August 1, 2012

California Makes Being Vegan A Breeze

Hello friends, long time no see! I've been soaking up the sun (and inhaling vegan food at lightning speed) for the past week, and boy was it fun. It was my first time in California and I spent the week in Pasadena, LA, Hollywood, and Santa Monica. While the most exciting part of my trip was probably happening into a shoe store that Reese Witherspoon was shopping in at the same time, the abundance of vegan food everywhere was definitely thrilling. For this post I'm going to highlight some of my favorite spots that I ate at. There was literally a vegan restaurant on every block and the restaurants that weren't vegan had so many vegan options! It was so easy being vegan there! The best part about eating at all these delicious restaurants, was the fact that I was with my family and they all got different and equally delicious dishes at all of these restaurants! All restaurants were all vegan unless I specifically say that they were not. Here are my favorite places:

(this is not the salad I got, but it sure does look good!)
The Veggie Grill
Santa Monica, California (They have several other locations)
What I Had: Baja Fiesta Salad, Mac-n-Cheese
The food here was to die for! Holy moly, was my salad delicious and filling. And unlike a lot of vegan mac-n-cheese out there, theirs actually tasted exactly like mac-n-cheese! Soooo Good!

Golden Mean
Santa Monica, California
What I Had: Garden Vegetable Wrap, Slice of Almond Vanilla Cake (i think)
Once again, this wrap was outstanding. It was huge and I ate the whole thing! I don't remember exactly what kind of cake it was, but I think it was almond and vanilla. It was so sweet (but not toooo sweet) and so moist. The best cake I've had in a long time, including non-vegan cake.

My Vegan
Pasadena, California
What I Had:  P.E.T. (a stir-fry dish with pumpkin in it!)
This was seriously the best stir-fry I have ever had. It was very different, because there was pumpkin in it, which I have never had in a stir-fry dish before. It was amazing! This restaurant was an asian/thai/fusion restaurant.
not what I got at Real Food Daily, but appetizing nonetheless!

Real Food Daily
Pasadena, California (There are several locations) 
What I Had: Living Wrap, Red Head Juice
My wrap was really good. The only thing I didn't like was that it was wrapped in a collard green. I am just not a fan of raw collard greens, so this was a bit hard for me to eat. The filling though was so delicious. The Red Head juice was really good if you like beets in your smoothies and juices. It was comprised of beet, carrot, celery, and apple. It was sweet, but personally it was too "beety" for me. When the rest of my family tried it, they liked it, so if you like beets, you will love it!

Mendocino Farms
Los Angeles, California (There are several locations)
What I Had: Traditional Vegan Club and a side of pesto pasta
While this restaurant was not completely vegan, there were a lot of great vegan options. My sandwich was great and so was my pesto pasta. The food also came out fast!

Pizzeria Moza
Los Angeles, California 
What I Had: Farro with sungold tomatoes and cucumbers, and a cheeseless pizza
You know a restaurant is going to be good when the entire menu is in italian! This was also not a completely vegan restaurant, but there were so many cheeseless pizzas, there were no problems finding something to eat. The farro appetizer was the most incredible farro dish I've ever had in my life! Probably the best appetizer I have ever had. Seriously! The pizza was also just as delicious. The waiters were super friendly and nice, and the restaurant had a really fun atmosphere.

To quote Mark Bittman, “Vegan or not, gluten-free or not, Erin McKenna’s donuts are the best I’ve had in 20 years, without exception.” Thank you LA Weekly for naming us as one of LA’s top 10 donuts!! See who else made the list here. We love LA!!
I almost got a donut, but that cupcake was just screaming my name!

Babycakes NYC
Los Angeles, California
What I Had: Brownie Cupcake with Mint Frosting
Holy crap. Let me say that again. Hooooly Crap. This cupcake was heaven. Literally. If you had to transform heaven into a food, it would be this cupcake. Wow was it good. You have no idea how excited I was when I found out there was a Babycakes in LA. I nearly died. I have known about the Babycakes bakery in NYC for years and have always wanted to go. I bought one of their cookbooks awhile back and have made several unbelievable desserts from it, including my boyfriends favorite chocolate chip cookies that I make him on special occasions. This was definitely my favorite dessert that I had while in California!

Violet's Cakes
Pasadena, California
What I Had: Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting
This bakery is not an all vegan bakery, but everyday they have one vegan/gluten-free cupcake. Though they don't specialize in vegan baking like Babycakes, they still do an outstanding job baking vegan desserts. This cupcake was fantastic!

Kind Kreme
Pasadena, California
What I Had: Coconut ice cream
This all-vegan ice shop was awesome! There were so many flavors to choose from and they had so much more than just ice cream. While I did not enjoy my ice cream as much as the ice cream that I get at the place I go to at home, the ice cream was still quite excellent.

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