Dining on a budget: One World Vegetarian in WC

By Emma Gallegos

One World Vegetarian Cuisine wants you to stop eating meat, and it has effectively staged a one-restaurant, multipronged campaign to that end.

You’ve been warned.

One World is a surprisingly serene sit-down restaurant tucked away in a West Covina strip mall next to a barbecue place selling “broasted” chicken. 

A hedge in front of a small outdoor patio blocks out the view of the bustling Westfield complex across the street. A water fountain and piped-in music from Enya drowns out ambient noise. The bright-eyed waitstaff doesn’t look like any of them has ever shown up to work with a hangover.

Above the bamboo-lined booths inside, a hallowed pantheon of vegetarian saints – Alicia Silverstone, Paul McCartney, Leonardo da Vinci, Christy Turlington – watches over. The campaign sort of sneaks up on you like that: These smart, beautiful, insanely talented people are vegetarians – why aren’t you?

In one corner, a waitress explains to an already-converted patron how to make pancakes without eggs. The food here, after all, is not only vegetarian, but vegan. The Heaven on Earth Latte ($2.75) was made with a fluffy, slightly sweet soy cream, the heaven that tops the earthly, bitter coffee, all in a delicate wine glass.

No detail is spared in this campaign, whose most convincing tactic is, of course, the food itself.

 

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The Indian curry ($5.50), with cubes of tofu, was made creamy and spicy with an emphasis on fresh, crisp vegetables rather than something that had been stewing in a pot all day. The curried and crisp bell peppers, zucchini, potatoes and scallions were served with brown rice as a part of the combo, preceded by a bowl of vegetable soup made with equally crisp ingredients in a clear, spicy broth. It was simple, crisp, healthy and not a bad deal, either.

Because the waitstaff brings out complimentary, freshly roasted warm peanuts, I could have done without an appetizer. But I sprang for the spring rolls ($3.75) served with the usual peanut sauce and the less usual meat substitute. The rolls tasted like almost anything else I’ve had and I almost didn’t notice the substitute, which was mild, had a hint of barbeque and might have been broasted.

At the end was the hard-sell. In my bill, I received an insert from Supreme Master Ching Hai that urged the halt of meat-eating to save the ice caps.

Scores of meat-eating commenters on the Web site Yelp – who sound like they’ve been tricked into eating a bad cut of tofurky one too many times – swear that, no, this vegetarian place is actually good.

I was less surprised that a vegan restaurant managed to make something appetizing – restaurants like this and even vegetarian icons like Alicia Silverstone are more common west of the 605 Freeway. I was just pleased to find a healthy, reasonable lunch in an unassuming strip mall just a hedge away from food court fare.

And who knows? One World might be a great place to nurse a hangover.

One World Vegetarian Cuisine, 178 S. Glendora Ave., West Covina, (626) 917-2727.

Red Brick Pizza no more

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Two locations of Red Brick Pizza in the East San Gabriel Valley have closed recently, and I can only guess why. There was one location at the Lakes in West Covina, close to Edward’s movie theaters, and another in Covina on Badillo and Grand, next to Von’s grocery store.

Neither of the restaurants had great business, and I’m not sure why. I have a few guesses.

First, let me start with what they don’t do wrong:
1. The pizzas taste good.
2. The menu offers a lot of a lot of variety and creativity. Toppings included prosciutto, pine nuts, ricotta cheese, sesame thai sauce, arugula, kalamata olives, and all the traditional pizza toppings.
3. They also have breadsticks, salads, sandwiches and gelato
4. They offer coupons and specials
5. Every booth has its own flat panel TV and remote control

Here’s what I don’t like:
1. It is expensive. Small pizzas cost about $7, mediums for $10.50 and larges for $17. Sure, the pizzas tasted good, but they weren’t that good. The pizzas didn’t feel like a good value for the money.
2. The pizzas aren’t filling. A medium pizza feels like a small pan pizza from Pizza Hut.
3. Service is slow. The restaurants can operate with just two people in font — one person making pizzas and another person taking orders and making salads.
4. The casual dining environment feels fast food restaurant, but the menu prices aren’t.
5. The restaurants don’t market themselves as a take-out pizza place, don’t offer delivery nor do they allow customers to order online. They want dine-in customers, but it’s not very enjoyable to dine there either.
6. You can’t control the volume level on the televisions.
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$3.99 Pizza Co. in West Covina

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Dining on a Budget:

With one of the most exciting weekends in football season coming up – Super Bowl XLII – many folks are thinking the same thing:What to eat during the big game?

For an inexpensive and quick meal to serve at your Super Bowl gathering, you can’t go wrong with the $3.99 Pizza Co. in West Covina, (bordering on Baldwin Park.)

The $3.99 Pizza Co. offers just that – a fresh-style cheese pizza for under $5.

When I first heard of this oddly named eatery, I thought like many of my colleagues: How good could it be? Now I say, “Hey, don’t judge a pizza by its price!”

The $3.99 Pizza Co. takes “dining on a budget” to a new level.

Not only can you get a large freshly-rolled-dough cheese pizza for $3.99, plus tax, but if you just scrounged under and between your car seats for some lunch change, you can get a 7″ personal cheese pizza for only $1.99.

On a recent lunch, a few colleagues and I shared a large mushroom and chicken pizza, as well as a side order of jalapeno poppers and seasoned fries.

Well, needless to say, our total was not $3.99, but split amongst two or three people the $13 and change bill didn’t put too much of a dent in my wallet. Toppings are extra, costing from 75 cents to $2.

The jalapeno poppers are made with cheddar cheese, instead of cream cheese (yuck) or monterey jack (best). They’re not as hot as other eateries may serve, but are still yummy.

The seasoned fries are the ones with the kick. These nice big wedges are perfectly sized and seasoned for my taste.

And if you need to feed the family, the eatery offers plenty of low-priced family-sized meals, as well as hot wings, pasta, salads, subs, and more.

Are you ready for some football?