Category Archives: Neighborhoods

BAD NEWS: Pure Luck closed. GOOD NEWS: They’re re-opening for 3 days!

This, my friends, was my last supper at Pure Luck.  Well…at least I thought it was.  That is until Quarrygirl revealed on her blog today that they would be open 3 additional nights starting today!  I might just try to hit up the joint all three nights.  Maybe I will stock up on Tortas and freeze them.

I have so many fond memories at that place so it truly breaks my heart that they are closing.  <<I just spent a good 3 minutes between typing that last sentence and this one playing a mental montage of all the fun Pure Luck times I’ve had.>>  One of my favorite things to do with guests from out of town was bring them out for carnitas burritos and follow up our lovely meal with a visit to Scoops across the street for some vegan gelato.  It was the ultimate foodie power combo.  To check out an awesome adios to Pure Luck see this post on Cute and Delicious.

For my last Pure Luck meal ever (or so I thought,) I wanted to stray from my usual order.  So I ordered the Baja Fish Tacos with a side of potato pals.  Believe it or not, this Pure Luck fanatic had never had the potato pals!

The pals were fluffy and rich at the same time.  They totally lived up to the hype.  The fish tacos were amazing as always.

For my real last Pure Luck meal ever, I am going to order my usual: Kristen’s Carnitas wrap with sweet potato fries, please.  Oh, and some fried pickles and a Mexicoke to start.  Get your butt to Pure Luck this weekend so you too can indulge one last time!  If you do, I also recommend by other stand-by–the beet salad.  I have many shirts with beet juice stains to prove my love for that dish.

Restaurant Review: Sage Vegan Bistro in Echo Park

Ohhhhh man.  I am so excited about Sage in Echo Park.  The menu is a great mix of both light and indulgent items all made with good whole foods.  I am so excited that I am going to write this post despite the low quality photos (I was having some camera issues.)  I just can’t wait to share this food with you all.

On my first visit to Sage I was accompanied by two friends from out of town.  We started with the Beer Battered Zucchini with Almond Crusted Fried Cheese.  Unfortunately this was by far the weakest dish I’ve had at Sage.  I mean deep friend anything tastes good but these little zucchini slices and cheese (Daiya, I think) balls were underwhelming to say the least.  At $7.95 they are outrageously overpriced.  For perspective, the cheese balls are about the size of a golf ball.

I was sorta worried at this point about the rest of the meal.  But my fears were put to rest when the entrees came out, preceded by this simply but lovely salad:

I ordered the Green Bean and Portabella Casserole at the waitress’ suggestion.  She told me it would not be what I was expecting and she was right; It was more of a goulash than a casserole.  The menu doesn’t even mention the pasta which is one of the main components of the dish.  Whatevs–I scarfed it down like a champ, despite the inaccurate naming and description.  The gravy was so flavorific it tasted like it had been stewing for days.  I would order this again in a heartbeat.

My friend Craig cautiously ordered the Almond Ricotta Ravioli.  I say cautious because he is not the most adventurous eater and the “fennel lavender marinara” scared him.

This ended up being everyone at the table’s favorite dish.  The lavender in the sauce was an incredible touch and the cheesy filling had a great ricotta-like texture.  I definitely licked the last sauce remnants off Craig’s plate (it’s ok we go way back so I can do that.)

My other friend ordered the Smoked Soyrizo Burrito.

It’s very difficult to make a bad soyrizo burrito but this one was really elevated by the slew of components.  The sauteed jalapeno is a particularly genius inclusion.  The potato salad that came as a side was also delish.

At this point we were all totally stuffed, but that didn’t keep us from ordering a ginormous dessert.  Perhaps the most awesome thing about Sage is that it is owned by the fine folks at KindKreme, everyone’s favorite raw, vegan ice cream joint  They even have a little mini KindKreme outpost right there in the restaurant.  After sampling practically all the ice cream flavors, we ordered a waffle sundae.  I was imagining an Eggo-sized waffle but holy guacamole this thing was big.

Of course the ice cream was good (our flavors were something like mocha, coconut, and banana with chocolate swirl) but the waffle itself was incredibly fluffy.  This is an epic treat that should be atop every vegan’s To Eat list.

A mere two days later, Craig and I summoned Kirby Von Scrumptious to join us on another trip to Sage.  This time we ordered the Argentinian Bruschetta with Chimichurri appetizer.  Did I mention that you can awesomely order from either the lunch or dinner menu during dinner hours?  I wish more restaurants would let you do that.

I’m not sure what all the components were in this dish but basically it was an array of tasty things piled upon lightly toasted bread.

Craig liked his bite of the tofu burrito so much from our last visit that he ordered it on this go around.  Kirby opted for the Jack Daniels Barbecue Jackfruit.

This was a knock-out sandwich.  Our only complain is that it was too spicy.  Kirby can handle spice much better than I can but even she was chugging water the whole meal.

I went for the French Grain Bowl which is a melange of grains, lentils, and veggies.

I absolutely loved this dish.  It was simple but really flavorful.  I didn’t even bother using the orange fennel sauce (it tastes basically like straight up OJ and I didn’t want all that sweetness to drown out the other flavors.)  The artichoke puree atop the little toast was super scrumptious and I am already looking up recipes to figure out how to duplicate it.  According to Lex at the Healthy Vegans, the chef will even prepare you a fat-free version of this upon request.

In lieu of dessert, I picked up a pack of KindKreme’s raw chocolate truffles to take home.  Rich, silky, decadent, and full of super chocolate super powers..  that’s all I need to say about them…except this: BUY THESE AND PUT THEM IN SOMEONE’S EASTER BASKET.  The recipient will love you for life.

I am essentially head over heels for Sage Bistro.  The only problem with my two visits there was the service was incredibly janky.  Our first night my friend ordered a soup that never showed up.  On the second night, our food took over 45 minutes to show up–including our appetizer.  This was actually quite a pain as Kirby was aching with hunger pains and I, for one, like my appetizer to come out ASAP.  But Sage just opened and I think it is a rule somewhere in the International Food Critic’s Guide to Restaurant Reviews that you can’t fault a restaurant for bad service until they have been open for over six months.

I am more than happy to give Sage some time to work out the kinks in their service.  I am dying to try their brunch which looks absolutely epic.

Brunch with Friends at Flore…the Perfect Weekend Morning

There are few things I love more than brunch at Flore.  When my friends Emily and Derek were in town from Oregon last weekend and suggested we go there with the rest of our gang, I was pumped.

My friend and I shared two dishes.  I got the Tofu Benediction with tempeh bacon as my side.  Baked tofu, tomatoes, avocado, and kale with a creamy hollandaise are served over toast (I opted for the delicious millet bread to make the dish gluten-free.)  I wonder if they make that bread in-house or if they buy it–it tastes so much like regular bread!


My friend ordered the Chicken and Waffles which comes with some sort of yummy banana waffle.  This is an ideal brunch dish as it has both the salty and the sweet going on.

Every vegan loves when their omnivore friends are shocked at how “real” meat analogues can taste, but it’s even better when said friends say this not just to placate you but because they really mean it.  My friends kept saying repeatedly how chicken-y the “chicken” is.  I was surprised when they waiter told us it isn’t made with seitan but with tofu.  Now I really don’t know how they achieve the meaty texture.

Another dish that I tried at our table was the Southwestern Tofu Scramble.  It needed a few shakes of salt and pepper, but other than that it was scrump.

I am not shy about eating the scraps of food my friends leave behind on their plates, so I think I probably cumulatively ended up eating enough food to last me the whole week.  Oops, my b!  Flore continues to impress me and my friends so I hope they keep doing what they’re doing.

Healthy at Hugo’s

It might seem a tad inconsistent that I often refer to my abstention of fats, sugar, and gluten while my recent posts have all been full of decadent junk food.  This is because, while I am diligent about my healthy diet and I prefer whole foods to processed ones, I am not militant about it–especially when I’m on vacation.  The food I eat on an everyday basis is very boring: a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and usually some assortment of veggies and legumes for dinner.  It’s just food that is generally not very blog-worthy.  When I’m on vacation or there is a special occasion, I am more than happy to indulge in treats.

Today I needed to recover from the boozery of yesterday.  I started the day out with a quick four mile run and then met my friend, Jeanine, for a class at Pop Physique in Studio City.  I had the Kelp Noodle Bowl and Jeanine had the The Power of Green Salad (pics are from my crappy cell phone camera.)  Both are nutritional powerhouses.  My dish had ginger, sea vegetables, and sprouts among other superfoods, and was extremely tasty.

Both were great options for a post-workout dish.  You don’t want to negate all the hard work you just did with an unhealthy meal!  I love love love that the kelp bowl comes with a mango-sesame dressing that is oil-free.  Hugo’s has so many great healthy options and they also have choices for days when you want to indulge.  Regardless of what you order, you can be sure you will be getting good clean, organic food at Hugo’s.

Kind Kreme: Ice cream that does a body good

Kind Kreme is one of the best things to happen to the L.A food scene in a long time.  Their ice cream and soft serve is completely raw, vegan, and organic.  Now I lurrrve me some Scoops, but there hasn’t been a place in all of Los Angeles county where one could get a proper banana split until Kind Kreme came along.

Their ice cream is wonderful but I am a sucker for vegan soft serve.  Dairy-free soft serve is much harder to come by than dairy-free ice cream so when there is a chance for me to have it, I take it!  On a recent visit my friend ordered a soft serve cone (chocolate and vanilla swirled) while I ordered the same swirl in a cup with salted caramel sauce.  Salty sweet sauce with vanilla and chocolate soft serve?  Heaven.  Kind Kreme takes me back to the days when my grandma would take me to Hudson’s department store for a swirled cone.  Except Kind Kreme’s has flecks of real vanilla bean in it.  (At least I think that’s what it is!)  I was shocked to hear the soft serve has something like 4 ingredients in it total.  Makes me wonder how everyone else can go get that chemical stuff from Pinkberry and the like.

New brunch items at Flore!

Madeleine Bistro is my all-time favorite vegan restaurant.  But Flore is firmly at the number two spot.  I love it because the menu really ranges from light, healthy fare to more indulgent treats, but all the while using fresh, whole foods.  I had brunch there last weekend and was excited to see a couple new items had been added to the menu since my last visit.

“The Good Morning” may seem a bit mundane to some, but to me it is totally ideal.  This dish consists of fresh fruit with soy yogurt, toast with soy butter and jam, a glass of fresh pressed orange juice, and your choice of coffee or hot tea.  Because Flore is always willing to accommodate, my server made my fruit bowl without any cantaloupe (which makes me GAG, blech) or even fruit that had come in contact with that gross, slimy melon.  For my toast I said ixnay to the butter and opted for the spelt bread.  You could also choose 6-grain, sourdough, or rye but honestly the spelt is just so perfect for toast (and is the healthiest choice) you shouldn’t even worry yourself with the other options!  The Good Morning is basic but totally hits the spot.  I must must must find out where Flore gets their jam.  It has chunks of real fruit in it (some apple I think?) and is just absolutely incredible!

My friend was eying the breakfast burrito, but I coerced her into ordering the new Biscuits and Gravy.  I’m constantly hearing about the amazing vegan biscuits and gravy at vegan restaurants in other parts of the U.S., but L.A. is seriously lacking when it comes to this southern delicacy.  Until now, that is, for I can assure you that Flore’s version is epic: two big melt-in-your-mouth biscuits smothered in creamy gravy and topped with seitan sausage.  I came very close to licking the last dregs of gravy right off the plate (and it wasn’t even mine!)  This is a must-try meal for any Angeleno vegan.

We were stuffed but I’ve been itching to try one of Flore’s raw shakes to see how it compares to the ones at Sunpower Natural Cafe, so my friend and I decided to split one.  We went for the Raw Chocolate Shake made with cacao, almonds, agave, and banana.  While it was no match for the impossibly creamy epiphany that is Sunpower’s Cacao Superfood Shake, Flore’s shake was taaaasty.  It is on the thin side, which is fine by me because unlike the cashew-packed drink at Sunpower, I don’t have to feel guilty afterward about consuming copious amounts of fat.  You can also definitely taste the banana, which I don’t prefer, but nonetheless, I chugged this cold guy back in less than 2 minutes.  I will definitely order this again to take along on strolls through the neighborhood.  It’s a perfect drink for a hot summer day.

Get ye to Flore Cafe pronto for some mega brunch action!

Oh…and stay tuned for an awesome giveaway I’ll be doing in the next day or so!

Flore
3818 W. Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA  90026
323.953.0611

Scrumptious Specials at Hugo’s Restaurant

You know you are a food nerd when at the beginning of each month, you find yourself constantly refreshing a restaurant’s homepage in anticipation of the release of their new specials.  This is the situation in which I often find myself with Hugo’s Restaurant.  Hugo’s regular menu is rife with amazing vegan dishes, but their specials menu tends to be extra incredible.  With that in mind, the delightful Vegyogini and I set off to lunch at Hugo’s Studio City location this past weekend.

We ended up ordering the exact same thing right down to the substitution of fruit salad for the side caeser salad.  The Sprouted Grain Ezekial Tortilla Bowl just sounded too good to pass up.  The dish is a blend of roasted veggies with brown rice, quinoa and pico de gallo, and is all jumbled up with pipian sauce (as the menu explains, it’s a member of the mole family).  The whole grains added a nice starchy factor that bound all the veggies together.  The pipian gave the whole mix a slightly nutty flavor.

As Vegyogini pointed out, now we finally know what to do with those darn Ezekial tortillas–because anyone who has every used them knows they  don’t wrap without breaking!  Now I just need Vegyogini to duplicate this dish complete with the instructions for making the bowl itself and the ingredients in the very unique pipian.  (Vegyo–Get on that please–I need to start making this at home until Hugo’s decides to put this on their permanent menu!)

It turns out, I couldn’t stop dreaming about the other  July specials, so I went back to Hugo’s the very next day!  I ordered the Sprouted Red Lentil Eggless Omelette.  Our waitress gladly subbed some brown rice for the turmeric rice and left off the yogurt.

The “omelette” is really more of a big fluffy pancake wrapped around sauteed veggies and covered in Hugo’s own tiki masala sauce (Let it be known, I would probably eat tree bark if it were covered in that amazing masala).  I doused the rice in the uber-flavorful tomato and cilantro-mint chutneys.  This is yet another special I’d like to see on the regular menu!

The boyfriend couldn’t resist ordering the infamous Soul Food Plate.  I’ll let the menu do the talking on this one: “BBQ organic tofu steak served with vegan and gluten-free corn bread topped with cauliflower florets covered in a mushroom leek gravy. Served with sides of braised leafy greens with garlic and onions and spiced maple roasted yams.”

I was particularly impressed with the cornbread and maple yams.  The maple was not overpowering so it was the perfect level of sweetness.  The cornbread had an amazing texture, and it too was not overly sweet.  The gravy on the cauliflower was also pretty special.  I love me a good vegan gravy!  The greens and tofu steak were not very memorable–just some basic, clean food.  This dish is the perfect size to split with someone else.

Now you better race off to Hugo’s quick because you only have 2.5 days left to experience these delightful July specials.  The good news is that that means I only have to wait 2.5 days until the August specials are revealed!

P.S.  I have been an absentee blogger as of late, but I’ve really been missing it.  So please stay tuned for more frequent posts on ¡Yo Soy!

Hugo’s Restaurant
12851 Riverside Dr.
Studio City, CA  91607
818.761.8985