There’s a new arrival to Fairfax this week, albeit one in a familiar location. Taco Vega, which promised back in November to overhaul the busy block’s meatless dining options, arrives Friday, January 8 in the former Paramount Coffee Project space just up from Animal, Badmaash, Canter’s, and across the street from the flagship Dave’s Hot Chicken. It’s one of greater LA’s busiest and most robust restaurant stretches, and now there are vegan tacos to enjoy, too.
While Mexican cuisine has a long and storied plant-based history, there has been a push in recent years locally to increase the vegan taco, burrito, and bowl output in greater Los Angeles. That includes everything from Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, with its cocktails and large see-and-be-seen patio, to the folks from Todo Verde, who earned glowing praise from the New York Times (and put out a cookbook) last fall. And while the coronavirus has shuttered or paused many restaurants, small businesses, and public gatherings, it’s likely that LA’s growing vegan street food scene will only continue to bloom in a post-pandemic world.
The menu at Taco Vega, shown below, ticks all the usual boxes. There are tacos galore, of course, from tempura cauliflower to faux pastor made with yuba (tofu skin), but also salads, asada fries with grilled oyster mushrooms, burritos, bowls, drinks, and beyond. Chef Simons, via email, says that while he and Meisler do hope to proudly showcase their plant-based menu as a healthier alternative, it’s not about being pushy. “It is more important than ever to make positive food choices,” says Simons, but “at the end of the day, good food is good food regardless of diet choice.”
Taco Vega at 456 N. Fairfax is the work of Jared Simons, a longtime chef who made a name for himself at, aptly, No Name on Fairfax (which closed in 2019 after five years and nearby Escuela. He’s joined by hospitality veteran Jared Meisler from Silver Lake’s the Friend bar and West Hollywood’s Bar Lubitsch, among many others. The pair collaborated on the healthy-leaning menu’s direction, though it’s Simons who will be doing the cooking.
As for the space, the former Paramount Coffee Project (which opened in 2015, and expanded to the Row development in Downtown) is built for these modern takeout and delivery times as a result of the ongoing pandemic. There’s long been a to-go window built into the front of the business, and once on-site dining returns the team will reactivate the back patio and, some day, indoor dining. Beyond pickup orders, diners can grab food through all the usual apps. Hours for Taco Vega run 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an extension to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.