The California Veggie Sandwich

california veggie sandwich

Now that the secret’s out (the secret being that we’re moving back to NY after twelve years in L.A.), it’s time to talk about what I’ll miss the most about California. Will it be the beaches? It won’t be the beaches. Will it be the glamorous movie premieres? It won’t be the glamorous movie premieres. No, the thing that I’ll miss the most about L.A. is very simple: it’s the produce. Every trip to our farmer’s market is like a trip to an edible jewelry store: the bright orange persimmons in December, the juicy blood red oranges in January, and the huge array of chilies and tomatoes and summer squash when we’re in the height of August. Which is why I imagine, when the time comes for me to conjure up our L.A. years from our much smaller NY kitchen, I’ll turn to the California Veggie Sandwich.

There’ve Got to Be Sprouts

The idea for this sandwich came to me via this week’s podcast guest, Starlee Kine, who you may know from This American Life or her iconic podcast The Mystery Show. When I asked Starlee to send me a recipe for the podcast, she confessed that she really didn’t cook. So I asked her to send me somewhere in L.A. featuring a dish that she really loves — which is when she brought up The California Veggie Sandwich from The Trails in Griffith Park.

I wasn’t able to make it to The Trails before our interview, so I did the next best thing: I found a picture of the sandwich online and recreated it at home. I showed Starlee the picture, which featured watercress, and she adamantly insisted that the picture must be wrong because it’s not watercress, it’s sprouts. “It has to have sprouts,” she told me.

Season as You Go

Let’s be honest: we’re talking about a simple sandwich here. It doesn’t really need a recipe, though I’ll give you one.

My key discovery was to season each layer as I built it. I started by shmearing mayonnaise on one half of the sandwich; on the other, I layered in a whole ripe avocado per sandwich. Yes, you heard that right. I seasoned with salt and pepper and squeezed on some lemon juice. Then I piled on the sprouts, and did the same (salt, pepper, lemon). Finally I added sliced red onion and the key ingredient: Fake Bacon Bits.

These things are an essential ingredient, no matter which brand you use. They add crunch and salinity without harming any animals in the process. And this is a California Hippie sandwich, is it not? (Well, Veggie Sandwich, though Hippie Sandwich will do too.)

What can I say about this sandwich? It totally hit the spot. The avocado adds density but it’s the sprouts that really make it sing. This is the taste of California on two pieces of bread and it features ingredients that you can find anywhere, only — I must confess — those ingredients won’t be as good. California produce, I’ll miss you most of all.

california veggie sandwich

The California Veggie Sandwich

A wholesome hippie sandwich inspired by the one at The Trails Cafe in Griffith Park.
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword avocado, California, mayo, sprouts
Servings 2 sandwiches


  • 4 slices of whole grain bread
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 very ripe avocados
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup vegetarian bacon bits


  • Lay out your four pieces of bread. Spread the mayo on two of them.
  • On the non-mayo pieces, lay in your avocado (you can slice it or mush it, up to you!). Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Then add 1/2 cup sprouts to each sandwich. Season that with lemon, salt, and pepper.
  • Lay on the red onion and, finally, sprinkle with the Bacon Bits. Close the sandwich and cut in half on the diagonal. Eat right away.

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3 thoughts on “The California Veggie Sandwich”

  1. Oh, boy, does this sandwich bring back memories! I used to buy it at a health food store here in
    Northern California in the 80’s. They added sliced dill pickles but no bacon (fake or not). Also, cream cheese instead of mayo. Hmmm, think I’ll head to the kitchen.

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