West Coast Eating Extravaganza, Day 1

West Coast Eating Extravaganza, Day 1

Planning this trip, an extravagant foodie frenzy of all the west coast vegan eats I have craved and bookmarked through the years, was a bit overwhelming. Time is sometimes a cruel thing… time and the whole getting full thing. With so much to eat in so little time, planning our days’ eats would require skill and craftiness. Here is the report on day one.

After getting the rental car, we headed out of the Los Angeles immediately. With a quick day trip to Las Vegas on the itinerary, it was quickly onto the interstate. Of course hours of flying left us quite hungry. So, our first stop would be quick, easy, and on the way… like a fast food place. Vegetarian “fast food” joints have started to sprout up in big cities as of the last 7 or 8 years or so, but Covina Tasty in Covina, CA, which declares itself the country’s first vegetarian fast food, opened in 1960.Covina Tasty was the perfect first stop. The vintage A-frame facade and the sign against a bright sky is so very California. A welcoming sight of sky.

The windows of Covina Tasty are covered in sun-faded advertisements. And their peg-board menu, another vintage relic. It is likely that the place hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years.  I ate era-appropriately and got their [veggie] hamburger, home-made french fries and a fountain soda. The hearty hamburger meal was certainly not the best I’ve had but the whole package of Covina Tasty is indeed very memorable. It is a true vegetarian landmark.

Our next stop as we headed east from Los Angeles was an all-vegan store in a massive space and exhaustive stock, Viva La Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Wow, it was nice to see all the v-bombs all over the place!Everything a vegan might need is there. Unfortunately with the dessert heat in our plans, we knew not much would survive our stay.

Behold the vegan cheese fridge! They had it all.

Las Vegas. Not the place you’d think of having gourmet, upscale vegan but… Steve Wynn, of the huge, luxury Wynn hotel on the Las Vegas strip, fancies himself a vegan. So everyone of his 10+ restaurants in the hotel have a separate all-vegan menu, crafted by individual head chefs of each establishment. Thankfully we had the menus in advance to study (link here). We chose the Sinatra, named after Old Blue Eyes (obviously.)  We got the vegan menu and settled in at a table amidst the glamour and extravagance of the dining room, feeling slightly out of place.

We started our dinner with offering of vegan breads and Earth Balance. What a nice thing to hear without having to ask!

My antipasti: the Insalata Estiva… sweet watermelon, sliced heirloom tomatoes, topped with arugula and toasted pine nuts drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It was vibrant deliciousness in the best form.

My entree, Agnolotti… hand-made pasta packets filled with vegan ricotta and cashew cream in a pool of asparagus sauce. Soft, tender, delicious. Though scrumptious, it wasn’t the best value. The waiter was disappointed we did not try their Gardein-based entrees. I was close to passing my views on about the place for processed, frozen meat analogs in gourmet dining, but I bit my tongue.

Since we were being treated like princesses in fine dining setting, we opted to also go for dessert. I ordered the Mirtilli: a bowl of fresh blueberries and lime zest in a pool of sweet, delicious passionfruit consomme and topped with a coconut gelato. The flavor of this dessert was spectacular. Very impressive. I wanted a bit of more texture variety however. 

Well that is day one. After a long day of time traveling, it was time to hit the hay.