Organic fries with macro-ketchup? At this small, brightly lit, health-oriented café, the salads—tuna tataki, gado gado with tempeh, veggie—are displayed deli style. You can order a sandwich, panino, or California Club (tempeh bacon, tomato, avocado, soy mayo, etc.), or take-out sushi (with brown rice). The desserts are egg, dairy, and refined sugar free, for better or for worse.
Best Vegetarian Takeout, May 2006
While even some of L.A.’s most hidebound steak houses have begun making concessions to our vegetarian friends, the city’s take-out food scene has remained a messy and, with the exception of pizza, an overwhelmingly meaty proposition. M Café de Chaya
has filled this void with the happiest kind of fanaticism, preparing its array of macrobiotic to-go options in the culinary styles of at least a dozen nations. The Bi-Bim Bop rice bowl, for example, gets its assertive kick from homemade kimchi and Korean vegetables, while the panino Tuscano
melds caramelized onions, Tuscan white bean spread, and spicy salami crafted from seitan between the halves of fresh-baked focaccia. The hearty Madras Tempeh Wrap—with its masala-tinged tempeh, curried soy yogurt, and frizzled onions—invokes the hush of a monastery and the bustle of a New Delhi street corner in a single bite. Sandwich side salads are usually a limp afterthought, but M Café’s are anything but. Most crucial for a to-go joint, it cooks and packages these dishes so that the vegetables retain their snap, the marinades their tangy luster, and the tempeh, tofu, and seitan their tender, deep consistency even after a 20-minute drive to your dining room table.