Friday, March 28, 2008

Cinnamon

My two lovely ladies and I went on an adventure to Cinnamon Vegetarian Restaurant in Highland Park, a city within Los Angeles County, the weekend before Easter. Cinnamon specializes in Mexican food and is vegan-friendly.

I'm going to begin with a complaint, but it is the only one I have. Our waiter, who we believed was also the or one of the owners, did not understand us when we asked what was vegan on the menu. There was quite a language barrier, which made it extremely difficult for us to communicate that we needed to know what contained whey and casein. I decided to play it safe and order something that most likely wouldn't have any hidden dairy.

Before I get to my entree, though, let me say that Cinnamon's salsa was possibly the best restaurant salsa I've ever had. I could not get enough of it. We went through two ramekins of salsa, with YVM and I both adding some to our meals in addition to eating it on chips.

I ordered one of the specials, Tofu and Nopales in Red Sauce, for my meal. It was a great way for me to try something new (nopales are a veggie derived from the prickly pear) and I was pretty certain that there wouldn't be any hidden dairy in it. My entree arrived with sides of pinto beans, brown rice, pico de gallo, and a shredded lettuce/cabbage blend. This is the first time I've been served an authentic-looking plate of Mexican food in ages and it thrilled me. I love beans and I ate those first (yes, I eat the components of my meals one at a time). The tofu was firm and perfectly cooked, having soaked up some of the mildly-spicy red sauce while cooking. I really enjoyed the nopales, even though I can't come up with adequate words to describe its flavor. Its texture was similar to well-cooked green bell pepper. The brown rice was plain, so I added some of that great salsa to it.

Cinnamon's decor deserves some recognition. The space is modern and bright with ample room between the tables and fun art on the walls.

The neighborhood is made up of old houses with amazing character. We took a walk (in the rain) for a few blocks and kept pointing out houses that we loved. We've decided that we'll all be neighbors one day, so that means lots of great vegan food! :) Many of the houses reminded me of Boo Radley and needed love, but had great bones.

I'd love to return to Cinnamon and I suggest you go, but it would be worthwhile to call them first to find out exactly what is vegan on the menu.

11 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

as great as the menu sounds at that restaurant, I WOULD be hesitant to try it, since obviously the staff isn't quite sure which dishes are vegan - eek! ah well - at least in LA, you have PLENTY of "certified vegan" restaurants to choose from ;0)

Hannah said...

Ha, a lot of times I eat the components of my meals individually too! Looks like a nice spread though. :)

Rural Vegan said...

Everything does look delicious, but it scares me a little when I can't find out if the beans have lard or if the rice has chicken stock!

Liz² said...

that food looks awesome! I love authentic mexican, wish I could try this place out!

oh, and I tagged you to reveal 5 Things about yourself. :)

Jennifer said...

Ok, so you HAVE to know how jealous I am of your meal. You got prickly pears!!!!! You know how much this Missourian wishes we could get prickly pears? Wow, I really am a nerd, but the food truly looks fantastic. I DO hate the language barrier, I wish there were some universal terms we could use for simplicities sake.

Vegyogini said...

Just to clarify, Cinnamon is a 100% vegetarian restaurant, so there was no fear of lard, chicken stock, or other things of that nature. We were only worried about hidden dairy, such as whey and casein, in the vegetarian, but not vegan items.

Ruby Red Vegan said...

wait, so the waiter at the vegetarian restaurant doesn't know what VEGAN is? um, time to kick someone in the face!!!

hmm, i've never had an authentic-looking vegan mexican meal before. it's weird to see tofu on a mexican plate, but it is definitely welcome in my book! and brown rice too! awesome.

Vegan_Noodle said...

I have a serious weakness for salsa and am always seeking out good stuff.. if only I lived in LA!

textual bulldog said...

This place sounds awesome! One of my best friends lives in Highland Park, so I'm going to check this place out next time I'm up there! If you ever find yourself in San Diego, there's a totally authentic mostly vegan/vegetarian Mexican restaurant downtown called Pokez that's AMAZING. They have all the vegan/veg stuff clearly labeled on their menu, and all the waitstaff make sure to ask "do you want that made vegan?" when you order something that could go wither way; maybe Cinnamon could learn a thing or two from them? ;)

La Traductora said...

Hi! Enjoyed reading your post. One small correction though" Nopales are the cactus paddle. Prickly pears are the fruit--and quite delicious, too. I love the bright yellow or ruby colored flesh--very refreshing. Would you like to learn to cook some Mexican pinto beans without lard, etc.? Then check my blog. I'm not a vegan, but I think you'll enjoy the recipe.

quarrygirl said...

that place looks absolutely amazing, i gotta try it. about time we had a veg mex restaurant in LA!