I know I give L.A. a hard time. Can’t help help myself, what with it being so easy and fun. I just don’t think it counts as a city, but rather a really big suburb of the ghost of the city it used to be (maybe). And it’s not as progressive or veg-friendly as the rest of the world would probably imagine it.
A few places made “I don’t want to cook” days a little easier. These are the carry-out or delivery places, not the sit-down ones, because if I didn’t feel like cooking, I sure as hell didn’t feel like looking halfway presentable and dealing with the public.
Any place that delivers to both your office and home gets at least a blue star, but Vegan Glory gets a gold for having the coolest delivery guy, a little hip-hop’d-out Asian guy probably in his 40s with a safety pin through his ear. Pretty standard thai fare, mostly organic, and msg-free. Most of their dishes were available with your choice of soy meat (chicken, steak, or fish), seitan, or tofu. The only thing we ever tried was the soy chicken, and that was all we needed to try. I’ve been with several omnis who ate the soy chicken, and nobody was grossed out by it. Tom really dug the curries and I almost always ordered the spicy fried rice. And there were always leftovers.
The first time we tried Mao’s Kitchen was in Venice. We’d had a friend in town, so where else are you going to go, right? The Mexican place we used to go to had closed, so we wandered a bit and found this crazy commie place—of course we were eating there! The we realized there was one about a mile from our place, on Melrose just off La Brea. It’s omni but very veg-friendly, with most dishes available with either smoked or fried tofu. My favorite was the fried rice with fried tofu—probably a half pound of tofu. This was easily three meals for $8. Tom stood by his kungpao tofu. I’m working on cracking their recipe for onion pancakes, but I’ll never figure out the homemade ginger ale. I’ll miss it. And standing by the motto “Serve the people!” they have a ginormous $1 spring roll and a $1 salad. Oh, and conscientious? We ordered delivery once with an omni friend. Because he ordered something nonvegan, they called us to confirm. Wow.
Astro Burger was a guilty pleasure. Nothing special, just plain ol’ fast food. But there were days I wanted plain ol’ fast food. They carry a bunch of Gardenburger stuff and label vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. There’s a trick to it, though. You have to go to the right one because not all Astro Burgers are created equal. They have different menus; the one on Melrose & Gower in Hollywood was way better than the one on Santa Monica in West Hollywood.
All right, I’ll give you one sit-down place: Tai Yo. It’s a little Japanese joint right next to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on Franklin. The biggest veg sushi selection I’ve ever seen, and if you were with fish-eaters, you could ask them to keep the veg ones separate…and they would! This is where I had the roll I have yet to duplicate but will: asparagus, spinach, green been & avocado (i think that’s it, maybe cucumber). No Web site for them, and the citysearch listing has three old, really negative reviews. Dunno about that. I’ve always been happy there…as were the fellas, what with the hot waitresses and all.