dineLA is an exciting 2-week dining event created by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitor Bureau (aka LA, INC) to introduce diners to hundreds of neighborhood restaurants throughout Los Angeles County. LA’s a huge county full of many great spots for food and drink. So, to help filter through over 300 participating restaurants, dineLA’s invited me to call out a few restaurants offering vegetarian dineLA menu items. I live in West Hollywood, so most of my recommendations are for spots in my area.
For dineLA, participating restaurants offer a fixed 3-course menu for lunch and/or dinner…a great way to taste popular dishes. If a restaurant offers only 1 or 2 vegetarian items on their dineLA menu, many will let you order just those vegetarian items, so do ask. You’ll also find a few vegan and almost raw items too.
With so many great dineLA restaurants, it was challenging to choose just 10! Here’s a few vegetarian items to look for. If you prefer vegan, ask to leave off the dairy. It’s that simple. Click each link below to view their dineLA menu:
Akasha - Chef Akasha and I share a similar outlook for living a life that’s eco green, treading lightly on our planet Earth. Her dinner menu includes a Black Kale Salad, Olive Oil Croutons, Sheep Cheese, Meyer Lemons Vinaigrette – I love kale for it’s texture, color, flavor, and potent nutrient profile. Meyer lemons have a sweeter, less acidic flavor that the more common store bought lemon varieties. Akasha’s desserts sound yummy too: Salted Caramel + Chocolate Fudge Sunday (sounds so gooey and decadent), Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and a Flourless Tiramisu (I always like to choose flourless as a gluten-free option). Akasha is a sustainable business that was built using reclaimed materials, is lit with LED lights, and uses hemp material for their aprons. View Akasha’s menu
Bar + Kitchen - Located inside the O Hotel downtown LA, this spot has a wonderful ambience. For lunch, they’re offering a Watercress + Endive Salad with Pears, Maytag Blue Cheese, Walnuts, Honey Sherry Vinaigrette which sounds amazing as the sweetness of pears and the bitterness of endives pair well together. Also, a Roasted Mushroom Toast with fried egg and whole grain mustard. For dinner, they’re offering a Butternut Squash + Ginger Soup with Creme Fraiche and Spiced Pepitas (super seasonal), Farrotto (aka farro) with roasted broccoli, aged white cheddar, and crispy shallots. Farrotto mimics risotto, and is a thick and chewy whole grain similar to barley. Desserts are the same of lunch and dinner, choose between a Banana Pudding, Warm Chocolate + Peanut Butter Cake (peanut butter and chocolate, yum!), and Butterscotch Pot De Creme. View Bar + Kitchen menu
BLD - Owner and Chef Neal Fraser and I both had recipes featured in the Food + Wine Magazine’s Annual Cookbook, which was how I first discovered BLD, a great spot for comfort foods. BLD always offers vegan items on their daily menu. Vegetarian items on their dineLA dinner menu include a Roasted Carrot Soup; Grapefruit Salad with Fennel, Avocado, Pecorino Cheese, and Tangerine Vinaigrette; and a Butternut Squash Gnocchi. Now that’s an antioxidant and vitamin C blast from beta carotene, grapefruit, and tangerine…yum. Desserts include a Warm Monkey Bread with Bourbon Creme Anglaise (Monkey? I must figure out what this is, love monkeys!) and Banana Caramel Ice Cream, or a Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Parfait with Peanut Butter Pudding. View BLD menu
Lexington Social House- Owner Junella Chin is a fellow Cornell Alumni, and on their dinner menu they’re offering a Local Beet Salad with Tangerines, Pistachios, Arugula, Aged Goat Cheese, and Lemon or a Local Apple and Pomegranate Salad. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants for boosting our immune system for the winter months, a farmer once told me we should be eating a pomegranate daily for its vitamins and nutrients, to boost our overall health. So, the Apple Salad will help me eat more pomegranates! For the main, Parpardelle with Kale Pesto…love Kale! And dessert is a choice of Apple Tart, Monkey Bread (I’m year of the Monkey and love everything Monkey!), or Flourless Chocolate Souffle with and Almond Milk Cream (dairy-free, perhaps gluten-free too, nice!). View Lexington Social House menu
Loteria! Grill – Hollywood - Owner and Chef Jimmy Shaw tells me since most of his food is meat stock based, he is offering optional vegetarian/vegan sauces. For lunch, Esquites with corn, crema, guse anejo, onion, epazote, and chile; Chile Relleno De Quesillo O Picadillo (the red sauce has meat, so ask for the green tomatillo sauce that’s vegan); and desserts include Helado De Chocolate O Chongos, Guava Cheesecake, and Poached Pear. For dinner, he’s offering a puree of Chile Poblano; an interesting Hibiscus Flower Salad that sounds beautiful; Ensalada De Milpa Asada; and 3 desserts to choose from including Crepes, a Rum Custard Ice Cream (recipe inspired by Nuns of the Convent of Santa Clara in Puebla, how intriguing); and the Guava Cheesecake. View Loteria! Grill – Hollywood menu
Penthouse at the Huntley - This is one of my favorite spaces as it sits at the top floor of the Huntley Hotel with amazing view of the ocean and Santa Monica. I’m forever grateful to Exec Chef Seth Greenburg for inviting me in to spend the day with him in his kitchen teaching me his molecular gastronomy techniques. The lunch menu has several vegetarian items including a Romaine Hearts Salad with Sourdough Croutons and Lemon-Caper Dressing. I love capers, which are a pickled vegetable and a great source for probiotics that aide digestion. Spicy Tomato Capellini; and 3 desserts to choose from including a Chocolate Lava Cake, Creme Brulee, and Profiteroles. View Penthouse at the Huntley menu
Ray’s and Stark Bar - Bravo to Exec Chef Morningstar for being named Best New Restaurant 2011 by Esquire Magazine. Chef Morningstar has a garden where he grows some of his green and herbs behind the restaurant. Dinner items include Little Gem Lettuces, Truffled Rice Agnolotti with hen of the woods mushrooms and wild arugula, yummy; Aged Nantes Carrots; and choice of 2 desserts: Chocolate-Peppermint Mousse or Johah Gold Apple Crumble or Variations of this week’s market citrus. I was stoked when Morningstar told me his boss Master Chef Joachim Splichal gave him a copy of “Ani’s Raw Food Essentials” to use while designing recipes and menus for Google campus. View Ray’s and Stark Bar menu
RH at Andaz West Hollywood - I was taken to this restaurant recently and was pleasantly surprised to see that about a third of their menu is vegan, with a “V” denoting vegan items placed throughout their menu. For lunch, Vegetable Soup; Caesar Salad; Truffle Grilled Cheese with Fries (I love truffle anything!); Portabello Mushroom Burger with Fries; and an Agnolotti Pasta. For dinner, Vegetable Soup; Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata and baby arugula. Heirloom tomatoes have been open-pollinated, are not hybridized, and are not genetically modified. Truffle Risotto with wild mushrooms (I love mushrooms for flavor and they have been used for centuries in Chinese Medicine to boost immunity). For dessert, choose between Apple Tart or Chocolate Cake. View RH at Andaz West Hollywood menu
Simon LA - Owner and Exec Chef Simon is all about making his diners happy, and is super accommodating with substitutions and requests. So just ask to leave out the cheese or dairy if you’re looking for vegan. For lunch, Market Roasted Vegetable Kale Salad with Fennel Pollen and a Sherry Vinaigrette; Mascarpone Polenta; and 3 desserts: Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Vietnamese Banana Creme Brulee, and House Made Kit Kat (omg, yum!). For dinner, Spinach Salad with dates, persimmon, blue cheese and a warm sherry vinaigrette. Desserts include Warm Goat Cheese on Toast with Frisee and toasted almond and citrus zests, Sea Salt Chocolate Pot De Creme, or a Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Blueberries. View Simon LA menu
Tar Pit - Chef Jason Fullilove (great last name!) has moved over from Campanille to revamp the Tar Pit menu, and is offering 2 vegan dishes on his dineLA dinner menu including a Terrine of roasted vegetables, caramelized kumquats, and plantains or a Pasta with winter root vegetables, roasted tomato, and bitter greens. Love kumquats this time of year for their tart flavor, beta carotene, and vitamin C. Choose from 3 desserts including Bandy Chocolate Cake, Bananas Foster topped with toasted marshmallow (whoa), and Apple Tart Tatin. View Tar Pit menu
Today was Day 3 of food prep at the Test Kitchen. My GastRAWnomique molecular gastronomy inspired dinner is just days away. Chris Ochs and Josh from SunFood personally delivered a ton of superfoods. Diane Paylor and I were elbow deep in cacao. And Top Chef Alex Reznik was cold smoking my cashews for me.
To cold smoke, Alex uses a smoking gun packed with chips to push smoke into a sealed container of raw cashews. The cashews absorb the aroma of the smoke, but stay raw. Pretty cool. No pun intended.
Restaurant Mo-Chica’s Ricardo Zarate and I making Cheddar Kale Chips.
Richi helping me set up 8 Excalibur Dehydrators. These are my favorite dehydrators, and they come with Paraflexx reusable non-stick sheets. Thanks for sending them over to me Excalibur! So much love from the community, sponsors have been super generous and include: Excalibur, Sambazon, Earth Circle Organics, Sunfood, Gold Mine Natural Food, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Big Tree Farms.
Chef Seth Greenburg at the Huntley Hotel Penthouse Restaurant invited me into his kitchen where he shared with me some of his favorite molecular gastronomy techniques.
Chef Seth and I compressed melons and cucumbers, and put chemicals into water and fruit puree to create popular spheres or ‘caviar’. We even made ‘noodles’. See what could be done using chemicals got my creative juices flowing thinking about ways to create similar effects without chemicals, and instead 100% natural and raw.
Test Kitchen brings together the best Chefs in LA, and has become much like a think tank where Chefs share their creativity, ideas, and time. Great energy in this space! Chef Christian Page, a locavore sourcing his ingredients locally and seasonally, is to the left of the photo, and is about to open Daily Dose Restaurant in downtown LA in mid Dec.