Lemonade

OMGGGGGGGGGGG guys I just discovered the  SPOT for vegan and vegetarian lunches on le Westside. I actually “discovered” it a while ago but have never made my way to eat there until lunch last week. LA peeps you are prob up on this more than me, but Lemonade on Abbot Kinney (which also has locations in Brentwood, West Hollywood, Pasadena, Downtown, and more) is like a veggie-lovers utopia. Not to mention their lemonade is best I’ve ever had good. If you haven’t been, go. If you have been, go again. BEST LUNCH SPOT EVERRRRRRRRRRRR.

 

Lemonade

1661 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90291
Neighborhood: Venice

(310) 452-6200

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 am – 9 pm

Corner of Venice and Abbot Kinney - LEMONADE!

Recently renovated and newly furnished, Lemonade is a great place to grab a quick and supah healthy bite if you happen to be on the artsy Abbot Kinney street on the Westside of Los Angeles.

A cafeteria deli style atmosphere with an interior design that says industrial meets yellow, Lemonade is great for lunch and great for families and youngsters alike.

The dining area when you enter (there are two)

Super casual but still nice enough to not feel like you are in an actual cafeteria (gross), Lemonade is a warm, cute, colorful and happiness inducing spot due to the sheer color scheme alone.

There's my mom walking to dining area number two, and where all the ordering action happens. PS - look at the sunflowers! 🙂

FYI, steer clear of going to Lemonade for romantic diners or a business meeting as the acoustics makes it noisy during the lunch and dinner rush. Def more of a to-go place or casual mid-day food spot with friends.

Dining area number two!

In the tradition of M Cafe or Native Foods, Lemonade has an order at the counter type deal, but takes it a step further as you get your food before you pay. Chic Cafeteria Chow Down. Into it.

Mom waiting in line ... hehehehe.

You can order from their menu, which features veggie friendly soups, salads, sandwiches, braises (yes vegetable braise with rice!), and plenty of meat options for your omnivorous friends. o
You can also choose to pick from their Marketplace selection of pre-made veggies, grains, and the like in their “salad bar/deli case” section, which I decided to do. You can get a portion of three or that same portion, with each selection half sized – so six small portions from the deli case in one order. If you know ho much I love little tastes of everything than you KNOW this is my jammer jam.

So pretty!

This is my ideal version of window shopping, legit. A healthy, colorful medley of vegetable and salad dishes are here for you to oogle and ready to be devoured by guests who pick the most tempting ones. Oh, and you can even taste-test them before deciding what you gon’ order – Vegan Girlfriend heaven!
There are definitely more vegetarian options than vegan ones, as a lot of their selections include some sort of cheese, but on my visit there were at least 8 100% vegan options in the deli case, not to mention the salads you can easily all make vegan as well.

Salad station

Lemonade is becoming known for their delectable salads: Watermelon Radish, Tomato Avocado, Kale Mushroom, Quinoa Pumpkin with Truffle Oil—all fantastic! And rumor has it Lemonade has the world’s best truffle mac and cheese, period.

Truffle Mac - if you are vegetarian, order this, bam.

In the drink department, Lemonade has a plethora of uniquely flavored lemonades, which they will be happy to let you sample as well. Eeeeeeeee, happiest little vegan girlfriend evah!

Lemonade menu - they all looked so good!

I tried the blueberry mint, watermelon rosemary and blood orange: all three 10/10 incred.

lemonades

I settled on the blueberry mint, which was out of this world bananas incredible. Def a MUST ORDER.
In the dessert world, Lemonade also has mad game, but sadly only for vegetarians and not vegans.

Dessert case ... droooooool (but get some vegan options yo!)

They offer bars, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, macaroons and more.
For gluten-free vegetarians, their macaroons are totally gf and safe to be devoured with no worries of wheat rearing its ugly head.

Gluten-free macaroons

 If you are more a carb over sugar kinda gal or guy, they have a huge selection of freshly baked breads as well.

Carboholics - it's on

After a bunch of tasting of salads, grains and lemonades alike, I finally settled on my order, paid and took my food to go!

Lunch!

The Venice location is a know Lemonade favorite, and I can absolutely see why. The staff is kind, super knowledgable about vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free options, they care about the food they are serving, and are very passionate about providing exceptional “beyond the call of duty” service. Not to mention, it actually seems like they LOVE what they do and LOVE working there. Yellow sunshine lemonade all around.

I left to rush home to devour my awesome meal but not before I snuck a huge sip of my obscenely amazing Blueberry Lemonade!

Your Vegan GF - in all her lemonade glory

 

As soon as my mom and I got home we ripped into our lunches, trying and trading the crazy good abundant veggies we got.

 

Lunch for 2!

 

My favorites were the red quinoa, the broccoli and the brussel sprouts. All of which are MUST ORDERS. Everything was good though so you really can’t go wrong espec when you can try before you buy!

 

 

Lemonade is now my new fav lunch spot evah, and I cannot wait to go back. For omnis, flexis, veggies, and vegans alike, Lemonade provides healthy, affordable, fresh, and crazy delicious food made with love. BEYOND OBSESSED. Today, I see an arnold palmer in my future 🙂

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Hugo’s Tacos

Yo yo yo! It’s taco time! Finding good vegan Mexican food in LA can sadly be a challenge, but have no fear Hugo’s is here!

One way to taco town...

Last week I went to Hugo’s Tacos in Studio City for the first time ever (whaaaa?!), which is an off-shoot of the Hugo’s Restaurant you all know I LOVEEEEEEEEE and am currently obsessed with the ridic donk Happy Hour they got going on. I went to Hugo’s Tacos for the vegan Mexican food, but left with my newly deemed spot for THE BEST VEGAN FROYO IN LA hands-down, period amen, praise soft serve.

Hugo’s Tacos

4749 Coldwater Canyon
Studio City, CA 91604

(818) 762-7771

Hours: Mon-Sun 10 am – 10 pm

 

Taco time!

Hugo’s Tacos, a small taco stand located right off the freeway in Studio City, and a block away from Hugo’s Restaurant, is kinda hard to spot, but once you do, delight in the amble parking provided in their lot.

I’m sure it will come as no shock that I went with my blog’s co-star Bess, and we eagerly reviewed our options to share and indulge in for a late lunch with our lovely mamas.

menu!

Much like Hugo’s Restaurant, Hugo’s Tacos has clearly labeled vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on their menu, making life a million times easier for those of us who don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, gluten or all of the above!

 

 

We got in line (supah short for 1:30 pm on a Thursday) and ordered at the window from the friendly staff working behind the counter.

We decided on a taco, a burrito, a tostada, a quesadilla and lots and lots of their delicious freshly baked chips! But not before we made a pact to get all of the dessert options, since rumor had it Hugo’s soft-serve froyo is the epitome of vegan froyo done right.

YOU'RE MIIIIIIINEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Within legit 5 minutes our food arrived piping hot  and demanding me to devour its vegan veggie goodness.

 

I first tried the taco I ordered, a vegan and gluten-free version I opted to get both grilled veggies and soy chorizo on.

) ( [Can be Gluten-Free] ) Soft or crispy shell (I got soft). Served with onions & cilantro, choice of salsa. Choice of Mixed veggies or Soy Chorizo (I got both)”]When you order a taco there is a choice of sauce that you get on the taco itself, and OF COURSE I chose my obsession, Hugo’s Honey Chipotle Sauce I’ve obsessively raved about in previous posts.  Compared to the rest of the bombness that would come, this taco was my least fav item, BUT a good taco none the less. Loved the veggies, loved the fresh and hot corn tortilla, and loved the always outstanding daiya cheese.

 

Next I tried the veggie quesadilla.

) Choice of filling, flour tortilla. Choice of filling, flour tortilla with Oaxaca cheese (can be subbed for daiya). Choice of salsa on the side. Choice of filling: I got Mixed veggies”]This quesadilla was BOMB!!!!! First let me say how pleased I was with the very generous helping of guac cause these dillas dipped in ’em are whole notha level good. I loved the mixed veggies in this and LOVE the soft warm flour tortilla the cheese grilled veggie medley came in. Tortillas make or break a taco/quesadilla game, and Hugo’s nailed it.

 

I tried Bess’ main order the tostada.

) ( [Can be Gluten-Free] ) Choice of filling, choice of salsa on two crispy corn tortillas with organic white beans, lettuce, Cotija cheese (or sub for daiya), guacamole. Choice of mixed veggies or soy chorizo.”]This was basically a better version (because it was fried, obviously and more substantial version of my taco. All mixed up this was almost like the most amazing nacho experience ever, since each bite had the crispiness of the corn tortillas and all the beans, lettuce, cheese, guac and veggies mixed in. Def a thumbs up… a big one.

My last main I tasted was the burrito …. and it was without a doubt my favorite of all four things we ordered.

) ( [Can be Vegetarian] ) Choice of filling, onions & cilantro, choice of salsa, flour tortilla with organic Spanish rice, organic white beans. Enchilada style $1.37 extra. Choice of Mixed veggies or Soy Chorizo”]OMG was this good. The Spanish rice and white beans were whole notha level amazing and made this monster wrap stand out significantly from the other entrees we ordered. Since all Mexican food is basically the same stuff in a different shell (ie: corn or flour tortilla fried or not and cut and grilled a certain way) finding variation can be, well, difficult at best. But when you throw in options like daiya, soy chorizo and some off the best rice and beans on this earth, you know you’re in for a treat. This is an absolute MUST ORDER and next time, you bet yo bottom dollah I will be getting it enchilada style. Mmmmmmmm.

 

Let it be noted that Hugo’s Tacos also has some of the best freshly baked chips I have ever tasted.

Chips and more chips

I was so excited about these chips, in fact, I demanded my picture taken with them.

YVG the chip crusader

Warning, don’t fill up on chips pre-meal cause when chips are as good as these (and free!) you probably will.

 

Now here is when the delightful meal took a turn for the BEST. Dessert time. Now I’m not a huge dessert person, def like savory over sweet, but I ave heard about Hugo’s Tacos legendary vegan froyo for years and could not wait to try it myself. There are only two dessert menu items, so naturally, got em both.

Let’s save the best for last shall we?

 

I tried their vegan rice pudding (I love rice pudding!) which came in a little plastic pre-packed “to-go” box. Ripped the top off and in my mouth it went.

[Vegetarian] [Gluten-Free] – Organic basmati rice, Saigon cinnamon, Tahitian vanilla, organic cane sugar, organic rice milk and organic soy milk."]”]This was good but not amazing. I liked the cinnamony vanilla combo a play here, but it wasn’t “pudding-y” enough for my particular rice pud preference. If you like a less “custard” like rice pudding though, I’m sure this will be your jam.

 

And now ladies and gentleman, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…. I present to you, Hugo’s Tacos’ vegan frozen yogurt!!!!!!!!!

Frozato – [Vegan] [Vegetarian] [Gluten-Free] Deliciously creamy, house-made, non-dairy soft serve-like frozen dessert. Cup or cone; chocolate, vanilla or swirl. (Contains nuts & soy)

The game has just been changed my friend. THE ENTIRE FROZEN YOGURT GAME. Not only is this by far and away the best vegan froyo I have ever tasted (chocolate is def the winning flavor of the two if they had to battle it out in the ring celebrity death match style) but the BEST FROZEN YOGURT PERIOD I have ever tasted. Better than any yogurtland, menchie’s self-serve bs we all love (or hate). I don’t know what else to say other than this frozen yogurt will change your life. You could cure cancer, stop global warming, make out with Ryan Gosling, and win the lottery all on the same day, and this would still be better. THAT GOOD.

Is yogurt/human marriage legal in the South? If so, bye ya'll!

Clearly this is a MUST MUST MUST ORDER and you should make the trip no matter where you live just for this.

 

So in love with everything about my Hugo’s Taco experience and hope to be continuously awed by the Hugo’s franchise. I would come back and get the burrito the froyo (obvi and maybe try the salsa burger since they offer a vegan cheesed up version of that dope sounding offering too.

 

Hugo’s Tacos, thanks for existing, thanks for the dope vegan and gluten-free options, and thanks for the insane insatiability for chocolate frozato you have forever instilled in me. Love you honey (chipotle) boo boo.

 

 

xoox

Your Veganish/Vegetarian Girlfriend (better?) 🙂

Vegan Buffalo Wings!!!! Now at The Veggie Grill.

This week is/was midterms (in class now … whoops) which gave me a free pass to eat out every single night for dinner. Getting sick of the WFM hot bar, I decided to treat myself to one of my all time favorite vegan restaurants, The Veggie Grill! I’ve always been a HUGE Veggie Grill fan, and have seriously tried almost everything on their menu, but this week my super-fandom went to an all time high. I hit VG up for dinner THREE DAYS IN A ROW … maybe gonna have to change my name to “Your Veggie Girlfriend” (hint hint) 🙂

 

During my first trip (of the 3) to my beloved burger, fries and kale mecca, in Santa Monica, I spotted a sign for The Veggie Grill’s new  vegan buffalo wings:

Obviously I knew what I was ordering for dinner (and then some).

And as a side note may I just say that the staff at ALL of The Veggie Grill locations, but especially the one in Santa Monica, are simply delightful. They all seem so happy to be doing their job, are so knowledgeable and sweet, and make me feel like my food is actually being made with happiness and vegan love.

 

Ok so now on to de winggggs.

Chill Out Wings/Buffalo Wings - Chillin' Chickin' tossed in our house-made Buffalo sauce and served with our new creamy ranch dressing ... $6.25

I don’t know if I was more excited to try those incredible looking bright orange buffalo wings or dip them in their brand new ranch!!!!

Survey says? Ding ding ding! Vegans, we have a winner! These wings are hella spicy, like super duper spicy, so spice whimps beware! However, once dipped in the cooling ranch dressing, the hot kick to creamy cool ratio is in blissful harmony and even spice-a-phobes will be able to handle the heat.  The wings themselves are made out of soy, pea and wheat protein, so sadly they are not gluten-free. (I wonder if they could ever make these with tempeh … hmmmm …. at home experiment?) The wings tasted lightly battered and fried, which gave a nice crispy contrast to the heavy helping of buffalo sauce the strips were smothered in. And the ranch, ohhh the ranch. The Veggie Grill just does dips and dressings better than any other restaurant on this planet, and this ranch added to their crazy good arsenal of such saucy supernovas.

Dip Dip, Hooray!

If you like spicy and you like buffalo sauce and you consequently love buffalo wings (or hopefully, used to) than RUN on over to the closest VG and order this app pronto. This is the perfect “watching sports and drinking beer” kinda thing to pick up for a Sunday. TWO THUMBS UP!

 

Along with these wings I had….

DINNER - wings, all hail kale salad, sweet heart fries, tortilla soup and an INSANE amount of chipotle mayo (not pictured)

 

To quickly speak on the rest of this meal, it was euphoric. Kale salad is the best in town, sweet potato fries are always crispy and perfectly seasonsed (and when dipped heavily in my boyfriend, chipotle mayo, you might just have a mouth-gasm), the tortilla soup of the day was BOMB and then, I couldn’t breathe I was so full. FML or LML?

 

The Veggie Grill continues to be one of my all time favorite vegan restaurants and plain ole’ restaurants in general in LA. Never have I ever had anything I have not been obsessed with. With locations all over LA (Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Farmer’s Market, and more) there is absolutely no reason every single Angeleno should not hit this magical spot up. Peace, Love, and Chipotle Mayo.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

 

Bossa Nova

I have midterms week coming up which means locking myself in my room all weekend to get work done. FML. On Saturday night, I peeled myself away from studying just long enough to glance at the clock.  It was around 9 pm and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet (I did manage to down an entire bag of veggie chips in the previous hours but that doesn’t count), so I turned to grubhub to get something delivered ASAP. I wasn’t in the mood for vegan Thai, or Italian, so I decided to go with Bossa Nova, that appeared to have some great veggie friendly options. I have eaten at Bossa Nova in West Hollywood before and remember being a little underwhelmed but decided to roll the dice cause I had a hankering for rice and beans.

 

Bossa Nova Brazilian Cusinie

10982 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles

(310) 441-0404

I’ve never actually eaten at this location so I can’t comment on the dining experience at the actual restaurant, so let’s just move on to the food.
I ordered what I thought was a normal amount for dinner, but it turned out to be a full on veggie feast.

Dinner for one

I got the vegetable platter, which comes with seasonal vegetables, white rice, salsa, yucca flour, a side of black beans and with the choice of fries or plantains. I couldn’t decide so I got both. Typical. I also ordered a side salad to try to offset the fried fiesta I intended on consuming. Keepin’ it healthy guys.

 

The veggie platter itself was just okay.

Steamed Vegetable Platter - Seasonal vegetables marinated in Brazilian herbs and spices. Served with your choice of side (I chose Rice, Black Beans, Salsa, Yucca Flour, and French Fries).

The veggies themselves were super underseasoned, but after a healthy dosing of Himalayan salt, not so bad. The salsa was super yummy and tasted great mixed in with the rice and veggies. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the yucca flour though, so I tried dipping the broccoli in it. I still don’t know if I liked it or not, but it wasn’t a repeat performance. I was mostly just puzzled. I think it was good? Sometimes food is weird like that. The rice was fine, nothing spec but tasty when mixed with the black beans.

Black beans

The beans were also just okay. Good but not amazing. I prefer the black beans at Versailles.

The french fries were supah good, but sadly a little cold due to delivery time I’m sure.

French Fries

I love french fries, so this part of the meal was clearly a win. They actually cooked them pretty perfectly too, which is surprisingly a rarity in this city. French fries are never a bad call.

The plantains were by far the best part of the meal.

Plantains

These were perfection! I love me some good plantains and these golden brown caramelized bananas satisfied both sweet and savory taste cravings. This is the only must order of the bunch.

 

The salad was meh too and I was a little disappointed the “mixed greens” turned out to be mostly iceberg lettuce.

Side salad

Not much else to say here.

 

I don’t think I will be eating at/ordering from Bossa Nova again anytime soon, but I do appreciate the veggie options and late night delivery (til 2 am!). I think it’s a good bet if you want something delivered post 10 pm and don’t feel like calling 1-800-Dominoes. Plantains could be worth the delivery fee.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Hugo’s Brand New In-Ter-Mis-Sion Happy Hour Menu

You all know my intense love of Hugo’s Restaurant and all of their amazing vegan and gluten-free options. Well Hugo’s just added a brand new Happy Hour menu with almost exclusively vegan items and it is absolutely insane!!!!

I was lucky enough to get to taste every single item on the new In-Ter-Mis-Sion Menu, and boy oh boy do we all have something to get happy about!

Boasting an impressive list of appetizers and cocktails none of which is priced over $5, Hugo’s has recently begun rolling out their “In-ter-mis-sion Menu” from 4 pm to 7pm M-F at their West Hollywood location and from 3 to 6pm in their newer Agoura Hills location. After last night I am officially declaring this THE BEST VEGAN HAPPY HOUR IN ALL OF LA. Bam!

Let’s go down the list item by item so we can talk about just how good every single thing was!

 

Asian Spring Rolls (vegan and gluten-free)

Asian Spring Rolls (vegan, gluten-free) - Vietnamese style spring rolls with dipping sauce

These light and healthy spring rolls were so fresh, crisp and delicious. The rolls were filled with sunflower sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, kelp noodles and fresh herbs and served with a mild sesame-chili dipping sauce. The sauce was stooooopid good and gave this tasty Asian inspired finger food the perfect kick.

 

Mac & Cheese (vegetarian and vegan option, both gluten-free)

Mac and Cheese (traditional or vegan) - Fusili pasta with 4 cheese or vegan cheese sauce

We ordered the vegan option and it came with garlic, sliced mushrooms and sweet peas in a creamy cashew and sunflower cheese sauce all topped with crispy fried onions. I loved the crispy onions on top! What a wonderful addition to this veganized classic comfort dish. The cheese sauce was creamy and just perfect with the peas and mushrooms mixed in with the gluten-free pasta!

 

Green Tamales (vegan and vegetarian option, gluten-free)

Green Tamales - infused with spinach on a bed of tomatillo salsa topped with an avocado-tomato salsa (and a dab of sour cream if you get the vegetarian version).

These are a Hugo’s classic and one of my favorite starters on their regular menu. I love that they are now offered for 5 bucks! The sauce is everything a verde sauce should be. This is one of the heartier options on the Happy Hour menu, so if you are feeling hungrier this is a great pick.

 

Los Nachos Con Queso (vegan and gluten-free)

Los Nachos Con Queso - Crispy corn tortilla chips over a bed of tomato-chipotle black beans, zesty vegan queso sauce, pico de gallo, diced grilled green chilies, avocado and chopped cilantro.

I’ve raved about these nachos before and enjoyed them just as much as ever.  Chef Nabor’s nacho cheese sauce is off the hook amazing and the beans are just phenomenal.  I love these nachos and so does everyone who tastes them.

 

Hugo’s Sliders (vegetarian and vegan option) – Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with choice of mozzarella or vegan cheese. Select one sauce as a topping from these great options: Honey Chipotle, Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce, Marinara Sauce, Tikka Masala & Cilantro Mint Chutney

Hugo's Sliders - Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce and vegan cheese

Hugo's Sliders - Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with Tikka Masala & Cilantro Mint Chutney and vegan cheese

Hugo's Sliders - Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with Honey Chipotle Sauce and vegan cheese

Sorry for not snapping a pic of the marinara but I think you get the idea!

Since wheat bread isn’t my jam I only ate the inside of each slider, but each one was seriously better than the next. The marinara tasted like an amazing vegan version of chick-un parmesan, the sweet bbq sauce was finker lickin’ good and made me feel like I was having southern style “ribs”, the tikka masala was very different and the chutney added a tangy and refreshing contrast, and the HONEY CHIPOTLE, ohhhhhhhh the honey chipotle. I legit order this straight up and eat it plain, take shots of it while my friends look on in horror, and get it to go to eat on legit anything and everything in my room… err I mean kitchen. Clearly the sliders with the Honey Chipotle sauce was my fav, but BBQ and Marinara tied for a close second. These are such a fun happy hour mini burgers and would be a great vegan app for watching a game with an ice cold beer. (Oh hi Super Bowl).

 

Flatbread Pizzas (vegan and vegetarian option, gluten-free)

These incredible gluten-free pizzas are made with either mozzarella or daiya cheese (the best!) and come in two different varieties, Mung Beans and Rice with Pesto Drizzle and Italian Vegetable.

Mung Beans and Rice with Pesto Drizzle Flat Bread Pizza - topped with vegan cheese

This was BY FAR my fav item of the night! It is so inventive and an absolute MUST ORDER!!!!!

Hugo’s makes the most delicious organic mung beans and basmati rice they cook slowly in a blend of vegetables, herbs and spices. The gluten-free flat bread it came on was like the best thin pizza crust I have ever had. It was crispy, buttery, crunchy, and cooked lightly to perfection, providing the ultimate base for the rest of the toppings. If you want to be WOWED by a dish, get this. It’s a huge portion, incredibly original, vegan, gluten-free, and only 5 dollars. Pretty sure that spells amazing.

Italian Vegetable Flat Bread Pizza - Marinara, Tomatoes, Artichokes, Red Peppers, Spinach, Onions and Basil topped with vegan cheese

This pizza was also great. I loved the variety of veggie toppings and it was nice to have traditional marinara sauce on this pizza in contrast to the sauceless mung bean option. For some reason the crust was a little soggy of this one though. I think the amazing crispy and buttery flat bread gets saturated really fast, so just something to be aware of. Solution: eat this right away! Regardless of over sauce-uation, this was super tasty, huge and bursting with flavor.

 

The cocktail menu, which features Cosmos, Margs, Martinis, Mojitos and Well Drinks in a variety of flavors, are all 5 dollars Monday – Friday as well. So one app and one drink costs you max 10 bucks. Basically it’s the best deal ever.

I just had water but Bess had the Mango Marg and loved it.

Mango Margarita

 

I can’t rave enough about legit EVERY SINGLE ITEM on Hugo’s new Happy Hour menu. I absolutely LOVED everything on the In-Ter-Mis-Sion menu, but with that gluten-free and vegan mung bean and rice situation for only 5 bucks, I might need to make gettin’ happy a daily endeavor.

 

Hugo’s be more awesome (oh wait you can’t).

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

Taj Indian Palace

A recent discovery of mine is my ALL TIME fave Indian restaurant that delivers to West LA/Santa Monica/Culver City (til 10:30 pm mind you) even though they are located in the LAX area (random). Not only am I obsessed with all of their amazing veggie dishes but this is some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten delivery or not. I discovered this gem while perusing Grubhub, one of my fav ways to order delivery. Ever since my first meal arrived piping hot at my door and I shortly inhaled it, I’ve been hooked and legit order it once a week for my Indian fix! Contributing to my laziness? Maybe. Let’s just chalk it up to my love of naan.

 

 

Taj Indian Palace

8320 Lincoln Blvd
Westchester, CA 90045
Neighborhood: Westchester / LAX

(310) 337-1423

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 am – 10:30 pm
I’ve never actually been to the restaurant (obvi) but for some reason they deliver to me in West LA/Santa Monica (and prob Venice and more) so I ‘aint complaining.
Most recently I ordered a variety of veggie dishes and had left overs for days. Warning: their portions are HUGE so be prepared to do some splitting and or microwaving action for days to come.
Grubhub was having a special where if you ordered 25 dollars or more you got a free app, so I chose the pakoras.

Vegetable Pakora: Freshly cut vegetables, spiced, battered and deep fried. Served with hot mint sauce & sweet tamarind sauce

Fried vegetable nuggets. Hell to the yes. Obviously, these were fantastic. Don’t think I need to elaborate here.
One of my other orders was their saag mushroom dish, which is hearty and spicy flavorful, not spicy hot, as perfect as perfect can be.

Saag Mushroom - Fresh mushroom sauteed with spinach, onion and ground Indian spices

I was so into digging around for their big juicy chunks of mushrooms like hidden gems in a thick sea of thick spinach and lentils. I felt like I was eating cookie dough ice cream digging for the hunks of cookie dough liek I always do … cept this was msuhrooms in saag. Whatever, I’m extremely weird, don’t judge me. Anyways this is my fav dish I order here and highly reccomend it. Huge thumbs up.
I also have eaten their veggie curry which I liked a lot but didn’t love quite as much as the saag.

Mixed Vegetable Curry - Cooked with spices, ginger, onions, garlic & curry sauce

A little heavy on the potatoes but the over all flavor is super good. This mixed in with a side of their basmati rice is kind of the bomb.
A vegetarian but not vegan dish that is amazing here is the tofu tikka masala. (At least I assume it’s not vegan cause tikka masala is usually cream based …)

Tofu masala - Tofu sliced and cooked in onion sauce and home-made creamy tomato sauce

I have never seen tofu as a tikka masala option so that is pretty rad! Something about creamy tomato sauce just does it for me and this dish does not disappoint. The tofu is super soft and is the perfect protein for this Indian staple. So for all my vegetarian readers out there def get this!
In the past I have ordered the veggie combo plate which I also loved!

Vegetarian Combo: Saag Paneer (you can ask for a different saag sub if you don't feel like eating around the cheese), Dal, vegetable of the day, rice, naan, raita (which is vegetarian not vegan) or salad.

I love having tastes of everything, so any sort of combo plate I am always super on board with. Everything was amazing but their veggie of the day which I’m pretty sure was just their curried vegetables was my fav of that night.
Their naan is also insanely good.

Naan - yummmmmmm

The combo plate is two thumbs up, and a great option if you are eating solo.
There are also plenty of other veggie dishes to try so I will keep you all abreast of any new killer finds at my newly deemed staple delivery spot. Is it Sunday yet? Cause I got a hankering for some naan…
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Hugo’s January Specials and a very vegan birthday

Happy belated birthday to Bess!

This weekend Bess celebrated her birthday at Hugo’s in West Hollywood, one of my all time favorite vegan restaurants. I was thrilled when Bess told me she wanted to celebrate her bday at Hugo’s because I already had my eye on their amazing sounding vegan specials of the month. True to form, Bess and I shared several dishes each better than the next!

 

We got the vegan food party started with the nacho appetizer to share with the table.

Los Nachos Con Queso - Crispy corn tortilla chips over a bed of tomato-chipotle black beans. Topped with Chef Nabor’s zesty vegan queso sauce. Accented with pico de gallo, diced grilled green chilies, avocado and chopped cilantro.

I’ve had the vegan nachos at Hugo’s once before but I don’t remember them being this insanely good. The nacho cheese sauce the chips come smothered in is absolutely incredible; I could seriously eat a vat of just that.  Every component of these nachos is great and we all gobbled them up in a blink of an eye. Two huge thumbs up for this amazing app that’s perfect for sharing with all your friends! Weeeee.

Next Bess and I shared one of Hugo’s monthly specials, the polenta and portabello ragout appetizer.

Grilled Polenta & Portabello Ragout - Grilled polenta topped with sautéed diced portabello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccolini, and sun dried tomato, in a cashew-cream marsala-tomato sauce. Sprinkled with fresh chopped basil.

Um OMFG this was BOMBBBBBBBBB. My favorite dish of the night, this seasonal app sums up everything I love about vegan food. The cashew cream marsala sauce was “I can’t believe this is vegan” good. So so creamy and rich and lightly spiced with Italian flavors, the rich sauce paired perfectly with the big chunks of the “meaty” portabellos. The grilled polenta was golden and buttery, hearty and comforting. The other veggies in the ragout were also amazing especially the broccolini, which I normally am not the hugest fan of because it can be bitter. Not in this dish. Everything was 11 out of 10 good. Run out of your door and go to Hugo’s and order this because it will only be on the menu until the end of the month. MUST MUST MUST order. So damn good and entirely vegan and gluten-free!

For our entrée, Bess and I decided to do splitsies yet again, and we decided on another stellar January special, the oyster mushroom tacos (yes oyster mushrooms are vegan!)

Oyster Mushroom Tacos - Warm corn tortillas filled with breaded crispy fried oyster mushrooms. Topped with shredded lettuce, jalapeno-marinated vegetables, fire-roasted-tomato salsa and cilantro. Served with chopped romaine salad and Caesar dressing.

All I can say is yes yes yes. So much yes going on on this plate. The piping hot mushrooms inside of the hot corn tortillas were fried to a crisp golden brown and contrasted so nicely with the cool crunch of the shredded lettuce and salsa. I think these tacos were a play on Ensenada style fish tacos, a California favorite of my meat-eating friends. I love that Hugo’s veganized and improved upon classic fish tacos and more importantly that they tasted so freakin’ good! The “meaty” quality of the shrooms was simply the perfect filling for a perfect taco. Yum yum yumeroooo.

A better shot of the crispy fried mushroom filling.

Although the polenta ragout was still my favorite order of the night (cause it was on anotha level good) these tacos are a def must order and I highly recommend getting them before they go off of the menu. (PS – why is vegan Mexican food always SO good). The caesar salad the tacos were served with, as always, was great too. The vegan caesar dressing at Hugo’s is def the best in town. Go get this special now! You can’t go wrong.

For dessert Bess’ birthday guests and I decided to surprise her with two seasonal desserts, the vegan pumpkin pie and the vegan chocolate brownie torte, both totally vegan and totally gluten-free!

Pumpkin Pie - Smooth, pumpkin pie spiced with ground clove, cinnamon, ginger & cardamom in a coconut and pecan crust. Topped with pumpkin seed brittle and served with whipped cream (not vegan) upon request.

Okay so this wasn’t my jam but I am weird and hate nutmeg, which the pie was heavily seasoned with, so that conclusion was inevitable. The other guests really enjoyed it though so don’t let my potpourri spice hating taste buds dissuade you. That being said, I think everyone agreed the torte was the clear dessert winner.

Brownie Tort - A wonderful chewy chocolate pecan brownie topped with a fudge frosting and a ripe strawberry. They are so full of whole ingredients we consider them a more nutritious food source than any ordinary dessert.

Don’t even know where to begin. I normally don’t go crazy for super rich chocolate desserts in general but oh my vegan stars was this thing delicious. I normally don’t like fruit either, but the strawberries paired with the fudgey gooey brownie like torte were the most insane and perfect flavor combo ever. How in the world this is both vegan and more astonishingly gluten-free I don’t know. I do know, however, that is was blowing my damn mind. This dessert is seriously DANGEROUS. I am so glad I had other people to share it with (errr or fight over it with) because lord only knows I could eat the whole thing myself in a heart beat. And then another. This torte is heaven on a plate people, pure vegan heaven on a plate. MUST MUST MUST ORDERRRRRRRRRRR.

 

Every month Hugo’s never ceases to amaze me with the inventiveness, creativity and execution of their specials. January proved to feature one of my favorite menus yet and I give my full endorsement for every delicious item I tried. All gluten-free and all vegan lose your mind apps, entrĂ©es and desserts at an omnivorous restaurant? Is this real life? Yes, yes it is. It’s Hugo’s.

 

My one complaint was regarding the service. The dinner service at Hugo’s West Hollywood is always a little, err, shall we say, lacking. Our waitress was kinda hard to flag down and def had a ‘tude. However, the hostess (possibly manager?) at the front totally picked up her slack and is always amazing to all the customers whenever I eat there. Regardless of service gripes, Hugo’s continues to be one of my favorite vegan friendly restaurants in LA. I think Bess had a great birthday and that’s all that really matters. I will def be hitting Hugo’s up again in January before those rockin specials disappear!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend