Sparked by a topic that our lunchtime conversation briefly rested upon on Sunday, I have since been compiling a list of fun vegan dates in Los Angeles. They are all cheap, and they all take advantage of summer. A winter addition of this list will be coming later in the year as the city briefly retires indoors and the air is crisp and clear. So for now, wether you are hoping to romance a vegan, just looking for something different to do this summer, or are reading this because you're related to me and feel obliged to do so, I am now going to tell you what to do next Saturday night. I am very bossy. That is actually a major reason for this blog, to give me a fictional audience to command. Now, go, do this:
1. Meet in Marina Del Rey after work. Begin with silly tropical drinks at the Warehouse to break the ice. There's really nothing for you to eat here, so now move onto Antica Pizzeria. You know good pizza. You know that any schlock covered with cheese is probably going to be palatable to most people, but truly good pizza does not need cheese. Truly good pizza is unashamed to step forward and flaunt its saucy undressed crust. At Antica Pizzeria you will eat truly good pizza.
2. I know that this one is pretty obvious, but you can't beat this classic summer date: take a picnic to the Hollywood Bowl. You might stop and pick up dinner from M Cafe de Chaya or, if your family is living on one modest salary while one of you stays home to write a food blog, then you should make dinner. How about this and this and preferably this to have with the thermos of coffee that you bring for later?
3. Get dinner at Native Foods in Westwood. If this is an early-on date skip the big ol' sloppy sandwiches and pizza and opt instead for an appetizer to share like the "Save the Chicken" Wings or Tempeh Chips, followed by a salad or hot bowl. Now go see a movie, preferably a good one at the Fox or Bruin. Or go see a screening at UCLA. Or go visit the Hammer Museum. They're open until 9:00 on Thursdays and the museum is free all summer. How cool is that?
4. Meet in Redondo Beach, ideally an hour before sunset. Park on the Esplanade around Avenue I. Take the stairs down to the beach and walk north until you get to the pier. Go have a sunset cocktail at Tony's. The bar is upstairs. If you order a sickly sweet mai tai you get to keep the glass. Or if you prefer beer dive to midcentury nautical, then go to Naja's where they have a slew of good beer on top. Grab a bar stool and watch the light change. When you're good and tipsy and the conversation is flowing, head back towards the car where you will continue up Avenue I a block to find a healthy little joint in which to sober up: Green Temple. Sit outside in the courtyard.
5. Meet at the Farmer's Market on a Thursday or Friday night during the summer when they have live music. Depending on what you're in the mood for, you might get tacos from Loteria Grill (a bonus here-you can sit at the bar and watch them make your food, it might provide something to do if the conversation lags) or Malaysian food at Singapore's Banana Leaf. Start with the Roti Paratha to share, then order the Mee Goreng with tofu, no egg, and the Rojak Salad. Ah the Rojak Salad, that is a sexy food for a sultry night. Eat it. Now, obviously, grab a cocktail and go listen to the band.
6. For a langorous Sunday afternoon date, you should go get lunch at Coco Renos a tiny taco place in the Belmont Heights neighborhood of Long Beach. They prepare three different vegan tacos (normally served with cheese, order without dairy) for you to choose from on their extensive menu. And they have good beer on tap, notably Fat Tire and Stella Artois. Now stroll off your lunch on the way to the Long Beach Museum of Art located on the bluff in a beautiful old craftsman house. If you really want to Long Beach it up, go right now when you can see the "Looking at Long Beach" exhibit. (I can't vouch, I haven't seen it.) Loving Long Beach and don't want your date to end? Go get dinner at Zephyr Cafe and maybe catch a show.
8. One Thursday evening this summer, ride your bikes to Good Karma in Venice. Find a nice bench to eat your chipotle chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries. Then pedal north to the Santa Monica pier to enjoy the free live music at the summer Twilight Dance Series. Too good to go home? Go get chocolate pudding from Real Food Daily.
9. Meet for a cocktail in the late afternoon at Musso and Frank's in Hollywood when the bar is quiet and the waiters are gossipy. Stroll east down Hollywood Blvd. to the rustic little vegan restaurant cleverly named, "Truly a Vegan Restaurant" which adheres to the Vegan Express School of vegan dining. Pick up the metro at Hollywood and Vine. You will only take it one stop, so if you're up for more of a walk, by all means do so, but I'm giving you options. As I was saying, take the metro to Hollywood and Highland where you will go see a movie at Grauman's Chinese, or walk back toward Musso and Frank's to see something at the Egyptian.
10. I've decided that I'm saving this one for the winter edition. So, what do you got? What's a vegan to do in your neighborhood? And Paul, I'm just cutting you off at the "dumpster diving" head. I appreciate the spirit of economy, but I'm afraid you're going to need to think of something more girl-friendly, or summer-friendly for that matter. Okay, I can't leave you with the smell of garbage, but I have a similarly unpleasant note to add. I am not guaranteeing the veganness of any of these establishments. Real Food Daily, Native Foods, and Good Karma are completely vegan. At the other places please make your needs clear. I can say that they are all vegan-friendly. There, friendly is a good note to leave on.