Reconcile the vegetarian with the picky eater
October 15, 2008 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Help me find an L.A. restaurant that accommodates a vegetarian and a picky eater!

So my brother is coming to visit me in Los Angeles for a few days and we're planning on going out Sunday evening to eat along with an aunt who lives in the area. I'm having trouble trying to find the right place to go though. My brother is a vegetarian (sort of, he eats fish, so call it what you will) and my aunt is an extremely picky eater (tends to only like simple food she can identify. Mostly "American" cuisine. If she can't have it cooked to order, meaning well-done meat and willing to take substitutions on absolutely everything, she gets upset). Personally, I'll eat pretty much anything, but my brother won't be satisfied with the salad/mixed vegetable options at many restaurants and if it's "weird" my aunt won't like it. What's a good option to take these people out somewhere they'll both be satisfied? My brother is going to be staying near Hollywood so somewhere in that vicinity is preferable, but not required. Something that represents the cuisine that Los Angeles has to offer is a plus, as it's my brother's first time coming here.
posted by fishmasta to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Take 'em to a sushi/yakitori place. Your brother can eat cucumber rolls and whatever fish he likes. Your aunt can eat chicken yakitori-- "chicken on a stick" as we billed it out to a picky sister-in-law. Tsuji No Hana, in Marina del Rey, has a pretty good yakitori menu, and an outstanding sushi menu.

Or-- take 'em to a shabu shabu place. Your brother can get a vegetarian shabu shabu, and your aunt can get a beef shabu shabu, and boil the hell out of her meat. It's simple, there's no "weird" sauces on the food before you cook it, etc. Mizu 212 on Sawtelle Blvd in Santa Monica is a great place.

Or-- take 'em to a more traditional fish joint. Enterprise Fish Co, on Main in Santa Monica, excellent.

Or-- take 'em to the Fairfax Farmers Market; your brother can get some decent falafel, your aunt can get bbq. The choices at the farmers market are huge.

OR-- take 'em to Pinks on La Brea. Your aunt can get the Martha Stewart hot dog. Your brother can get the Patt Morrisson vegan dog. Quintessential Los Angeles.

If your aunt weren't such a concern, I'd throw out places like Urth, or The Spot in Hermosa Beach (arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles). If your brother weren't such a concern, I'd throw out interesting places like Stinking Rose, or Arnie Mortons.
posted by mark242 at 10:06 PM on October 15, 2008

Try Hugo's. They do upscale American with a sustainable/crunchy-hippie bent, and their food is damn good. The Create-A-Plate option might work well for your aunt, and they've got some really tasty vegetarian options.
posted by fuzzbean at 10:15 PM on October 15, 2008

I came into this thread to recommend Hugo's as well; lots of great veggie choices (I tend to choose them, though I'm not a veggie myself) and cool with the picky eaters (via the createaplate and just because they're groovy.) Also tends to be a bit loud, and makes you feel like you're in the middle of a bunch of people doing something important. They're on both sides of the hill, and both are good.
posted by davejay at 10:21 PM on October 15, 2008

although parking can be a bit sketchy in both places, because it's a busy place without enough parking in the area; plan accordingly.
posted by davejay at 10:22 PM on October 15, 2008

Don't take them to Pink's. Their veggie dog is worthless.
posted by kidbritish at 10:39 PM on October 15, 2008

Response by poster: Good choices so far. Hugo's seems like it could be a good choice (and if my aunt protests I'll have to try it on my own sometime. That menu looks delicious).

Anyone have ideas that may have outdoor seating? I'm thinking that's probably a more likely option near the beach, but any suggestions are appreciated.
posted by fishmasta at 11:02 PM on October 15, 2008

Mary and Robb's Westwood Cafe is has a decent selection of veg stuff (or fish) and is the place my friend and I fondly refer to as the old people restaurant because of the average age of their clientele (seriously, their dinner hours end at 8pm). It's sort of like classy diner food. It's not fancy, but it's definitely a place I'd take someone who likes "American" food.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:14 PM on October 15, 2008

I agree with Hugo's or *definitely* Farmer's Market, which is an integral part of LA history -- the heartbeat of LA if you ask me.

Chin Chin is the home of the original chinese chicken salad (LA also allegedly lays claim to the barbecued chicken pizza, the cobb salad and the french dip sandwich) and they have a good variety of healthy options... even the most sheltered of American palates are familiar with things like beef & broccoli or chow mein. And you can also try one of the Thai BBQ Restaurants, they've got BBQ chicken, spareribs and various other familiar things on their menu too.

That said, I've taken a non-vegan to Real Food Daily and they actually liked it. It was surprisingly good.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:41 AM on October 16, 2008

The Kitchen. Comfort food, good veggie options, and some fancier stuff if you're in the mood.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:42 AM on October 16, 2008

Aroma Cafe beautiful outdoor seating and delicious menu
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 4:59 AM on October 16, 2008

I'll toss a vegetarian knock against both shabu shabu and the Farmer's Market. Vegetarian shabu shabu is pretty much the same uninspiring Asian salad choices that are underwhelming cold, and not much better boiled. If he eats fish, there might be more for him there, but boiled tofu and cabbage? Meh. And the Farmer's Market has a lot of mediocre, overpriced options (the falafel sucks, as does most LA falafel) for vegetarians.

My girlfriend's parents, who are as whitebread as you can get without Wonder stamped on your ass, liked Real Food Daily.
posted by klangklangston at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2008

Jinky's Cafe (there are 3 of them in LA) as tried by a vegetarian (me) and a picky eater (my bff). A wide variety of food, fantastic brunch/breakfast, and good service. Prices were great as well.
posted by lacedback at 2:15 PM on October 16, 2008

California Pizza Kitchen is kinda tacky but would at least let everyone get something they would tolerate. I'm sure you can do better but you could keep it in your list of last-ditch options.
posted by chairface at 3:54 PM on October 16, 2008

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