Day 18 Seattle and Vancouver B.C.

Bimbos

Last Blast!! We shocked our hosts by leaving at 9:00 like we said we would the night before, but we love waking up early! That was a joke, waking up early sucks shit, but grown ups on a long road trip to eat burritos every day have to possess a lot of discipline. We drove to Seattle to round out our immanent homecoming by stopping at Bimbo's, which is a special venue for burrito eating. Since a long long time ago, Bimbo's was an inspiration for having a rad thing to eat in a cool spot for cheap that played good music and had style. They have tidied themselves up a bit in the past few years after moving down the street, and have a much larger, two floor space. We were pretty hungry and had a case of the Pacific North West rainy diffused light dum dums, so we forgot to take photos of the things we were eating before we ate them... Like, we just started eating, because that is normal. So enjoy the photos of our half eaten food. 

If you ever are driving through Puyallup or Skagit or Lacey or Everette, you will probably encounter bad weather. It's usually a combination of rain and strong winds, and it's a thrill in a large, mostly hollow van. We just wanted the van to get us home. Any minute more on the road seemed to be a crooked finger of invitation to bad luck, since we hadn't broke down the whole trip and had wore our knuckles down knocking on wood. Despite this, we fucked up getting to the Duty Free, so we doubled back like 20 kilometers to try again. Once over the border, we cruised headlong into a two-accident scene at the Massey Tunnel. Vancouverites reading this are holding their heads in their hands in sympathy. Non Vancouverites don't know or care what that is, which is better, because it ruins people's day regularly enough. Before getting home though, we had the most important stop of all the stops to make: we had our supper at Budgie's! Macey improvised a couple of mulitas and we split a bowl of awesome tortilla soup. We took a picture of the pants and chatted to folks working and it is nice to be home. On the road is an awesome place to be, and we are lucky we got to do and see and eat so many cool things, all different and all good. We still feel like jerks when we take pictures of our food. 

Day 17 Medford, Oregon & Portland

Dear Blog, it's me Margaret. Today we woke up in Medford, Oregon, which is the kind of name for a town that seems pretty shitty- but it's actually really beautiful and lightly alpine, but still with big trees and even a nice river running through town and everyone says "good morning!" While you're walking your dogs, even if you look like crusty freaks. We drank really bad hotel room coffee for breakfast and got going. We were saving our appetites for Tacovore, in Eugene, and after a few hours on the road, we were pretty ready. They have a good selection of vegan/vegetarian fare, with some pretty gourmet options, like roasted Brussels sprouts and squash tacos. I can usually live without that kind of fanciness, but it was actually rad as were the black beans, which are cooked with coconut... Sounds a little over the top, but it's not. This is a place worth going, for sure. 

We made pretty good time to Portland, which is weird for us, but we were stoked to be able to stop in at Green Noise and do some shopping. Once there, we also got to visit Ken, who was putting us up for the night. I'm not going to lie, we ate at veggie grill again. We weren't even super hungry. It's just so good. We got back to Ken and Kyla's and ran interference between our dogs and their dog for a couple of hours until everyone was home. From there we piled into the car and listened to Sonic Avenues and the Steve Adamyk Band on the way over to La Conquistador, in the Buckley neighborhood. It's all vegetarian! It also boasts some pretty gourmet sounding options, like spinach-hazelnut papusas and roasted red pepper elote, but don't roll your eyes- it's awesome. Supper was really amazing and the micheladas are spicey and they have arepas, which are pretty close to a perfect food. The setting is more like a bar, but the menu is top shelf. We came home and got really powerful with Kyla's karaoke set up, there was even some Kate Bush. Ambitious! 

Day 16 Winters/Shasta/Weed

Winters has a taco truck, and it's open at 10:00 on Sunday mornings! It also has a little mini strip of town, and four gas stations. We ate our burritos in the van and got goin. The speakers are blown and we have like ten tapes, some of the doors open spontaneously while we are moving and the border guard on our way into the USA us why we didn't have a better car, but Christina the van is a pretty special old gal, and spending our days in her in the highway is good. The 5 is beautiful. The PCH is super beautiful, but the 5 has a real heartland vibe going on, plus it is a thrill the climb and descend mountain passes in a giant steel barrel. 

After taking a pretty committed detour to Shasta Lake, we had to hustle to try and make up some miles before dark. We saw signage for fast food in Weed, California, and what road trip is complete without Taco Bell!? We did a face mask and recited Castro's famous filibuster "History Will Absolve Me" while we waited for our drive through, and when we unwrapped our long awaited chimi-ritos and queso-chongas, they were undercooked and filled with meat... So we gambled and lost on that one, but also, we have mostly been eating the most straight-up, awesome Mexican food for the last two weeks, so that teaches us.

Day 15 Atwater Again

We don't really want to go, but real life at home has to start again, so we're off. We decided we needed a redo on Tacos Villa Corona, the walk-up and take-out only spot in Atwater. There was a busy little lineup even at 9:00 on a Saturday morning, but we waited the half hour for our potato tacos, largely thanks to to the chatty charm of the proprietor's son who takes the orders at the window. Simple and fresh, the tacos are prepared and then baked again once they are loaded up. The fact that they are only $1 each speaks to a sincerely unpretentious presence in this changing neighborhood. 
 

Our drive north took us to Winters, California, just up from San Fransisco. Our friends Andrea and Keegan live in a walnut orchard with Shmee, who is Ladydog's brother. The rolling hills and distant view of the Sierras are a tartan of almond, olive and walnut farms and a palm tree stands with a redwood just in front of the house. Often eclipsed by the Pacific Ocean, this setting is very much the California dream, and the pinnacle of countryside fantasy land. Andrea fixed up a veggie sausage roast and a salad for our supper and we ate by the fire pit and drank a couple of micheladas and caught up. This is a hard place to leave! 
 

Day 14 Atwater and Echo park

On our way to Griffith Park we aimed to grab breakfast burritos from Tacos Villa Corona in Atwater. They only serve take-out, and while Macey has had a burrito there before, I haven't and we wanted to check it out. It was a crowd scene when we rolled up, and with a 45 minute wait before they would take another order, there was no way we could roast the dogs in the van for that long, so we did a U-turn and stopped in at Hugo's Tacos, just a block away. They also only run take out, but there are picnic tables and benches out front, as well as parking. The veg and vegan options were super impressive, and it was really inexpensive. Our meals were gigantic and we struggled to finish. Stand out item: Hugo's advertises a sorghum replacement for rice, and lists their opinions as to why it is an awesome option: similar nutritional structure as quinoa, requires much less water than rice to farm, rich in antioxidants, and helps to repair depleted soil where grown, among other benefits for health and ecology. You can get a free sample to see if you like it, and we love an idea. 

Today was HOT. We wore ourselves and the dogs out at Griffith Park, which is a shockingly short hop from Silver Lake/Junction, and is an enormous expanse of green space (and dirt space, and dust space), with dozens of trails for runners and dog walks and even horses. After we recovered a bit at home, we spent our last afternoon poking around Hillhurst and Los Feliz. We met up with the pals for supper at El Compadre in Echo Park, which is known for their flaming margaritas. This is the kind of place with quilted leather booth upholstery and oil paintings of adobe vessels and it's channeling a deep 70's thing, but it rules and feels fun and lightly fancy. It's also super loud and full of people, including a mariachi band. This is a menu which only has a couple of token veg items, and you have to search for them, but the ambiance is cool and the drinks are great. We visited with our pals for one last night and listened to them extol the virtues of their adopted home in Los Angeles. We love that they love it here, and we can't imagine feeling any other way about it. We are so lucky we got to fake it for a week. 

Day 13 Hollywood

Veggie Grill. This is big news for anyone not on the west coast, or maybe more accurately not in a major city on the west coast. It's a vegan franchise which uses organic and non gmo ingredients in most of their dishes, and aims to fill a "comfort food" niche in their menu. The food is bonkers good, not as cheap as fast food but not super expensive, but i think the thing that is most outstanding here is that it is bullshit free. There is no whiff of superiority or compromise, it's food which *anyone* can like, and why is it so weird to have access to a place like that? Why does everything have to be so ideological all the time? like unless you are a velociraptor, you probably just eat a sandwich with no meat in it sometimes or would like a taco which won't fuck your stomach up, or a salad not just made up of an iceberg obstacle course which you have to pick through to get to a good part… I think that having a varied menu with some kinda junky stuff, and some pretty healthy stuff, should be the norm. So should meatless options, cause this planet isn't getting any bigger and sometimes meat eating people feel bad for using their bodies as garbage cans and drinking too much and feel a lot better about themselves if they eat a thing like this, even though it's not that strong a medicine.

We cruised over to Hollywood next, we are tourists! They were setting up for the Oscars, which seemed pretty solid-gold-glitzy, and there were people lining up for Jimmy Kimmel and a zillion folks inquired as to whether we wanted a tour of the stars homes, and we bought funny souvenirs for our friends. Hollyweird is full of grime and cheesiness, but that's its thing; dig it. We ran into Felicia on Hollywood Boulevard, she is an earnest and sweet hustler who sells fan art illustrations between Wednesday and Sunday outside of the H&M. We were stoked to meet her and buy some of her art. We bombed down to South La Brea in hopes of hitting up Trejo's Tacos, but as we feared, it wasn't open yet. Although we should have sniffed around for somewhere else to have Mexican, we were hungry and not far from the famous Pink's Hot Dogs, so we tortured ourselves with boiled veggie dogs and piles of guac and tomatoes…It was a bit much, but we did it.

Glennie turned into a stupid hot dog 

Day 12 Orange County

It's weird how fast time is going by, and how normal the nice weather seems when that's really not what our Canadian selves have any real right to. Today we bombed around Silver Lake and the Junction and Echo Park before getting into the van for a visit to OC to see Dan at his beautiful tattoo shop, Captured. Dan and his wife Skully are dialled into all the vegan spots in town, and they took us to Taco Cancun for supper. The boss lady Tina was working the counter and looked classier than we do even for bank meetings, and told us about how she was a little skeptical at first of offering dairy substitutes and meat alternatives on the menu, but her daughter convinced her to try it. The experiment has worked out favourably, and this place had lots of vegan and veg options, which are all identifiable and not incidental. Dan and Skully listed off a litany of vegan spots near them; it seems to be an accessible hot spot for animal free food. We had asada fries (think nachos on french fries) and a Torta (taco in a bun) and our friends' quesadilla and burritos looked gigantic and awesome. When we had said our goodbyes, we listened to a few of the new Needles//Pins songs through the deeply wounded car stereo and cruised without traffic, which was a first. 

Day 11 East L.A.

It's February and hotter here than it usually gets in the summer in Vancouver. We picked up our friend Steve and drove to La Azteca in East LA on his recommendation. This place has been making tortillas for 65 years and they are known for their perfect chili relleno burrito, so that's what we all got. They have a few other veg items on the menu, but don't. It doesn't matter. That burrito is pure gold, even if you don't think you really like chili relleno. Plus East LA is cool and you should go there.

After we overdosed at la Azteca, we blobbed back downtown to the Arts District (?) which borders downtown, and visited Mandy-lyn and Stooge Man, who have an awesome apartment and are working on lots of film and photo projects, as well as barking and being very cute. We messed around for a while and then when home to take a medicinal nap, because we are on vacation. We woke up hungry, but also lazy, but also the dogs wanted to go for a walk, so we split the difference and walked a couple of kms to an organic-y ricey smoothie place and got burrito bowls to that same tune and took them home. They were good and netflix is still good, which brings us to this moment, when i feel finished writing this for tonight.

Day 9 and 10 Topanga and Echo park

Getting out of Malibu involved a last trip to the beach and packing up the van with a few extra pals, plus everyone's gear. Since we were still near Topanga, we decided to haul up the hill to check it out. The Santa Monica Mountain town has lots of far-out cultural history, like nudist colonies fighting the man and was once home to Woody Guthrie. Abuelitas, the community's only Mexican restaurant, was for lunch and was certainly leaving Mother Nature's backdrop in charge of charm. Some veg options exist on the menu, the beer battered avocado tacos being the most stand-out, but these guys are phoning it in- and they can! Want something better? Go ahead and drive for an hour and a half and get it. Hidden Treasures second hand vintage is across the road and the fun of rummaging overshadowed our lacklustre lunch.

We had a new house to check into in Silverlake, so we goofed off and killed some time and sat in traffic and laughed our heads off until then. The house is a perfect example of California Bungalow style, and we made some snacks and got ready to go out to the Cha Cha Lounge to meet up with friends and let our hair down… hence no blog post last night. We grabbed more mulitas from a different truck on the way home, and barely managed to brush our teeth before crashing out. We were "tired".

The next day brought a much needed sleep-in. Getting organized with all the pals was a slack process, eventually culminating in lunch at Guisados in Echo Park. Tacos, chill relleno, tamales, heaps of rad veg options made homestyle, and horchata with cold brew coffee mixed in saved us from the lingering "fatigue" from the morning after last night. Friends had flights to catch and we wanted to check out our friend Wills' ceramics at the studio he works out of, so we boogied up to Atwater to get inspired by the makers Victoria, Wills and Heather, who are creating awesome ceramics in a big spot not far from Elysian Park. It feels like there is something cool happening on every square inch of LA, and it's such a weird and fun adventure to glimpse a few of them.

Day 8 Malibu & Sliver Lake

We rented surfboards and wetsuits in the morning from Jay, of Zuma Jay's Surf Shop, across from First Point beach in Malibu. Jay is a life long Malibu resident, former mayor, and current campaigner. He loves Malibu and we get it. The waves weren't too happening, but messing around in the Pacific under the sun in February is hardly a hardship.

In a total departure from sandy salamander style, we peeled off our suits and packed up our gear and headed for LA to clean up Korean style, at Wi Spa, the 24 hour health-n-hygiene complex. Never go to LA without coming here. It's cheap and accessible and it rules. 
 

We were spaced out and starving by the time we finished our circuit at Wi, but we were stoked to pick up our friend Steve from Silverlake and eat a thing with him nearby. The hour was a little late, but he got us to a taco truck outside a Von's grocery store that was perfect. Most of us got the veg mulitas, which are like a taco sandwich, as well as a lake of horchata. This is the exact type of road-side taco trucks that LA is known for, fast and cheap and delicious and hot sauce that scorched our lips. We piled back in the van to play a few groggy rounds of Scattergories and drink some beers. Before we knew it, it was 3:00 and no one could work up a give-a-shit to sit down at the computer and make this blog, so here it is, better late than never? 

 

Day 7 Melrose

Today was fun. We woke up early and walked the dogs down to Topanga Beach, where folks were surfing the waves which had been making our house shake all night. We got a jump on our day so we could meet up with our friends Jenny and Maggie and Aya who all came down for the weekend from Vancouver. Screwing around ensued, and after connecting in Culver City, we did some Beverly Hills shopping. Lunch was at Gracias Madre on Melrose, which is an upscale (duh) vegan spot, focusing on fresh and organic somewhat fancified takes on classic mexican fare. It wasn't so pricey, but it was all very carefully composed and presented, and we enjoyed a plot twist when our server dropped a glass of carrot-tumeric juice… On Macey's pants. It was beautiful. She was the only person wearing all white in the whole restaurant, and there were audible gasps from the other tables, while we all cheered for the miracle of stainage. Anointed by the cold-pressed dirt gods, we tried to tell our poor server how funny and no big deal it was and i'm not sure she believed us. We shared coconut ceviche tostadas and cauliflower almond pesto tacos and totopos con chile and a bunch of other stuff and got our raucous asses out of there, like so much hoi polloi. We wiped ourselves out shopping some more after that, and grabbed groceries to eat at home. Making your own food is the best; you don't even have to wear pants.

Day 6 Venice

The drive south from SF was all parched valleys and lush canyons and grassy hills, tumbleweeds and then rain, and then a glut of traffic letting us know we were within a hundred miles of Los Angeles. We bought groceries and made our own supper in Malibu. There's a trap door in the floor of a mini balcony we are renting, which leads to the beach, which is UNDER THE HOUSE. We mostly slept in and bagged around waiting for the tide to go out enough to throw the ball around for Edie and Ladydog, who got splashy and sandy and all tired out. We got hungry, and our first destination was Tamara's Tamales; a  20 year old mother-daughter establishment in Venice. The menu distinguishes vegan from vegetarian, and in addition to straight up classics, also includes some modern ideas cooked in the traditional style. We read the newspaper and the MLK-quotes on the homemade inspiration posters while we waited for our food, which was prepared by a couple of young fellas who were deeply "mellow", in a particular Venice Beach kinda way… After we plugged a little more money in the parking meter, the tamales came out and blew our god damned minds. The masa-to-filling ratio was a perfect balance, all the ingredients combined to the definition of Latin soul food. We are almost bummed that we came here, cause we are going to dream of these tamales forever. Macey bought proprietor Alice Guadalupe Tapp's cookbook, "Tamales", so at least we have some hope.

Venice does not exist between or even in the shadow of a billion condos. Little canals, every style and interpretation of "bungalow" and a few main drags for shopping and eating and drinking border the historic beach and boardwalk. Things are getting expensive we hear and tech is moving in and cops are getting shittier, but mimes are still rollerblading on the promenade and shredded bods are still lifting at Muscle Beach and the background noise is still a loud mix of shoulder-carried boomboxes, skateboards and kids laughing. We walked around and spilled a couple of coffees down our shirts before going to an event we got a heads up about at a bicycle store. We are not journalists, so we forgot to pay attention to what that event was about or the name of the shop; we came for the tacos. Mick and Ace of 100tacos had been hired for the night to serve up two types of vegan tacos, which they make on the spot-tortillas included-and there are only ever 100 of them. Mostly working around the Silverlake area, it's also usually all brought to whatever location it pops up at, by bicycle. This sounds kooky, and i guess it is, but it also seems like it comes from a place of enthusiasm and positivity and lighthearted ingenuity. We can dig it!

Day 5 Oakland

Waking up in Oakland knowing we had a day off of the highway didn't hurt. We had a slow start in a house that felt like home, if we had lived our lives making nothing but awesome decisions and had a Karmic bank account which afforded us the good fortune that our friends Lisa and Faye have earned and deserved. They were kind enough to let us pretend to live in their beautiful home for two nights, and that the lemons we picked from the yard and squeezed into our water in the morning were just a normal part of beginning our day. The next move was to pick up our friend Legs, who happened to be vacationing in Oakland as well, and then head up the hills to run the dogs around and walk off our drive butts. Having nature time so close to the city is unique to most cities, Vancouverites excepted. So is knowing and meeting so many thoughtful, generous people who crack us up and make time to hang.

After dog walks, we ripped into the city to say goodbye to some pals and hit a couple of shops and then rushed right into bridge traffic for a solid hour on the return to Oakland. We had a dinner date with Faye and Lisa and Oscar, of tacososcar fame, at Cosecha, a spot in an open-market style space in old town oakland. While definitely not specifically vegetarian, they had multiple veg options; four types of quesadilla (one vegan) and some appetizers and a deadly citrus salad. Our friends told us the proprietor is a big deal, and she changes the menu and specials regularly. we drank micheladas the size of our legs, and murdered multiple variations of their tortilla chips, which were made with magic masa.

Day 4 San Fransisco

We arrived in San Fransisco and it was summer. We grabbed takeout from Papalotes in the Mission- it was our first stop besides a turbo dog walk, and we elected to eat in the van with the doors open so as not to leave the pups on their own in the heat. Papalote is pretty incredible, and has been in the neighbourhood for around 40 years, serving fresh and simple food and jars of their salsa which you should definitely buy a couple of. There are basic vegan options and lots of items which are already or can easily be made vegetarian, but it's not the faux-meat kind of place,  and it doesn't need to be. We made what looked like a crime scene spilling mole from the tofu tacos on the sidewalk and took in the confusing contrasts of America's most expensive city to live in. It's an amazing place.

There were friends to see after we reloaded, and there were dogs that needed to go to the beach! Dirty Donny, the incomparable illustrator and collector and pal, drove us to Ocean Beach in his righteous van to dig the sunset and work up an appetite. Supper was at Nick's Taco Bar on Irving St, which is a sports bar. Their menu is surprisingly full, and again, no meat-substitutes, but lots to choose from. We ordered veg tacos and elote corn and a couple of margaritas. The tacos have an option of being done "Nick's Way", which Donny wisely convinced us was the only way, and he was right. Whole pinto beans and fresh cabbage were a nice switch, but the small corn tortillas are served soft on the outside and hard on the inside. Perfect for you Libras out there. The hot sauces were all awesome and house made, which seems like the standard anywhere worth eating at. We went back to Donny's and saw his work space and pinball machines and various projects and collections and basically just wondered how anyone could be so cool.

Day 3 Ashland/Redding

milagros tacos.jpg
milagros doors.jpg

We drive the 5. Ashland is at the bottom of Oregon and a good time to stretch legs between long drives. We ate at Milagro, which is an unlikely hippy oasis tucked into a modern-ish looking plaza. Catering to the "peace and love" population, it was rad to see GMO-free tortilla options and an overall commitment to environmentally sustainable practices in sourcing food. Plus they had weird psychedelic murals all over the walls, beatifying the Grateful Dead, Phish, maybe Joni Mitchell…? Regardless, lots of fresh and organic food with little meat and discounts for students in a walk-up-and-choose-your-toppings counter style. We chowed down and got back in the van, eager to cross into California.

 

dog bed redding.jpg
deliciso food.jpg
delicisio front.jpg

The road into California is over mountain passes and is so gorgeous its mind blowing. Our night was also psycho, because at around 3000 feet up there was fog as thick as cotton, and a 6% decline in the road, so we drove reeeeal slow and got through it and we were all pretty stoked to crash out at our motel in Redding. Eager to get started the next morning, we found an even more unlikely location for breakfast as our dinner the night before, El Delicioso- which is in a gas station in Redding. No nonsense seating and a giant menu full of straight-up mexican food, we got Huevos Rancheros and while it tasted awesome and was just enormous, we aren't going to promise that the beans or rice were exactly kosher. 

DAY 2 PORTLAND

VEGAN NACHO  

VEGAN NACHO

 

There is no way a more vegetarian/vegan-friendly city than Portland, Oregon exists in North America. They basically made a sketch comedy show about the reality of that place, and it's all true, and we love it. Our ambassadors for the night were our friends Lizzie and Chris Mason, of Dirt Cult Records, and they took us to one of their favourite spots, El Nutri Taco, which is a very legit taqueria on the Alberta Street drag. This place has options galore for every type of eater, even the real fussy types and those low on dough. Gluten free, homemade soy chorizo, tempeh nachos? Oh Portland, you're so gentle! Meat eaters also have the full spread, and they even do breakfast and monthly specials. 

We are not afraid of two suppers, so we ate again at another spot and then bought a zillion beers and a bag of tortilla chips from the gas station on the way home, where Lizzie made us fresh micheladas. 

cruzroom

cruzroom

the other place I mentioned eating supper number two at, refers to themselves as a "taco lab". The food was pretty good, and it was on the same street, but it was a totally different universe. 

Day 1 Bellingham

Everyone leaves for a road trip later than they say they will the night before. Our first stop was an important one;  Casa Que Pasa in Bellingham, WA. This place has been a must visit spot for us since the mid nineties. Being on the way to Seattle, it was a spot where a few carloads of hardcore kids en route to a show, could pull up and eat so much incredible food for super cheap; vegan, vegetarian and carnivores alike. It has become a well-loved staple and its own destination over the years, providing important inspiration for budgies, namely: fountain pop. The salsa bar is also an enviable item, especially because it features house made recipes that are so rad.

Taking pictures of our food was weird and embarassing. We're not totally sure why, it seems like maybe we don't connect to food culture in the same way as what we often see on social media, but here we are with this blog, so maybe we do, and maybe we will get into it and care less and not feel silly and self important. Life's a blog, and then you die.

video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more.