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Nov 14, 2011 12:37 PM

99 for Vegetarians

Which restaurant's on Gold's 99 Essential (L.A. Weekly) list, or from your own "99" list have something absolutely delicious for a vegetarian to eat? Which would be worth the effort of a trip for your vegetarian friends (or self)?

By vegetarian, we mean no meat, chicken, or fish. Eggs and dairy are okay.

For the sake of this thread, let's avoid any overtly vegetarian restaurants, unless you think they belong on a carnivore's top ten list too. Cheers!

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  1. These are the ones that I know about; most of them I've visited at and eaten vegan food at.

    Angeli Caffe
    Angelini Osteria
    Border Grill
    Bottega Louie
    Bulgarini Gelato
    Casa Bianca
    Chang's Garden+
    *Chichén Itzá
    Chung King+
    *Din Tai Fung
    Euro Pane Bakery
    *Good Girl Dinette
    *Le Comptoir
    Meals by Genet
    Mother Dough
    Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant+
    101 Noodle Express
    Palate Food + Wine
    Sapp Coffee Shop ** Will prepare something vegetarian (without fish sauce) on request, but definitely not their specialty.
    Sea Harbour+ ** Basically all dim sum there has chicken base, but they can prepare some dishes. King Hua, Elite and Lunasia are probably better choices for a vegetarian, though, and even those are tough.

    The ones that I starred are ones that I feel are particularly accommodating and / or have separate vegetarian menus.

    + I have had food that I believe to be safe at these places, however, if you can't speak Chinese or don't have someone willing to negotiate for you, it may be challenging to get a good vegetarian meal, depending on how strict you are.

    1 Reply
    1. re: will47

      As an aside, while (as you'd imagine) seafood is most definitely the specialty at Newport Seafood, the vegetable and tofu dishes here are excellent. Nothing really off the beaten path; they do a good "gong bao" doufu, dry-fried string beans. The "dou miao" (pea shoots) are pretty good. I believe they can make some vegetarian fried rice noodle dishes.

      Lu Ding Ji ("Duck House"), despite focusing on roast duck to the point where it would seem silly to go there if you weren't ordering it, similarly has really tasty vegetable based food, and seems very aware of the concerns of vegetarians. I really like some of their konnyaku based stuff, including a salad of thin noodle-like konnyaku with chili oil, spicy mustard, and sesame sauce. They claim that they don't use chicken base (though there's definitely some sort of flavor enhancer in the food), and at least seem to understand what "vegetarian" means.

      Both places have slightly higher than average prices, and slightly higher than average English language comprehension.

      Din Tai Fung has a separate vegetarian menu, and also highlights gluten-free menu items

    2. from my own list,
      1)for italian food with wonderful desserts, in santa monica:
      Hosteria del Piccolo
      606 broadway.
      (caveat: i've never tried their pizzas.)

      2) for persian food, Shamshiri Grill has a huge portion of their menu devoted to vegetarian offerings, also, many of their appetizers, although not on the vegetarian part of their menu, are, in fact, vegetarian.

      3) if your vegetarian can be happy with a flight of artisanal cheeses as his/her protein source, my go-to place is FIG located in the fairmont miramar hotel in santa monica (dinner only, closed sundays and closed mondays)

      4) for pizza, i like Stella Rossa pizza on main street in santa monica lot's of vegetarian pizzas as well as meat-oriented pizzas. they are not open for lunch.

      5)Musha for Japanese izakaya. lots of choices for everyone. GET A RESERVATION or get there at 6pm when they open. dinner only

      re: the J. Gold list,
      1) imho, akasha would be a restaurant to skip as would Bottega Louie (my negative take on BL is controversial on this board, other folks like it)

      2) i LOVE gjelina, and eat lunch there weekly. TONS of interesting vegetarian choices. had lunch there today. (be aware, they don't offer a 'complete' menu between 3 and 5:30pm nor after 10pm: only an abbreviated menu is available at those hours). also, if you are going for dinner GET A RESERVATION.)

      3) if you chose to go to Meals by Genet for eithiopian food, be aware that they have odd hours, and are closed on Tuesdays.

      10 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        I like Gjelina well enough, but I think they get more credit than they're due for vegetarian and vegan options. They will generally not modify dishes, even to remove meat or cheese, and many of their vegetable dishes have meat stock. If you push them hard, they will remove cheese from salads.

        Love Musha, but bonito based dashi or other fish ingredients are in a lot of the dishes that might seem to be vegetarian. Vegetarians will find one or two things there, but I would be cautious and ask a lot of questions. I've gotten different answers from different staff there. The Santa Monica one has more veg stuff than Torrance.

        1. re: will47

          the dishes that i often get at Musha are:
          Pure Tofu (irrc, the bonito flakes are served on the side)
          and the
          Tofu French Fries.

          since i do eat fish, i've never enquired about the Tofu Salad.

          424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          1. re: westsidegal

            Yes, you can get the pure tofu (which is really, really good) without the bonito flakes, and they're served on the side. I'm not sure if the soy sauce served with it seasoned with bonito dashi or not, but I think it's just plain soy sauce.

            The takana meshi (I believe a bit Korean influenced; pickled vegetables and rice in a stone bowl) is amazing, but have had a hard time finding out for sure if there is bonito or other fish products in it... I believe it's possible to order it without, but sometimes communicating that is hard. Sometimes they have a fake meat "chicken" dish with a sauce that's not bad.

            I used to love the rape blossoms, but I found out later that they do contain fish. Grilled shishito peppers or other grilled vegetables should be pretty safe.

            There are definitely a few things on the menu that are reliably menu, but since it's a small plates format, sometimes it's hard to get enough to make a full meal. I do enjoy Musha, and you can get vegetarian food there if you're willing to risk some "mistakes" happening, however I wouldn't rate it highly for veg-friendliness.

            FWIW, many other izakaya type places in LA have some interesting vegetarian options.

        2. re: westsidegal

          I agree with you about Akasha. I starred it because they are pretty veggie friendly (and the owner used to own a vegetarian restaurant, if memory serves), but it's not one that I'd highly recommend.

          Some of the dishes are great, but I wish they'd put more (and better) vegetarian and vegan stuff on their menu. The house-made veggie burger they used to have at lunch service was great, but they don't offer it any more. The flatbread / hummus is good, as are the rice-flour onion rings with vegan smoked paprika aoli, and they usually have some pretty decent vegan desserts. However, the main vegetable based entree they typically have for dinner is a fairly uninspired plate of quinoa with vegetables.

          Not on the list, but has some good vegetarian options is AOC, which I think is better than Lucques for a vegetarian.

          Meals by Genet would probably have plenty of vegetarian options, but anyone who is vegan would probably be wise to go to Rahel, or maybe Nyala, as I'm pretty sure Meals by Genet uses real butter in most or all of the vegetable dishes.

          8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

          9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

          1. re: will47

            I'm also extremely underwhelmed by Akasha. Yummyness factor -- at least for a vegetarian -- is just too low.

            9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

            1. re: veggietraveler

              even when i ordered fish at Akasha, could discern no Yummyness factor. . . .
              the lack of Yummyness extends beyond the vegetarian choices

              9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

            2. re: will47

              irrc, Meals by Genet had only one real vegetarian option: their vegetarian combo plate.
              Rahel, on the other had, is entirely vegan. Everything on the menu is vegan.
              Nyala, for some reason, underwhelmed me the 4 times i went there.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Yes, Rahel is completely vegetarian. But with Ethiopian food, the items that typically come on a combo plate are really the main things you'd want to get anyway -- for me, at least, none of the extra vegetarian dishes at Rahel are that great. I do go there anyway, but mostly because of the butter issue. For a vegetarian who eats dairy, that's not really an issue.

                1. re: will47

                  respectfully disagree with your opinion:
                  <<none of the extra vegetarian dishes at Rahel are that great>>

                  also, since rahel serves several different combo plates, in order to taste everything, you'd need to order more than one combo.

                  there is one stew that i think is really terrific (can't remember the name at the moment--if i had the menu in front of me i could identify it) that is available on one of the dinner veggie combo plates but not available on the lunch combo plate .
                  the stuff is made with garbanzo beans as the protein source.

                  also, to my palate, the injera at Rahel tastes more like teff than does the injera at most other places which, to me, are very wheat-flavored,

          2. My son is a vegetarian and I am not, some of the places we enjoy together on Gold's 99 are:
            Both Mozzas
            Providence and
            Rustic Canyon

            and I really recommend Manhattan Beach Post (not from Gold's 99 list) and Scarpetta Beverly Hills that always offers a special vegetarian menu.

            Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
            1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

            Scarpetta Beverly Hills
            225 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

            1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

            100 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            Manhattan Beach Post
            1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

            1. The vegetarian menu at Melisse and Providence are pretty amazing.

              I had a date who decided to bring her roomie to a dinner at Providence. I said okay as long as she likes seafood. Turned out she was vegetarian - and I was surprised that they not only accomodated her (they not only didn't blanch-it was no problem) it was an amazing vegetarian feast- and she was blown away. She was so over the moon on her truffled egg - she asked for another.

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                I've been really impressed every time I've done the tasting menu at Providence, even compared to other restaurants in their class / price range. While their specialty may be fish, I think Michael Cimarusti has a nice touch with vegetables as well. They are very nice about it, and have never raised an eyebrow over anyone requesting a vegetarian or vegan meal.

                They do seem to have some standard tricks up their sleeve, but the vegetarian tasting menu does change over time, and with the seasons.

                If you are able to schedule it in advance, sitting at the chef's table is really fun - we'd never done it before, and just accidentally had a chance to sit there, and it was a really great experience.

              2. Pizzeria Mozza.

                Pizzeria Mozza
                641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036