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Cooking (and Eating) Dangerously: Where to Go for Vegan Gluten-free Pancakes

Unless you're Elisabeth Hasselbeck--The View's resident Republican published a gluten-free "survival guide" in May--the gluten-free vegan pancake is not something you will want to try at home. Amateurs are less likely to wind up with pancakes than very unappetizing pan-bricks. But because Los Angeles is the city where most dietary restrictions were invented, there are a lot of eggless, wheatless, dairyless options out there. Here are four great places you might try. And the winner? That's after the jump too.

Real Food Daily's vegan blueberry pancakes
Real Food Daily's vegan blueberry pancakes
Photo credit: Dave Smith

Menu Item: Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

Where: Hugo's

How many you get: 3

Price: $12.00

Gluten-Freeness: a mix of garbanzo and rice flour

Butter: none

Topping: Agave-sweetened blueberry compote and powdered sugar

Verdict: Fluffy but on the heavy side and really filling, a dark color thanks to all the blueberries and blueberry juice in the batter, a buckwheat-adjacent and surprisingly non-bean-like taste totally obliterated after you pour all the blueberry compote on top. And you should.

Hugo's: 8410 Santa Monica Boulevard; (323) 654-3993.

Menu Item: Tropical Vegan Pancakes

Where: Green Leaves Vegan

How many you get: 2

Price: $6.95

Gluten-Freeness: Kamut flour

Butter: soy

Topping: Maple syrup

Verdict: The "tropical" part is four slices of banana and approximately six symmetrically and stingily arranged blueberries in each pancake. Golden brown, thin, sweet and deliciously buttery enough to make you think that those angry vegan bloggers are right about the place's ongoing "Is This Place Really Vegan?" controversy (an extremely entertaining internet saga--for us meat-eaters anyway--that involves alleged employment of forbidden eggs and cheese, with a very odd cease-and-desist response from a spelling-impaired lawyer as the cherry on top). Tasty enough to make you think they just used one of those Aunt Jemima add-water mixes.

Green Leaves Vegan: 8351 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 848-2345.

Menu Item: Pancake Platter

Where: Real Food Daily

How many you get: 3

Price: $12.95

Gluten-Freeness: Almond meal

Butter: something called "vegan buttery spread"

Topping: Maple syrup

Verdict: You can ask for blueberries or bananas inside and you'll get them. They're thin but not flat, the almond sweetness doesn't overpower and they look like something a food stylist spent hours prepping for a photo shoot with come-hither faux golden blotches. Except they're real. Blindfolded you'd never know the difference between these and the homemade wheat/egg/milk variety. One drawback: it would be better if they called them tempeh strips instead of tempeh "bacon" because that connotes a level of deliciousness that tempeh can and will never approximate.

Real Food Daily: 414 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 289-9910.

Menu Item: Deluxe Breakfast

Where: La Vegan

How many you get: 2

Price: $8.00

Gluten-Freenes: Kamut

Butter: vegan margarine

Topping: Maple syrup

Verdict: Blonde and spongy, soaking up every drop of vegan margarine and syrup to the point where having to ask for more of each becomes necessary. This isn't meant to be an insult, but they taste like the kind you get at McDonalds with their own 'Deluxe Breakfast.' And if you've eaten those you know they're pretty damn tasty. The salty tofu scramble "egz" (that's how it's spelled--awesomely--on the menu) on the side are a mysteriously yolky yellow. But the limp soy "bacon" strip disappoints. Here's an idea: everybody just sprinkle Bac-Os on everything from now on. Those are vegan, right?

La Vegan: 4507 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 574-9888.

The winner: Real Food Daily. It costs the most, but you get what you pay for.

Runner-Up: Hugo's, for most distinctive taste if you forgo the optional blueberry onslaught and more opportunity to steal bites of your dining companion's bowl of "Pasta Papa."


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