It seems every few years a wave of plant-based restaurants descend upon LA with the promise of familiar fare without using meat or animal products. The casual plant-based scene has seen terrific growth too, with Honeybee Burger, Double Zero, Ramen Hood, By Chloe, Swift Cafe, Burgerlords, and Monty’s Good Burger all chipping in various comfort foods in vegan form.
Taco Vega is the next addition, arriving at the former Paramount Coffee Project in Fairfax District from Jared Meisler and Jared Simons. Meisler, who also owns the Friend in Silver Lake, met Simons when he was cooking at Escuela on Beverly. The two Jareds are partnering for the first time, hoping to do tacos, burritos, salads, and other easy-going fast-food to busy Fairfax, which already has things like breakfast burritos, pizza slices, burgers, and fusilli a la vodka.
Meisler, who’s lived in the Fairfax District for twenty five years and grew up in Santa Monica, thinks the healthier Mexican fast-food thing is going to work in pandemic-laden LA. Taco Vega will have two patios, one in the back and one toward the front, that will offer a little bit more in the way of ambience than a typical fast-food spot. Meisler helped assemble the wonderful interiors and ‘hangs,’ as he calls them, at Bar Lubitsch and Roger Room (which he still owns).
The idea to open on Fairfax was also intentional, as Meisler feels the busy block is in many ways the geographical and cultural heart of Los Angeles. “Right now it’s the most cultural international and relevant block in the city. It’s an actual melting pot with all backgrounds, ages, ethnicities. It just feels like a really special time and place, and I always wanted to do something on Fairfax,” says Meisler.
Simons, who previously cooked at No Name just a few doors down, prepared highly regarded but scarcely known (because so few people were able to get in) American fare at the elusive lounge. He had a bit of a health crisis a few years ago but went through a transformation to cooking plant-based while competing in five triathlons. Before he was at No Name, he prepared tacos at Steven Arroyo’s Escuela and opened at Violet in Santa Monica.
Here at Taco Vega, Meisler and Simons are hoping the tacos are good enough to convince regular meat eaters to stick to vegetables and fungi. The carne asada taco comes with grilled oyster mushroom pieces, avocado, cilantro, onion, and salsa roja while sweet potato taquitos comes with farro chorizo and chipotle crema. The idea here was to make every day Mexican comfort food that doesn’t use processed plant-based “meats” like Impossible or Beyond that other vegan restaurants use. Since Simons grew up in San Diego, there will be some nods to the Mexican-American fare from there, such as a California burger, asada fries, nachos, and other more indulgent fare.
Though the team was ready to open within a few weeks, recent developments in the county’s COVID-19 cases, increasing by over 100 percent to nearly 4,000 cases a day, has pushed the opening to some time in early 2021.
- All Fairfax Coverage [ELA]