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Aug 9, 2009 08:48 PM

up scale vegetarian???

I have a group of 8 people to take to dinner for my son's 18th birthday. He is a vegetarian, so are two other people. Any ideas for a delicious festive evening where there is something for everyone??

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    1. It is vegan. No dairy, no eggs, no honey, no animal products. Even their "cream" is cashew-based.

    2. if you can afford it, and if you can snag a reservation, i'd go to gjelina in venice.

      chaya venice offers one fabulous vegan entree and a few vegetarian starters.

      a number of good vegetarian (not vegan) choices at antica pizzaria in marina del rey, which despite it's name offers some very good italien food and despite it's location in a shopping mall offers an attractive restaurant with tablecloths in which to enjoy the food. be aware though, that the owner comes from naples, italy, and makes neopolitan-style pizza so the crust is VERY thin. he imports his flour from italy.

      for thai food, ayara thai cuisine has a section of their menu called 'FROM THE WOK;" virtually everything in that section can be prepared with tofu.

      26 beach restaurant will substitute or add grilled tofu for any of the meat/chicken in their entree salads (almost all of which are terrific), in addition they make a good homemade veggie burger.

      houston's, the chain, also makes a great homemade veggie burger.

      if everyone in the party is willing to forgo animal for an evening, shojin japanese restaurant on alameda street offers an amazing array of delicious japanese vegan organic food. also, it is a very pretty restaurant. here is a link:

      another option for japanese food is to reserve the large private back table at musha in santa monica. they serve izakaya, japanese small plates, and is all-around fun. they offer many vegetarian dishes and make their own homemade tofu that has a consistency more like ricotta cheese than the big blocks of tofu you see in the stores.

      if i were the one making the decision for you, though, i'd pick the persian restaurant, SHAMSHIRI GRILL on westwood blvd. they have an entire section of their menu devoted to vegetarian dishes and , in addition, many of their starters are vegetarian. they also offer tons of skewered meat, poultry, and fish dishes. their price/quality and price/quantity ratios simply can't be beat by any other attractive restaurant offering sit-down meal service.

      6 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        All good options. I'd also throw in a vote for akasha here.

        1. re: Discokill

          i haven't tried akasha yet. will put it on my list at your recommendation.

          1. re: westsidegal

            I agree. Akasha has some great Vegetarian dishes. She actually used to be only a Vegetarian chef. She was Michael Jackson's private chef for years. There are several non-vegetarian dishes on the menu, but the vegetarian options really are the best.

        2. re: westsidegal

          I don't think I'd suffer through the poor service at Gjelina for a special occasion ~ food's awesome, but only if you want to put up with attitude.

          Hal's on Abbot Kinney, almost next door to Gjelina, is a friendlier choice with options for everyone, including vegans.

          Also second Akasha in Culvery City.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Yeah, Shamshiri Grill is really that good.

            1. re: aventinus

              also, the portion size at shamshiri would allow jillcar to really fill up a number of 18 year old boys with food without going broke.. . .

          2. It's on the pricier side, but one of my favorite upscale vegetarian meals has been at Melisse in Santa Monica. They have a vegetarian tasting menu that is superb (and I'm not a vegetarian).

            4 Replies
            1. re: strangeeffect

              do you remember how much the melisse vegetarian tasting menu cost?

              1. re: strangeeffect

                to answer my own question, the melisse vegetarian tasting menu that strangeeffect recommended is $95/ per person BEFORE any beverages, tax, tip.
                so, as a practical matter you are talking upwards of $125/per person all in if you were to take strangeeffect's recommendation.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  Wow, that must be SOME presentation of some pretty farmstand veggies!!!! I'd rather pay for the meat, myself, at those prices!!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Well, Melisse's veggie tasting menu isn't just one's "typical tofu". It's really high-quality stuff dressed up, glammed up, and kicked up with extra flavor. IMHO for upscale vegetarian, they very much fit the bill.

              2. It depends how upscale you want to go. I am vegetarian, but tend to shy away from the fake meat and tofu substitutions that many places offer. Instead, here are a few places that don't substitute for meat, but are good in and of themselves.

                I think the best for an 18 year old's party is Cobras and Matadors in West Hollywood. They seem to have changed their menu and offer a lot of vegetarian stuff, so much, in fact, that we leave stuffed every time. Also, it will likely make your son feel a bit older and cooler!

                Pretty much any Italian, that's not frou-frou, will work. My hands down favorite is Girasole on Larchmont. One of my meat-eating friends said it was the best osso-buco since her grandmother's. My family members who are vegetarian were overwhelmed because it was one of the first places that actually offers more than 2 token veggie options, and had to unbuckle their belts when they left.

                For pizza check out Riva in Santa Monica-the food is good and it's a casual, upscale atmosphere.

                I seek that many people here are fans of Akasha, but every person who has grown up vegetarian (that I know), never wants to go there again. It's just not tasty's meh, in my opinion.

                3 Replies
                1. re: veggieyummy

                  Cobras & Matadors is closed.

                  Riva is no longer doing pizza, except on happy hours, I think.

                  Not surprised to hear your take on Akasha.

                  Link re: riva's pies :

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    The Cobras on Beverly blvd is still open.

                    And Riva is doing pizza Sun-Thursday, I think.

                    1. re: veggieyummy

                      Oh, good, bc I liked their pizza. Will have to try to go mid week.

                2. Vegan Glory on Beverly. Not too upscale, but by far the best vegetarian!!