Front door of Farm Spirit restaurant in Portland, Oregon

restaurant review: high-end vegan dining at Farm Spirit

Front door of Farm Spirit restaurant in Portland, OregonFarm Spirit front entrance

When we plan a trip, I love to research places to eat. First, I make a spreadsheet in Google Docs and map out an eating itinerary, basically. Then I plot multiple options for every meal, depending on how we might feel once we’re at our destination. Sometimes there’s just not enough time (or meals) in a trip to go to every place I’m interested in. That gives me an excuse to go back!

Ross and I went to Portland, Oregon back in April for a long weekend. This blog post is several months overdue, as we ate at several delicious places and the thought of writing one huge entry was daunting. I kept procrastinating. Finally, I decided to break it up into smaller posts for each place.

Portland is one of my favorite cities to visit, as it’s basically heaven for vegetarians. I thought Los Angeles was vegetarian-friendly, but LA has nothing on Portland. There were several “must eat” restaurants for this particular trip, one of them being Farm Spirit.

Farm Spirit is a vegan restaurant in Southeast Portland with a seasonal prix fixe menu. The emphasis is hyper-local, with all the ingredients sourced within 100 miles of Portland. Everything in the restaurant is rooted in this local mentality, even the decor, furniture and serving ware. I had read that this was a destination, that every vegetarian or vegan had to go try the food.


Overhead shot of pizza slices

food review: NY style pizza at Gracie’s Pizza in East Hollywood

There are always new places to try in a city this big. Sometimes places open up that fly under the radar and I wonder why it took so me long to try it out. Gracie’s Pizza opened up nearby in the past year and a friend recommended that we try it, knowing that Ross and I are originally East Coasters.

Gracie’s serves New York style pizza, which has a thin and crispy crust, but is still soft enough that you can fold it. I’ve had NY style pizza from a few places in LA that were mushy, or had weird ratios of sauce to cheese, so I’m wary about pizza here. But fortunately, I had nothing to worry about at Gracie’s Pizza.

Gracie’s is located in the neighborhood of East Hollywood, kind of plopped in a more residential area. There is plentiful parking. The inside of the restaurant has a good amount of seating but still feels like an neighborhood place, like the pizza places from back home. We sat down and an employee came by to take our order. We didn’t have to wait long for the food to come out.

Cheese slice: $3

a slice of cheese pizza from Gracie's Pizza

I had just gotten my new camera lens that day and I was testing out taking photos with it, so please excuse the extreme focus here. This slice of cheese pizza was exactly what I wanted it to be; thin crust, crispy at the edges but still soft in the interior. Not overloaded with sauce or cheese, just the right amount. Ross teases me because I never fold my pizza when I eat it and take dainty bites instead. Hey, at least I don’t eat it using a fork and knife.

Grandma slice (pesto, grandma sauce, roasted garlic, burrata): $5

a slice of Grandma's Pizza

So Ross got this slice; I did not taste it. According to him, it was good but it had too many elements going on all at once and he preferred the cheese slice. The burrata was good though, silky and not salty.

Garlic knots with marinara dipping sauce: $5

These garlic knots were delicious; I ate them so quickly. They came out hot and were super soft and fluffy. They weren’t dense or tough at all, which happens to garlic knots sometimes. The parmesan garlic herb mixture on top was a nice bit of crunch and added extra flavor. They didn’t even need the dipping sauce. I wish I had gotten two orders of these.

Overhead shot of pizza slices

I thought this sign in the front window was pretty cute.

Neon red sign spelling out the word PizzaCool neon sign inside the pizzeria.

Overall, I really enjoyed the pizza at Gracie’s and the people working there were really nice. It reminded me a lot of the pizza back East, and we found out the owner is originally from New Jersey, so he definitely knows his pizza.

Gracie’s Pizza
4330 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029 | trois familia: double decker potato tacos

Trois Familia: Mexican-French inspired brunch

Ross and I went with our friends Jared and Alaina to Trois Familia for brunch in Silver Lake a while back. It’s a small restaurant operated by Ludo Lefebvre, a well-renowned French chef who also runs Petit Trois and Trois Mec in Los Angeles. I’ve never been able to go to his other restaurants since there isn’t that much I can eat there as a vegetarian, although Trois Mec does allow for vegetarian options…so maybe one day. But Trois Familia is almost right down the street from me, and it had received quite a bit of buzz for its brunch.

I think brunch really only became a huge “thing” within the past decade or so because when I was in high school and college, brunch was not the big deal that it is now. In college I went to greasy diners for super late breakfast meals (shoutout to Plato’s in College Park and Tastee Diner in Silver Spring and Bethesda!) but that doesn’t come close to the whole brunch universe that exists now.

I suppose because Los Angeles has a million restaurants and so many of them serve brunch, it’s interesting to see different takes on what are usually the same several dishes (some sort of pancake/waffle, breakfast burrito, eggs benedict, and so on). Trois Familia’s food is inspired by the French background of its chef and also draws from the huge influence Mexican cuisine has on food in Los Angeles.

We got there around 10:30 am, put our names down and were seated after about a 20 minute wait. They don’t take reservations, so I highly recommend getting there early on the weekends.

The restaurant itself is not a huge space but it’s cozy. It feels like a neighborhood place, with cute little decorative touches like a turntable, family-style dining tables that look like picnic tables, and bright primary colors everywhere.

Drinks: | trois familia: cup of fresh-squeezed limeadeJared got a Nutella Malt, I got a limeade and Alaina ordered the horchata. We all took a sip of each other’s drinks and they were all pretty good. My limeade was nice and tart and not too sweet. The Nutella malt was creamy and had a strong hazelnut taste to it. If you like Nutella, order this. The photo above is of my limeade.


Ross and I ordered the following:

Crispy hash brown chilaquiles, sunny side up egg, cotija, salsa macho – $9.75 | trois familia: hash brown chilaquiles
Imagine a really high quality version of the McDonalds hash brown patty topped with a sunny side up egg and a spicy (well, it wasn’t THAT spicy) salsa. I wish this dish had been bigger (another hash brown patty/egg would have been nice)- it was gone in what seemed like a few bites. This felt more like an appetizer than an entree. The hash brown wasn’t greasy and was crispy enough to hold up under the salsa and egg yolk once I pierced the egg.

French bean & cheese burrito, garlic brown butter, wakame, preserved lemon – $9.95 | trois familia: french bean and cheese burrito, exterior | trois familia: french bean and cheese burrito, interior

Bean and cheese burritos are ubiquitous in LA. Trois Familia’s take on it was interesting because of all the different cuisines it is drawing from. Beans and cheese are Mexican, wakame is a Japanese ingredient (it’s a type of seaweed), garlic brown butter is French. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with all these seemingly disparate flavors. This dish was the biggest, portion-wise, of the dishes we ordered. This was super tasty. The burrito had been lightly pan-fried so the outside of the tortilla was crispy. I am not 100% sure of what kind of cheese was used in the burrito but it tasted like it may have been gruyere? or some other French cheese instead of jack or cheddar. Pinto beans were not mushy like the consistency of refried beans; the beans were still distinctive. The garlic brown butter was good and didn’t feel too overwhelming.  I couldn’t really taste much preserved lemon but I did taste a little umami from the seaweed. I would definitely order this again.

Double decker potato tacos, lime, crème fraiche, carrot pico, jack cheese – $12.50 | trois familia: double decker potato tacos

This is also another dish everyone seems to be Instagramming lately, as it’s kind of an elevated version of the double decker taco from Taco Bell. It’s a soft tortilla encasing a hard shell tortilla, so you get the multiple textures of soft and crunchy/crispy. This was my favorite of the three dishes I ordered. The potato filling was seasoned well and not too salty– I’ve had potato tacos on both ends of the spectrum, either too salty or totally bland. This was just right. The carrot pico with lime was neat, as the lime juice toned down the natural sweetness of the carrots. The tacos were pretty big. I shared them with Ross but two of them for just me would have been enough.


One thing I keep seeing in other people’s comments about Trois Familia is that the portions are kind of small and you need to order multiple dishes to be full, which I found to be true. Even our waiter recommended ordering multiple plates. Ross and I ordered 3 dishes to share between us and we were still a little hungry after.A few people have mentioned the cost of the food relative to the portion sizes, but I’m not annoyed by that very much. I feel like the quality of the food justified the pricing to me. Service was attentive and the food didn’t take long to come out, despite the restaurant being very busy.

Overall, I quite enjoyed my meal here. They have added a few new things to their menu and now also do take-out, so I want to go back and try the new stuff, and a few other things I didn’t try this time.


Trois Familia
3510 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Open 7 days a week, 8 am – 2 pm.
Note: There is a small parking lot but it fills up quickly. Street parking also available. | soft serve cone with sprinkles from Dilly's Corner

small town & good eats: doylestown

My husband and I both grew up on the East Coast (suburbs of Philadelphia for him, suburbs of Washington, DC for me). We live in Los Angeles now but go back home several times a year. We’re at the age now where everyone we know is getting married, so the visits home have been more frequent the past few years for all the weddings.

A few weekends ago we flew back to Ross’s hometown of Doylestown, a sleepy and picturesque suburb of Philadelphia, for his friend’s wedding. Doylestown is very idyllic and much more rural than from where I grew up. It’s a very old town with beautiful homes (some from the 18th and 19th centuries), with a cute downtown area with lots of restaurants.

(more…) | bowl of vegetarian shiitake shio ramen at Ramen Champ

Vegetarian ramen at Ramen Champ!

Los Angeles is a mecca for people with alternative diets (vegetarian! vegan! gluten-free! raw! etc.) and you can find a vegetarian version of almost anything here. It’s usually very easy to find good vegetarian options even at places that don’t specifically cater to vegetarians. Vegetarian versions of dishes I thought I could never eat again are plentiful here, including Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen.

I know the idea of vegetarian or vegan ramen sounds blasphemous to most ramen purists but when it’s done well, it tastes really good. And in LA, there are a variety of places that serve vegetarian ramen, one of them being Ramen Champ.