When I came to this establishment a couple weeks ago at 10:30, I had a hard time finding the place. The small sign out front was partially covered by a tree, so finding the place was pretty difficult. I had to get out of my car and walk with the address in hand. And after all that effort, they didn't open until 11:00, so I tried my luck elsewhere, vowing to return to give the store and its cafe a fair shot.
This place has seen better days. I would've loved to experience it when it started twenty two years ago. As I ate there, I imagined it being vibrant, hopeful, and ahead of its time. However, I believe that with a little love, organization, and bringing things up to date, this little place could potentially put the other vegetarian friendly markets to shame.
Oh Happy Days has an Old school Mom & Pop shop feel if the Mom & Pop had a long wall of supplements, wooden nautical fridges for organic produce, an organic seed selection to grow your own vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers with hard to find seeds like St. John's Wart, Stevia, and Anise, and a jars of different loose herbs that reminded me of Wiccan stores I've been to. The ceiling was painted as the sky with a sun centerpieces inconspicuously over the entire inside dining area. There were three unattractive makeshift tables and chairs outside which does not reflect the dining room wooden tables and chairs inside which seem like they were picked up at a Sears showroom twenty years ago and have with stood the test of time. The store is much deeper than you would think from your cursory view from the outside or even from the door.
I ordered the Tofu Stir Fry with a Salad which was served out from a food warming tray on the side. Considering the price of $6.50, this was A LOT of food. I had images of being at a potluck. The tofu and the rice was good, but I think the over cooked collard greens are what brought the dish down. I have a feeling if they had been steamed and not boiled, sliced thinly and used a little more sparingly, the dish would've shown an uncommonly comforting side. The salad seemed like it came from a friend's garden - fresh, colorful, and lush - and the yellow curry dressing (is what I think it was) evoked a raw foods theme.
For the record, I was going to try the "Yummy Yams" as the COK directory suggests, but reconsidered when John said that they're covered in the soup of the day - Split Pea.
Most unfortunate of all, I was pestered by a fly the entire time I was eating.
If you're a vegetarian in the Alta Dena area, I definitely do recommend checking this place out with an open mind.