Adventures in Veganism: The Spot in Hermosa Beach

Adventures in Veganism: The Spot in Hermosa Beach
Hope Lee

The menu at Hermosa Beach vegetarian restaurant The Spot Natural Food Restaurant indicates that the place serves desserts, but unless you're the reincarnation of Andre the Giant, you'll never know for sure. Because only the former Eighth Wonder of the World would be able to complete the Tamale Combo Plate and still have room for more.

The vegan dish is comprised of one tamale, one enchilada and one taco with a side of rice and beans (your choice of black or pinto) large enough from which to make two, maybe three, meals. In fact, the massive helpings of beans and rice alone are more than enough for lunch -- and you've still got three entrees to tackle.

While the enchilada (kale, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini served in a corn tortilla and covered in red sauce and a choice of soy or white cheddar cheese) is damn tasty and the taco has some of the best faux meat in Southern California (thanks to a baked homemade combination of walnuts, almonds, soy cheese, pinto beans and tofu), it's no wonder this dish is called "Tamale Combo Plate" and not "Taco Combo Plate" or "Enchilada Combo Plate" because the tamale is, as the kids say, da bizness.

At first, you think the tamale (from Graciana Tamale Factory) is served on a separate plate because it can't fit onto a regular-sized dish, thanks to all the other foods. Then you drown that mofo in homemade chili salsa and take a bite only to discover that the separate plate is a matter of hierarchy, not space confinements. Made with peas, carrots and corns, the tamale steals the show, which is impressive considering just how delicious the taco is.

But the super-sized portions aren't limited to just the Tamale Combo Plate. Por ejemplo, buried somewhere underneath a mountain of lettuce, tomato, cheese (vegan or not), salsa, beans and rice is the Santa Fe enchilada ($10.95). By the time you get to the open-faced corn tortilla and choice of tofu, tempeh or crumbled veggie burger, it feels like dessert because you're already stuffed from what is supposed to be side dishes.

Adventures in Veganism: The Spot in Hermosa Beach
Hope Lee

Even the salads at The Spot are more than enough for two people. Take the Almond Rice salad -- which, ironically, is exactly what you'll tell your server if s/he asks if you are finished. No joke, you'll eat and eat (and eat and eat) the fresh lettuce, shredded carrots, broccoli, cucumber, sprouts, sunflower seeds, brown rice and sliced almonds, but you'll never get to the bottom of this monstrous dish ($9.95!). With a terrific herb dressing made from herbs, soy oil and apple cider vinegar, you'll want to -- but wanting and actually doing are two very different things.

And in related news:

Localita & The Badasserie: Vegans Among Us

The Year of the Vegan Cookbook: 5 Great New Animal-Free Titles

Top 10 Famous Vegans, 2012 Edition

Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurant - 2012

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