Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vegan on the Road: SunCafe Organic in Studio City, California

When I told vegan friends I was headed to L.A., I got tons of recommendations of terrific places to eat. But my tight schedule didn't really allow me to go to any of them. However, I only had to resort to Taco Bell once because - thank goodness! - my hotel's concierge recommended a nearby restaurant, SunCafe Organic.

SunCafe is a converted house in the heart of Studio City. And it's adorable. A lovely, shady patio leads to a comfortable interior with hardwood floors and eclectic furniture. You can easily forget that you're right on Ventura Blvd with a view of the interstate outside the restaurant's garden gate.

My travel companion, Chris, and I stopped in for a weeknight dinner. We sat on the patio; it was a cool night and the flame heaters were lit. The wait staff were attentive and knowledgeable about the dishes, and about the various food sensitivities people might have.

Chris & Angie enjoying the shade on the patio.
Chris had the "chili fries" - a smoky bean chili over roasted fingerling potatoes - and raw lettuce leaf tacos. I had zucchini soup, kale salad with house cashew ranch, garlic bread drizzled with balsamic, and shepherd's pie. We followed that up with an astoundingly realistic chocolate 'milkshake' for Chris and an Elvis cupcake (peanut butter and banana) for me. We each sampled the other's dishes and completely agreed that everything was amazing. Chris specifically noted, "They could advertise this place with the slogan 'We Make Kale Taste Good.'" (While I love kale, I took this as the compliment it was meant to be from a non-vegan.)

We loved the food and the ambiance so much, we went back again for lunch the next day with a friend! Having loved the food the first time, this time I was determined to take pictures. But this is what happened when the nachos came:

As you can see, these didn't last long enough for a decent photo. The house-made chorizo is scrumptious, as is the nacho sauce and cashew sour cream. They also kindly made them half raw and half non-raw for us. (The raw is served on thinly-sliced crisp jicama rather than chips.)

I was more careful to get photos of the entrees before we started eating. Of course, somehow I managed to miss a photo of my own plate - a portabello and avocado sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. The mashed potatoes were creamy and perfect.

Angie had the pesto pizza (which can be made raw or with a gluten-free baked crust - she went

Chris opted for the raw lasagna, from which I stole a bite. It was a flavor explosion, comprised of zucchini 'noodles', a house-made nut-based ricotta, pesto, spinach, and tomato sauce, topped with an herb chiffonade.

The food was incredible, but one of the best parts was the price tag. It was not considerably more expensive than your average sit-down chain restaurant. Our entrees for lunch ranged from $13 - $15.

If you happen to be in the L.A. area, add SunCafe Organics to your list of must-visit vegan restaurants.