Greetings from Los Angeles

Hello from L.A.! I’ve been here for nearly a week and so far I can say L.A. is hands down the best city I’ve ever been to for food. It seems like there is a vegan restaurant on every corner, and every one I’ve been to has been really good. We’re here for 11 days, and ordinarily when I’m staying with friends or renting an apartment, I look forward to cooking in several nights. But, my friends, 11 days is not enough to eat everything I need to eat in this town!

Our second day here, our friends were trying to decide where we should eat dinner and, after googling, suggested Native Foods, mostly because it was nearby. I didn’t realize at first the restaurant was completely vegan, and was overwhelmed once I did. I finally chose the bacon cheeseburger because I thought it was a funny thing for a vegan to order:

Mark ordered the reuben:

Both were delicious and the chef even stopped by our table to see if we liked it. The omnivores we were with also enjoyed their meals – although I’ve found non-vegetarians usually don’t like fake meat, the bacon cheeseburger even went over very well. Unfortunately, things disintegrated to this shortly before we left:

Our hosts Jathan and Travis requested that I make dinner the following night and to that end took me to their neighborhood produce store. A produce store is pretty much all the greatness of Super H minus all the badness. That is, it’s a store almost entirely filled with produce, including exotic Asian fruits and vegetables, with a couple of aisles of rice and other staples, but with no meat, squid machines, or tentacles. I’m terrible at deciding what to make under pressure, but Mark came to my rescue and suggested stuffed peppers, I think mostly because Jathan and Travis found some TVP and were somewhat frightened of it and Mark thought it would be funny if we made them eat it. I made the recipe up on the fly; it was wild rice, TVP, onion, veggie broth, tomatoes, a chili pepper, and various seasonings. I also made a quick pasta dish to accompany it. I’m pleased to say that all plates were cleaned so I guess I didn’t screw it up too much, and the TVP wasn’t too scary.

Then we moved from Jathan and Travis’ house to Fortinbras’s place in Studio City, where he took us to Lotus Vegan, which he hadn’t been to although it’s right down the street from him. Apparently he’d been waiting for me. He got a “chicken” lunch:

And I got the yellow curry with “fish”:

Fortinbras was in raptures over both meals, but when he ordered dessert, I thought he was going to explode from happiness:

This chocolate cheesecake was probably – okay, definitely – the best vegan cheesecake I’ve ever had, or at least it was until we returned later that night with Mark in tow and tried the strawberry cheesecake which may have been even better. Now, remember Fortinbras is not even remotely vegan, but he still thought it was one of the best cheesecakes he’s ever had, vegan or not. He was also head over heels in love with the coconut ice cream that he ordered to accompany it. Fort’s going to be a regular at this place now.

For dinner, Fortinbras, Mark, and I went to Leonor’s Vegetarian Restaurant, which is not entirely vegan (it is vegetarian), though they are planning to begin using Daiya instead of their current non-vegan soy cheese soon. They were very helpful about making sure our meals were vegan after we asked about the cheese situation. It can be tricky to find vegan Mexican food, so I was excited to order these “shrimp” tacos:

They were pretty good, although I really prefer burritos to tacos.

In the midst of scouting out used bookstores today, I stopped for lunch at Daichan, which serves “Japanese soul food”. It’s a cute little place filled with Japanese tchotchkes.

I had the vegetable poki, which was not necessarily the most exciting meal I’ve ever eaten, but a nice, healthy, refreshing lunch, especially after all the other stuff I’ve been cramming down my throat since I got out here, most of which has been amazingly delicious but not exactly health food. It also seemed like something easy to replicate at home, which I think I will be doing.

Tonight Mark and I went to Pure Luck. I told him that they were known for their carnitas tacos made with jackfruit, although since he also prefers burritos to tacos, he ordered the carnitas burrito:

I ordered the BBQ sandwich, also made with jackfruit:

Both of these were really, really good. Mark declared my BBQ sandwich to be the best thing we’ve had here, although he thoroughly enjoyed his burrito as well. I think he might make me go back to Pure Luck again before we leave, he liked it so much. Although I’m trying to fit all the restaurants I want to try in, I won’t argue about going back there.

All in all, the food in this city is absolutely AMAZING. I thought San Francisco and NYC were good for vegans, but now I don’t think you can beat L.A.

Mostly I’ve been eating, but I’ve also done quite a bit of thrift and book store shopping. I absolutely loved Small World Books in Venice Beach. They had a great selection and a cat named Conan. All book stores need a cat, in my opinion.

Today I went to Iliad Bookshop, which is a huge and wonderful used book store. I really wish this store was in Northern Virginia. I have no idea how I think I’m getting my suitcase home after visiting this place; it’s going to weigh a ton. Of course they also have a cat! She looks very much like Brachtune except she’s missing an eye, due to mistreatment by her former owners before she was rescued by the book store staff.

Think it’s strange I saw a one-eyed cat? Well, the aforementioned Travis has a no-eyed cat, Radar:

Travis actually rescued Radar a few years ago after seeing a story about him on the DC news: he was in an animal shelter volunteer’s car when it was stolen right out from under her. He was eventually found again, and Travis felt the need to adopt him after watching the news segment. Radar is a super, super awesome cat. Watching him play is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. He’s also very sweet and affectionate and slept with Mark and I most nights we were there.

When Travis adopted Radar, the shelter made him adopt Radar’s buddy at the same time because they had bonded. Demon has both his eyes and I guess he’s supposed to look out for Radar, but Radar doesn’t seem to need much help, and moreover, Radar seems to enjoy attacking Demon. Nonetheless, they are best friends, and Demon is an extremely cute, affectionate, and playful – and very large – boy. He also slept with us, although he took up most of the bed.

I’m running into tons of cats here, but as this has gotten very long I’ll spare you any more photos for now. It’s great that I’m getting so much kitty contact, but I’m starting to really miss those kittens of mine. Their sitter tells me they are doing fine, but I’ll be extremely happy to see them when we return home.


  1. Amy Said,

    December 2, 2010 @ 5:01 am

    As an LA resident, I’m curious to know where the produce store that you described is located – it sounds amazing!

  2. renae Said,

    December 2, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

    Hi Amy, I think this is the produce store: It’s in Culver City.

  3. Lisa Goldstein Kieda Said,

    December 2, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    Have a fabulous time! The food looks awesome and the kitties are adorable. Last night started Chanukah and I start my week long latke making extravaganza.

    Happy December!

  4. renae Said,

    December 2, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    Happy Chanukah, Lisa! I wish you could send me some latkes!

  5. Amy Said,

    December 3, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    Thanks Renae! I live in the Culver City area so that’s perfect. I’ll check it out this weekend, I’m excited!

  6. Lisa Goldstein Kieda Said,

    December 4, 2010 @ 12:46 am

    Tonight my latkes had shredded carrots, zucchini, onions and potatoes. Tomorrow – beets for beautiful purple pancakes!
    All four cats were tripping me up as I was using the Cuisinart.
    Life is certainly good!

  7. Tiana Said,

    December 4, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    So glad you guys made it to Pure Luck! Head right across the street to Scoops if you want some vegan ice cream. They usually have 2-3 different flavors. Make sure you have cash though.

  8. Josiane Said,

    December 4, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    Great food, wonderful bookstores and lots of kitties – it sounds like you’re having a fabulous time!

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