UPDATE: Sad news, The Vegan Spot has closed :( – read on to see what you missed!
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I was never big into giant meaty sandwiches even when I still ate flesh. There’s just something about a bunch of thinly sliced, dripping pink meat smothered in oil and onions that’s always been repulsive to me. Pastrami sandwiches, Reubens, Roast Beef and Philly Cheesesteaks were just never the stuff my foodie dreams were made off… not the real versions of them anyway.

Now, we’ve already discussed just how much I love me a good faux Reuben sandwich, but how about some other variety of previously disgusting cuisine made lovable? That’s where The Vegan Spot in Silver Lake comes to the rescue with their remarkable all-vegan Philly Cheesesteak.

'Vegan Philly Cheesesteak at The Vegan Spot

I’d previously read some good reviews of this place over at the Your Vegan Mom and Quarrygirl blogs and I couldn’t wait to try it out for myself. The Vegan Spot was started by one of the women who also opened Flore right up the street, so I figured it had to be good. And good it was!

Alright, so I’ve never had a real Philly Cheesesteak and the one time I visited Philidelphia I got dumped and had a miserable time. What I can tell you about this sandwich though, without having anything to compare it to, was that it was fantastic! They make their own meaty stuffing and cheese sauce there, and while I have no idea what they’re doing back there in that kitchen, it’s nothing short of pure vegan genius. The meat I believe is some sort of seitan concoction, thinly sliced and to me reminiscent in flavor and texture to a Greek style gyro. It tastes and feels incredibly realistic… real enough to fool my meat-loving dad into thinking it’s the real thing, and real enough to probably freak-out the vegetarians out there who can’t hang with faux-meats. Me, I love the faux… so I say bring it.

The cheese sauce was some of the best pretend cheese I’ve had anywhere. It was supposed to be like cheddar, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t have that sharp note to it that cheddar is known for. I could tell it had mustard in it, and most likely (totally guessing here) it had nutritional yeast as well. Amazing how they got the flavor and texture so close. Would a bonafide real-cheese eating connoisseur think it was real cheddar cheese? No, mostly likely not, but they probably wouldn’t consider that crap that’s kept in heated buckets at the local 7-11 for nachos to be real cheese either, and apparently it is. Unless someone went in there with a “I’m going to hate everything vegan just because it’s vegan” stick up their butt (you know the type), they’d be hard pressed not to admit this stuff is the bomb.

Here’s a close-up so that those of you out in the middle of nowhere can partake in the fantasy, imagining yourselves about to bite into this miracle of decadent indulgence smothered in cruelty-free melted delight…

'Vegan Philly Cheesesteak at The Vegan Spot

The sandwich came served on a thick and fresh French roll along with an equally fresh side salad. It would normally also come with grilled onions, but… ewwwwww.

I absolutely loved this beast of a meal and can’t wait to go back and try everything else on The Vegan Spot menu. Los Angeles has been all abuzz about the vegan Twinkies that they serve as well, created by the lovely JennShaggy. The only problem is that they are so good and so popular that they’re selling out faster than the poor girl can bake them! Every time I’ve been there in search of a Twinkie they were out, but I sure hope the stars will align for me one of these days so that I’ll end up there at the right time and get to try one.

They don’t seem to have a website yet so I have no choice but to point you to the very mixed reviews over at Yelp:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-vegan-spot-los-angeles.

The reviews range from those who fanatically love the place to those who judge it based on the fact that they don’t like being served by hipsters and/or hippies or who’d rather complain about the murals on the walls than talk about the actual food. Whatever… don’t go into the heart of the most hipsterfied neighborhood in town if you’ve got a problem with “hip” people serving you, problem solved. The food was awesome, the place was clean and the people working there were all friendly and helpful… what more do you need? Try the place out and make up your own mind, I’m willing to bet you’ll leave happy and stuffed. If you do manage to snag a couple of Twinkies while you’re there, please save one for me!

Vegan Spot on Urbanspoon

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34 Responses to “Jumping on the cheesy bandwagon…”
  1. quarrygirl says:

    thanks for the linkage, foodeater! glad you liked the vegan spot. that cheese is pretty freakin’ melty, huh? my only guff with this place, is sometimes they take forever. once i got take out, and for TWO SANDWICHES it took half an hour. i think it’s just growing pains though. they get better every time.

    also, do make it a mission to get a twinkie…or 10! sooooo worth it. jenn is the twinkie master! better than the original.

  2. FoodEater says:

    quarrygirl: Yeah, the slowness of it all seems to be one of the more common complaints. That is a drag, I understand… then again I’m usually moving in slow-mo myself so it doesn’t bug me. When I went there the food was served rather quickly, so like I said to Lex below, just seems like they’ve got their bad days and their good ones. I realize that doesn’t make for a consistant experience… hopefully they read blogs like your and mine and take into account the reviews they get on places like Yelp. All I know is their food ROCKS and I hope they stick around… I think people need to cut them some slack, stop complaining about the decorating and get to what matters here: the food!

  3. EL CHAVO! says:

    I’ve been meaning to try that place, I think I know what I want to try first!

  4. Trina says:

    mmm vegan spot.

  5. Jenn S. says:

    I just logged in to my Google Reader to find this amazing post…thank you so much! E-mail me so I can hook you up with some fresh Fauxstess goodness :)

  6. Nikki says:

    I used to love a philly cheesesteak and damn if that doesn’t look like a good one!Oh the bounty of vegan eats you have in your neck of the woods. Heavy Sigh.

  7. FoodEater says:

    Nikki: Poor thing! I guess you’ll have to come out to L.A. for a food visit :)

  8. Lex says:

    I’m one of those that had a bunk experience there, but nothing to stop me from trying it again!

  9. FoodEater says:

    Lex: That is indeed a bummer that you didn’t have a good experience :( I would say give them another try, every place has bad days and good days. I can’t promise you’ll get there on a good day, but it was ALL good when I went there, so hopefully you’ll get the same. I think the key is that people need to not think of this as a full-service restaurant, because it’s not. Personally I think of it more as a hole in the wall from which awesome food magically comes out of, so I’m not too concerned about the decor or the fact that nobody wiped down the table before I sat down. Big deal… look at the freakin’ sandwich!

  10. chiff0nade says:

    A “cheesesteak” without STEAK?

    No thank you.

  11. FoodEater says:

    I guess we won’t need to worry about chiff0nade eating up all of our delicious vegan cheesesteak, now will we!

  12. brea says:

    i love this place! it’s my favorite vegan place in los angeles right now. and it has the best vegan club in town!

  13. anita says:

    You must add Au Lac to your list. It is a southeast asian vegan/raw place in Fountain Valley. Delish!

  14. FoodEater says:

    Anita: I’m very much looking forward to trying Au Lac one of these days. I only add places to this blog that I’ve actually eaten at though… so once I finally get a chance to eat there you can rest assured I’ll be blogging about it!

  15. Mojo says:

    I never quite understand why veggies and vegans want to eat something that tastes like something they say they’re against. “Eating meat is wrong and cruel….but I’d sure like something that taste like some juicy cow!” Isn’t that like Pat Robertson saying, “Homosexuality is wrong, but where can I find me a realistic looking fake c**k to suck?” I mean, to each their own, but I just don’t understand it.

    So, let me make sure I understand – eating animals or animal products is wrong, but eating fake animals or fake animal products is A-OK?

    Won’t someone think of all the fake ducks and faux cheeses around the world? Who speaks for them? Hmm? Who’s the voice for the lowly tofu shrimp?

    I’m going to go eat a vegan now.

  16. FoodEater says:

    Mojo said: So, let me make sure I understand – eating animals or animal products is wrong, but eating fake animals or fake animal products is A-OK?

    Yep, sounds A-OK to me! Some people don’t like fake animal product, some do. Not all vegetarians and vegans like these substitutes, I for one do. We are not all of one mind like the Borg… people go vegetarian & vegan for a variety of reasons and different people have a taste for different things.

    Just because I don’t want to eat dead animals or their bodily secretions does not mean that I don’t have taste buds or cravings for those foods that I once used to enjoy when I didn’t know any better or give a shit. I liked the taste of meat and cheese when I ate those things, but knowing what I know now about what they really are and how they are produced, I choose to no longer eat them, it’s that simple.

    I like the taste of cheese, so if can find something else that’s reminicent of the taste and texture, but without all the same disgusting ingredients and cruelty thrown into the mix… what’s there to be confused about? The fake cheese and fake meat some of us like to eat isn’t killing or hurting anything, that’s the primary and obvious difference. The “lowly tofu shrimp” has no voice… it’s tofu, not shrimp… DUH.

    Also, I don’t like these foods only because they are pretending to be something else… I like them because they are delicious in their own right, and made by creative people who have mad skills.

    Enjoy the vegan you’re planning to go eat (WTF?)… I’m willing to bet they’re going to be the healthiest thing you’ve had in your mouth for quite some time.

  17. snarkyvegan says:

    Mojo:

    Do you harbor the same attitude towards folks who drink diet pop? Fat-free ice cream? Cholesterol-free foods? Or sugar-free candy? The goal of which is to simulate the real thing without the downsides.

    There’s no need to get all judgmental because someone eats differently than you. It’s a multi-cultural, multi-everything world. No need for hate.

  18. FoodEater says:

    snarkyvegan: Exactly. There are plenty of food substitutions in the non-vegetarian food world that folks such as Mojo don’t blink twice about… but as soon as a vegetarian wants to have something and call it “steak” with a wink and a nudge, those people have a cow (pun intended).

    Being a vegetarian or a vegan comes off as threatening and insulting to some of the more closed minded people who still eat meat (even if you don’t do or say anything insulting), which is why they’re always trying to put us on the defensive. Framing us as all being hippie freaks is a lot easier than taking a good hard look at their own actions.

  19. Mojo says:

    Hey Snarkyvegan – unbunch your panties there, cowgirl. Your argument broke. Lemme fix it for you. You’re trying to fit my statement inside yours (that’s naughty). Let’s see, people who do the things you’re speaking of tend toward that mindset and lifestyle because they’re overweight and/or unhealthy to some varying degree. I realize vegans MAY do the same thing, but overall vegans likely choose their dietary path for reasons of “cruelty to animals” and because animals and animal products/by-products were “never meant to be ingested by humans”, etc. In other words, vegans have a social/political reasoning behind their motives. For them to still admit their secret love for animal flesh and to seek out a simulated meat circus of culinary delight just smacks of hypocrisy.

    And please, don’t mistake my judgement for hate. I don’t hate you, Snarky. I love vegans. I love everyone. Judgement gets a bad rap. We judge things and people all the time. For instance I could eat one of these Philly Cheesesteak vegan sammiches and judge that it tastes like it was baked in the filthy heat of Satan’s asshole. Or….I might find that it’s the most scrumdillyumptious thing I’ve ever wrapped my teeth and gums around. See, I judged. Without hate. I think vegans are hypocritical. Judgement sans hate. I think Democrats are looney and Republicans are daft. Oh wait, I’m a Dem. Scratch that. I think many of my black friends like fried chicken and watermelon. Judgement? You bet. Hate? Nope. Just something that looks like a fact to me (stereotypical and racist to some, perhaps….but only if they’re so PC that they can’t see straight anymore).

    I’ll bet if you met me, you might think, HEY….that’s the most fun neurologist I’ve ever met.” Or you might think…..”fuck a duck, dude. What an asshole.” Point is, you’d judge me. Hopefully, you’d do it without hate. Just like I did about vegans. So, I say again….unbunch those panties, cowgirl. You’ll feel better.

    And yes, here’s to a multi-everything world. Except Penn Jillette. He’s a dick. I’m kidding. Enjoy your fake animals you crazy Vegans!

    The preceding comment was brought to you by Vegans Smell Funny (but we’re judging them without hate) Council.

  20. FoodEater says:

    Mojo continues with: For them to still admit their secret love for animal flesh and to seek out a simulated meat circus of culinary delight just smacks of hypocrisy.

    How is it in any way a hypocrisy to admit that I like the taste of something? If meat wasn’t made out of dead animals, I’d still love to eat it. If eggs and cheese didn’t come from birds and cows that are diseased, drugged and literally tortured, I’d gladly eat them. But I know better, so I don’t.

    How is that in any way hypocritical? Lot’s of people love and in fact are addicted to smoking cigarettes, but they stopped smoking because they know it causes cancer. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t still like to be able to light up if there were no consequences.

    Eating meat and dairy has consequences all the way around, so not eating them is basic common sense in this day and age. There’s nothing whatsoever hypocritical about adapting foods we’ve all enjoyed for our whole lives into cruelty-free vegetarian versions of themselves. The craving doesn’t always go away (though for some it does) and admitting as much is honesty, not hypocrisy. If the desire to eat those foods so easily just disappeared overnight, many more people would already be vegetarians. I find it fascinating that this is even an issue for anyone to have bothered to comment about. Of all the things to get your “panties in a bunch” about, I frankly think you’re grasping at straws with this one.

    Mojo, I’ve got no problem allowing you to comment on my blog as long as you’ve got something intelligent to say and are willing to say it respectfully. In other words, if you want to quit being a dick and quit cussing, go for it. Otherwise, fuck off and be deleted.

  21. Mojo says:

    Feel free to delete, FoodEater. I’m done. You guys are a barrel of fun. You’re just too uptight for my taste.

    Oh and PS – it’s okay to be hypocritical. We’re all that way about something.

    PPS – I loved the “quit cussing…….fuck off” part. Brilliant.

  22. snarkyvegan says:

    Mojo: Apology accepted and your style is interesting.

  23. quarrygirl says:

    can i chime in here? i just want to address the point when mojo says that our attitude is that animals were “never meant to be ingested by humans.”

    i don’t agree with that. i know we are naturally omnivores. without eating meat at some point, we’d have probably vanished as a species. i just feel lucky to live in a day in age when i can eat well and survive on food that didn’t involve pain and suffering. that’s what this is about.

    no matter how much fake meat i eat, no matter what i think of how it tastes, nothing died or suffered to bring food to my plate. taste is irrelevant. full stop.

    i guess in order for you to understand my point, you would have to have the same empathy for living creatures. this isn’t a taste issue at all, it’s about the consequences of what we eat.

  24. FoodEater says:

    Mojo: If my being able to still enjoy a delicious all vegan pseudo pepperoni & cheese pizza whenever I want while not harming or killing anything makes me an uptight hypocrite in anyones eyes, by all means, I accept your nomination.

  25. Lex says:

    Wow lots of fuss! Glad I checked back, lol! Mojo its just Protein. Buddhist monks have been making this stuff for 2000 years. I’ve always been one for not naming these things like the animal counter part. IE, -Philly Cheesesteak do Winter Wheat Protein Slices with zesty yellow cashew sauce. Problem solved.

  26. FoodEater says:

    Lex: I see your point and I guess that’s one way of looking at it, but I have to admit that your version sounds a lot less appetizing than simply calling it what it is, a vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak! I don’t really feel the need to give stuff funky sounding, off putting names. If I make a pizza using soy cheese and vegan sausage, it’s still a pizza. If I make a seitan patty and stick it in a bun and top it with lettuce, tomato and special sauce, it’s still a burger. If I eat something that in every way is based on, tastes like, and resembles a Philly Cheesesteak but just so happens to be meatless, why beat around the bush and call it anything other than what it is? The people who prepared this delicious meal put a lot of time and effort into trying to recreate something that’s a lot like a Philly Cheesesteak, and they did a great job… why ruin the fun by naming it something that sounds kinda boring and unpleasant?

    In regards to getting people to eat less meat, I’m willing to bet that calling the sandwich pictured above a “vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak” would win over more people off the street than “Winter Wheat Protein Slices with zesty yellow cashew sauce”. My carnivorous father is willing and happy to eat a “Veggie Burger” at Follow Your Heart restaurant, but if they changed the menu to call it instead a “Vegetable Protein Medley w/Pureed Lentils, Nuts, Sprouts and Herbal Seasonings”, I can guarantee you he wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole and would probably head up the street to find a real hamburger instead.

    I don’t think that as vegans we need to make any excuses for what we like to eat (considering that what we eat harms no one), just as I don’t think there’s anything hypocritical or shameful about admitting to like the taste of non-vegetarian foods while at the same time giving them up in favor of healthier and kinder alternatives. I realize that not everyone will agree, but that’s my opinion on the matter.

  27. scott says:

    to quote one of my favorite bands: I like food, food tastes good! … nuff said.

  28. veganazi says:

    oh my gosh, that looks so good!!!!! I’m jealous.

  29. SCVegan says:

    I wish I was cool enough to be a hipster; rocking my American Apparel tee shirt and New Balance Sneakers while checking my Facebook page on my Apple laptop. I just don’t have enough friends to bother with Facebook.

  30. I am so with you on the never-wanting-ultra-meaty-concoctions until being vegan and wanting the fake version! I’ve never tried the vegan or unvegan version of Philly Cheesesteak, but your pictures of it are absolutely, jaw-droppingly incredible! And yay for good fake cheese! But I have never been a fan of Twinkies and have to say that the vegan version doesn’t sound appealing, either. Unless someone were paying me to eat one, that is. :)

  31. Hahaha, I just read over all the comments and controversy for this post… Interesting. I do think it’s kinda annoying to have to call things “milk” and “cheese” — and I agree wholeheartedly that I didn’t become a vegetarian because I didn’t like the taste of meat. It was for health and ethical reasons. That and vegan food is an art all of its own. That’s probably the main thing that drew me too it. It totally respect cooks with “mad skills” like the ones at The Vegan Spot. I love exciting creative food, be it meat imitations that taste good or vegan cuisine that is uniquely unlike meat and delicious in its own right.

  32. FoodEater says:

    Just found this great article which offers good suggestions for dealing with the sorts of accusations I’ve received in regards to being a “hypocrite” etc…

    6 Ways To Handle Antagonistic Animal-Eaters

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