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Jul 17, 2006 07:43 AM

really tasty vegan restaurants?

anyone know of a great vegan restaurant in LA? I've tried real food daily and was really disappointed..LOVE m cafe de chaya but it's not quite vegan... something healthy, tasty and not too salty i guess.. thanks!

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  1. rahel.
    vegan ethiopian restaurant on fairfax.

    i believe happy family on atlantic in monterey park is vegan also.
    they recently moved, so check the address. (also, they close after lunch and reopen for dinner, so check their hours).

    although the entire restaurant is not vegan (vegetarian yes, vegan no) they have a ton of vegan choices--the spot in hermosa beach on second st.

    same story with native foods in westwood.

    1 Reply
    1. re: westsidegal

      re: Happy Family (they did move a while back) and other veg Chinese / Thai / Vietnamese restaurants... they are often close to vegan, and will often represent themselves as such - but depending how strict you are, there will often be some small amount of dairy or egg in certain dishes, esp. those containing fake meat. Have a read of this post I wrote a while back:

      M. Cafe is vegan except for the stuff containing fish, which is pretty easy to avoid; are you intent on going to a restaurant that's purely vegan, or just one that has good vegan options? I know it's nice to be sure you're getting vegan food, but there are a ton of places that are pretty careful about preparation and labelling that aren't strictly vegan.

      Definitely check out Madeline Bistro as mentioned below.

    2. I'm curious to know why you didn't like RFD, it's one of my usual spots. I also like M Cafe, and as long as you don't order one of the (few) fish things, all the food is vegan...this is the same with Inaka on La Brea.

      Rahel is great!

      Native Foods is good and completely vegan, but the menu is somewhat geared toward vegan alternatives to junk food (e.g. burgers, tacos, pizza). I really like the soy amigo salad!

      Also, Juliano's Raw in Santa Monica, Leaf Cuisine in Culver City, and Taste of the Goddess on Santa Monica Blvd. are raw vegan places...there's another raw place on Main St. in Santa Monica, but I don't like it as much.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ceegee

        Two places that my vegan friends have been happy at are, Fritto Misto (Santa Monica and Hermosa) and Papillon in El Segundo. Unfortunately, we don't have any stellar options for high end vegan food, in my own omnivorous opinion.

      2. California Vegan for Thai vegan. It is on Santa Monica in West LA. They have some great options - just skip anything that sounds vaguely Chinese and skip the green salad (that basically translates to ordering a la carte instead of the specials that come with salad and a spring roll).

        My picks: Vegetable Curry, Coconut in Paradise (sort of like gaeng keo wan served in a coconut), garlic sauce made with the pepper steak. They have pretty good fake chicken - not a fan of the fake shrimp. I like the chicken nuggets, but mostly because it served with a VERY Thai tasting dipping sauce.

        The one real downside of this place is that they only use brown rice. I don't know why they think vegans wouldn't like a really fragrant jasmine rice, but so it goes...

        California Vegan
        12113 Santa Monica Blvd # 207

        3 Replies
        1. re: igj

          California Vegan is not bad, but it doesn't feel healthy to me. It's cheap, so I guess that's good, but there's nothing there I love...and the pancakes are really dense! They have a location at Sunset/Fuller as well.

          There seems to be some question as to whether the fake chicken is actually vegan:

          1. re: ceegee

            Pancakes? Hmm... I'd skip anything that doesn't seem Thai at this place. The Thai mungsaweerat tradition - Monk's vegetarian food- is strong enough that there is plenty of cultural experience in making tasty veggie/vegan Thai food. The other stuff that California Vegan does seems iffy to me.

            If coconut milk seems unhealthy, then most yummy Thai vegan things will be unhealthy. I like some of the non-curry vegan things I've had (in LA and in Bangkok), but the best ones have the fat of coconut milk to make the dish taste good.

            1. re: igj

              I love the pancakes at those places. And I'm usually really skeptical of gluten-free pancakes. But just watch out - some of those places serve fake maple syrup by default, and some will charge you extra for real ("organic", but not really) maple syrup.

              While those restaurants (the *** vegan ones) are mostly Thai-owned, the menu is kind of all over the place (the menus are all variations on Pia's "Vegan Express", which is the original restaurant of this type AFAIK, though she doesn't own it anymore).

              I do agree that the Thai dishes tend to be the best option, but there are plenty of other good dishes that aren't Thai style - the tofu scrambles aren't bad, some of the burgers and wraps are decent, and the pancakes are tasty.

              I think most of the concerns raised by the livingvegan site have been addressed by most of the restaurants, but I am still skeptical that they've all gotten rid of all the fake meat w/ small amounts of dairy in it.

              Personally, I usually just order tofu dishes there these days.

        2. Akbar (Indian) will prepare vegan meals if you ask.

          When I'm eating vegan, I just let the server know I'd like a vegan meal. Sometimes I order, sometimes I just let the chef prepare what he feels is a nice selection.

          They'll use oil instead of butter, they'll not use any yogurt and they'll bake the whole wheat naan, which is the only naan they have with no milk in the recipe.

          I'm pretty sure other Indian restaurants will do the same, but Akbar is where I've personally been accomodated and enjoy both the food and the service.

          There is an Akbar in Santa Monica, in Marina Del Rey, in Pasadena and in the South Bay (Hermosa, Torrance, Redondo, Manhattan ... something like that).

          I believe Indian cuisine is one of the tastiest of all ...

          1. As mentioned above, Native Foods in Westwood is great. It was the first vegan place that I thought was tasty rather than plain.