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Organix, Eagle Rock

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I had recently heard of Organix via an Instagram post from Vegan Fat Kid.  The burgers looked amazing, so I made a mental note to try it sometime soon.  Eric and I went to see his mom in Echo Park and stopped in Eagle Rock to pick up some Organix to go.  It’s a seriously tiny restaurant in a small market, so we picked up a few things to try and some nacho cheeze sauce I had been craving.

I ordered the Castro burger, described as, “our Mildly Spicy Signature Burger made from Butternut Squash, Black Beans, Quinoa, Pumpkin Seeds, Oats and many herbs and spices, spicy jalapeno cheese, Grilled Onions and our signature house made Chipotle Aoli, Lettuce and Tomato on a wheat bun.”  It was a little messy, but very good.  I loved how the elements in the burger worked together.  The spiciness and cheesiness were really my favorite parts.

Organix - Castro Burger | A Vegan in Progress

Eric ordered the Southern Belle, “Battered and Panko Fried Vegan Chicken Patty, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy on a Potato Bun.”  I stole a bite and found it really tasty.  He loved it – mashed potatoes, gravy, this was right up his alley!

Organix - Southern Belle | A Vegan in ProgressThe fries were a little soggy due to the 20 minute drive from the restaurant to my in-laws, but were seasoned well.

We also got some zucchini fries…

zucchini friesAnd the vegan chicken tenders

Chicken fingersOverall, it was a really tasty meal and the staff (I think it was the owner, actually) was really friendly.  I will definitely be back.

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Vegan at The Counter

I have been to The Counter, a burger chain restaurant in the past, but it was before I went vegan.  Early in my vegan days, I did some online searching and found that their veggie burger patty wasn’t vegan (I believe it had egg in it), so I didn’t think about going back until I heard recently that they now offer a Vegan Veggie patty.

Eric and I were out shopping and passed a location of The Counter, so we stopped in on a whim to try it again.  I tried to quickly look up if any of the buns were vegan, but their website isn’t very mobile-friendly.  I asked the waitress and was told that none of the buns were vegan.  I was initially really irritated.  What is the point of having a vegan patty if you don’t offer any vegan buns?  Buns don’t need animal products.  I just don’t get it.  They’ll be getting an email from me about that.

UPDATE:  The always knowledgeable Insufferable Vegan has since let me know that the ciabatta buns are vegan.  The CEO of The Counter has confirmed it.  I knew I had seen this information somewhere, but we just stopped in on a whim, so I didn’t have time to check into it in advance.  Good move, The Counter, offering a fully vegan burger option!  However, I have to say that my husband has told people since our visit that you just get so much more food when ordering it in a bowl and I have to agree that it was pretty great that way.

I opted to have my vegan burger in a bowl (this costs an extra $1 – what the hell, The Counter?!) with organic mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted corn and black bean salsa, roasted green chiles, roasted red peppers, and housemade guacamole (a premium topping for $1.25 extra) with Sweet BBQ sauce.  I ended up with a sorta Tex-Mex BBQ salad.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for a list of all vegan options.

Build Your Own Burger, The Counter | A Vegan in Progress

It was actually very tasty and extremely filling.  The patty was warm and had visible pieces of veggies in it.  You can see what looks like spinach, red pepper, carrots, black beans, and corn in the second photo.  The patty was really hearty and immensely preferable to the microwaved veggie patties at Red Robin.

Eric and I ordered large fries to share, which turned out to be way too much.  They were shoestring cut and I commented that they were well cooked, since shoestring fries tend to be floppy or burned.  Eric said that it’s because they are twice-fried.

Large French Fries, The Counter | A Vegan in Progress

The burger in a bowl option is really tasty and I look forward to trying their ciabatta bun on a future visit!

FYI:  the allergens are listed on their website, and the following items are marked as vegan.

Sauces

  • Apricot Sauce
  • Dijon Balsamic Dressing
  • Ginger Soy Glaze
  • Habanero Salsa
  • Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Red Relish
  • Sweet BBQ Sauce

Sides

  • French Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • 50/50 – Fries/Sweet Potato Fries
  • Side Salad
  • Grilled Vegetable Plate

Patties

  • Vegan Veggie Burger Patty

Buns

  • Ciabatta (according to the CEO, but not yet listed on their allergens page)

Toppings

  • Baby Spinach
  • Bermuda Red Onion
  • Black Olives
  • Carrot Strings
  • Dill Pickle Chips
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Grilled Onions
  • Grilled Pineapple
  • Jalapeños
  • Lettuce Blend
  • Organic Mixed Greens
  • Roasted Chiles
  • Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Scallions
  • Sliced Cucumbers
  • Spicy Pepperoncinis
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes

Premium Toppings (extra charge)

  • Avocado
  • Housemade Guacamole
  • Sautéed Mushrooms
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Beverages

  • Fresh Iced Tea
  • Still/Sparkling Water
  • Soda – All

That’s the entire list from their website as of 2/8/14.  I haven’t left anything out, anything I didn’t list isn’t vegan.  You can use this post as your mobile-friendly cheat sheet since their website doesn’t work well on mobile devices.  You’re welcome!

*Marinated Artichokes is oddly listed as not vegan, but it doesn’t say what’s in it.  It might be worth clarifying with the staff if you’re interested.

Native Foods, Palm Springs

The day after Christmas this year, Eric and I went to Palm Springs for a few days to stay at a timeshare that my bosses have.  They said they know that I have been working really hard and they appreciated it.  They almost never come in anymore… I run the office and email them everything.  I know it’s really important for them to have someone they trust in the office and for me, it’s important to have bosses who appreciate me.

Before going, I hadn’t done any research into places I could eat.  The timeshare complex that we stayed at had a kitchen in each apartment along with a barbeque, so we planned to cook for ourselves a lot of the time.  One night, he barbequed and I put some vegan frozen burger patties wrapped in foil on the grill.  I topped the “chicken” patty with sriracha, guacamole, and a slice of tomato for a supremely yummy burger.

One day, we decided to go dutch for lunch, thinking that we could each get something at different nearby restaurants (we often do that when we find ourselves hungry in food courts and such), so I googled vegan restaurants in the area.  To my surprise, Native Foods popped up and was less than 2 miles from where we were staying.

Native Foods, like Veggie Grill, is a popular, pretty inexpensive vegan restaurant.  I’ve heard about it since I went vegan, but never had the chance to try it.  They have a few locations that aren’t too far away from where we live (about 25 minutes), but I’m not really one to fight the 405 freeway for some quick dinner.  So, I was thrilled to get a chance to try it while in Palm Springs!  I later found out that this was their original location, tucked away in a courtyard of shops and restaurants.

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The line was a little long when I walked in, but that’s okay because having a full menu to choose from makes it tough to decide!  I was torn between the Scorpion Burger, the Mambo Italiano Wrap, and the Twister Wrap, but I decided on the Scorpion Burger because it was the daily special and came with a free side.  I chose fries as my free side. I also ordered the Sicilian Caponata Crostini.  Then I signed up for their rewards program and got a free drink.  There were a few house-made cold drinks: Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Fresca, and Iced Tea.  I went with the Lavender Lemonade, which was delicious and refreshing.

Native Foods, Palm Springs - Sicilian Caponata Crostini | A Vegan in Progress

The Sicilian Caponata Crostini is a starter, described as, “savory roasted eggplant, tomatoes, caramelized onions and red peppers in a balsamic reduction with fresh basil, capers and currants on garlic crostini.  It was a great start to the meal.  Although, at $6.95, it was more than $1 per piece, so I wouldn’t likely order them again.

Native Foods, Palm Springs - Scorpion Burger | A Vegan in Progress

The Scorpion Burger is described as, “our original Native Tempeh burger! Homemade blackened Tempeh, chipotle sauce, romaine, carrots, avocado and onions.”  The Tempeh was very good blackened, but in comparison to store bought tempeh (which I am most used to), the tempeh seemed to be made of much smaller pieces of soybeans.  This wasn’t good or bad, just something I noticed.  I liked the mound of carrots and avocado on top.  The chipotle sauce was great.  The only thing I didn’t like was the fries.  They were cooked fine, but I hate shoestring fries.

Native Foods, Palm Springs - Scorpion Burger | A Vegan in Progress

My first visit to Native Foods was great.  The staff was very friendly and helpful and the restaurant was cute.  I really loved how their menu described each of the Native Meats and their Native Cheese (made with cashews and sunflower seeds) so that, if you’re unfamiliar with things like tempeh or seitan or even how a vegan cheese is made, you get a little description of each.  The weather in Palm Springs was perfect, so it was nice that they had a lot of outdoor seating.  My only complaint was that I waited 30 minutes to get my food, while people seated around me who had ordered after me were being served.  I was really impatient and hungry by the time they finally brought me my dish.  This is the only reason we didn’t go back to Native Foods one more time before leaving town – I didn’t want to wait.  I’m sure I will be back, though, to other locations.  There’s still a lot of potentially delicious items on their menu waiting for me to try them!

Vegan at The Brite Spot, Echo Park, Los Angeles

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The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

The Brite Spot is a small diner located practically walking distance from my in laws’ home.  While visiting one weekend, Eric’s mom suggested we visit the establishment for dinner.  We sat on their cute little patio off of Sunset Boulevard.

The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

I was very pleased to see that there were vegan-friendly items on the menu and then noticed the ever so exciting “vegan menu available upon request” line at the bottom of the menu.  The vegan menu isn’t too shabby; including oatmeal, granola, fries, vegetable soup, vegan chili, nachos (strangely, without vegan cheese), 4 salads, a veggie ciabatta, 2 burgers, pasta, and enchiladas.

vegan menu - The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

I noticed that the standard menu listed a Veggie Club Sandwich with soy chicken, veggie bacon, soy swiss, and house made veganaise.  I was surprised to see that the club wasn’t on the vegan menu, so I inquired… the soy cheese is lactose free, but not completely vegan.

bagel burger with vegan potato salad - The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

I ended up ordering the Bagel Burger, which is a flame grilled soy patty (kind of a sausage consistency), lettuce, tomato, red onion, vegan cream cheese, and chipotle veganaise, on a toasted bagel with a side of Vegan Potato Salad.

bagel burger - The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

I loved the sandwich, but it was on the dry side.  The chipotle veganaise was good, but I think they may have been out of vegan cream cheese because I didn’t see or taste any.

vegan potato salad - The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

The Vegan Potato Salad tasted incredibly fresh and yummy.  I was never a fan of potato salad, but I loved this vegan version with its mix of chunky potato pieces with more mashed potatoes, fresh dill and mustard flavors.  I would order it again for sure.

French Fries - The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

I also had a french fry or two from my husband’s meal.  We both commented that they seemed double fried because they were crunchy without being overcooked.

If I were to give one suggestion to The Brite Spot, it would be to offer a vegan cheese option as well to add cheese to their vegan nachos as well as make a vegan club sandwich.  I mean, since when do nachos not have cheese?  And what is the point of a soy cheese that isn’t vegan?

The Brite Spot has been at this location longer than I have been familiar with the area.  Our waitress informed us that the restaurant had not changed ownership, but the owners had made significant changes to their menu.  The bottom line is that this diner is a great place for dining with omnivores.  There are more than a handful of vegan options and everyone leaves pleased.  I would definitely recommend it.

The Brite Spot, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan at Coral Tree Cafe, Encino

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Eric and I love this cafe in Encino.  We have been several times before, although I believe this was the first time we had been since I became vegan.  It’s a popular weekend spot with both indoor and outdoor seating.  One particular morning we saw Wilmer Valderrama and dined next to and chatted with Dave Grohl and his family.

Their regular menu is clearly marked for vegetarian options and they also have a small, separate menu of their vegan options.

Vegan menu - Coral Tree Cafe | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan menu

Eric and I sat outside because it was a beautiful day.

I had their fresh mint tea and their vegan veggie burger on a ciabatta roll.  From what I could see in the patty, it had rice, peas, corn, black beans, peppers, and possibly sweet potatoes.  It was really tasty, but not very warm.  Overall, it was a very satisfying meal.

Veggie burger - Coral Tree Cafe | A Vegan in Progress

veggie burger - Coral Tree Cafe | A Vegan in Progress

I really like the options at this cafe and the ambiance is just as good.  Next time, I plan to try the panini!

The Vegan Joint, Woodland Hills – Post 2

I have already talked about The Vegan Joint, but I thought that I could do multiple reviews of restaurants as I make subsequent visits.  Click here to see previous posts about The Vegan Joint.

This place is really close to home and the price is right, so when we are thinking fast food, this is often where we go.

This time we shared the Fresh Spring Roll with Peanut Sauce, which was pretty good.  I guess I just like them crispy.

The Vegan Joint - Fresh Spring Roll | A Vegan in Progress

Fresh Spring Roll

On a visit a while back, I ordered the Garlic Chicken Wrap because I love me some garlic soy chicken.  It was basically like the burger, but in a wrap.  It includes grilled garlic chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts.

The Vegan Joint - Garlic Chicken Wrap | A Vegan in Progress

Garlic Chicken Wrap

On a more recent visit, I got the Tofu Cashew Nuts dish, but substituted soy chicken instead of tofu.  It was super tasty and right up there with the quality Garlic Chicken Burger.  Please excuse the extreme close up… I had eaten about half of it and the plate wasn’t pretty.

The Vegan Joint - Soy Chicken and Cashew Nuts | A Vegan in Progress

Soy Chicken and Cashew Nuts

Eric ordered the Beef Burger which is grilled soy beef, garlic, and cilantro sauce on a wheat bun.  He said it was good, but he didn’t like it as much as the soy chicken.

The Vegan Joint - Beef Burger | A Vegan in Progress

Beef Burger

As always, we shared the garlic fries because they are freaking amazing.

The Vegan Joint - Yummy, yummy garlic fries! | A Vegan in Progress

Yummy, yummy garlic fries!

Vegan Recipe – Black Bean Burgers and Mexican rice

We had a friend over to hang out on Labor Day and the boys felt like barbequing, so I decided to try another burger recipe.  I found this recipe for Vegan Black Bean Burgers with Cornmeal.

Ingredients:
2 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup salsa
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic salt

Like many recipes I have come across recently, this one called for a food processor to mix up the patty ingredients.  I’m relatively new to this “cooking from scratch” thing, so I don’t have a food processor yet.  I used some good old fashioned elbow grease and mashed the black beans with a fork, which took a hot, sweaty while, and then mixed the rest of the ingredients in with the beans.

Directions:
1.  Place beans in food processor; process until fairly smooth. Add flour, cornmeal, salsa, cumin and garlic salt. Process until well combined.
2.  Spoon mixture into 6 balls on a large plate and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours before cooking.  (I didn’t have one to four hours, so I put the plate in the freezer for about half an hour.)
3.  Heat barbecue grill or ridged grill pan over medium heat. Coat grill or pan lightly with oil. Form each ball into a 4-inch patty about 1/2-inch thick. Place the patties on the grill or in pan and cook until browned and heated through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

These came out so delicious.  Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with a spicy flavor.  I melted a little Daiya pepperjack cheese on the bun, added a slice of tomato, and some salsa verde.  These will be my regular vegan burgers for quite a while I think, much better than store bought ones.

Black Bean Burger | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Black Bean Burger

In addition to the burgers, I enjoyed grilled corn and bell peppers, watermelon, strawberries.  Take a look at our omnivore/vegan friendly spread!  We are going to be having leftovers all week!

Vegan Mexican Rice | A Vegan in Progress

Our Labor Day spread – the pie was even vegan!

Eric really wanted some Mexican rice like his grandma always makes, but that calls for chicken stock.  I substituted vegetable stock and added some vegan chicken flavored bouillon.  You can see it in the blue pot above.  The original recipe is located here and the adapted recipe is below.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 of a medium onion
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon vegan chicken flavored bullion
1 cup plain tomato sauce
4 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:
1.  In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in the fresh onion.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add dry rice and cook with the onions for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown color. Add in the garlic to the rice and sauté for one more minute.
2.  Mix broth and bouillon.  Add in broth/bouillon mixture and tomato sauce (add slowly into the rice, not directly onto hot pan!)  And then add in the parsley if you’re using it.  Stir it up and bring to a boil.
3.  Once it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and cover.  Let it simmer for 20 minutes and fluff with a fork.