Friday, July 29, 2011

Veggie Grill: Eating veggie without really noticing

Veggie Grill's sweet potato fries
I wasn't sure what to expect at Veggie Grill, a Southern California mini-chain that takes "American comfort food" -- bbq chicken sandwiches, onion rings, Buffalo chicken wings -- and makes them completely vegan, but with familiar flavor profiles. A few writers and I were invited to try the Farmer's Market location recently and meet with co-owner T.K. Pillan, who is firmly convinced that eating "plant-based cuisine" has numerous health benefits. The owner says that even with deep frying and secret sauces and such, diners are still getting lots of benefits from eating plant-based meals.
veggie Buffalo wings
Hail Kale salad

What I liked about Veggie Grill wasn't so much the pseudo-meats but the large variety of salads and vegetable side dishes, especially the kale-based ones. Hail Kale salad seems to be everyone's favorite, and it's a filling mix of kale, grilled tempeh, carrots, tomatoes, walnuts and corn salsa. If Veggie Grill were a touch closer to my office, I'd certainly pick one of these up for a healthy lunch. They also Thai chickin' salad, Baja Fiesta and Chop Chop chef. Veggie Grill definitely doesn't want you to go away hungry, and the veggie burgers, grilled portabello sandwich and various chickin' sandwiches combine wheat buns with lots of vegan mayo-based sauces for hearty, if not exactly low-calorie meal. My favorite things we tried were the sweet potato fries, and the steaming kale with ginger miso dressing. As far as the mac 'n cheese with vegan cheese -- well, just get the fries instead.
Portabello sandwich, mac 'n cheese
If you're not big on fake meat, just stick with soup, chili, fries, a salad or portabello burger. Veggie Grill isn't trying to be fine dining, it's a fast casual place where everything is under $10 and people who aren't used to vegan food won't be intimidated, and it does a fine job within those parameters. Pillan says the plan is to keep expanding, possibly to Pasadena, the Valley and out of state, in the near future.
Veggie Grill: Farmer's Market, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Torrance, El Segundo, Irvine


Robin said...

I love veggie grill, and I am a full bred carnivore. I get the same thing every time - Veggie Burger + Avocado. It's so good I'm afraid to try anything else. I'd highly recommend making the leap to fake meat with it. I made the mistake once of trying it with cheese. From now until my death I draw the line at vegan cheese. It's horrid.

lynn said...

i adore veggie grill - have been going for years back when they were just an irvine thing. i have found some of their dishes to be hit or miss though. but you can't go wrong with the all hail kale and those battered sweet potato fries...

Kate said...

Yummy yum! I love veggies... fried veggies... well that's just amazing!

Ashley with Dress My Cupcake said...

These photos sold me! I most definitely will be making a trip to The Veggie Grill. Those sweet potato fries look absolutely delicious!
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