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He's a vegetarian . . . I'm a steak and potatoes

This new guy I'm dating is a vegetarian, but he will eat eggs and dairy. I, however, hate most vegetables and find nothing better than filet mignon or carnitas.

Any suggestions for places will will both enjoy?

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  1. I think Mexican food is the way to go. Taco Mesa is a place that my friends and I enjoy.

    www.tacomesa.net

    Mother's Market in Costa Mesa and Irvine is another decent choice.

    www.mothersmarket.com

    There's a place called Native Foods that my vegetarian friends enjoy. I've never been there, though.

    www.nativefoods.com

    16 Replies
    1. re: katkoupai

      Native Foods is all VEGAN. It's probably the best vegan place around; I've been there, and it was okay. But if he's ovolactovegetarian, why suffer? She certainly will.

      1. re: Woolsey

        Good point. I noticed that on the Native Foods website. I personally am not a fan of "Fakin' Bacon" and similar wannabe meat products, but I just thought I'd throw Native Foods out there.

        Both Mother's and Taco Mesa would probably fit the bill better, as they have vegetarian and meat options. :)

        1. re: katkoupai

          But if you gotta go vegan, Native Foods is the place to go. A meat-lover wouldn't suffer too much with the nachos there.

      2. re: katkoupai

        Mothers is good, I was in the same situation and it worked for both of us. Unfortunately, we weren't in OC very often!

        The problem with Mexican for us was he ALWAYS had to ask if there was lard in the beans and if they used chicken broth in the rice. Oftentimes, they wouldn't know (or would pretend not to know) and it was a HUGE hassle getting a straight answer. So choose your Mexican place wisely, to avoid hassles.

        Indian would have been an excellent choice, but I can't stand it!

        He could usually make a pretty satisfying meal out of sides and such if I had a real steakhouse craving.

        Bottom line, I tried to let him choose where to eat, since he was the one with the restrictions. If I wanted a meat orgy, I would go with other friends.

        1. re: annalulu

          Good point about the lard at Mexican restaurants. I was thinking the same thing. Taco Mesa's website says "No lard." I think I've seen a similar sign at Baja Fresh.

          1. re: katkoupai

            I don't think many Mexican places use lard these days. I just don't taste it often. (I grew up in Texas, where the Tex-Mex places are far more manteca-friendly.) There's been a big anti-lard movement for years, both in restaurants and in a lot of Latino homes. Any place that has a lot of gringo traffic almost certainly wouldn't use it - although I could definitely taste lard in the beans on the clayuda at Guelaguetza on Eighth.

            1. re: Woolsey

              Dare I say it? I actually like the taste of lard in beans. At least I think that's what makes them taste so good. At Rosarito #2 in Pasadena, I think they use lard, and that's why the beans are so much tastier.

              http://www.rosaritopasadena.com/

              1. re: katkoupai

                Are you kidding? Lard is what makes great beans, and it's one reason (of many) I miss Tex-Mex so much. I'm totally with you. ¡Viva manteca!

                  1. re: katkoupai

                    Yeah, it's also half the cholesterol and one-third less saturated fat of butter.

                    1. re: roasted138

                      obviously, anyone really concerned about cholesterol or saturated fat would not opt for EITHER butter or lard since BOTH are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

                        1. re: Diana

                          still, anyone trying to eat in a heart-healthy manner would try to avoid lard, butter, AND hydrogenated fats.

                            1. re: Diana

                              True if we can ignore 'the French paradox', since the French have the second lowest rate of heart disease in the world and they swim in butter, cream, goose fat, etc. Research has still yet to explain why half of people with high cholesterol don't get heart disease while half of the people with low cholesterol do.

                1. re: katkoupai

                  lard does make things taste better.
                  after the first family member starts having angina, though, it loses it's appeal.

                  for 30 somethings living on their own, this may take years to happen. . . .

        2. any neighborhood preferences? westside? sfv?

          1. Helpful Hints - What part of the greater L.A. Uber-opolus, and how big of a Filet Mignon makes you happy (how many ounces)?

            Mako - Asian/French - Beverly Hills

            Him - Coice of 4 salads, and a Vegan Pad Thai (other options available).
            You - A starter, and Filet Mignon (oz. ?), Wasbai Potato Puree, in a cognac garlic suace $23.

            http://www.makorestaurant.com

            1. 1)shamshiri grill on westwood blvd (persian)
              has an extensive vegetarian portion of their menu.
              their soups are delicious and vegetarian.
              they ALSO serve a great (or so my meat-eating friends say) shish kabob made of filet minon, and a great lamb kebab.

              2) if you can stand ethnic food, in particular ethiopian food, there are two terrific ethiopian restartants that serve meat AND also offer terrific vegetarian platters:
              awash (on pico) and meals by genet (on fairfax--closed for lunch and closed on mondays and tuesdays)

              3) the chain Houston's offers a very wide array of meat dishes for you and also offers an excellent veggie burger for him. their couscous with almonds and raisons is also delicious as is their asparagus in vinegrette.

              4) for casual burgers go to the Counter in santa monica which also offers an excellent veggie burger

              5) 26 beach cafe (california fresh food) will have plenty of good choices for both of you
              they will substitute grilled tofu for any of the meats in their salads.

              6) for thai food, go to thai boom on venice near midvale. they will sustitute tofu (your choice steamed or sauteed) for any of the meats in their dishes-- you will need to enquire, though, about their use of fish sauce in their sauces.

              1 Reply
              1. re: westsidegal

                I second 26 Beach. One of my favorite spots. I was just there last weke with the bf - he had a great big goat cheese salad that he loved, and I had the special Kobe beef burger which was really yummy (and I think it's a special most ngihts). The menu is huge and everything is really good, except the pizzas which I found to be too cardboard-like and the cheese was weird.
                http://www.26beach.com/

                Bossa Nova is also good for big salads, sandwiches, and other yummy things. And I LOVE the pizza there.
                http://www.bossafood.com/

                Another thought is that most Italian restaurants will work great. They'll have great risottos, gnocchi, dishes like eggplant parmesan, as well as good steaks or at least a nice rack of lamb for you. Tanino, La Dolce Vita, Enoteca Drago, and Ago immediately come to mind and all are great.

              2. Lucky Devil's has a great veggie burger.
                Newsroom Cafe (not everyone likes it but I do!)
                For veggie tasting menus, you can do 'em at Grace and La Cachette
                Fritto Misto
                A Votre Sante
                Border Grill
                Divino
                Eat Well
                Ed's Coffee Shop
                The Firehouse
                Kate Mantilini
                Second the recs for Ethiopian

                1 Reply
                1. re: Emme

                  A few others...

                  Almost forgot, if you want to indulge his veggieness and not feel left out of meaty tastes, try Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana and Elf Cafe in Los Feliz.

                  Mao's Chinese Kitchen has meat substitutes.

                  Home in Los Feliz as well has veggie and meaty options.

                2. WHat will he eat? Seems to me that you can go to almost any restaurant in California, even some steak houses. Can he eat pasta -- if so, lots of good Italian choices. Good luck.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bite Me

                    i can tell you that mastro's steak house will NOT work.
                    the main things they offer vegetarians are side dishes and salads and their great pretzel rolls.
                    their salads, imho, are not very good; for that amount of money the lettuce should not be wilted and the blue cheese should be much better quality.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      I do not like Mastros on any level so I had not even considered it!

                  2. This is a perfect place as well: http://hugosrestaurant.com
                    Food's good and, without compromise, tons of choices for both of you !

                    1. My BF's vegan and I'm not, but here are some places we both enjoy:
                      - Mei Long Village (SGV)
                      - Parus (Indian place on Sunset on east side)
                      - Taco Miendo (West side)
                      - Shamshiri (Westwood)
                      - Sunnin (Westwood)
                      - Ethiopian (Fairfax)
                      - Palms Thai (on Bronson and Hollywood)

                      I don't think it's going to be that hard to find places you both can get food at. You say he eats eggs and dairy, which makes things pretty easy. It's not like he's a vegan or anything.

                      Most Chinese places will have vegetable and tofu dishes he can eat (just make sure they don't cook it with meat broth) as well as meaty dishes for you.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: PandanExpress

                        ...and at Thai places, watch out for fish sauce / shrimp paste as well as meat broth (depending on how strict he is).

                        These days, it's really easy to get some sort of vegetarian meal just about anywhere (consider the Houston's example above), especially in a big city like LA, and especially since he eats eggs / dairy. Most higher end restaurants will be happy to accomodate you if you call in advance, even if they don't have vegetarian options on their menu (you could check out Grace, Mélisse). So I don't think you need to worry about it too much. I think really the biggest thing is attitude - as long as he's not being super preachy and annoying to you about your preferences, try to be nice about his, and not make a big deal of how annoying it is to accomodate him. And if you can, eat an entirely vegetarian meal with him once in a while - that will probably make him happy. Cooking together can be really fun, and you can try and find some things to make that involve vegetables that you don't hate. You can always cook stuff that involves pasta, cheese, beans, whatever.

                        And maybe it's time to broaden your horizons a bit and eat some more vegetables or vegetable based food. Whether or not you're a vegetarian, it's important to get enough vegetables in your diet.

                        re: Native Foods... give it a try. They do have a lot of "fake meat" type dishes. If you're semi-adventurous and aren't totally obsessed with meat, you could also try the various asian vegetarian places in LA - they tend to have a lot of "mock meat" type food, which you may or may not like (try Happy Family - either the one on Atlantic and Garvey or the one in Rowland Heights).

                        My gf (see above) and I have been together for a year and a half, and manage to do Ok (I'm vegan; she's omnivorous; we mostly eat vegetarian at home, but try to find places that cater to both veg and meat eaters when we go out). If you guys stay together, I think you'll end up finding some things you both enjoy.

                        Couple other places to add to PandanExpress's list...

                        Angeli Caffe (Italian, Hollywood)
                        Mozza (Italian, Hollywood)
                        Madeline Bistro (Vegan, Tarzana)
                        Scoops (everyone likes ice cream!, Hollywood)
                        Yashima (Japanese, WLA)
                        gr/eats (pan-asian / american, WLA)
                        Farmers Market (various places) (there are a ton of food stands at a lot of the farmers markets in the area, many of which have some good vegan and vegetarian options... as well as plenty o' meaty stuff)

                      2. My brother (who is vegetarian) and I (who am not) often do well at Meals by Genet. He gets the veggie sampler to share and I get a meat entree (for me).

                        We've also done well at BLD where we each have a bunch of different things we can choose from.

                        1. Luna Park www.lunaparkla.com

                          Good "large" salads like the spinach or the butter lettuce. Also, a good selection of pastas, incl. a good ravioli.

                          And for you, you can select from steak to BBQ ribs to pork chops.

                          1. Houstons or better yet Bandera. They have good vegetarian options and sides as well as good meat dishes

                            1. I went to Chaya today; it was good, and they have a few vegetarian options (the fried tempeh w/ breadcrumbs on lentils w/ some sort of coconut milk based curry, kale, and root vegetable puree thing was great, and my wakame salad wasn't bad either), a lot of fish, and some meat and potatoes type stuff as well.

                              1. My fiancee is a vegetarian, and I've actually found the 'temples of meat,' are often better than a lot of less meat-heavy places (esp. French and Chinese). Fogo de Chao has an excellent salad bar if he can put up with the meat everywhere.

                                1. FYI, I noticed another Native Foods in the Westwood area today. Your vegetarian friend may want to check it out. This is the vegan place that I mentioned before.

                                  www.nativefoods.com

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: katkoupai

                                    When I read their menu, I'm very doubtful that their imitation (?) meat would satisfy the OP's, or my, cravings for filet mignon or carnitas. Would it?

                                    1. re: JBC

                                      I'm not sure, JBC. I have a number of vegetarian friends who really like Native Foods, and they are not vegan. When I passed the Westwood location, it was very busy. It might be an interesting place to check out, and if not, the location of Westwood Village keeps options open as there are many other restaurants nearby.

                                  2. I'm a vegetarian, and my challenges are to find delicious food (hint: usually in yummy restaurants that have a great veggie dish, *not* in all-vegetarian restaurants -- yuch to the majority of those), and to find vegetarian protein sources (tempeh, tofu, gluten, etc.), at workaday restaurants so when I'm eating out with friends I'm not always starching out. Fortunately, my challenges dovetail nicely with what you're looking for and I am so happy to have recently found THE PERFECT PLACE for veggies and non veggies. It is none other than COOK'S DOUBLE DUTCH IN CULVER CITY. I don't live in Culver City, but I happened upon their menu and thought hmmm, thoughtful, yummy-looking vegetarian food, but hmmm...straight up red meat too. There was a place like that in my former home of San Francisco (Firefly for you going up there) and I was so happy to find such a place again. In person it did not disappoint. Well executed, delicious dishes for me, and my carniverous folks alike. Nice wines. Sweet neighborhood vibe. I believe there is no more perfect combo restaurant for the vegges non-vegges of the world. Now I just wish more omniverous restaurants would carry tempeh or tofu! Best of luck!