Soul Food at Stuff I Eat in Inglewood, California

Organic Soul Food Platter - Stuff I EatAfter last Thursday’s post about making my own soul bowls at home, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite restaurant soul food platters in recent memory.

When I was in Los Angeles a while back, I made it to a restaurant that I’ve been hearing about for eons – Stuff I Eat in Inglewood.  It’s a place that I have meant to visit again and again.  However, it seemed that usually when I was in the area, I was either on my way to the airport and in a hurry or coming back from the airport and in a hurry.  But as luck would have it this time around, I needed to pick up my rental car by LAX, which put me in the neighborhood at just the right time for lunch at Stuff I Eat.

Stuff I Eat - a vegan restaurant in Inglewood, CaliforniaStuff I Eat has been around since 2008.  Their food is 100% vegan and 95% organic.  It’s on the main drag of Market Street, along with other shops and restaurants.  The street was pretty quiet while I was there, as it was still early in the lunch hour.  Even though there’s a large awning outside with their name on it, because of the dark windows, I missed it and kept walking.  Even after I turned around and started walking back, I almost missed it again.  So etch this exterior into your mind’s eye and don’t make the same mistake I did.

Stuff I Eat - a vegan restaurant in Inglewood, CaliforniaStuff I Eat - a vegan restaurant in Inglewood, CaliforniaThe restaurant is clean and nicely laid out with café-style tables. The staff at the counter was all smiles and really helpful with ideas of their most popular items.  They’re well-known for their tacos, but obviously I had to go with another popular item on their menu, the Organic Soul Food Platter.

Organic Soul Food Platter - Stuff I EatI ordered a half order of the platter, which came to $12.  There was so much food, I easily could have shared it.  Instead, I took half home and finished it with breakfast the next day.

Organic Soul Food Platter - Stuff I EatThe platter came with generous helpings of yams, black-eyed peas, barbecued tofu, slow cooked kale, a cornbread muffin, potato salad, and mac and cheese.  The greens may well have been the best I’ve ever had.  They were melt-in-your-mouth good with that wonderful tinny-ness you get from cooking greens for a long time.

Organic Soul Food Platter - Stuff I EatThe black-eyed peas were also particularly well seasoned, and since they’re not always my favorite bean, I was surprised at how good they were.

Stuff I Eat is definitely one of those places where you can get caught in a circle of “just one more bite.”  With so many complimentary flavors and huge portions, this is the restaurant to visit with friends and/or a big appetite!  It is sure to be on my must-visit list on my next trip to Southern California.

My Favorite Restaurant: Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine in Los Angeles

Rahel Ethiopian Los AngelesIf I had to name my very favorite restaurant anywhere, it would be Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine in Los Angeles.  Rahel was the first restaurant where I ever tried Ethiopian fare, and it set the bar very high.   They introduced me to slow cooked stews called wots and spongy, sour bread made from protein-rich teff flour called injera.  It was there that I discovered the joys of using that pancake-style bread as a utensil, scooping up each bite of stew from a large shared platter, using a torn bit of bread to encase it.

The platters of wots are reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting with loud splashes of colors.  The bright trays give a glimpse into the array of flavors that lay across the trays with chickpeas, collard greens, lentils and split peas, dashes of turmeric, and sautéed ginger and garlic.   Each stew has complex layered flavors and nuance with none of the oiliness that can easily dominate when infused oil (niter kibbeh) provides so much of the flavor.

Rahel Ethiopian Los AngelesOver the years, I’ve made many wonderful memories at Rahel.  When I lived in Los Angeles, it was a regular stop for birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day.  Even though Ethiopian cuisine wasn’t something that I ate growing up, it’s now very much comfort food to me.  A plate of soft injera and warm, enveloping stews feels like going home.  Plus, there’s something very intimate about eating from the same platter with a significant other or group of close friends.  So obviously I couldn’t go to the West Coast and not eat at Rahel.  I invited some friends to join me, picked up a couple of bottles of wine from Trader Joe’s, and made sure to leave plenty of room in my stomach for the deliciousness that awaited.

To drink, they offer juice, tea, and coffee.  They don’t serve liquor.  However, you can bring in your own bottle(s) of wine or beer, and they will bring you an opener and glasses.  They don’t have a corkage fee.

Menu Rahel Ethiopian Los AngelesOn the walls there are large, dramatic black and white photographs, giving the restaurant a clean, open feel.  There’s a mixture of standard tables on one side of the room, and on the other, traditional Ethiopian tables are available with basket-like messob and short, low-backed chairs.  Because of the size of our group, we ate at one of the standard restaurant tables.  However, if our group had been a little smaller, it would have been fun to eat in the one semi-private hut that is available.

Before the meal, a server comes to the table with a pitcher and basin to rinse guests’ hands since dinner will be eaten from shared platters and without utensils.  (Although, plates and forks are available upon request if you’re feeling squeamish about a shared dinner or if you’re nursing a cold that you don’t want to give anyone.)

Rahel Ethiopian Los AngelesWe usually order one of the combination dishes to get a mixture of flavors, and the Hudade Special Combo is my favorite since it doesn’t include an appetizer.  (Their lentil-stuffed sambussa appetizers are very good, but I always walk away from Rahel stuffed to the maximum.  Instead of getting full right away, I want to keep as much appetite as I can for devouring their wots with injera.)  Gluten-free injera is available upon request.

We ordered two large platters for our group, and everyone walked away satisfied with even a bit remaining for leftovers.

Rahel Ethiopian Cuisine Los AngelesThe Hudade Special Combo comes with:

  • Shiro wot & Yeshimbra assa – two different chickpea stews
  • Yemisir kik wot – a spicy lentil stew
  • Yeatkilt stew – a mild dish made with potatoes and carrots that is wonderfully earthy
  • Yeater Alica – a homey, mushy yellow split pea stew with onions and garlic
  • Yefasolia wot – a mixed vegetable dish with soft string beans and carrots
  • Yebagela siljo – broad beans paste
  • A green salad
  • Sunflower mixed with injera
  • And my favorite of the bunch – greens that have been slow cooked until tender and seasoned with garlic

All of the wots are packed with spices but not spicy hot.  However, they do have trays of hot sauces if, like me, you prefer things on the mouth tingling side.

Rahel To go WrapsAs I mentioned in my post about Viva La Vegan, David and I also picked up a couple of Rahel injera wraps when we were at that all vegan grocery store for the plane ride home.  It was such a delightful treat eating a Rahel wrap while flying over Nevada.  We both chose the wrap with yellow split peas.  (The one with greens is my favorite, but they didn’t have any of that type at Viva La Vegan when we were there.)

Rahel To Go WrapsThe wraps are made with gluten-free injera and were filling without being overly heavy.  When you’re flying, it’s nice to have something that feels healthy and substantive.  On the label, the ingredients for the filling are listed as yellow peas, olive oil, sea salt, turmeric, onion and ginger.  For the injera wrap, the ingredients are teff, buckwheat, and water.  It is amazing what they are able to do in terms of flavor with a few simple ingredients.

If you should ever find yourself in the Little Ethiopia neighborhood of Los Angeles, I can’t recommend a trip to Rahel highly enough.