Elf Cafe--Destination or just good for neighborhood
A friend asked for a good veg-friendly/vegetarian/vegan restaurant suggestion, and she lives in Santa Monica. I read some previous posts about Elf Cafe in Echo Park, mostly positive. So my question is two-fold: Is it still good, and is it worth the drive? Is it a must for any vegetarian, even from the westside?
For me, I guess I should ask: Is it good enough for a meat eater who doesn't mind vegetarian or even vegan food. ONLY if it's good, though. I hate seitan bricks, and if tofu is just plain and jiggly, I find it disgusting.
I want to love Elf Cafe so much, being a vegetarian and living conveniently within walking distance; however, after trying it three times (a couple times when it first opened and then again recently), I must say that it is just ok, and I probably won't be returning (my first time there was probably the best). The menu seems interesting and creative enough (mostly meditteranean), but what you get just doesn't taste that amazing...a little bland or just off somehow. I also feel that the food doesn't justify the prices they charge either...a little steep for what you get. However, I will say that the staff are very friendly and the space is cute...which makes me even sadder that the food isn't better.
I would not say its a must for any vegetarian, but it does stray from the "jiggly tofu" realm of veggie cooking, which helps. However, I was not super impressed with my meal (under-cooked polenta and suuuuper soggy tarte tatin). The atmosphere is great, and the service is very friendly, but I agree with Cakers, a little overpriced. I've heard that the pressed sandwiches are where its at, so I'm going back to try those. I'd say, Elf Cafe would be a good place to go if you're in the area or plan to spend a night on the East Side, but not a destination on its own.