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Jan 7, 2007 01:54 AM

Vegan and Vegetarian Friends -- Help!

I have a friend coming into town on the train in a few weeks and I thought we'd do dinner near Union Station before heading home. She is a vegan (she's a really old friend whom I'm haven't seen in a while, but last I saw her she was quite removed from being vegan) and I am at a loss with regard to foods that are non dairy, non egg, etc. I guess Mexican, but I would guess that everything on Olvera Street is cooked in or very near lard. Anything in Chinatown that's like Happy Family?

If we decide to eat closer to home, I know Leaf and Tender Greens would be possibilities.

Next challenge is finding a cool birthday restaurant for a vegetarian friend that she hasn't been to yet. New places that have opened that have more than one or two veggie options? I was wondering if Opus or Mako would do a vegetarian tasting menu. We have been to Upstairs 2, Electric Lotus, Il Moro, Locanda Veneto, K-Zo, Beacon. Lively atmosphere a plus.

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  1. can't help in chinatown, but mao's in venice is good too...

    grace will do a vegetarian tasting menu for your other challenge.

    1. Have you tried "M Cafe de Chaya" on Melrose? M stands for "macrobiotic", lots of vegetarian/vegan options. I also saw a a new spot driving by on Beverly Blvd., close to the Grove with a sign VEGAN on the awning. Most vegan/vegetarian restaurants are casual lunch/take-out spots.

      I think Axe (ash-shay) on Abbot Kinney has pretty good vegetarian options... vibe is a mix of casual/ hipsters/ cool, but good.

      1. Madeline Bistro in Tarzana

        1. Our vegetarian friends loved Gingergrass. It's not downtown but not too far away. Since it is Vietnamese, there is no milk/cheese, so it may be fine for vegans. Menu is online.

          1. Au Pagolac Cholon is a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown that has a vegetarian section on their menu. 861 North Spring Street, practically underneath the Chinatown metro station. Underground parking lot next door to it, 40 min free with restaurant validation. Most vegetarian dishes here should be dairy-free, though you'll obviously want to steer clear of the two or three that feature egg noodles. Favorites here are the rice-paper-wrapped rolls with mint and shredded dried tofu, and the dish that's braised gluten served with herbs, lettuce leaves, and small squares of crisscrossed rice noodle.

            As far as I know, this is the only substantial vegetarian option in Chinatown. Not sure how late they're open, though.

            Another possibility: Elf Cafe in Echo Park (Sunset Blvd. just past Alvarado on the right hand side, if you're coming up Sunset from Union Station) is a mostly vegan restaurant that people on this board have been saying good things about.