Tag Archives: downtown Los Angeles

Mas Only Okay

4 Oct

Mas Malo
515 W. 7th Street
Los Angeles CA 90014
213.985.4332

Mas Malo is a downtown Los Angeles outpost of Malo in Silver Lake. I saw some photos on Instagram which led me to their website where I saw they had a number of vegan and veganizable dishes, and not the usual ones you might see at a Mexican place.

Vegan Menudo

They have a vegan menudo, and a mock ground beef and pickle taco! So when a vegan friend and I were trying to find a place to have lunch I suggested it and we went.

Mock Ground Beef & Pickle Taco (no cheese)

And we were both disappointed. Not by the space, which is an old jewelry store from the 1920s, located directly below the bar Seven Grand. And not by the free chips and salsa, which were very good. But the food just didn’t kill. I’m hesitant to say this since I think it’s great that they have a bunch of vegan options. I don’t want restaurateurs to think vegans are nothing but insufferable complainers (oops!) so what’s the point of trying to make them happy.

Zucchini Blossom Taco (hold the cheese)

But the thing we were most excited about, the vegan menduo, seemed more like a bowl of Thai tofu soup than a vegan version of a Mexican version of anything. And the zucchini blossom (hold the cheese) taco wasn’t nearly as exciting as its name.

Soyrizo, Spinach, and Corn Chimichanga

I did like the Soyrizo, spinach & corn chimichanga though my friend found it a bit too spicy, and we both liked the mock ground beef and pickle hard shell taco, but we both agreed that it wasn’t anywhere we needed to go back to, although if you’re looking for a place downtown to meet omnifolk within walking distance of Staples Center it’s not a bad choice.

Farmer Boys: Victuals for Vegas-bound vegans in Victorville, and 24/7 in L.A.

18 Dec

Farmer Boys
726 S. Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
213.228.8999
(and throughout SoCal,
CentralCal, and Vegas)

Not Victorville.

Okay, I didn’t go to the Victorville location of Farmer Boys. Of which there are three. I went to the one in downtown Los Angeles. Not fancy loft in what once was a bank downtown — gritty truck-trafficked potholed downtown. Which isn’t all that far from the other one.

But the menus are the same in Victorville, and I thought it might be more useful to know that this option exists when you’re 15ing it to Vegas than to know there’s a fast food joint that awaits you with open vegan-friendly arms on Alameda.

And they’re not just on the road to Vegas, they’re all over the 99 to Yosemite too, though sadly not the dreaded 5 to San Fran. (cisco.)

My FAQ touches on the hold that fast food has on me. I’m not the only one, of course. Many other Americans patronize fast food even though they know it’s not good for them. Do they like the food? Do they like the convenience? Or like me, have associations been made with family, childhood and safety.

But there was no Farmers Boy when I was a kid. So what am I relating to? What still provides that feeling? Is it merely the concept? Vinyl and plastic booths, a big metal counter, some backlit signage, and ordering standing up?

The downtown Los Angeles location is open 24/7! (Or 7/24 if Eur from Europe.)

Pulling out of the fast food world may be the best thing that veganing has done for me. There’s no way the vegan crap I eat is crappier than the non-vegan crap I ate, right? (Please say right.) I actually hadn’t eaten much fast food for a good decade before going V last year. But once in a while I still did. And even though I hardly went any more, I often felt the pull, drawing me toward its location on the corner of Drive-thru Drive and Memory Lane.

But there are times when convenience is needed. When something/anything to eat is needed. Like that drive to Las Vegas. (Which btw I don’t do very often, because I don’t like Las Vegas —  because I don’t like cigarette smoke, odds stacked against me, or cowboy hats.) You probably know this, but the people in Las Vegas are Las Vegans. And sometimes even call themselves Vegans. And those Vegans do a pretty good job feeding us vegans, so I hear.

But let’s talk tofurky. Or at least veggie burgers. Because that’s what you can get at Farmer Boys. Or a veggie sandwich. That’s right. They’ve got two choices. Two on-the-menu choices that require but scant modification. No dressing on the veggie burger, and no cheese on the veggie sandwich. And swap out the wheat bread on the veggie sandwich for rye or sourdough, cuz the wheat’s got honey.

How do I know this? I called the Farmer Boys toll-free number and spoke to a friendly person who was eager to help. In fact, I didn’t feel a single eye-roll the entire time. And she even emailed me later to verify that the wheat bread had honey and that the veggie burger bun was egg, dairy and honey-free.

© Ansel Adams

Now to the basics. The veggie burger, which I photographed, and the veggie sandwich, which I did not (*sigh*), are pretty different. The veggie burger is the kind that’s a patty of stuff smooshed together. While smooshed might not be a verb that’s usually used to connote tastal satisfaction, in this case it’s doing just that. I much prefer this kind of big flat fall-apart patty to the kind of styrofoamy hockey puck veggie burger you’re often served when you dare to go meatless at a cathedral of meat. It came with iceberg lettuce, tomato, and onions, all of which seemed unusually fresh for a fast food joint, and there’s ketchup on the table to make up for the mandatory dressing removal. I combo’d it with some good hot fries and a Mug root beer. I can’t guarantee that all locations are Muggly since the menu on the website doesn’t show it, but for this caffeine-after-3-keeps-me-up-all-night loser, it was a sight for sore-if-I-had-Barq’s-the-day-before eyes.

The veggie sandwich, which comes on toast, has no burgery patty. But what it does have post-cheese is lettuce, tomato, mustard, pickles and avocado. (You can add avocado to the veggie burger, too, but it’ll cost you — $1.50 I think.)

And there’s calorie info on the website, too. The veggie burger weighs in at 581 (that’s some accurate lab they must use!) but that’s with the dressing, so I figure you’re saving at least a hundred calories by going ketchup or mustard or dry.  And the veggie sandwich says 398 but that’s with ewwy milk-of-another-animal cheese.

So there. Now you know about another fast food option. At least if you find yourself in SoCal, Central Cal, or Vegas Cal. If you’re in a different Cal, check out this great website if you don’t already know about it, which makes a pretty good effort to document what’s available to us eaters-of-the-future at the various fast food joints and other chains across this great American fastfoodjointandotherchainscape.

Oh. And if you liked this review, ring my bell.

Babycakes LA… rchmont

4 Dec

Babycakes NYC
130 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213.623.5555

At almost half a hundred years of age I should be better with change. Because it’s probably something you can learn to deal with over time, right? It’s not genetic, is it? Yet it often throws me.

Today I went to Babycakes downtown. What a nice drive I had, no traffic on the 5, over the 4th street bridge, okay I had to circle the block for a meter, and then okay the meter was $3.00 an hour (which doesn’t sound nearly as bad as the TWENTY-FIVE CENTS FOR FIVE MINUTES that it works out to) but still. Things were going well.

Then I opened the door to Babycakes. Was I in the wrong place? Did I step into something next door by mistake — you know, like the way I walked into the coffee house next to Scoops once and asked for some ice cream. (I’m scoopid like that.) But nope, I was in the right place, it was the world that had gone wrong.

Step through the door of Babycakes now and you are greeted by… another door. A drab, hastily erected in a hastily erected wall, door. And, it’s maybe ten feet from the front door. Huh?

See that sculpture on the wall of the birds or whatever? Now scroll to the first photo up top and you'll see those birds through the window.

A look to the left revealed a tiny counter, with a small display case of items. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

As the friendly person behind the counter explained to me, “I just came into work one day and this wall was there.”  Turns out, Babycakes is opening up in Larchmont Village, which they’ve already tweeted about, and as a result they have more or less turned their charming, inviting, makes-you-feel-good-to-be-a-vegan location downtown into what now has all the warmth of a check-cashing joint.

Oh, and they’ve also chopped the hours. It’s now only open to 7pm, and 9 on the weekends, whereas they used to be open till 11 some nights!

Look, it’s a business, I get it. They decided they’d probably do better in Larchmont and so they’re turning their downtown spot into a baking operation with a tiny space for some retail sales. Or at least that’s my guess about what they’ve decided. There’s still one table for two inside, but seriously, you feel like you’re sitting at a table in the lobby of an industrial printing plant.  Ugh. (There’s also one table outside.)

The food, I should mention, is still really good. Doughnuts, toasties, crumb cakes — I serve these things to non-vegans and they love it and have no clue. Then they realize I’m eating it too and say, “This is vegan? Really?”  Because, you know, all vegan food contains feces, right?

I actually didn’t like Babycakes the first time I tried it, which was at the old M Cafe in Culver City. And I gave it a chance, too. Tried a few different things. Then one time I was downtown and decided to stop by their charming (I’m starting to cry again) shop. Holy crap, was it good! Maybe I didn’t try the right things at M Cafe, maybe it wasn’t as fresh, maybe M Cafe didn’t carry some of the stuff I was trying downtown, but man, it was all very good and some of it great.

Anyway, the food is still just as good. And I guess it’ll be nice to have them in Larchmont (also known as the most inconvenient part of the city to get to from my home) but if the momma store had to (almost) die to birth this baby, I’m not sure the doctors made the right decision.

Anyway, I was told they plan to open in Larchmont in the second half of December or early January. And I wish them the best, I really do. In fact, maybe they’ll do so well in Larchmont they can open a third location, and then a fourth, and then need a bigger bakery in a commercial space and reconstitute the downtown shop!

Yeah, and I suppose journalism will return to the world, too.

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