Maccheroni Republic (Los Angeles, CA)

Hefty plates of fresh  housemade pasta fill the dining room of downtown Los Angeles’ Maccheroni Republic. Chef Antonio Tommasi and Jean-Louis de Mori, the founding team behind Italian mainstays Locanda Veneta and Ca’Brea,  dialed back the swank to create a breezy trattoria tucked away from bustling Broadway. For a traditional setting, the menu—with prices in touch with reality—is surprisingly vegan friendly. A handful of standard (or easily modified) vegan items litter the  menu, plus at least one hand written special can be found on the chalkboard. With pride, the menu boldly state that all their pastas (except squid ink) are vegan.
Maccheroni Republic (Los Angeles, CA)

Flavors of East Africa (San Diego, CA)

Immigrating from Kenya, June Owino came to San Diego a hopeful accountant who liked to cook. Happenstance brought Owino in front of the stove then out into the streets of the Farmer’s Market as Flavor’s of East Africa. The city embrace his stewed veggies and wafting spices—his booth remains one of the most popular of the San Diego Farmer’s Market scene—and so in 2011 a permanent store front opened in University Heights.

If you’re making your first visit to Flavor’s of East Africa, a sambusa is a must—these are the staple of Owino’s repertoire. The triangle folded pastries, stuffed lentils, potatoes or spinach, make a great handheld treat at the farmer’s market—but when I hit the restaurant I like to order food I can dig into with a knife and fork.

Flavors of East Africa (San Diego, CA)

Civico 1845 (San Diego, CA)

A child fell at my feet. Staring down in bewilderment, a lanky man leapt out from behind a brown paper covered door singing the child’s name in an Italian accent. Ushering the babe into a late night construction site, my eyes followed them past the reclaimed wood interior to the writing on the windows. My eyes paused when I saw the word: Vegan.

I bookmaked the Civico 1845 and waiting for the opening.
Civico 1845 (San Diego, CA)

City, O City (Denver, CO)

The motto for the city of Denver should be: Come to Denver for our Seitan Wings! Vegan wings—be them seitan, mock chicken or cauliflower—have come a long long way these past few years. Through those years I’ve made the pleasant effort to consume as many as possible. I’m thrilled to say that the Seitan Wings ($10 / $5 Happy Hour) at City, O City are THE BEST I’ve ever had up to this point. A heaping slab—I’d say at least a pound—of chewy house-made setian is sliced and fried in a crisp batter creating ‘wings’ with a gristly interior and crackling-like exterior. The texture even holds true after a night in the fridge… yes, they are still crispy the next day. They come slathered in a choice of BBQ or Buffalo Sauce. While I normally order buffalo anything, on this occasion I gave in to my BF’s pleas for BBQ after nearly burned his face off with Buffalo Tigers at Vertical Diner. He was a fan of the sauce.  I found the BBQ overly sweet and less smokey than I prefer, but there is nothing inherently wrong with that. No matter what I thought of the sauce, it could not mask the perfect execution of these seitan wings.
City, O City (Denver, CO)

First Look: Au Lac DTLA (Los Angeles, CA)

A sputtering fountain in the shadow of the Disney Music Hall marks the entrance to the softly open Au Lac DTLA. Retaining the opulence of the former First & Hope, the modern Art Deco dining room is a refreshing upgrade from the Fountain Valley location. We take our seats in the dinning room as Chef Ito takes the helm of the kitchen. From there he executes a handful of favorites plus a few new tricks. Still in the dawn of the restaurant (official opening on January 1, 2015), Chef Ito’s working menu promises many more new item to come.
First Look: Au Lac DTLA (Los Angeles, CA)