When I found out the Veggie Pride Parade was happening in Los Angeles, I thought it would be a fun time & a great excuse to see friends & eat my way through the area. Car loaded up & ready to go, Strummer & I headed South to see what was in store for us!
Having lived in San Luis Obispo years ago, I always stop there when I have the chance. While SLO has plenty of vegan dining options, my favorite treat is from Sweet Earth Chocolates, who I've mentioned before & found out about from Amey at Vegan Eats & Treats. As usual, I had to stop by Splash Cafe & pick up an assortment of vegan chocolates, especially the Turtles & vegan caramels!
I started my Los Angeles dining adventure in the Silverlake area, at a vegan raw food restaurant, Cru. While many of the options were tempting, I went with the Mezze Platter, a plate with creamy cucumber tzatzizki, a fabulous beet and apple salad, fig pate, cashew cheese, flax crackers & garlicky rubbed kale. I certainly appreciate the work at goes in to raw food, but not quite enough of the items on my plate wowed me to justify the $13 price tag. That being said, I have heard fabulous things about their desserts & would consider going back to try them!
The next day, I set out for brunch at M Cafe on Melrose. Traffic seemed to have another idea, I slipped in the door just before 11:30am & was able to order the Vegan Benedict! Luckily, I had a great group of gals dining with me, Adriana from Anarchy in the Garden, QuarryGirl, JennShaggy, & Britt from Sick of Lettuce who made me forget all about the traffic. The Vegan Benedict was delicious with a grilled whole-grain baguette topped with steamed kale, tomato, tempeh bacon & a hollandaise sauce. I also had Broccolini Pepperoncini & the Kale with Spicy Peanut Sauce, a dish I have heard about many times from people & it lived up to the hype! M Cafe has an impressive display of desserts, so I opted for the Lemon Tart, which looked just lovely. The tart was sweetened with maple syrup, which was pretty much all I could taste, which was a disappointment when you're expecting lemon. I hope next time I'll be able to try the Banana Millefeuille, which they did not have when I was there, but I have heard is wonderful.
Since I don't get to Los Angeles as often as I'd like, I thought I would organize a little get together to meet up with as many vegans as I could wrangle. It's not easy to find a restaurant large enough to house a group with decent parking, but Vegan Village Cafe fit the bill, as the space happens to be a dance club in the evenings! Quite a few people turned up, including the brains behind Could It Be Seitan?, C'est La Vegan, QuarryGirl, Hugger Food, Afsoon's Posties, plus friends from The PPK forums & Twitter. Vegan Village Cafe serves up soul food & house made cakes, & the staff was friendly & totally accommodating to our needs. I opted for a plate with all my favorites; black eyed peas, collard greens, yams, buttered corn, & cornbread. After stuffing myself with food, I managed to sneak bites of other's people's desserts & found the cakes were moist, fluffy, & unlike other cakes I've had! I especially enjoyed the pineapple cake, which I suspect had some help from a can of pineapple juice.
Speaking of C'est La Vegan, Kim was find enough to bring samples of some of her treats for everyone to try at lunch! I managed to take some back to where I was staying as well, so I could savor each bite. I enjoyed the mini cookies in Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, & Oatmeal Cranberry, the size was super fun to pop in to your mouth. While not normally a biscotti fan, I was pleasantly surprised by the Chocolate Almond & Pistachio Anise Seed, toothsome & flavorful, they were delicious! My favorite was the brownie, deep chocolate flavor & fudginess made this a winner! If you find yourself in LA, check out C'est La V Bake Shop goodies at Locali & local farmers markets.
I love a good brunch, so I headed to Flore Cafe's all you can eat offering on Sunday morning with a few friends. The $10 price tag was certainly worthwhile, as I loaded up my plate with fabulous french toast, waffles, mexican inspired tofu scramble, potatoes, veggie sausages & fresh fruit! I wish we would have something like this in San Francisco, although I hardly need to be eating at buffets weekly! Don't miss this delicious option for brunch with a rotating menu!
After brunch, the next stop was the Veggie Pride Parade in Venice, a celebration of the veg lifestyle & a 5k parade around town. Strummer & I had a great time making new friends, hanging out with familiar faces, being interviewed by VegSource (Strummer is at 2:45 & I'm interviewed at 8:30), & exploring the food & clothing booths including C'est La V Bake Shop! I must admit, the event was a bit cheesy, & I couldn't help but giggle at the people in random neon animal costumes many from the Supreme Master Ching Hai posse (note the rabbit looking nauseous & various other costumed folk), but overall it was a fun day & hopefully the press was effective to inform people about veganism.
For dinner, I headed to Hugo's Restaurant in West Hollywood with friends, including Alex & Kristen who happened to be visiting from San Francisco as well. I opted for the sweet corn tamales, instead of the soyrizo tamales which normally come with the entree, plus a side of flavorful mixed vegetables & kale. While a bit pricey, the dish hit the spot for me. Unfortunately, my dining companions were less than impressed with Hugo's. In the future, I think I'll stick to Hugo's Tacos, home of tasty taquitos, loved by Strummer, Ryan, & myself!
For my final Los Angeles meal, I made the trek to the valley to try the food at Follow Your Heart Market & Cafe, makers of Vegenaise, salad dressings, & O.G. vegan cheese. Never one to pass on a milkshake, a banana & peanut butter shake was promptly delivered to the table & devoured! At the suggestion of To Live and Eat in LA, I opted for the Reuben, which I split with Afsoon. I'm not a fan of Caraway Seed, so we opted for wheat bread, which worked in our favor because we were given two sandwiches for the price of one! Even after splitting things, my plate was filled with the sandwich of Seitan slices, Sauerkraut, Cottage Style Tofu, Thousand Island Dressing, Mustard & Vegenaise plus a side of Dill Pickle & baked fries. My sandwich was a bit overdone, but I still enjoyed the tangy filling & was happy to eat that when the bread proved to be too much. Unfortunately, the cake we ordered was downright disappointing & despite being ordered for 3 people to split, it went mainly uneaten.
Los Angeles is a crazy wonderland of vegan dining! I'm always amazed by the abundant options & they seem to gain more all the time. If you find yourself in LA, I promise you will not go hungry!