This semester I have an unpaid internship in West Hollywood. Maybe the experience is good for my résumé, but being out and about and hungry in L.A. twice a week is horrible for my wallet. That’s how I found EVO Kitchen, one of those it’s-so-L.A.-it-makes-you-sick places that’s all organic, family-owned and uses local products, as well as having a wide array of delicious-sounding vegan options.
It’s honestly terrible that I found this place less than two blocks up the street from my internship. It’s on the ground floor of one of those high-rises that you won’t be able to afford to live in until you sell your soul to the industry or become a trophy wife. Thankfully, you’re not required to be a resident to patronize the place. I walked in on a room of empty tables, but that’s understandable, considering the only people eating dinner at 4 p.m. on a weekday are probably in an elderly residence somewhere.
Another thing about these new organic/local/sustainable/vegan-friendly places that people nitpick about is the air of pretension, the “I’m better than you” snobbery of the foodie business. None of that was here at all – the guy who took my take-out order was super friendly and helpful. Of course, I didn’t tell him that 98 percent of my reason for ordering to-go was because I’m too much of a poor college student to sit and be waited on. It’s either tip money for the waiters or desperately needed coffee money for me, and I’m selfish.
I ordered an appetizer, the garlic cheese bread with Daiya mozzarella, for $4.99, as well as a V for Vegan personal pizza, with roasted peppers, mushrooms and soy vegan cheese on a multigrain crust, for $8.99. The bill for this solid meal was just about $15, which is pretty respectable for one of these kinds of restaurants. The food came out promptly and I was on my merry way.
I would proceed to eat half the garlic cheese bread just during the walk back to my car, then scarf down the pizza within minutes of settling into the driver’s seat. Pathetic, you say? Yes. Yes, it is. I also didn’t care, because pizza was once the reason I existed, and finding it in the delicious vegan variety is simply a dream.
The garlic bread is something restaurants usually skimp on, but not in EVO Kitchen’s case – I was fooled by the first layer of bread. There was a whole ‘nother layer underneath, which may or may not have prompted a small happy dance for the wonders of carbs. The Daiya was heaped on generously, and the bread was crusty and warm, just garlicky enough to haunt your nostrils. It came with marinara sauce, which disappointed me slightly, as it wasn’t the chunky, homemade sauce my snobbish taste buds have come to prefer. Rather, it was creamier, like ketchup, but still a very decent tomato sauce for dipping purposes.
The pizza came not with Daiya but with another kind of soy vegan cheese. The consistency was remarkable – definitely looked and smelled like real mozzarella cheese. You could tell upon tasting it that it wasn’t that full-fat creamy buffalo mozzarella you still sometimes crave after giving up all dairy products, but it was a good substitute. The fresh veggies and nicely smoky, crunchy crust delivered. The tomato sauce lacked character, and before you laugh – as that’s a very food critic thing to say – I will defend myself by saying I prefer tomato sauce on pizza to be tangy and complex, not just the vehicle for the cheese. However, this sauce did its base purpose, and honestly, I couldn’t ask for much more of such a solid vegan pizza. Besides, it was gone before I could take another breath. I obviously tasted something good.
I’m happy about this latest discovery – my bank account is not. It also crossed my mind that with food this good, I could probably become the first fat vegan person. I just need the proper funds for it.
This is the opinion of Luisa Barron, a junior screenwriting major from Houston, Texas. Please send comments to email@example.com.