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Vegetarians on Vacation

m
musicislife102 May 3, 2013 08:00 AM

Hi everybody! It's my first time here on the LA Board!

Well, my family and I are visiting LA for a week in the summer and wanted to know what are the DEFINITE spots we need to hit up. We haven't planned any neighborhood visits or anything like that. We are staying in Chino Hills, but that's about all we know!

A little about us:
Family of 4
Vegetarians (dairy ok)
Pretty adventurous eaters
We like soy products (as in fake meat) but don't HAVE to have it
We are on a tight budget, so this should be cheap to moderate eats
A bunch of small places we can hit up is better than splurging on one expensive meal
No Indian food please! (We are Indian, so home cooking is not what we want!) But anything else is fine.
We also love fresh fruit, so if you know of any farmers markets or local vendors we should check out, let me know!
Oh, and a we're a family of drinkers, so any good cheap bars (love cocktails, mojitos, margeritas, hard cider)

Thank you all so much!

  1. m
    musicislife102 May 11, 2013 08:34 AM

    Oh and any local farms or places where we can buy local cheese?

    2 Replies
    1. re: musicislife102
      Servorg May 11, 2013 08:40 AM

      One wonderful local cheese source here https://www.gioiacheeseinc.com/ and all of about 7 miles from Alhambra.

      1. re: musicislife102
        c
        clintonhillbilly May 11, 2013 10:44 AM

        Soledad Goat farm brings their wonderful cheese to the South Pasadena farmers market on Thursdays and I believe to the Hollywood farmers market on Saturdays. You can combine the South Pas farmers market with a day of eating Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley and top it off with a splurge at Firefly Bistro

      2. m
        musicislife102 May 11, 2013 08:27 AM

        Thank you everyone for your great suggestions! I am slowly going through all of them. I really appreciate all of your help.

        One more thing: We would love to check out some food trucks! Know of any great LA ones?

        2 Replies
        1. re: musicislife102
          wienermobile May 11, 2013 08:29 AM

          You might like the Grilled Cheese Truck.
          http://www.thegrilledcheesetruck.com

          1. re: wienermobile
            c
            clintonhillbilly May 11, 2013 10:43 AM

            The Border Grill truck has delicious avocado tacos, potato tacos, vegetarian tamales, and dulce de leche stuffed churros. The Green Truck has a great vegan burger. And I second the Grilled Cheese Truck, just be prepared to wait in line.

        2. perk May 8, 2013 01:02 PM

          You might want to check out one of two really fabulous farmers markets. Santa Monica on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. (I think it's 8 until 1:30)
          And Hollywood on Sunday mornings (may last a bit later).
          The Hollywood one is a farmkers market/street festival with music and lots of food stands. Great fun.
          Both have amazing selections from local farmers.

          1. h
            happybaker May 8, 2013 12:48 PM

            In today's LA Times, Jonathon Gold listed his 13 top tacos. And in there is this potato taco -

            http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/daily...

            1. wienermobile May 6, 2013 11:04 AM

              Veggie Sushi in Downtown LA and now Culver City too at Shojin.
              http://www.theshojin.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: wienermobile
                terramassu May 9, 2013 11:59 AM

                Shojin is amazing, but it's a little pricey.

              2. wienermobile May 3, 2013 03:16 PM

                At this link is LA Weekly's list of 10 top vegan restaurants in LA. Hope it helps.
                http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

                1. raytamsgv May 3, 2013 01:54 PM

                  You are in luck because you will be close to the San Gabriel Valley (SGV), which has a high concentration of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants.

                  Try Thien Tam in El Monte. It's about as cheap as it gets, but the food is very good. While there are numerous vegetarian Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, this one serves Vietnamese food--not hybridized Chinese.

                  You can also get fresh tofu in Rosemead from VK Food Products.

                  Thien Tam
                  10345 Garvey Ave
                  El Monte, CA 91733

                  VK Food Products
                  9210 Valley Blvd
                  Rosemead, CA 91770

                  There are also numerous vegetarian Chinese restaurants in the SGV. They almost always distinctly Chinese, not Chinese-American or Chinese-Indian.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: raytamsgv
                    h
                    happybaker May 3, 2013 02:21 PM

                    Thien Tam looks really great!

                  2. v
                    VenusCafe May 3, 2013 01:01 PM

                    I'm quite sure that the Cafe Gratitude in Los Angeles, on Larchmont, not far from Hollywood would be MUCH closer
                    to where you are starting out from...

                    http://cafegratitudela.com/

                    LOCATION & HOURS
                    Cafe Gratitude
                    323.580.6383
                    639 Larchmont Boulevard
                    Los Angeles, CA 90004

                    I AM OPEN Juice bar and breakfast 8am - 11am
                    Lunch and Dinner 10am - 10pm

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: VenusCafe
                      h
                      happybaker May 3, 2013 01:12 PM

                      Cafe Gratitude is awesome, but may not fit the cost/bounty parameters the of OP.

                      However you are spot on, the one in Larchmont is way closer for the folks!

                    2. terramassu May 3, 2013 10:55 AM

                      Native Foods, Costa Mesa http://www.nativefoods.com/
                      ( Native Foods has beer and wine) I love the watermelon fresca. Native Foods also has locations in LA, i.e. Westwood.
                      I find that Thai food is pretty accommodating to Vegetarian diners, and you could try for somewhere in Thai town...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: terramassu
                        westsidegal May 3, 2013 11:19 AM

                        fish sauce is used in many, if not most, Thai dishes.
                        you will need to find a Thai restaurant that will be willing to work with you if you are truly vegetarian.

                      2. wienermobile May 3, 2013 09:52 AM

                        If you make it down to the beach in the Venice area of Los Angeles you would enjoy Cafe Gratitude.
                        http://cafegratitudevenice.com

                        1. h
                          happybaker May 3, 2013 09:30 AM

                          I don't know Chino Hills at all. BUT. I see on the map that you will be near rowland heights, hacienda heights. El Monte...

                          Which means you will be near killer veggie chinese food. some great mexican - try fried potato tacos, they are yummy! And, you might enjoy Salvadoran food like cheese pupusas (grilled cornmeal cakes stuffed with cheese and herbs, served with a spicy cabbage slaw). Those foods are all cheap and tasty, but not always served with booze available.

                          The mexican breakfast dish chilaquiles is usually made without meat and it can range from good to divine. Here's a yelp list of the best in LA, I don't completely agree, but it gives you a good starting point.

                          http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Best+Chilaquiles&find_loc=Los+Angeles%2C+CA

                          My fav chilaquiles? The tomatillo ones at Homegirl Cafe, by Chinatown. The sauce is so fresh and flavorful, better than I've had anywhere else. Both rustic and elegant, available at breakfast and brunch.

                          http://50.116.6.194/hb_adm/img/news-events/Homegirl-Cafe-Breakfast.pdf

                          My down and dirty best cheap chilaquiles? Tacos Delta in Silverlake. $5.50 for a big plate of carb joy.

                          http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/5/re...

                          Again, none of these are by where you are, but it will give you an idea of what's out there, and pricing.

                          Oh and don't forget there are many vegetarian vietnamese options out here. That might be fun for you to check out as well.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: happybaker
                            m
                            musicislife102 May 3, 2013 10:23 AM

                            Chilaquiles sound delicious! Any specific vietnamese or chinese places we should go to?

                            Oh and we have a car, so distance isn't an issue.

                            1. re: musicislife102
                              h
                              happybaker May 3, 2013 10:43 AM

                              Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park has nice vegetarian choices but for me, I'll be honest - it's the fries. The spicy fries are ADDICTIVE. And it's BYOB so you can bring wine.

                              http://www.goodgirlfoods.com

                              Indochine vien in atwater has TONS of vegetarian choices. Small place but nice folks. BYOB as well I think.

                              http://www.indochinevien.com/menu.html#Vegetarian

                              And, I have not been to this place myself, but the reviews are good. Lots of veggie options and they serve beer and wine :

                              )

                              http://www.xoiaeats.com/menu.html

                              Off the top of my head I can't name a specific Chinese vegetarian place, but I know there's lots of good ones here, I'll do a search later today.

                              If we are lucky, a poster named Ipsedixit will see this post and reply about that - she knows more than I can ever look up in that area : )

                              1. re: musicislife102
                                c
                                clintonhillbilly May 6, 2013 10:57 AM

                                Vegetarian dim sum at Fine Garden restaurant in San Gabriel is very good.

                                1. re: clintonhillbilly
                                  raytamsgv May 6, 2013 11:17 AM

                                  Their dim sum is okay, but they use much of the same ingredients for a lot of their dishes. Here's some more info:
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829869
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793422

                              2. re: happybaker
                                westsidegal May 3, 2013 10:48 AM

                                be careful about the rice and beans in mexican restaurants because many of them mix lard into these dishes.
                                also, many mexican restaurants cook using lard as the fat source.

                                also, since chino hills is so far away from LA be prepared to spend as much on gas to get to and from town as you will on the food.

                                1. re: westsidegal
                                  h
                                  happybaker May 3, 2013 01:09 PM

                                  Agree. I might be a bit nervous about Tacos Delta but Homegirl Cafe? The cooks trained by the folks at Border Grill? I'd say it's safe there!

                              3. Servorg May 3, 2013 08:12 AM

                                Places like Elf Cafe http://elfcafe.com/ in Silver Lake, Little Ethiopia for places like Rahel http://rahelvegancuisine.com/ or Meals by Genet http://www.mealsbygenet.com/ and don't miss Vinh Loi Tofu http://www.vinhloitofu.com/ in the San Fernando Valley.

                                The new Cafe Gratitude http://cafegratitudevenice.com/ in Venice should also make your list.

                                You'll be doing some driving, (Chino Hills is quite a ways out from the L.A. area) so I'm assuming you have a car. Have fun.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Servorg
                                  m
                                  musicislife102 May 3, 2013 08:52 AM

                                  Awesome, thank you!
                                  I checked out the menus for these places and they are on our way high end of the budget. Any cheap eats you know of? Food trucks are cool too!

                                  1. re: musicislife102
                                    Servorg May 3, 2013 09:47 AM

                                    Here is another good place http://joesfalafel.net/ but again, for their vegetarian plate you are going to be spending $8.50. How cheap are you trying for (in a dollar figure)?

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      m
                                      musicislife102 May 3, 2013 10:22 AM

                                      I guess anything under 10 bucks for a decent sized plate of food.

                                      1. re: musicislife102
                                        Servorg May 3, 2013 10:32 AM

                                        One place you should check out is:

                                        Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars
                                        4234 W Pico Blvd
                                        Los Angeles, CA 90019
                                        (323) 931-5500

                                        Not exactly fresh fruit, but rather Mexican fruit ice cream bars (paletas)...delicious and cheap.

                                        http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/mateos...

                                    2. re: musicislife102
                                      r
                                      running pig May 9, 2013 07:36 PM

                                      +1 on Vinh Loi tofu...tasty
                                      and quite affordable

                                      1. re: running pig
                                        h
                                        happybaker May 9, 2013 08:26 PM

                                        Love Vinh Loi tofu. Tasty, cheap and if you want to bring wine or beer in, you can. Just make sure to pour some for the chef!

                                        1. re: running pig
                                          c
                                          clintonhillbilly May 11, 2013 10:49 AM

                                          When you go to Vinh Loi also check out Follow Your Heart Grocery and cafe. Vegetarian diner that's been around for about 40 years--they make their own vegetarian meats. I highly recommend the nutburger and the Reuben sandwich. Affordable and cute.

                                      2. re: Servorg
                                        c
                                        clintonhillbilly May 6, 2013 10:55 AM

                                        Second Rahel, great vegan Ethiopian food. I live in Highland Park so many of these recommendations are for that neighborhood-- a fun and cheap place to eat and drink:

                                        For cheap and delicious, go to Huaraches Azteca on York Blvd. in Highland Park -- veg options include huitlacoche huaraches, gorditas with potatos and rajas, and quesadillas with squash blossoms, and it's all super cheap. Then you can get some great beer at the Hermosillo Club or The York, both in walking distance.

                                        Good Girl Dinette on Figueroa in Highland Park has terrific vegetarian pho and oyster mushroom banh mi, and it's BYOB so you can get a six pack of beer at the liquor store down the block and bring it in.

                                        Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock has wonderful vegetarian good, Mexican wine, and Mexican craft beer -- it's not expensive but not super-cheap either -- figure $3/taco and you need to get 3 or 4. But they have the best vegetarian tacos-- fried avocado tacos, huitlacoche tacos, creamed squash blossom tacos, hibiscus flower tacos -- all terrific. Also great non-battered, roasted chile rellenos.

                                        However, for awesome battered chile rellenos go to Chico's on Avenue 50 and Figueroa in Highland Park. Cute, really cheap family restaurant. They have potato tacos too and good enchiladas.

                                        For really cheap happy hour, Las Cazuelas on Figueroa in Highland Park has $6 pitchers of beer. I'm not the biggest Salvadoran food fan, but they do have very good pupusas whcih you can get vegetarian.

                                        Elf in Echo Park is great but it's not cheap -- however, I believe it is still BYOB so you can save some money by buying a bottle of wine or two at City Sip across the street.

                                        Umami Burger has my favorite veggie burger in the City, totally house-made. Also, the Green Truck Mother Trucker burger is vegan and really delicious. For some LA-style fusion, track down one of the Kogi trucks where you can get korean tofu tacos and kimchi quesadillas. Or better yet, go to the Alibi Bar in Venice where you can get the kogi food and you can have beer.

                                        There are so many places to recommend, but I will end with Wurstekuche, a German beer hall in downtown LA that grills up Field Roast sausages and has wonderful belgian fries.

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