Adventures in Veganism: Tony's Darts Away
It's not that Tony's Darts Away in Burbank doesn't have an impressive beer, wine and cider selection -- because it does. Very impressive, in fact. But if you're vegan, the first thing you'll notice about the place isn't the drinks so much as the menu, which includes six vegan sausages, a vegan buffalo sandwich, vegan chili, vegan aioli, a handful of salads and three french fry plates. Once you get over that part, then you'll notice the beer, wine and cider selection.
Well, maybe before you really notice a drinks menu that includes nothing but tap beers from California, you'll notice the ambiance and realize not one single thing about Tony's makes you think "vegan restaurant." Which is to say, Tony's is just like a neighborhood bar -- a pool table, four televisions with some sort of sporting event on -- because Tony's is a neighborhood bar. Except this neighborhood bar has a menu that includes awesome vegan food.
And, yes, the food at Tony's is awesome. Maybe try the vegan Hot 'n' Spicy, a Mexican chipotle sausage served with Sriracha mayo, Creole mustard, pickled jalapeños and griddled peppers. The mayo is absolutely delicious; the mustard is the best this side of Germany; the picked jalapeños provide a necessary kick that won't make you reach for your water every five seconds; and the peppers are soft and fresh. Fair warning: The bun is large, making this difficult to eat with your hands if you're on a date. If you're with your friends and you don't care about getting mustard on your cheek, just dig in.
On subsequent visits (because, let's face it, you're coming back), try the Buffalo sandwich. Made with a crispy, faux-chicken filet, cabbage and carrot slaw, Buffalo-style hot sauce and ranch served on a large bun, this dish is exactly the sort of thing vegans get jealous of when watching their carnivore friends chow down on messy comfort food while hooting and hollering at a game on the TV.
Seriously, life can be lonely for vegans because, really, all we want is messy comfort food that either makes our team's performance that much better or takes our minds off of how bad our team is playing (if you are a Lakers fan, sadly, right now it's the latter). Thankfully, loneliness be damned, because at Tony's we're eating the good, messy, I-don't-care-that-the-Lakers-won't-throw-the-ball-to-Pau-in-the-post shit, too.
The Buffalo sandwich also comes with a side salad that offers a healthy reprieve from the hedonistic dogs, sandwiches and beer. The salad is fresh and tasty, but don't get crazy with the greens because you're going to need room for the Disco Fries.
Not since The Rolling Stones' "Miss You" has the word "disco" had even a remote connotation with anything positive, but Tony's Disco Fries are resurrecting a word we all assumed should have stayed dead. Your server will tell you that the Disco Fries are "heavy" -- and one bite of the fries with the gravy and Daiya cheddar and you realize she's absolutely right. If you want to get crazy, you can make this plate a Disco Inferno by adding jalapeños for 75 cents. And you should, because you've already succumbed to disco, so you might as well go all the way and get the Inferno.
Then you'll notice the 38 taps and the impressive list of beer, wine and cider. Your bartender can recommend a good oat soda for whatever meal you choose, but regardless of what the snobs say, any beer goes with everything -- especially when "everything" includes vegan sausages and sports.
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