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Vegan Friendly Restaurants that won't make me hate my female vegan friend...

mrmrmr Mar 21, 2007 06:48 PM

I'm just starting to see this woman and she happens to be vegan. Now i hate vegan restaurants; so i need some upscale non vegan spots that wont reveal my contempt for her dietary life choice. Any help would be greatly appreciated...

  1. g
    gourmanda Mar 23, 2007 11:12 AM

    yes, you do need help.

    1. l
      ladelfa Mar 23, 2007 08:01 AM

      The Border Grill in Santa Monica

      3 Replies
      1. re: ladelfa
        Das Ubergeek Mar 23, 2007 08:46 AM

        They do vegan food??

        1. re: Das Ubergeek
          PaulF Mar 23, 2007 09:19 AM

          They will if you ask.

          Like some other places,you can't just order the vegetable dishes because there might be butter in them. But if you specify vegan, they'll do it.

          They always did in the past, anyway.

          1. re: PaulF
            will47 Mar 23, 2007 10:34 AM

            Ciudad (same owners) also has one or two vegan items. Unfortunately, the posole rojo is no longer on the menu (lunch menu, anyway), but I got something else that was pretty good last time I had lunch there.

      2. r
        Rich54 Mar 22, 2007 07:06 PM

        Madeleine Bistro is upscale vegan and will impress both of you with how delicious it is. The Beet Tartare is wonderful. I loved the Caesar Salad. Also, Sona will do vegan on request. Hugo's is vegan-friendly and will let you eat steak and burgers while she enjoys a green casserole with vegan cheese. (It's better than it sounds.) M Cafe has the best vegan desserts! The chocolate tart is really rich, Chocolate cupcakes are great. Lemon tart, too. You can taste the maple a little too much in the apple tart tatin, but I like it.

        1. PaulF Mar 22, 2007 02:38 PM

          I was Vegan for 14 years.

          Now, I'm not.

          In my experience, the best way for vegans and others to dine out together is at a good Indian restaurant.

          When I was vegan, I could and would walk into any Indian restaurant and tell the waiter that I wanted a vegan meal and they would without fail accommodate me. Akbar (some like it, some don't, I used to, but not so much any more) just for example had no problem providing even a naan that was dairy-free.

          But I was able to enjoy a delicious, flavorful meal of daal, rice and assorted vegetable dishes while my companions were able to eat tandoori meats (which are both dairy and meat), raita, lassi and paneer as well as the various vegetable dishes.

          One of the best reasons to dine with vegans in an Indian restaurant is because Indian wait-staff and chefs don't blink when a vegan request is made. They are used to it. So, instead of feeling like it's a burden on the restaurant to cook a special meal for a vegan, they do so easily.

          It's funny, I worked in MDR when I was a vegan and I got so sick of my restaurant choices I went into the MDR Akbar and simply said "I'm vegan. Please help me." And the waiter laughed and said "No problem."

          And I ate whatever the chef made -- gobi aloo I think.

          After that, whenever I went, I never ordered. I just let the cook do what he felt like doing.

          JMO ...

          6 Replies
          1. re: PaulF
            smonkey Mar 22, 2007 04:54 PM

            I agree that Indian is a great idea for mixed couples. Electric Karma on 3rd isn't the best Indian in town (solid though) but I know they only use olive oil (no ghee) in their dishes. Also - vietnamese or Japanese (sushi) could work for you - some sushi places do great veggie rolls (I like Nagao's on San Vincente in Brentwood). These ideas are all more on the casual side though...

            1. re: smonkey
              will47 Mar 22, 2007 06:22 PM

              I like Paru's (vegetarian South Indian) a lot, and while it's veg, I have gone there with a number of people, both vegetarian and non-veg, who liked it a lot.

              Not Indian, but similar - Tibet-Nepal House in Pasadena is good, and has a number of veg options.

              1. re: smonkey
                hrhboo Mar 22, 2007 07:03 PM

                Ghee is definitely something to watch out for in Indian restaurants - many, many of them use it in place of oil for most dishes.

                1. re: hrhboo
                  PaulF Mar 22, 2007 07:52 PM

                  That's why you have to tell the waiter that you want a vegan meal and not just order vegetable dishes.

                  1. re: hrhboo
                    will47 Mar 22, 2007 08:03 PM

                    Paru's specifically is pretty good - most of their stuff is vegan except for stuff that obviously has dairy.

                    Another thing to watch out for with Indian food is the bread - Naan bread is often made with yogurt, milk, and / or maybe even egg, even when it's not topped with butter. Paratha is usually a safer choice, and asking is wise. Agreed with other posters that letting the waiter know you're vegan / can't have dairy is a good idea at Indian places.

                2. re: PaulF
                  noshthis Mar 22, 2007 07:22 PM

                  Nicely explained. My ex-boyfriend was vegan and we usually ate out at South Indian, Indian, Tibetan or Persian places. But to be honest, he introduced me to some of the tastiest dishes I've ever eaten. Especially south indian...try going to Artesia. Udupi Palace Restaurant is not upscale, but the food is great. Try the Masala Dosa, (indian style crepe, stuffed with spiced potatoes, chutney's on the side and a great sambar). Happy noshing.

                3. blackbookali Mar 22, 2007 12:43 PM

                  If I were you I would go to Fogo de Chao for lunch then take her wherever she wants for dinner that suits her fancy(produce section at Ralph's, Jamba Juice). Its the only way. Just prey she doesnt smell the beef blood on your breath.

                  1. e
                    ElissaInPlaya Mar 22, 2007 11:22 AM


                    1. y
                      yum Mar 22, 2007 07:55 AM

                      not sure if it was already mentioned but, m cafe de chaya on melrose might be good. it's really tasty macrobiotic food and they actually have seafood if you like that but everything else is vegan i think. really good!

                      1. m
                        Maria C Mar 21, 2007 11:15 PM

                        My sympathies. Any fine dining restaurant worth it's salt will accomodate or modify a menu for vegetarian or vegan tastes. Call and ask to speak with a manager. Good luck.

                        1. hrhboo Mar 21, 2007 07:48 PM

                          Many Middle-Eastern dishes are vegan in preparation, such as hummus, tabbouli, babaghanoush, falafel, fattoush, stuffed vine leaves, muhammara, moujadara etc. Any Middle-Eastern or Greek place should have lots of great vegan mezze for her while still having lots of meaty things for you!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: hrhboo
                            westsidegal Mar 21, 2007 08:23 PM

                            along this line,
                            shamshiri grill has a whole vegetarian portion of their menu.
                            i'd bet that the majority of these items are, in fact, vegan.
                            certainly their soups would be vegan, as would their mezze.

                            1. re: westsidegal
                              Cinnamon Mar 21, 2007 09:58 PM

                              And you can and should get the lamb fesenjan. You'll love it and she'll need to be comfortable with your eating choice. (It's a lamb shank, perfectly tender, in the most amazing warm walnut/pomegranate puree. It's hard to explain how this combination becomes the most delicious thing, but it does.)

                              1. re: Cinnamon
                                mojoeater Mar 21, 2007 11:05 PM

                                Love Shamshiri in Westwood. I'm a meateater and my sister and her hubby are vegan, and we all found delicious food.

                          2. Local Mar 21, 2007 07:24 PM

                            Also Messob and Merkato on Fairfar for Ethiopian. Elf Cafe per recent post. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377814 ("contempt for dietary life choice"? - sounds like a slippery slope)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Local
                              girlheartsfood Mar 21, 2007 07:42 PM

                              there is a place called happy family out in alhambra some where. i am a carnivor, but my v egan buddies take me there, and i forget its a vegan restaraunt. you MUST be in the mood for chinese to go, though.

                            2. j
                              JBC Mar 21, 2007 07:00 PM

                              Upscale Non-Vegan restaurant with Vegan options for your friend. You won't feel any contempt if you go to La Cachette (5 minutes west of Century City); under the apps and salads you find 3 choices with "Vegan upon request":


                              4 Replies
                              1. re: JBC
                                will47 Mar 22, 2007 05:51 PM

                                re: La Cachette: You could try Mélisse too.

                                I went to La Cachette once for a business lunch, and I didn't have a good experience, though maybe it was just bad luck.

                                I haven't been there for a while, but Water Grill, like most upscale places, has done good things for me in the past. Second the suggestion of calling in advance with nice places - it usually makes things go a little more smoothly.

                                Aside from the other excellent suggestions in this thread, Italian is often a good bet. You could also try Mozza - opinions vary widely on this forum... I like it personally. I think the pizzas should be vegan w/o cheese (I like the broccoli rabe / olive pizza w/o the anchovies and cheese), and the white bean spread bruschetta is great. We also like Angeli Caffe.

                                Ethnic foods like Thai (watch out for fish sauce, shrimp paste, oyster sauce, though), Vietnamese (fish sauce), Chinese (watch for meat stock), and Ethiopian can be good bets too.

                                I'm vegan and my gf isn't, and we manage to go out to eat together fairly frequently (we've been together for a year and change). That's not to say that it's not without frustrations, but it is possible.

                                Maybe you're joking, but the original post seems a little harsh - even if you don't want to become vegan, or don't thing it's a good choice, I think it's going to be hard for your "contempt" for her choice not to come across. And I bet it'll win you a lot of brownie points if you take her to a vegetarian restaurant or eat vegetarian food yourself --- and lose you some if you eat a big steak in front of her.

                                1. re: will47
                                  will47 Mar 22, 2007 06:17 PM

                                  ps - The gf's advice - "Dump her and find another girl."

                                  1. re: will47
                                    Snackish Mar 23, 2007 01:51 PM

                                    But you can take comfort in the fact that she will probably always be skinny and heart attack and stroke free.

                                    1. re: Snackish
                                      katkoupai Mar 23, 2007 03:54 PM

                                      I'll take a heart attack, to go please, if it tastes right. Just kidding. :)

                                      I sympathize with the original poster though.

                                      When I hear "vegan," I think of places like Au Lac, in OC, or places in SF that serve "fakin' bacon" (no, thank you). It appears from this list that there are a variety of tastier options.

                              2. Emme Mar 21, 2007 06:55 PM

                                All of these aren't really upscale upscale, but they should help you w/ your diverging palates... I dated a vegetarian for a while, and I found it only inconvenient when I wanted to cook dinner for us both...

                                Try Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana.

                                Inn of the Seventh Ray has vegan options. (this is nice and upscale)

                                You might call Grace to see if they'll do a vegan tasting menu--I know they do a vegetarian one.

                                Rahel on Fairfax is vegan ethiopian.

                                Mao's Kitchen in Venice for both options.

                                Ambala Dhala for Indian in Westwood has vegan options as does Shamshiri Grill for Persian. Paru on Sunset is a good option too.

                                Newsroom Cafe can satisfy you both.

                                Take her to Scoops for vegan gelato :-)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Emme
                                  will47 Mar 22, 2007 05:52 PM

                                  Yes! Vegans love desserts. Well I do at least. You could take her to Manis for pastries and coffee too.

                                2. Das Ubergeek Mar 21, 2007 06:54 PM

                                  Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana. It's amazingly good, especially given the mortification-of-the-flesh-for-the-good-of-the-spirit vibe that many other vegan places go.

                                  Rahel Ethiopian on Fairfax is another great spot.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                    esculent Mar 23, 2007 09:35 AM

                                    Madeline Bistro is fantastic. I've even taken some die-hard meat eaters here and they kept forgetting that they weren't eating meat. The Bananas Foster Split also send their heads into a spin...they thought they were eating ice cream.

                                    I also love Madeline's fresh-squeezed juices, beet tartare and their flourless chocolate cake.

                                    1. re: esculent
                                      Das Ubergeek Mar 23, 2007 10:15 AM

                                      Those risotto-crusted mushrooms stand out in my head, as did the vegan Thai curry.

                                      I liked the "creme" they used, but readers should know it's made from cashews, so be aware about allergens.

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