In the grand expanse of Los Angeles, vegetarian and vegan options are easy to come by, but the truly great ones aren't always readily apparent. I'm constantly on the hunt for outstanding vegetarian options —here are my picks for some affordable favorites from omnivore-friendly spots.
Los Angeles has not shortage of food festivals. Now on its fourth year, LA Loves Alex's Lemonade remains one of the most beloved.
Shimmering sunshine and a lazy ocean breeze drifts through Simmzy's open walled dining room. One whiff of the sea salty air—plus a pint—will draw anyone into the endless summer that is Long Beach's Naples Island. That laid back attitude stops at the glass window into the kitchen. Each dish is a carefully calibrated assemblage of otherwise casual ingredients. On the pizza menu, the Arugula Salad Foldover stands out as the best of the bunch.
After a long, long night, I found myself on Hollywood Boulevard, desperately craving a slice. I randomly chose one of the area's plentiful slice joints and met one of the worst pizzas I've ever had. So, what's a girl to do? I set out to find what (if anything) the Boulevard has to offer in the way of pizza.
The air sizzled with anticipation leading up to Bestia's opening last November. Time has not tempered the excitement. Any non-6 p.m. or 9:45 p.m. reservation must still be made one month in advance. Since the early days, dinner at Bestia has been splendid. As the kitchen tightens up and recipes get tinkered with, the food—specifically the pizza—gets better and better.
At Little Flower Candy Co. Cafe, Christine Moore proves she can make more than just her popular caramels. For example, this honey and lavender scone.
Pitfire Artisan Pizza's seasonal Eggplant Parmesan pie may sound like heavy comfort food, but the LA pizzeria takes a lighter approach to the hefty nightshade. At the base of the pie are translucent sheets of grilled eggplant, aubergine skin peeking out from beneath the blanket of blistered cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes. Executive Chef Andrew Lakin walks us though the making of this summery pizza.
Privateer Coal Fire Pizza's Brussels Pie is topped with a creamy white base scattered with ribbons of pancetta and finished with a slaw of lemon vinaigrette-tossed brussels sprouts. This pizza has similar elements to another Top This favorite, but the execution is entirely different—and thoroughly delicious.
In March, an odd and unused window on the side of The Churchill took on new life, as the food and cold-pressed juice purveyor, Clover Takeaway, set up shop. Tucked away at the bottom of their menu is the NYC Cheese Pizza Slice, at a tempting $2.00—a steal given the talent and ingredients on hand in The Churchill's kitchen.
Union Pizza Company's The Village deep dish pizza is loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked ham, sautéed mushrooms, thick sauce, and a pound of cheese. Owner Bruce Markoe pays special attention to the meats, with a technique that ensures his pie stays crisp and light. Well, as light at a five pound pool of pizza can hope to be.,,
At LaRocco's Pizzera, the Spinaci e Pomodoro highlights fresh produce. The baby spinach leaves and halved cherry tomatoes are lightly touched with heat, drawing out flavor while retaining their vibrant color. This pizza takes full advantage of residual heat, gentling wilting the leaves and transforming the fruit into warm cherry tomato bombs.
"Crossroads is a place where vegans and carnivores can dine together...and a full bar which has never been done at a vegan restaurant before," said chef Tal Ronnen. The inspiration came from dishes that he ate when he became vegan and the foods he missed (ahem, oysters) when adopting this new diet. Look for small plates on the menu, such as Artichoke "Oysters."
Praise continuously falls upon Olio Pizzeria & Cafe. Its popularity among the masses is shared by the media—it was ranked the 3rd Best Pizzeria in LA by LA Weekly and named a Critic's Choice in the LA Times. Then again, we Slice'rs—who study pizza day in, day out—take such popularity with a grain of salt. In Olio's case, though, the acclaim is entirely deserved.
At her cupcake shop Naomi Moreno, three time winner of the L.A Cupcake Challenge, has a variety of interesting flavors to sample. One of my favorite creations bundles two desserts into one handful; the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcake.
"Variety's the very spice of life," says William Cowper and all your cliché filled friends. At Los Angeles' The Pizza Studio, variety may not be the spice of your life, but it is the key to pleasing a lot of people and selling a lot of pizzas.
A year and a half ago I sat at the counter of Pizzeria il Fico, as eager owner/partner John Tierney waxed on about turning this little slice of Robertson Blvd. into a neighborhood hang out. I nodded my head politely even though I though the environment seems too upscale for this. I was wrong.
Seems like everyone these days loves kale chips. As for me, I'm on board as long as they are freshly prepared, not straight from a bag. But while undoubtedly good, why limit their potential to just snack time?
Traditional pastelón is kind of like a Latin American lasagna, layering fried plantains with a spiced ground beef filling and melty white cheese. This version is vegetarian-friendly, using spicy red beans for the filling and served with a crunchy, refreshing radish salsa.
East Village newcomer (and Wayland expansion) Animals serves a surprisingly complex vegetarian sandwich that delivers on its promises.
Weary of coffee fads? Perhaps you'd prefer something a little more five-hundred-years ago: it's time to dust off your ibrik and prepare a little Turkish coffee.
Vegan sweets can be tasty but they can also be terrible, plagued by problems like way too much sugar, a leaden or gummy texture, or simply a lack of imagination. We weeded out the duds and found six great vegan sweets in the city: some of them from old standbys like BabyCakes, and a few from up-and-comers like Dun-Well Doughnuts in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Either way, with these sweet, fluffy, moist and sometimes decadent desserts, things are looking up for vegans in New York.
Serious Eats is bustin' out all over. In the last year we've added Sweets, Drinks, and Chicago to our family of blogs. And as good as Carey, Erin, Kenji, Maggie, Robyn, Nick, and Meredith are, even they cry uncle once in awhile. So we've added a couple of amazing full-time Serious Eaters to the crew, and we wanted to officially welcome them. Don't worry. They're hardly strangers to our wonderful community, as you're about to find out. But rather than introduce them, I'll let them introduce themselves.
As a quick exercise to chart out my cravings, I decided to plot various foods on an arbitrary "meatiness" to "crave factor" scale. Take a look at that chart and you'll see that outside of a few major outliers (I will always love April Bloomfield's Spotted Pig Burger, and I've never been much of a cookie or ice cream eater), for the most part there is a solid diagonal line that runs from most-meaty-least-craved to least-meaty-most-craved. Seeing it all laid out like this is pretty interesting to me. What does it mean?
The thing that bothers me is the implied notion that vegetarian/vegan food is vegetarian/vegan first, and food afterwards, and once you've outed yourself as a vegan, that attitude seems to follow you wherever you go. Coming from an omnivore cook, this would have just been another good sandwich. But coming from a vegan cook, it's a vegan sandwich.
This Hawaiian-themed burger spot makes a cast for the value of a fast casual chain.
Tito's Tacos, the eponymous taco takeaway stand with the catchy late-night jingle, is a place for all manner of youthful taco nostalgia. Looming in the shadow of the 405 on Washington Place in Culver City, Tito's has a longstanding tradition of serving up the tacos that you and I may recall fondly from our childhood. It's just that, well, some things are better left to memory.
At their newest outpost in Culver City, Pitfire Artisan Pizza bakes tantalizingly topped pizzas. Using local ingredients sourced from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, each pie is crafted with the best produce the market has to offer. For this edition of Top This, we learn how to make their Pumpkin Pizza.
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These no-bake crunchies are so easy and so freaking good. I thought butterscotch needed a cool new name, so I decided upon b-scotch. :)...
This dressing is what the folks at the Cheese Board Collective use on their Mushroom, Onion, Mozzarella, Ricotta Salata, Arugula, and Lemon Vinaigrette Pizza. The recipe will make way more than necessary for one pizza, but leftovers can be reserved for future use (and you will use it). If you don't want it too sweet, omit the honey.
Top This: The Cheese Board's Mushroom, Onion, Mozzarella, Ricotta Salata, Arugula and Lemon Vinaigrette Pizza
The Cheese Board Pizza Collective may be the only pizzeria capable of perfection by committee. At this co-op kitchen there's no boss, no underlings, no master pizzaiolo. Everyone's opinions and preferences get equal attention, resulting in incredible topping concepts. For this edition of Top This, we learn how to make their addictive mushroom-, onion- and arugula-topped pizza.
The Double Shack Stack is glorious, all 1,130 calories of it. And this week, we're going to figure out how to make one at home.
An alternate title for this video could be, "Ladybug Gets Really Frustrated Trying to Eat/Kill Sprinkles," but it's more positive to think that the ladybug is just playing.
Crunchy pears, caramelized onions and pungent goat cheese make a fantastic pizza experience......
My mom's vegetarian zucchini lasagna - light and delicious!...
No one is able to resist the warm gooey cheese with a rich aroma of garlic and herbs that gets scooped up with more bread....
This chickpea-based veggie dinner is both burger and bun. While you can stuff it with whatever vegetables you want, I chose to go with, well, everything. Sauteed mushrooms and viadlia onion, brocco sprouts, tomato slices, and avocado....