Urban Garden (Los Angeles, CA)

I am not creature of habit. But after nearly 5 years working in NYC’s Murray Hill there were two things you could count on:

  1. Finding me at the Patrick Kavanagh Pub after work
  2. Eating mujadara from Kalustyan’s at least once a week

When I moved to Los Angeles, the crisp onion and smashed lentils of Mujadara exited my life. But two years later, thanks to an invite to try a new vegetarian/vegan friendly menu at Urban Garden, it’s back in my common rotation! But, while UG’s mujadara is decent, what sends me over the edge here the Garlic Sauce!

The garlic sauce doesn’t sound like much, and it really isn’t–just olive oil, garlic and salt–but I refused to believe it was vegan until it was confirmed by the chef. Whipped into a creamy white paste, the olive oil radiates with an obscene amount of sharp garlic. It tastes great on absolutely everything… including my bare finger.

Since the initial tasting, I now eat here all the time. The Fried Cauliflower is a favorite. Despite the occasionally over cooked batch, when the tender white flesh is seared with blacked caramelized tips, it’s perfect in a wrap or on with a platter—dipped in garlic sauce of course. The heavy smokiness of the Baba Ganoush is spot on, though it proved too much for one of my blander friends, this is by far my favorite of their dips options.

When I’m not in the mood to risk it with cauliflower, the organic chickpea and red quinoa Falafel has never failed. It always arrives with a thick, but not oily, shell holding moist innards… which again go perfectly with the garlic sauce. The Vegetable Kibbeh is a special indulgence. Kibbeh, a torpedo-shaped bulger dumpling, is normally filled with goat or beef or lamb or whatnot. At Urban Garden (and The Little Door) it’s not only vegetarian, but vegan friendly! A little sweet, full of flavor—and pine nuts—it’s a must try for any veg since it’s so hard to come by.

The Spicy Cilantro and Garlic Potatoes are not as spicy as they sound. The subtle sauce can get lost against the bold flavors of other choices, like the Kale, Quinoa & Beet Salad. Yes, I just called a salad bold. Dressed in a deliciously super tart dressing, this salad benefits from being paired with the subtle nature of the potatoes. At least until I douse those potatoes in the dreamy garlic sauce.

The only thing that drives me a crazy at Urban Garden is that platters max out at 3 choices. It’s more than enough food, but with so many options, I have the darnedest time limiting myself to just three.

Urban Garden
446 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Spitz (Los Angeles, CA)

A muddling of tasty colors… like a eatable Monet painting

I’ve grown weary of falafels. I don’t dislike them, but will restaurants please think of some more original ‘vegetarian options.’ That said, if I am going to eat a falafel, it better be damn good.

Is Spitz’s damn good? Er…  not exactly. But all the junk they pile on top/inside/around the falafel is!

Spitz’s take on the quintessential vegetarian option is Zesty Feta Doner ($8) with falafel. A once crisp falafel is wrapped in lavash and stuffed with lettuce, red onion, green pepper, cucumber, tomato, feta, olives, hummus, tzatziki and chili sauce. It’s a hefty! It’s really good! Flavor forward—with a sharp briny presence—the mediocre falafel add bland balance against the assault of toppings.

The sauce is more spiced than spicy

With hallmarks like Burger King selling Sweet Potato Fries, these sweet fried sticks have lost much of their allure. But this is where the topping save the day. Alone, the sweet potato fries (small $3.05/regular $5.05)—served with a spicy looking but not at all spicy aioli—are unremarkable. But with a slight modification they become the most awesome fries ever…

Mediterranean poutine!

The Street Cart Fries ($7.35)! Loaded with tons of garlic aioli, feta, onion, green peppers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncinis and chili sauce, these are the star of the menu. Ask for the basket to be 50/50 regular and sweet potato and you’ll be in french fry flavor country!

2506 Colorado Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 257-5600