Category Archives: Restaurants

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.


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.

Portland: Our Last Day

We started our last day in Portland with a trip to Washington Park.  The weather was so awesomely fall-ish and their were plenty of crunchy leaves on the ground.  We hiked through the park to the rose garden which has a bazillion different varietals of roses all in one spot.  The garden also provides an awesome panorama of the city.  The Japanese Garden is what we really wanted to see and it really lived up to the hype.  It was so lush and quiet.  Here is the quintessential shot of me ambling over a babbling brook:

Coming from L.A., the vibrant greenery was a shock to my senses.  In Southern California it’s easy to forget that other parts of the U.S. have bright green grass and real trees with leaves.  I didn’t photoshop the colors in the photo below one bit! I’m gonna go ahead and stamp Washington Park with a “must see” for when you visit Portland.

For lunch we headed to the Alberta Arts District, a super cute part of town that is very reminiscent of Silver Lake/Echo Park here in L.A.  We opted for the very-highly recommended Vita Cafe.

I started off with some really good herbal ice tea that was served, adorably, by in a mason jar.

I ordered the mac ‘n’ cheese with added broccoli.  It was very bland and wasn’t even remotely cheesy.  It was more of a plain cream sauce than anything else.  The broccoli was also plain–there was no seasoning in sight.

My boyfriend ordered the nachos and could not stop raving about them.  I agree they were pretty damn delicious.

The biscuits and gravy were ordered were not so delicious.  In fact they were downright inedible.  The gravy was waaaay oversalted.  It had absolutely no flavor beyond the power-salt.  The biscuits themselves were the sort of dense hockey pucks that would earn you an F in your basic high school Home Ec class.  I should have sent them back but, as it were, my hangover zapped me of the energy to do so.  I was really surprised because I have heard so many people rave about this dish at Vita Cafe.  I know people claim that Portland has the best vegan biscuits and gravy, but I don’t see how anyone could beat Flore’s version down here.  Overall, Vita Cafe was a definite disappointment for me.

Conveniently located a couple doors down from the disappointing Vita Cafe is the adorable and teeny-tiny Dovetail Bakery.

It was hard to choose from the selection of treats, but I finally opted for a cinnamon roll and an apricot-millet muffin to bring back to L.A.  The cinnamon roll turned out to be everything that the one from Sweetpea Baking Company was not: soft, flaky, and oozing with cinnamon-sugar goodness.

The apricot-millet muffin was perfect; the millet added a nice crunch.  It kinda makes me want to add millet to every baked good I make.

There is no doubt that Portland is a very cool city, and I had a great time there.  I know I was only there briefly and only ate at a small percentage of the city’s vegan joints…but I can’t help but question the city’s “Vegan Mecca” title.  I much prefer my L.A. restaurants to the ones I tried in Oregon.  However, PDX definitely has us beat when it comes to baked goods.  We need to open more all-vegan bakery storefronts for sure.  And where oh where is our vegan donut shop?!

Cinema and Donuts

Before I go in to my discovery of the perfect vegan donut, I’d like to recommend that you get to your local movie theater ASAP.  The current menu of films is muy excellente.  There are three movies I have seen in late 2010 that I cannot stop thinking: The Social Network, 127 Hours, and Black Swan.  You need to see each of them pronto!  Well, technically Black Swan hasn’t been released yet but when it comes out on December 3rd you should be first in line.  It is soooo freaky and so good.  Even if you aren’t down with the freaky, it’s impossible to not be awed by the ballet scenes.

I’m particularly enthused because I thought last year’s crop of award contenders was incredibly lackluster (Up in the Air?!  That snoozefest is Oscar worthy?  Am I the only person that finds that ludicris?)  But this year there has already been a slew of great flicks and there are only more to come!  The industry is already abuzz about Another Year, The King’s Speech, True Grit, and The Fighter and they all come out before year’s end.  But seriously…Black Swan, Black Swan, Black Swan.

Now back to this donut.  I came across it serendipitously at a Whole Foods in Berkeley.  We were perusing the salad bar so my mom could get some food for her flight back to the east coast when I spied a small selection of vegan donuts in the bakery case.  I couldn’t resist indulging when I spotted my favorite donut flavor of all time–cinnamon sugar.  A basic flavor, yes, but it is nonetheless one I have never come across in my vegan donutting adventures.  While I recently raved about Voodoo Donut in Portland (and I still stick by said rave), this little donut made by Posh Bakery in Santa Clara was the kind that just melts right on your tongue.  Its super-fine sugar topping and buttery insides lived up to my memory of my old flame–Dunkin Donut’s Cinnamon Crumb.  You Northern Californians have it so good.  We have a dearth of donuts down here while you can just get the creme de la creme of the orbicular pastries by walking into any ole Whole Foods.  But of course, down here we have cool movie screenings, so it all evens out!

Cinnaholic: The 100% Vegan Cinnamon Roll Joint

On my recent trip to Northern California, my mom and I spent an afternoon strolling around Berkeley.  We absolutely had to stop in to Cinnaholic–the world’s first all-vegan cinnamon roll shop (well, I’m just assuming it’s the world’s first.  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)  At this adorable little shop there are endless combos of icing flavors and toppings.  My mom opted for a classic cinnamon roll with plain frosting while I went for pumpkin icing with cookie dough on top, with some vanilla soymilk to wash it all down.

Before entering the place, I had mentally prepared myself for the postprandial sugar-coma I assumed would ensue.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cinnamon rolls, while definitely decadent, were not the sickeningly sweet fat-bombs I used to eat every time I found myself within spitting distance of an airport Cinnabon.  These rolls were perfectly buttery while still flaky.  The icings, which are flavored using extracts, aren’t applied with a heavy hand, so they don’t drown the roll and turn it to mush.

If you aren’t feeling very inventive, Cinnaholic offers a menu of their own creations, such as this strawberry pie roll, complete with oatmeal crumble topping.

Cinnaholic is such a rare gem.  It’s not often one finds a bakery where you can walk in and order absolutely anything off the menu, knowing it is guaranteed to be vegan  I think they should expand tout-de-suite and open their second location in L.A.  Hell, they are so good, I’d be willing to buy my own Cinnaholic franchise and open it up myself!

2132 Oxford St.
Berkeley, CA 94704

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.

Reasons why the LA Vegan Beer Fest was the best beer fest ever!

I just got back from the LA Vegan Beer Fest where I had a great time.  I’ve been to three other beer festivals this year and honestly, this one was by far the best.  Here is why (aside from the obvious bonus–everything was vegan!):

1) No long lines. I am used to waiting in line for each pour, but today you were able to get refill after refill without any wait.  Same with all the food trucks!

2) The crowd was fun and friendly. Some beer fests tend to attract angry, macho types which doesn’t make for the best vibe.  The patrons of the LA Vegan Beer Fest were an electic mix of people just looking to have a good time.

3) Excellent organization. We didn’t run into any of the hassles that plague many beer festivals. such as not having enough bathrooms, confusion at the box office, or having no place to sit.  The most common problem in my experience is the vendors running out of beer early in the day.  Not the case at today’s event!  The breweries were all good to pour until last call.

4) THE FOOD. I never understand why a lot of beer festivals don’t have much in the way of food.  When you drink a lot of beer you get hungry!  That’s just basic science!  The food vendors at the Roxy were all excellent.  I snuck bites of everything my friends got so I ate quite the array.  I had a classic falafal sandwich from Yalla Truck with some super garlic-y fries from Fresh Fries.  I stole some of Kirby‘s hummus nachos from Sea Birds and devoured the chocolate-covered bacon that she got from Doomie’s (whose jalapeno poppers were apparently the hit of the day because they sold out!  I can attest–they were extremely tasty.)  I had to end the day with a sweet, so I indulged in a vanilla chai cupcake from Sea Birds that hit the spot.

5) The beer, of course! Every brewery I tried had good stuff, but once I got a taste of the pear and black currant ciders from Stone Brewery, I couldn’t bring myself to drink anything else.

6) Jesus was there. The holy guy doesn’t just show up at any ole festival, so you know this one had to be pretty special.

Thank you so much to QuarryGirl, Tony’s Darts Away, and The Roxy for hosting this awesome event.  I hope they make it a yearly happening (or monthly!  or weekly! …a girl can dream…)