The Unvegan

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Burgers and Dumplings at Village Tavern
Scottsdale Culinary Fest 2018
Breakfast in a Brew Box
Finz to the Left, Finz to the Right

‘Mediterranean’

Mantee, not Manatee

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Yes, I would like meat in my hummos.

When my buddy recommended heading to a place called Mantee in Studio City, I was really excited to eat a sea cow and hoped the manatees were farm-raised (because we all know they are endangered in the wild). But he quickly corrected me, saying that the restaurant was lacking that all-important second “a” and was actually Mediterranean. And one look at the menu showed this was not your typical Mediterranean. There were no schwarma wraps to be seen here and instead items like that were replaced by unique Lebanese, Turkish and Armenian delights.

Steak and Fries at Cayenne (CLOSED)

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Get those verts off of me.

On Friday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to an all-expenses-paid dinner courtesy of the Chulews. We headed to a place in a strange part of town that isn’t quite West Hollywood and isn’t quite Beverly Hills called Cayenne Cafe. Not to be confused with the pepper or vehicle, Cayenne was a sort of upscale Middle Eastern restaurant with a side of steakhouse. Being Passover, I was a little bit limited by the menu, because I couldn’t get anything with pita. Fortunately, there was that whole steakhouse thing going on and I could take advantage of that.

Greek Tapas at Mediterraneo

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Hummus and tapas?

While wandering the Hermosa Pier in search for some sort of food to eat, the girlfriend and I discovered a place called Mediterraneo. It seemed like one of the few places on the pier that would be a better restaurant than a bar, so we decided to check it out. While the name implies Greek food, we were surprised to find that this wasn’t some simple gyro and pita place (although that wouldn’t necessarily have been a bad thing). Instead, we found that they were a tapas place that didn’t limit itself to the Spanish style. In addition to Spanish, there was also a nice Greek influence that could be found in menu items like hummus, beets and feta cheese.

Lacking Meat at Noosh Deli (CLOSED)

Three prongs of meat?

In North Hollywood there is a deli unlike any I had ever seen before. Rather than being filled with cold cuts, pastrami or Italian sandwiches, this deli has food with more of a Greek and Armenian flair. It is called Noosh Deli and although not the usual deli, I figured it had to be worth a try. Scanning the menu, I decided any Greek place had to have some good gyros, so I ordered their Beef Gyro Sandwich (with fries and a drink for 6.99). It came with lettuce, tomato, onion and yogurt sauce. I ordered without the veggies and waited 7 or 8 minutes until the sandwich was prepped and ready to go.

Going Mediterranean at Mezza (CLOSED)

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Who thought onions were a good idea?

EDIT: This building got knocked way down, but you can find other Mezzas.

Since my buddy wanted to eat something healthy (foolish, I know), we thought we would try out some Mediterranean food nearby. Since I’ve already hit up a few of the local places, we looked to Yelp to find something new and discovered a place called Mezza Grill in Culver City. We sat down inside and were greeted by a mildly friendly waitress with bells hanging by her waist that must have some Mediterranean significance. But considering she was blond and likely of some sort of Germanic or Scandinavian descent, the bell thingies came off as somewhat gimmicky. Oh well, gimmick or not, I was ready to eat.

Keeping Kashrut at Haifa

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100% Kosher

As a Jew who clearly doesn’t keep Kosher (see any entry on bacon, cheeseburgers or shellfish), I sometimes find it fun to eat a meal the way my Kosher brethren do. In LA this means a trip to Pico and Robertson, which my girlfriend affectionately calls “Little Israel,” although actual Israel can hardly be called “big.” Kosher restaurants either serve meat or dairy, so to take care of my unvegan needs, this Kosher pilgrimage took me to the meat-based Haifa Restaurant.

Further Fusion at Kabob Express

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Not flashy

Joining the flashy and stylish trucks at the Haiti Fundraiser was an old-fashioned looking truck called Kabob Express. Fusion is a pretty big part of these trucks and Kabob Express has embraced that with their Mexi-Terranean fusion. Mexican and Mediterranean food is kind of a fusion match made in food heaven. Schwarma is awesome and that succulent meat can be thrown in pretty much anything to make it taste better. Kabob Express knew that and took advantage of it by offering schwarma in tacos and burritos. Hoping to save room for more food, I ordered myself a Mexi-Terranean taco.

Turkish to go at Sofra Kabab Express

No veggies in this doner.
No veggies in this doner.

About a year ago, a new Turkish restaurant opened down the street from me in Palms. I was overjoyed at this and especially happy when I saw that they were open late on weekends. Unfortunately, I went pretty soon after they opened and was kind of disappointed with the results. Lucky for them, this was before I started a meat blog, so when I finally got around to paying them another visit recently, it was my first chance to give them an unvegan review. The restaurant is called Sofra Kabab Express and although “express” is typically applied to fast food restaurants in airports, this is nothing like one of those, even encouraging people to hang around and smoke hookah (nargile in Turkish).

Road Tripping to the Mad Greek Cafe

Maddeningly Greek.
Maddeningly Greek.

My usual drive to Las Vegas involves getting there as fast as possible to gamble and returning as fast as possible to cry into my pillowcase after losing copious amounts of money. This trip, however, was a bit different. Rather than a rush back home, we took our time and stopped for lunch.

Anyone who has made the drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas knows of the Mad Greek Cafe. Billboards seem to advertise the “Best Gyro” every few miles, so for our little road trip lunch, we thought a trip to Baker, California and a stop at the Mad Greek Cafe would be worth our while.

Not Quite the Best of Mediterranean (CLOSED)

The best of what’s around?

It was a night for delivery and looking through LAbite, we found a good-looking Mediterranean place to order from it was called Best of Mediterranean (BOM), which is quite a boast to be put in a name, even for a place in West Hollywood. Obviously a place by that name had to be checked out. I was too hungry for a schwarma sandwich, so I ordered the chicken schwarma dinner plate. This came with hummos, tabouli, rice and garlic sauce. Knowing that tabouli is some strange mix of greens, I tried to order without it, but the website wouldn’t allow me. This was a big fail on the part of both LAbite and BOM, because many other restaurants allow you to customize dishes. Unfortunately, I knew that vegetables would be dying for my sake that night and wouldn’t even have the pleasure of being digested.