Saturday, September 24, 2016

Downtown L.A. Walking Tour 2016 - Eat all the vegan food, drink great coffee, see historic sites!

This is an updated version of my 2014 LA Walking Tour with the same purpose but with updated fun things to do!

I have a common walk in downtown LA that I like to do and decided to put my common walk and food, drink and shopping spots on a map. In between this walking tour there are amazing views of downtown, the arts district, and less views of creepy-town USA spots and "pee-pee" corners (no joke). This is a fun walk that I bring my visitors when they want to see our favorite spots in LA. Have fun! See my notes below the map for secret tips!




A. Union Station: Beautiful, historic train station. Walk in the halls and stare at the ceiling. Don't forget to see the outside gardens too!
B. Olvera Street: This is literally the oldest place in Los Angeles and has cute Mexican markets, an old church, and even a cemetery. Pick up a sombrero for the rest of your walk, why not?
C. Burgerlords: Pick up the most fantastic vegan burger with vegan animal fries in Chinatown. Oh yea, there's Chinatown there too! They film a ton of shows and movies in this location, so enjoy.
D. Grand Park: Grand Park is a wonderful, newish park right in DTLA. They have tons of free events for music and food, so check out their site to see the schedule or you may just walk into a cool event by mistake.
E. Grand Central Market: Yes, this place is also historic and really cool now. Honestly, I didn't go here much until they changed up some of the restaurants for new ones like Ramen Hood (all vegan ramen!) and Golden Road (brewery with amazing pub pretzel, vegan mac&cheese, and perogis!) and the best coffee in LA, G&B (get their almond/macadamia nut milk sweetened latte - iced. You will be very happy.
F. Angel City Brewery: You just ate and got hopped up on coffee, so grab a beer too! Bring your dog and baby too apparently.
G. Shojin: Take a walk around Little Tokyo and the Arts District, and then you'll be starving and can head over to the best vegan Japanese restaurant ever. They have the best sushi and ramen, and don't forget dessert.. Pomegranate makes it, and it's fancy and good.
H. Poketo: Fine, I'll put some non-food stuff. This place is cute and you should go.
I. Van Leeuwen Artisanal Ice Cream: They have 10 flavors of bomb vegan ice cream and can even do sundaes. Enough said.
J. Stumptown Coffee: Portland's best coffee shop is in LA too. Now you don't have to quit your job and live the vagabond life, just go into far-off DTLA.

Best Vegan Desserts in Rome, Italy! Fratelli Piermattei

Fratelli Piermattei - Best Vegan Bakery in Roma!

Rome, Italy has one of the best vegan bakeries hidden in a suburb. Fratelli Piermattei is owned by a family who had kids with allergies and decided to make a bakery for people with allergies (and vegans) to eat their amazing baked goods, cookies, cakes, and coffee. The guy who was working their that day (I think one of the brothers) doesn't speak a word of English, but that didn't stop him from bringing his Italian charm as we spoke with hand gestures and yelling out "Vegano!" and pointing to everything. To my joy, it was very inexpensive, super tasty, and the guy was super nice. I highly recommend checking this place out on your next trip!

Try their custard filled donuts, they were to die for too!
All of this for less than 10 euro...amazing.


Me with all the fantastic noms

Pasticceria senza latte e uova! Roma, Italy. and yes, that pastry in my hand is as big as my head.




Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kindred - Food Review - San Diego, CA

Kindred - San, Diego, CA

Kindred is one of the most magical places I have ever visited. San Diego usually pales in comparison to the LA vegan scene, but literally no other restaurant tops the ambiance of this place. Plus the food and drinks and high-class, interesting, and really tasty!

There is so much to say about every detail of the decor of this restaurant before talking about the food. There is an overall Neverending Story theme, but it's also just kind of eclectic. There is a massive Wolf head with snakes wrapped around it in the back of the restaurant. There is even a table you can get right under his head! The checks come in old Choose Your Own Adventure books, the two-seat tables they have are custom designed so the table spins out so you can get in and it looks like a middle eastern theme (to me), the walls are all covered in pink wallpaper with intricate designs and the restaurant has these big garage-door style openings so everything is open to the fresh air. I loved this place!

Now...let's talk about food. To top off this beautiful restaurant, this is all vegan. They serve weekend brunch, lunch and dinner. I went to dinner and got the seitan skewers with chimichurri sauce which were to die for and as big as a full meal. For dinner I got the highly celebrated  seared cauliflower stake with beet sauce - the other half got the Tempeh on Rye with homemade chips. For brunch we got the sweet crepe and the tofu scramble. Everything was super good, and if I had to choose I would pick dinner over brunch. I would also go back for the popcorn appetizer, the sandwiches, and the soy curl dishes.


Skewers:

Tempeh on Rye:

Seared Cauliflower Steak:




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Deshima - Healthy, Tasty Vegan Food in Amsterdam

Deshima
Deshima is a vegan, macrobiotic restaurant in Amsterdam that blew me away! They are a lunch place only, but close around 5pm, so we snuck in for the last items they had available. Even so, they had really healthy, amazing food. We had the seitan roles which looked like little empanadas and were extremely good. It was paired with two soups of the day, a miso/mushroom/Japanese soup and a pea soup. There were also these little crunchy bites made of (tempeh?) and a SUPER good blueberry and cream tart. 

Now, if that whole meal sounds weird and thrown together, it was, but it all tasted amazing. The meal was super healthy, made me feel full but without a greasy/tired feeling. The prices were extremely good and the place was cute and pretty close to the center of town. I would definitely come back here again and again if I could!



France Has Changed! Being Vegan in Paris is NOT Sucky Now...With Food Reviews!

In my post from 2013, I was a bit annoyed with the French with their vegan options. If you wanted vegan in Paris, it was mostly expensive and it wasn't tremendously good. The waiters were sassyfrass and the experience was okay, but nothing to get excited about. Also, the people we met were not as aware of what vegetarians and vegans were and were very opposed and surprised by the lifestyle...

However, Paris in 2016 was very different. Paris now has many options that are affordable, taste amazing, and aren't a sit-down dinner with wine and 40€ a plate. Parisians have also shifted their minds in some ways and we met many people who knew about vegans and even ate at these restaurants occasionally. I was pleasantly surprised with the progress France has made. Even in a very small town we visited with only 5,000 people hours from Paris, I found a Vegan Desserts book at a natural grocery store! The world is changing and Paris finally changed too. Here are some highlights from my latest trip!

Hank Burger
The "La Marais" and "Bastille" areas of Paris is still the epicenter of vegan options. The favorite food of everyone on the trip was Hank Burger. The name sounds a bit boring, and I almost didn't go except I saw the cute bird logo and the tons of great reviews. This is a fast-casual type restaurant where you order at the counter and eat in their cute 2nd story loft. The burgers were the best I've ever had. The bread was fresh, the homemade vegenaise was amazing, and the burger flavors were unique and tasty. I had La Touriste, a burger that is a rotating option. At the time, it was a rocket (arugula) and fig option that was to die for. I had this three times during my week there. There was also the Le Petit Nerveux which had coriander and tortilla chips that was really good. This little place was open all day without closing 20x during the day, the staff was really nice and spoke English, and the price was very affordable with a burger, drink and side for only 12€!


Soya
I was dying to go to Soya after missing it on the trip in 2013. We finally got to it at lunch time even though it's pretty out of the way from central Paris. It was my understanding that it was a vegan place, but it's actually vegetarian and poorly marked. The board had a few specials for the day and one was lasagna, thinking this was an all vegan place, I ordered it and it was covered in cheese (an ingredient that wasn't listed). They were out of most of the dishes, so my only semi-good looking option was a place with raw vegetables, three kinds of hummus and bread. It was okay, it was fresh, it was more expensive, and I wish I went to Hank Burger! I heard brunch was the thing not to miss, so maybe try that instead. Be careful that items may not be marked correctly with vegetarian or vegan and ask before ordering. 

Le Potager du Marais
We had a big party at Le Potager du Marais even though the place is tiny. It was a big hit and everyone loved their dishes. I made the reservation about an hour before, and they accommodated a table for 10 at 7pm. We also shared the place with Moby's party of 5. They let us have the table until closing which allowed us to sit, eat and drink for three hours. They have pretty great wine and serve a few seitan dishes that I liked. People liked the quinoa burger plate with a side of potatoes. The chocolate volcano cake was very good. The seitan bourguignon and the spinach lasagna were a bit funky. The seitan was chewy and the spinach lasagna had almost 90% spinach. I would suggest this place as a good place for a large party, good service, and some good dishes. Stay clear of some of the more funky dishes, and you should be okay.

Loving Hut
My favorite Loving Hut in the world is still the Paris one. They still have their amazing dishes: the crepe and quiche. We had these probably four times during the trip and even brought two quiches on the plane ride back. Everyone loves these dishes, the prices are very reasonable, and the service is great too. Pick up some vegan chocolate croissants in a bag on the way out to get your croissant fix too!



Le Petit Nerveux

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cruzer Pizza - Fresh Vegan Pizza in LA

Cruzer Pizza is the best, freshest pizza in LA. So, I traveled out to the spot and wasn't sure about the place because the name didn't seem too vegany - so I wasn't sure if it was going to be half-vegan half-meaty-time or something which is always not as fun. But we got there, and it was advertising 100% vegan pizza, and has pizza, calzones, pasta, salad, sandwiches and desserts that are all vegan too. 

I ordered the calzone because that is pretty rare in the vegan pizza world. My only other pizza I've tried was zpizza and Native Foods - neither of which have calzones, so its a must. I ordered it with v-sausage and eggplant which all together is only $9.50 for a pretty huge sized calzone. 

Once I got it, I was amazed. The bread is homemade that day, so the pizza is SUPER soft and delicious. The daiya cheese inside with the sausage made everything that much better and makes it melt in your mouth. I devoured that, and I'm coming back for more the next moment I have. I even thought about going back for dinner the same night!

The service is super fast and they even deliver pizza if you're too lazy to go to Los Feliz. The place is tiny, but cute, with drawings all over the walls. The owner is really nice and helpful too. Some reviews hate on the pizza, but that's because they must like pizza that makes you feel sick inside. If you want good, kinda healthy pizza with fresh bread, and no dead animals on top, then come here!


Ramen Hood - Best Vegan Ramen in LA

This is my favorite ramen place and it's located right in DTLA at the historic Grand Central Market. It's all vegan so you don't have to slurp down pork butt broth! I love the spicy ramen with extra mushrooms. They flavor and grill the mushrooms in the most tasty way even the mushroom-hating husband loves them. Try adding the vegan egg for some laughs, but it's kinda squishy and weird in my opinion. Stop by G&B Coffee on your way out for some of the best coffee in LA too.


A photo posted by Rachel Robot (@mzzroboto) on