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Vegan and Vegetarian Friends -- Help!

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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.

            1. Mr. Ramen in Little Tokyo (341 1/2 E. 1st St.) is kind of a hole-in-the-wall ramen place, but they have vegetarian ramens that are tasty and filling. I have not actually interrogated them about the vegetarian-ness of them (which you pretty much have to do if you really care - places say things are vegetarian all the time that are not) but they have a separate listing of vegetarian ramens and they do not contain meat. They should also have broth that isn't made with any fish products to be vegetarian, but like I said, I never really asked.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LycheeNut

                The curry one (with vegetarian broth) there is excellent.

              2. There's a Great veggie rest.. on valley n the city of san gabriel..get back to me and I will give you the name.. forgot the name but I just have to ask gf..

                1. Since you're going to be at Union Station, maybe consider TRAXX (http://www.traxxrestaurant.com/ ). As a former caterer, I'm pretty sure chef Tara Thomas could (and would) accommodate a vegetarian request.

                  Also, for the b-day bash, MELISSE will do a vegetarian tasting menu. Very well done. (http://melisse.com/ ).

                  1. If you need more of a late-night place with vegan options - check out Brite Spot at 1918 Sunset in Echo Park. It's an easy cruise from the train station. It's nothing fancy - definately a diner - but has some more interesting options (like soy BBQ ribs...I'm a carnivore and they actually weren't bad). Make sure your friend asks which side dishes are vegan, I think they use dairy in their mashed potatoes and might fry their french fries in with the meat products...but the servers are always willing to substitute some nice steamed veggies as an option.

                    I ended up at Brite Spot after trying to go to Elf Cafe, which had closed early that night...but Elf's menu looked delicious, too.

                    1. not for dinner because they close early, but great lunches
                      HOMEGIRL CAFE in boyle heights.
                      this is really inventive, fresh, healthy, flavorful food that is inspired by traditional mexican recipes.

                      Homegirl Cafe, 1818 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033, (323) 268 9353, is open 8 AM to 4 PM for breakfast and lunch

                      1. How about Real Food Daily - I've had great vegan vittles there...mmmm...vittles...