I don’t often go to vegetarian restaurants because though I eat and cook almost entirely vegetarian, my poor husband likes to get a little red meat now and then. Plus, I just don’t know of that many good vegetarian restaurants in L.A. (or anywhere, for that matter!). Erin (of Erin’s Kitchen) very kindly invited me and Jill (of Eye Level Pasadena) on a culinary adventure last week, an expedition to Elf Cafe in Echo Park. One look at the rave reviews on Chowhound and I was ready to go.
Having read that the restaurant was BYOB (hooray!), we made a quick stop to the local bodega on the corner which now stocks organic wines quite obviously intended for Elf Cafe’s hipster clientele. Can you say neighborhood-in-transition? We were very pleasantly greeted by the waitress the moment we arrived, dispelling the rumors we’d heard about an unwelcoming attitude. In fact, she immediately whisked our wine away to the back to open it as we tucked into a corner booth and savored the smells coming from the tiny kitchen. With only a few tables and dark lighting, Elf Cafe is just the cozy, intimate sort of restaurant I like best and I was delighted to see that nearly everything on the menu was something my picky palate would order.
We perused the menu while munching on the complimentary crostini and potato-garlic dip (yum!!) and sipping on refreshing cucumber water. I felt compelled to order the organic mac and blue cheese I’d read about online earlier in the day and we decided to split an appetizer of mediterranean lentils. Both were good, if not totally out of this world. In retrospect, I like my own homemade mac and cheese so much that it’s hard to top it (though using gorgonzola is a great idea) and I probably should have ordered one of the tasty tarts that seem to be so well liked by patrons instead. Luckily I should soon have my chance, as the whole experience was so pleasant that I plan to return in the near future with Dylan in tow. This is the sort of vegetarian food that all but the most die-hard carnivores could love. And with entrees around $12 and corkage at $5, it’s a nice evening out that won’t break the bank.
Elf Cafe: 2135 Sunset Boulevard (cross-street: Mohawk), Los Angeles, CA 90026 (no phone)