CLOSED: Vardo Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 6 reviews )



235 Main St (at Rose, next to Exhale Yoga), Venice, California, USA, 90291

Gypsy inspired cafe and wine bistro, offering a variety of beer and wine from around the world and gypsy style cocktails. Menu features Turkish coffee, vegan ice cream, a small menu of Indian style dishes plus falafel and a small assortment of desserts displayed on the counter. Intimate dining room and sidewalk seating. Only accepts American Express or cash. Currently closed, may re-open at a later date. Feb 2013.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, American, Indian, Mediterranean, Beer/Wine, Take-out

6 Reviews

First Review by Sonja and Dirk

Nice ambiance and drinks - Edit

Had read about this place on happycow when it first opened a few years back, and I've eaten here several times. Was just here again in August 2012. Here's my Vardo review.

The word, Vardo, means the caravan on which gypsies travel. It's a beautifully decorated space with a relaxed ambiance and convenient location on Main Street Santa Monica. You can sit inside or out on the covered sidewalk.

I've had a couple different smoothies, a few different flavors of ice cream, and they've all been excellent.

The food, on the other hand, is hit or miss. The falafel sandwich and the mezza platter (hummus, roasted eggplant & peppers & grape leaves) are yummy. I've also had a couple of the salads, and they've been all right. The few selections of the day's Indian-style stew can either be tasty or too salty.

The seating inside is comfy with soft cushioned chairs. But outside, the wrought iron patio furniture is hard and not so comfy.

I love the ambiance and that's it's all vegetarian. My suggestions for improvement would be:
1. Food needs better quality control. On a couple occasions the stews have been way too salty.
2. Outside furniture needs to have cushions, otherwise too hard to sit comfortably.

Overall, a nice place to relax and meet with a friend for a drink and dessert.

Pros: beautiful space, good drinks and sweets

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trendy, so-so, over-priced - Edit

I ate here after not stopping in for a long while and was a bit disappointed. Previously it was a bit over-priced in my view, but since it's Main St it's to be expected. Seems like they cut down their portions a lot, and raised their prices a bit. Additionally, they're now offering a lot more dishes with diary cheese, like pizza, however they charge a whopping $2.50 for the daiya vegan options which irks me since one is not eating their mozzarella. So a pizza (which is actually just a little pita bread) is $14 plus $2.50 to make it vegan= $16.50, and hardly a full meal.
Although it's pricy, if you are eating there I suggest you try the vegan saffron ice cream, as it's quite good. Small serving is $4.50.

Pros: vegan ice cream, ambiance, location

Cons: price, Small portions

1 Response
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Chia 26 Aug 2012 - The prices are moderate (not expensive) considering that you are in a very nice part of the lovely Santa Monica/Venice, just one block from the ocean.  

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why did they have to get rid of the carob date shk - Edit

I went here at least once a month for the carob date shake, which was among the best date shakes in the entire universe. They have since got their liquor license and that has trumped the date shakes. Please bring them back!

Pros: cute cafe

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Vardo Cafe - Edit

Agreed, Vardo is a cute little café! I was looking for a healthy salad to take to the airport and this place definitely filled that need. I ordered the carnival salad, it comes with veggies, sunflower seeds, and their vegan feta (made with macadamia nuts). I will warn you, this salad is potent - it likely has a lot of garlic in it. The carnival salad was pretty amazing and kept me full for 7 hours... I attribute this to the mass amount of vegan feta they topped the salad with. The amount of feta was perfect yesterday because it kept me full, however, if I went back again I'd have them cut down the feta a bit. Overall, I loved the food and would definitely go back to try other things.

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Very enjoyable experience - Edit

I tried Vardo today for the first time. It was a very good experience. It's a good location with a very pleasant ambiance. I had the Mezza plate which included Falafel, Hummus, Eggplant and Dolma along with pita bread. The Eggplant was good, as was the hummus. The Falafel I really didn't care for though(maybe it was just an off day). And the Dolma, which is a dish I have never liked at other restaurants was delicious! I also had the Coco Sea Gypsy Soup. The soup is in a coconut base with broccoli, cabbage, carrot and mushroom. Now this soup is to die for. I could not love it more. I am very eager to make my second trip back to Vardo to try other entrees along with the soup again. And although I didn't try it I hear their vegan ice creams are quite good.

Pros: ambiance, best soup in town

Cons: a little loud

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good, but limited availability that day - Edit

I went to lunch today at Vardo with two non-vegan co-workers who told me to choose a place that had something for me to eat. After checking Happy Cow, this cafe was only a block away from our current client, so I was excited. However, when we got there, we were told that they were out of most dishes as their food delivery had not arrived that day. We had all wanted a different stew, but only the cauliflower was available. Also, only one soup, the Coco Sea Gypsy, was made that day. We all ended up ordering the The Falafel with two of us having soup and the third having a side of the cauliflower stew. The Falafel was baked and had a different twist being a wrap, but we all enjoyed it. The soup was very tasty as well and reminded me of Thai soups with all the coconut and lemongrass. The highlight definitely was the saffron vegan ice cream. It was so delicate and not too sweet. Both of the non-vegans were impressed and said they would have never guessed it wasn't dairy. We also had the Turkish coffees. We were the only ones in the restaurant for lunch, so we picked the largest table as the others looked rather small, but the place is cozy. We were all disappointed about the limited availability, but all agreed that the food was good. I'd like to come back and get the jackfruit stew that I originally wanted. Lastly, be forewarned that they charge 4% to use a credit card.

Pros: tasty food, saffron vegan ice cream, cozy

Cons: out of many dishes, charge for credit card

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