free) was the creaminess.  Next time, I’ll opt for a non-chocolate cheesecake.

Leaf Cuisine Raw Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake

Leaf Cuisine is located at:

11938 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 397 0700

Hours of Operation
Mon – Fri 10 AM to 9 PM
Sat – Sun 11 AM to 9 PM