Friday, February 6, 2009

Mani's Enthusiasts,Take Charge! (Hope You're Hungry...)

You'll never guess how taken aback I was when I visited the websites of one of my favorite, health-food restaurants the other day, only to discover that a note had been posted by its owners stating that the economic slowdown has taken a devastating toll on their yummy neighborhood bakery and cafe, so much so that they may soon close their doors from which the delicious smell of fresh muffins and vegan-friendly dishes waft.

So this morning, valiant mission in mind, my boyfriend and I made our way to Mani's, the health-conscious and tasty little bakery and cafe on Fairfax with quaint sidewalk seating and some of the best bottomless coffee I've tasted, determined that our patronage would save one of our favorite eateries. However, when we arrived, we realized that other Mani's faithfuls were probably on the same trip, because the place was bustling and the indoor eating area was full of friends meeting over scrumptious multi-grain pancakes with seasonal berries, warm and crispy fruit juice-sweetened scones and a whole wheat breakfast burrito filled with so much goodness that I was forced to restrain myself from snatching an uninvited bite off of the unassuming diner's plate (He was reading the newspaper and would have NEVER known...).

We sat down at one of Mani's charming, smooth mahogany tables and ordered the Huevos Over Blackstones, a decision I will undoubtedly make again and again as I return to this light and airy environment. Despite the drizzling of rain outside, this egg dish brightened by up entire day. Comprised of chewy cakes made of perfectly-Southwestern spiced quinoa and black bean patties nestled between steamed baby spinach and poached egg whites (how did they do it?!?) topped with a tangy yet smoky Ranchero sauce, this beauty of a breakfast dish made me feel like I was in sunny San Diego instead of the striking resemblance to Seattle that LA has taken on in the past few days. We supplemented this perfectly seasoned and texture-balanced Breakfast Classic with a Morning Glory muffin heated to perfection; the blend of grated carrots, raisins, pecans and bran created an amazingly soft yet dense baked good that literally vanished before my very eyes before I could remember to take a breath between my enthralled bites. Hungry for more, I eyed one of my old favorite, the High Protein muffin in the display case on my way out; clearly my eyes and my stomach are on different terms, but my stomach always wins. My turmoil immediately transformed into triumph when I spotted the small wicker basket on the counter with mini muffin samples, and my boyfriend and I gleefully snatched the last two High Protein muffin samples, much to the dismay of the other customers greedily (and justifiably!) eyeing that little basket of wonder.

It truly saddens me that Mani's is on the edge of falling victim to the struggling economic climate. An establishment dedicated to making healthier versions of mealtime favorites (they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner), I'm in love with their use of meat-free products, fruit juices and non-hydrogenated fats to make even non-vegans crave a high-quality, grain-and-vegetable-based meal or snack. Mani's mantra of wholesome goodness leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy after I step out of the door, no matter what I've just eaten (okay, scraped dry) off of my plate. Mani's, I will continue to support your mission of quality taste, healthy ingredients and consideration of special diets so that I (and countless others) do not have to see your shiny tables pulled inside and your window-paned doors close for good. Where else would I be able to find guilt-free baked goods and feel-good dishes that don't break the bank and that bring me sunshine when the rain won't stop falling?

Mani's Bakery Cafe
519 South Fairfax
Los Angeles, California 90036
phone 323.938.8800

Mäni’s Bakery Hours
Mon-Thurs 6:30AM - 11:00PM
Fridays 6:30AM - Midnight
Saturdays 7:00AM - Midnight
Sundays 7:30AM - 11:00PM

Café/Restaurant Hours
Mon-Thurs 8:00AM - 10:00PM
Fridays 8:00AM - 11:00PM
Saturdays 8:00AM - 11:00PM
Sundays 8:00AM - 10:00PM

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