The Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt


As soon as my husband and I moved to West Los Angeles, we noticed a frozen yogurt shop in our neighborhood that was always busy — day and night, all year round. Even in the dead of winter (albeit L.A. winter), there was a line out the door. Adding to the mystery was that this shop, aptly named The Bigg Chill, seemed stuck in the ’80s — from the very fact of its serving froyo to its dated neon-and-pastel decor.

We went in a few times to check it out, but were deterred by the long wait and the dearth of dairy-free options. The Bigg Chill has only one dairy-free flavor at the time. I once sampled the honey cashew, made from almond milk, and it was just strange.

Then I tasted Wow Cow.


Wow Cow is not dairy-free, but it is low-lactose. And since my issue is lactose intolerance, I have no problem digesting it. Wow Cow is also fat free, low calorie, and cholesterol free — hard to believe when you find out how good it tastes.

When I visited last week, the Wow Cow flavor was vanilla, my absolute favorite kind of soft serve. The Wow Cow had a strong vanilla taste and a super-smooth consistency. It wasn’t as rich and dense as ice cream, but neither is regular frozen yogurt. Wow Cow — or as my husband mistakenly called it, “Magic Moo” — is an excellent substitute for the lactose-laden fat bomb that is soft serve.


So, after years of wondering what all the fuss was about, I finally get why The Bigg Chill is such a neighborhood favorite. They’ve got healthier versions of the ice cream we all love, a dizzying array of toppings (including nine kinds of vegan cookie dough), and a friendly, cozy vibe. The place is packed with regulars — moms and kids, high schoolers, sorority girls. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, you feel like you’re at a party.

As for the Miami Vice-like decor, it’s delightfully retro without trying to be — they just haven’t bothered to change it in twenty years. It’s like an ’80s time warp in there. When I walked in, they were playing Phil Collins. I don’t think it’s an accident that their logo looks like a Pac-Man.

By day…
By night…

Why do I have both daytime and nighttime pictures? Because after having a Wow Cow on Wednesday night, I went back the very next afternoon to get it again. (You know, for research.) I’m only half joking when I say that The Bigg Chill must be putting crack in their froyo. Which would be in keeping with the ’80s thing.

Their flavors change every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Check their website before going — and if they’ve got vanilla Wow Cow, hightail it over there.

UPDATE (10/22/19): I’m sad to report that the Bigg Chill no longer has Wow Cow. I’ve been checking their website periodically, and finally I stopped by and inquired about it. The guy behind the counter said, “They don’t make it anymore.” R.I.P. Wow Cow… I only had you twice, but I’ll miss you.

THE BIGG CHILL, 10850 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064


Dairy-Free Passionfruit Mango Smoothie


I’ve loved passionfruit ever since I was ten years old and went on a family trip to Taiwan. It was a hot summer and everywhere we went, we were given fresh passionfruit juice served over crushed ice. It’s not easy to find passionfruit in L.A., but passionfruit juice in a can is a decent substitute.


Now that summer is here, treat yourself to a taste of the tropics with this easy dairy-free smoothie. You can use plain Non-Dairy Chobani yogurt, the best non-dairy yogurt I’ve tried — or if you prefer a less sweet smoothie, Green Valley Lactose-Free yogurt (okay for lactose-intolerant people, but not suitable for those with dairy allergies).



1 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt, such as Chobani
1 cup passionfruit juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Chill until cold. Makes one serving.

Joe’s Pizza, Now with Vegan Cheese


If this pizza doesn’t look quite right, that’s because it’s got vegan cheese on it. Despite its uninspiring appearance, this pizza got me excited — Joe’s Pizza was my favorite when I lived in New York. They opened a chain in Los Angeles years ago, but only recently have they started offering vegan cheese.

One of my fondest New York memories is of ducking into Joe’s on a rainy afternoon and eating a piping-hot slice while I gazed out the window and watched people running around, getting soaked. The taste of Joe’s reminds me of that cozy feeling.

Unfortunately, you can’t get Joe’s with vegan cheese by the slice. You have to order a whole pie. With a base price of $22 per pie, that’s a far cry from the $2 slice I used to get in New York. Still, this pizza made me happy.


The best thing about Joe’s is the crust. It’s crunchy, not too thick and not too thin. It has nicely browned edges and a satisfying bready flavor. This is the crust that New Yorkers love. Does it taste better with real cheese? Yes. But Daiya vegan cheese isn’t bad.

My go-to dairy-free pizza has been Blaze, which also uses Daiya. What I like about Blaze is that you can get as many toppings as you want for no extra charge. The reason I ordered only one topping (sausage) on my Joe’s pizza is that they’re $3 each. The bill can quickly become astronomical.

But the pie was huge and I had plenty of leftovers to take home. So the next day I added my own toppings: mushrooms, spinach, red onion, red pepper flakes, oregano. In a way this is even better, because I can vary the toppings on my leftover slices and not get sick of eating the same thing over and over.


Keep in mind that not all Joe’s Pizza locations in L.A. offer vegan cheese. I visited the one in Santa Monica and they didn’t have it. But if you’re on Hollywood Boulevard and you’re  craving a New York pizza that’s dairy-free, duck into Joe’s. It probably won’t be raining, though.

JOE’S PIZZA, 6504 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028