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Meatless Mondays

3 Great L.A. Vegan Comfort Foods

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Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 2:15 PM
click to enlarge Meatloaf sandwich - CHRISTINE CHIAO
  • Christine Chiao
  • Meatloaf sandwich

Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 3), we'll be bringing you periodic lists of some of the best things we've found to eat and drink around town. Ice cream sandwiches and bowls of tsukemen, fish tacos and dan dan mian, cups of boba and glasses of booze. Read on.

For those who follow a specific dietary lifestyle like veganism, or maybe are in the midst of transitioning into it, the idea of not having your favorite comfort foods can be a bit daunting. Even as awareness of veganism has grown, there remains an underlying perception of it as being a particularly ascetic way of eating. For ominivores, self-professed carnivores and even vegetarians, it's tough to imagine avoiding large quantities of ingredients -- many of which compose at least a handful of favorite dishes.

In Los Angeles, veganism has often been a call for some restaurants to be creative, becoming even more so as of late (see: Crossroads and Kind Kreme). The list of choices is growing to the extent that you can find vegan by cuisine -- whether it's Japanese or Thai. And so it makes sense that you can find quite a few vegan or at least vegan-friendly restaurants with plant-based comfort dishes that recall the familiarity of favorites while remaining true to the dietary credo. Turn the page for some of the better vegan comfort dishes here in town.

click to enlarge Corn chowder - CHRISTINE CHIAO
  • Christine Chiao
  • Corn chowder

3. Corn chowder at Elderberries Café

It's easy to miss Elderberries Café, an unassuming café to the right of a tattoo parlor on Sunset, especially if you're just trying to keep up with traffic on the busy thoroughfare. If it's your first time, you might be offered elderflower juice in a small jug to try. The café is compact, with the kitchen right behind a counter serving up vegan, gluten-free sandwiches, wraps and salads. The standout is a corn chowder peppered with chopped kale and minimally seasoned with salt. It's creamy without being cloying, a balance often difficult to achieve. Call ahead to see if the café has any, as they've been known to sell out. Sundays might be the better day of the week to stop by for a bowl, when a guitarist trained in jazz standards might perform songs from either Ray Charles or Etta James' catalog. 7564 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 851-0700.

click to enlarge Fried chicken dinner - CHRISTINE CHIAO
  • Christine Chiao
  • Fried chicken dinner

2. Fried chicken dinner at Doomie's Home Cookin'

Unless you grew up eating vegan, there are times when you might yearn for certain foods -- fried chicken, Philly cheesesteak, barbecue pulled pork -- you gave up to transition into a plant-based diet. That's where Doomie's Home Cookin', nestled in the corner of a strip mall off Fountain and Vine, can help stave your craving for, well, fried chicken, Philly cheesesteak and barbecue pulled pork. They're all there on the menu, curated it seems for those with the worst case of classic comfort food withdrawal. Even for those who grew up on vegan food, there's the curiosity for foods much celebrated and hardly experienced. It's not improbable to sit next to a party of four, one of whom has been a vegan all four years of her young life -- and intensely curious about mac-n-cheese and burgers. Doomie's Southern fried chicken plate arrives with mashed potatoes, a small cob of corn and a dinner roll. Made of soy and satisfingly crispy, the fried "chicken" is close to the real deal; you'll even find a part of a wooden skewer in the "drumstick" to complete the impression. 1253 Vine St., Los Angeles; (323) 469-4897.

See also: 10 Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in L.A.: Happy Earth Day

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