Locali Convenience Store in Los Angeles makes some amazing vegetarian and vegan sandwiches.
My first experience with Locali, a Hollywood eco-friendly convenience store, isn’t the greatest. I am unimpressed with what I find to be a very painstakingly-slowly-put-together-overpriced-and-bland quinoa salad. But that was back in July, when they are less than a year old. Since then, they’re working out the kinks, have plenty of online reviews to advise foodies, and win an award at the 2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational. The latter fact is enough to convince Abe to give them another chance.
It’s in a strip mall, and it can be hard to find parking. I call my order in 20 minutes beforehand, since it’s not the greatest space to wait around. Especially if you wind up idling in your car. Wouldn’t THAT defeat the purpose of an eco-conscious place?
We are lucky and find a spot right away.
The space is teeny, and with just a few people standing inside you begin to feel packt like sardines in a crushd tin box.
But sardines are a sustainable choice, and that’s really what this store is about.
Our sandwiches are ready 5 minutes after we arrive, and there are some tables available outside. I am ready to eat in my car, so I am in a particularly good mood as I unwrap these babies. First, the award-winning Grilled Cheese…
…and the Vegetarian Reuben. You can get this vegan, with daiya cheese, but when I call to order, the guy said he prefers it with Swiss.
I devour half of each.
First, the grilled cheese.
A Tuscan Style Kalamata Olive bread stuffed with organic goat chevre, a layer of fresh herbs, garlic, cracked peppercorn, then a layer of organic provolone, sundried tomatoes, and finally a thin layer of organic swiss. Last, but not least, the bread get some honey balsamic vinaigrette and a trip to the grill. Despite how it may look…
…this sandwich isn’t very messy and holds together excellently. How can it not, with the bonding power of three cheeses? That is the real beauty of this sandwich – the different textures of this mighty trio, none of which is too salty or overpowering. The sweetness from the honey balsamic and sundried tomatoes are a wonderful balance. Abe likes this choice over fresh ones, which can get watery. And the olive bread is truly perfection – not too greasy, not too dry.
Next up: Marinated tofu deli slices with swiss cheese, sauerkraut, with homemade vegan russian dressing.
I find it quite amusing that the “corned beef” is such a vibrant pink color. In fact, the entire sandwich, with its super swirly rye bread, looks like something out of “Alice in Wonderland.” And this sandwich did transport me to another world – one where meat eaters and vegetarians can finally eat together in perfect harmony! I’m not turned off my faux veggie meat, but if you are the type that is, this may change your mind. It is some of the best soy-imitating-meat I’ve ever had – super thinly sliced, great flavor, and tender! There is the perfect amount of sauerkraut and dressing, so that it doesn’t get too soggy, and they toast the whole thing, for a perfectly warm and gooey delight. Abe, a big reuben fan, loves this even more than the grilled cheese. I can’t pick a favorite.
Locali really redeems itself! I am actually craving another grilled cheese for breakfast. So in summary – when you go there, do not order anything like a quinoa salad, order 20 minutes ahead, and be open to the possibility of having to wait/eat in your car. But for about $11 each, you can have one of the best vegetarian date meals ever!