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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.

Doomie’s Home Cookin’ – Post 4

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I have already talked about Doomie’s, but I am doing multiple reviews of restaurants as I make subsequent visits.  Click here to see previous posts about Doomie’s Home Cookin’.

Eric and I have been craving Doomie’s Home Cookin’ for a while, so we decided to drive out last weekend.  I got the Spicy Chicken sandwich, which I have tried before and I loved, but we also ordered a side of fried avocado to give it a try.  They were alright.  The batter coating was perfect, but I think they were only good when dipped in sauce.  The barbeque sauce worked well.  They were worth a try, but I don’t think I would order them again.  The chicken fingers are far and away a better appetizer.

 

Doomie's - Fried avocado | A Vegan in Progress

Native Foods, Costa Mesa + Native Foods, Santa Monica

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

Every Spring, my parents and I make a joint appointment with our accountant to take care of some tax preparation.  They have been seeing the same accountant since I was a kid and used to play on the floor of his office during the appointments.  We always make lunch plans while we are in the area and last year we went to VegiLicious All Natural Vegan Cafe.  While we loved VegiLicious, we decided to try something different.  We had made plans to go to Seabirds Kitchen, but at the last minute, I listed some items on the Native Foods menu and my dad was pumped to try it.  The Native Foods in Costa Mesa is located in a shopping center called “The CAMP.”  It was so cute how every parking space had a little message of affirmation painted on it.

There were a lot of eco-friendly stores, restaurants, juice bars, and other cute establishments.  I really wish we had more time before our appointment to explore.

To start, we shared the Butternut Polenta Bites, “pesto baked polenta topped with roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions and toasted pumpkin seeds in balsamic over arugula.”  They were tasty, although a little tough to eat without making a mess.

Butternut Polenta Bites - Native Foods, Costa Mesa | A Vegan in Progress

I ordered the Twister Wrap with Crispy Native Chicken.  I had been eyeing it on my last few visits and I was excited to try it.  It was perfect.  I could eat that weekly if I had the budget.  I also got my favorite Lavender Lemonade.

Twister Wrap with Crispy Native Chicken - Native Foods, Costa Mesa | A Vegan in Progress

My dad ordered the Bistro Steak Sandwich and got a cup of the Watermelon Fresca.

.Bistro Steak Sandwich - Native Foods, Costa Mesa | A Vegan in Progress

My mom ordered the Southwest Chipotle Chop and really enjoyed it.

Southwest Chipotle Chop - Native Foods, Costa Mesa | A Vegan in Progress

I don’t see how we can get away with trying a new restaurant next year, because they both really loved Native Foods.

I popped into the bathroom before leaving and saw that they use Further soap, distilled from the waste grease from their kitchen.  That’s so clever, I don’t know why more places don’t do it.

Further Soap - Native Foods, Costa Mesa | A Vegan in Progress

Native Foods is consistently yummy.  I just wish there was one in the Valley!

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On another visit to the Native Foods in Santa Monica, I ordered the Yo Amigo Taco Salad with guacamole.  It was delicious and totally hit the spot after recovering from a quick bout of the flu.  Bonus:  this Native Foods location is one block from Viva La Vegan Grocery.

Yo Amigo Taco Salad with avocado - Native Foods, Santa Monica | A Vegan in Progress

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood

For my birthday this year, I told my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law that I would love to go out for lunch.  I had suggested a place with both vegan and omnivore options, but after some research, my mother-in-law very thoughtfully suggested Gracias Madre.  Gracias Madre is a 100% vegan restaurant that began in San Francisco and recently opened another location in West Hollywood.

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood | A Vegan in Progress

My first impression was that the restaurant was really pretty – very light and airy.  It was a beautiful LA day, so the restaurant was open to the patio.  The seating was very comfortable, with a variety of benches and chairs at every table, and it wasn’t too crowded.  We were seated on the patio.

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood | A Vegan in Progress

We were offered a water as well as sparkling water and were brought a carafe of both.  It took a while to order and I think it was for a couple of reasons.  For me, I’m not used to being able to order literally anything on a menu, but for Eric’s family, I think it was a little foreign for them to be navigating a vegan menu.

We started with a couple of appetizers – the Gorditas and the Papas al Horno.  The Gorditas, described as “potato-masa cakes topped with warm salsa verde, avocado, and cashew crema,” were wonderful.  I loved the potato-masa cakes and the toppings were very fresh.  The Papas al Horno, described as “roasted potatoes with olive oil and garlic topped with chipotle cashew nacho cheese,” were cooked well and tasted fine, but not worth ordering them again unless you love potatoes with cheese.

I ordered a Tamal because I have always loved tamales and don’t get to have them often since they aren’t usually vegan.  Their tamal is a “stoneground heirloom masa steamed in the husk filled with sautéed butternut squash, poblano peppers and onions, served with beans and escabeche.”  The tamal was the right texture, with flavorful filling, but there wasn’t enough of it.  Mostly, I tasted masa and the salsa I topped the tamal with.  The beans that accompanied it, though, were creamy and delicious.  My sister-in-law ordered the same thing and liked the dish as well.

Eric got the Enchiladas con Mole, “spicy mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cashew cheese, served with sautéed greens and beans.”  He absolutely loved them and let me have a bite.  I’m definitely not a fan of mole in regular circumstances, I don’t really understand using cinnamon and chocolate in a savory sauce.  However, this stuff was amazing!  I could taste every little thing in the sauce, kind of like when I had a bowl of Emeril Lagasse’s gumbo from his Steakhouse in my pre-vegan days.  Next time we go to Gracias Madre, I may order this dish for myself!

My mother-in-law got the tacos, “three corn tortillas topped with seared cauliflower, grilled calabaza verde, and mushrooms. Topped with cashew crema, served with beans.”  I had a bite and thought that they were very tasty, but I’m not a huge fan of mushroom texture.  However, I think I might order these in the future, they were that good.

My grandmother-in-law ordered the El Plato, which was a little of everything and came with tortillas.  The menu describes it as “butternut squash, cashew nacho cheese, plantains, cilantro pesto, escabeche, rice, pico de gallo and beans.”  She really enjoyed her fresh and plentiful dish.

Overall, I was very impressed with Gracias Madre.  The service was very good and timely throughout the meal and the food was all very fresh and well-prepared.  The prices were also decent for the upscale feel of the restaurant.  Despite having ordered fresh-squeezed juices and appetizers for a party of five, we spent only about $30 more than the time that three of us dined at Mohawk Bend.  I will definitely be back to Gracias Madre!

Vegan at Disneyland – Hungry Bear Restaurant

I have posted about Disneyland before and will continue to update as I try different vegan options in both Disneyland and California Adventure.  Click here to see all posts about Disneyland.  Eventually, I plan to put together my own comprehensive list.

My sister and I were looking for a new vegan place to try on our recent trip to Disneyland, so we consulted the impressive 23-page Vegan Cowgirl guide to vegan options at Disneyland.  It’s dated 2013, so the information is pretty current.

We went over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant (located near Splash Mountain and the Winnie the Pooh ride) to try the Fried Green Tomato sandwich.

Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

It’s cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes, layered with heirloom tomatoes and jicama-mango slaw and served on a multigrain roll.  Just make sure to order it without sauce or cheese.  Unfortunately, even though I said the exceptions twice, she didn’t get that I didn’t want cheese, so I had to wait for them to re-make the sandwich.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich - Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

It was worth the wait, though because this sandwich was tasty!  I loved the fried green tomatoes (never had those before!) and the batter was a little bit salty, which went so well with the rest of the sandwich.  I was worried that without sauce or cheese the sandwich might be dry, but it was actually really moist because of the tomatoes.  It tasted really fresh and was filling without being heavy.  The fries were fine, especially with some barbeque sauce.

Bonus points for being less expensive than the Vegan Gumbo at Royal Street Veranda and the Tofu Rice Bowl at Lucky Fortune Cookery in California Adventure.  There’s also a cute little area to sit and eat, with a view of the Mark Twain riverboat as it goes by.  It’s never all that crowded on this end of the park, whereas finding a place to eat your gumbo can be a nightmare in New Orleans Square.  I will definitely be ordering this one again, particularly on warm days since it’s not too heavy.

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.

Vegan at Disneyland – River Belle Terrace

I have posted about Disneyland before and will continue to update as I try different vegan options in both Disneyland and California Adventure.  Click here to see all posts about Disneyland.  Eventually, I plan to put together my own comprehensive list.

My sister, Samantha, and I went to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago and decided to try the famous Vegetable Po’Boy at the River Belle Terrace (across from Tarzan’s Treehouse).

River Belle Terrace, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

Unfortunately, it looks like that was just recently taken off of the menu.  The new vegan item is Becky Thatcher’s Black Bean Cakes, which are served with pineapple relish, cucumber salad, and red pepper coulis.

Becky Thatcher's Black Bean Cakes - River Belle Terrace | A Vegan in Progress

The black bean cakes were nice and moist.  They didn’t seem to be cooked all the way through, but were warm, kind of like the black bean burgers I made.  The red pepper coulis was delicious and a little spicy.  I’m not really one for pineapple, but it went well with the red pepper coulis and wasn’t overly pineappley.  Definitely don’t let it stop you from ordering the meal unless you’re allergic.  The cucumber salad was refreshing and overall, the flavors balanced really well.  There’s also a small salad bar with assorted salad toppings in the dining area, so we grabbed some pequeno peppers for free.

Pequeno Peppers and Becky Thatcher's Black Bean Cakes - River Belle Terrace | A Vegan in Progress

If other people wanted to eat at the River Belle Terrace, I wouldn’t hesitate to order this dish again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  I felt it was a little pricy for what you got.

 

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!

Doomie’s Home Cookin’, Hollywood – Post 3

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I have already talked about Doomie’s, but I am doing multiple reviews of restaurants as I make subsequent visits.  Click here to see previous posts about Doomie’s Home Cookin’.

Eric and I were generously given free tickets to Universal Studios as well as front of the line passes by a friend of his.  I hadn’t been to Universal Studios in over ten years, so I was interested in seeing what had changed.  It was fun to see the changes and the front of the line passes really helped, but it was otherwise unimpressive.  It really hasn’t aged well and the “newer” rides are just re-dressings of the old rides.  I mean, seriously, the Simpsons ride is literally the same ride as Back to the Future but with different decor and a different video playing on the screen.  I wouldn’t recommend it over any other theme park.

Anyway, since we were in the area, we popped down to Doomie’s Home Cookin’ for dinner.  We ordered the vegan chicken fingers (which are always super tasty) and Eric got the vegan chili cheese fries.  The fries were cooked well and the chili tasted great, but the cheese sauce was a little runny.

I ordered the Chicken Parm Sandwich, which was delicious, but very messy.  I can deal with the messy, but my only complaint is that the “mozzarella” was very thin and sauce-like, almost foamy.  That was a little weird, but the flavor was there and it all mixed together fine, so it was ignorable.

Doomie's - Vegan parm sandwich | A Vegan in Progress

Eric ordered the Western Burger, which came with onion rings, cheese sauce, and some kind of vegan bacon (not made with tempeh).  He liked it very much and said that he would order it again.

Doomie's - Western Burger | A Vegan in Progress

As a last minute impulse buy, I got a “chocolate truffle” from the dessert case.  It didn’t taste bad, but it clearly wasn’t a truffle.  It was obviously a cake ball.  I don’t know if they were purposefully trying to pass it off as a truffle or if there was some sort of mix up, but I wouldn’t buy it again.

Doomie’s has been hit or miss on our previous visits, but this time it was mostly great.  Just a few small complaints, but we will definitely be back when we need an unhealthy vegan fix.

Vegan at Farmer Boys

In past years, Eric and I often stopped at Farmer Boys for breakfast before the Renaissance Faire.  Even though we don’t participate much anymore, when I read that their veggie burger was vegan, I made a mental note in case we were ever in the area.  On our way back from an event way out in Riverside recently, we stopped at Farmer Boys in Irwindale.  According to the Insufferable Vegan page, there are actually two vegan options at Farmer Boys, which is pretty remarkable for a fast food place.  You can either get the veggie burger with no dressing or the veggie sandwich with no cheese and on either rye or sourdough bread since the wheat bread has honey.

Farmer Boys Veggie Burger | A Vegan in Progress

I ordered the veggie burger sans dressing.  The patty was remarkably similar to the Don Lee Farms frozen veggie burger patty.  It was one of those veggie burger patties that didn’t seem all microwaved and dry.  There were distinct veggies in it as well as some sunflower seeds.

Farmer Boys Veggie Burger | A Vegan in Progress

It also came with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles (I removed those) and I added some ketchup.  It was really filling and pretty moist.  I would actually order this again without feeling like I was making a huge compromise, but I would likely ask for avocado to be added (FYI: Insufferable Vegan says that costs an extra $1.50).  Overall – Not bad!  I applaud the chain for offering two different vegan options.