L.A. is a mecca for veganistos, but often when looking for a yummy vegan restaurant, the choices have occasionally been places where the unifying characteristic was a total lack of flavor or imagination, or a fave spot that has come & gone just as quickly as it caught on.
Learning how to find ample variety, nutrition and mouth-watering flavors in a vegan diet can often be complex and challenging, and my eye on L.A. is relishing two great choices that are here to stay, the best in tasty, vegan bites without sacrificing taste and selection.
The Veggie Grill
The Veggie Grill is a vegan resto with mass appeal that specializes in quick, quality meatless meals or mock meat dishes of popular and familiar American comfort foods at a great value (nothing on the menu is over $10).
The heart of the menu and the core of their nutritional philosophy is plant-based foods and vegetable proteins like tempeh (a soy- and rice culture-based food, seitan (aka wheat meat), and their exclusive Chillin’ Chickin’ and Veggie-Steak (a veggie protein blend of soy, wheat, and peas)…all of which resembles the flavor and texture of chicken and beef.
The Veggie Grill’s ultimate goal is to serve you delicious and wholesome food. By wholesome, they mean good calories and good fats that are 100% plant-based. Nutrient-rich, and free of cholesterol, animal fat and trans fat, their food fills you with goodness.
Everything is marinated and seasoned well, and there’s absolutely no meat, dairy, eggs, seafood, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, or animal products. Other Veggie Grill goodness includes Quinoa, Kale, Portobello Mushrooms, and Red Cabbage. Their menu also offers gluten-free, soy-free, and wheat-free options too if you have some food sensitivities.
The super-delish standouts here are the Thai Chickin Wrap, Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ Burger, and the Carne Asada Sandwich served on a wheat bun/roll, and the All Hail Kale Salad…and don’t forget the side of Sweetheart Fries (their sweet potato fries lightly-fried in canola (an oil, free of trans fat and rich in polyunsaturated good fats).
The carrot cake is TDF (to die for) with apple sauce, tofu, and evaporated cane juice as some of the natural sources used to create their indulgent desserts that you can really enjoy and feel way less guilty about eating!
Opened in 2006 in Orange County, The Veggie Grill now has several fast-casual Southern California eateries including Santa Monica, Hollywood, West Hollywood, the Farmer’s Market in LA, El Segundo, Torrance, and the original Orange County locations in Irvine. What we also dig is that all locations recycle whenever possible, use biodegradable plastic bags, recyclable and recycled materials which includes their Tectum walls and ceilings. The Veggie Grill locations also utilize highly sustainable timbers like reconstituted Bamboo for flooring and Kiri for the counters.
The Veggie Grill is open from 11 am – 10 pm with the exception of the WeHO location on Sunset Blvd. which is open until 11 pm.
It’s on like donkey kong for the perfect treats, which brings me to the local Los Angeles version of Manhattan’s illustrious Lower East Side bakery BabyCakes in Downtown L.A.
There’s absolutely no sugarcoating here at BabyCakes. While most sweet offerings in other wildly popular cupcakeries are ruled by desserts overflowing with sugar, chemical sweeteners, flour and butter cream, Babycakes comes to the rescue with its vegan, kosher, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free, and refined sugar-free fare.
So, now you’re probably wondering WTH is left to bake with then? Well, Babycakes takes advantage of rice flour, a garbanzo/fava bean mix, canola and cold pressed virgin coconut oil, applesauce, flax, and as the sweetener- agave nectar (a natural syrup from a cactus which is low on the glycemia index and often a safe alternative to most non-insulin dependant diabetics) for all their glorious cupcakes, pies, doughnuts, muffins, sweet breads, brownies, scones, cookies, and cakes.
They also sometimes use spelt flour (derived from a grain in some of its non gluten-free items), and occasionally, unprocessed and unrefined sugar is used in certain goods, although very sparingly.
The breakout stars on their menu are the scrumptious baked chocolate covered doughnut, the jam-filled biscuits, chocolate chip cookie sandwich, and any one of their cupcakes, but especially the Red Velvet will all make you drool. All their baked beauties are rich, magicly buttery (without the butter!), dense, and brimming with sweet flavors.
Babycakes LA is located at 130 E. 6th Street (between S. Main & S. Los Angeles streets) and opens at 10am daily and closing times that vary. They also have another LA location on Larchmont.
Although, I’ve given up meat, dairy and refined sugar, there are very few eateries or bakeries that define themselves as vegan that I would hunt out given a range of other delectable choices, but it’s always a joy to find those little treasures like The Veggie Grill and Babycakes that have been a very welcome surprise…and makes it so much easier to stop my my flexitarian / near-vegan ways completely.
Stay tuned for my future journeys into night and the transformations of a vegan life.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org