In much of the United States, it can be a struggle for plant-based foodies to find a variety of inventive and delicious dining options. In Los Angeles, it seems that we have the opposite problem. The sprawling city is a vegan mecca for every craving and budget, with exciting new options constantly popping up. And with over 40 neighborhoods in the city, the options can be almost overwhelming. To help you pick the (vegan) cream of the crop, we did the research for you. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, use this handy guide to sample the best vegan spots in some of LA’s most popular neighborhoods.
Winner: Little Pine
Quietly nestled in the hipster haven of Silver Lake, this quaint and homey restaurant is the passion project of music mogul Moby. It’s a popular spot for Mediterranean and California-inspired small plates, and the totally plant-based menu features seasonal comfort foods like mac and cheese and shepherd’s pie. Regardless of what you order, make sure to save room for dessert because the chocolate chip cookies are next-level delicious. The best part: all proceeds of your meal benefit animal welfare organizations.
Runner-up: Flore Vegan
Winner: Kitchen Mouse
Though not completely vegan, Kitchen Mouse is a delightfully adorable café filled with incredible brunch items in a setting that is just as eclectic as the neighborhood in which it’s located. The menu features a veggie take on Cali breakfast staples like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and crab cakes benedict. If you have a sweet tooth, try their vegan and gluten-free baked goods. You won’t regret it.
Runner-up: Donut Friend
As a vegan, it can be hard not to occasionally pine for an expertly crafted sushi roll. With Shojin, you can get your fix with none of the guilt. This Japanese and macrobiotic restaurant features healthy, plant-based dishes that are mostly nut and gluten-free as well. It’s a popular dinner spot that is well-loved by Angelenos and a must-visit if you’re exploring DTLA.
Runner-up: Au Lac
Winner: Plant Food and Wine
Situated on trendy Abbot Kinney, Plant Food and Wine is a vegan foodie’s dream. The restaurant is a creation of boundary-pushing, plant-based chef Matt Kenney. The sleek décor gives the space a modern feel that is in stark contrast with stereotypical hippie vegan joints of a bygone era. The menu is equally progressive, featuring seasonal and gourmet dishes that are sure to satisfy all tastes.
Runner-up: The Butcher’s Daughter
TIE: Gracias Madre and Crossroads Kitchen
This trendy WeHo spot is a favorite of vegans and non-vegans alike. The Mexican-inspired restaurant gives classic favorites a glamourous update fit for a herbivore who enjoys a spicy flair. Standout dishes include young coconut ceviche and pozole with cashew crema, but everything on the menu will bring a big fiesta to your taste buds.
This upscale favorite is a “can’t miss” for anyone visiting or living in LA. It is the perfect spot for any meal, with show-stopping dishes like carrot lox, chicken and waffles, and the famous “impossible burger” that’s sure to please even the most carnivorous eaters. If you’re dining in the evening, we recommend you start your meal with the mind-blowing nut cheese platter that is, almost unbelievably, dairy-free.
If meat-lover and Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold gives his seal of approval, you know a restaurant is good. Finish a day at the beach at the cozy Erven and enjoy globally-inspired and creative small plates that are as playful as they are delicious. Mr. Gold is a big fan of the savory donut holes, but every dish is unforgettable in its own right.
Winner: Elf Café
This unassuming little restaurant may be small, but inside it holds big flavors that are hard to forget. This clean-eating-approved spot features Mediterranean, seasonal fare with a spectacular natural wine menu to complement your meal. Each dish is packed with big flavor and even bigger nutrition for a satisfying experience that you are sure to remember long after it’s over.
Runner up: Sage
Winner: Doomie’s Home Cookin’
If you’re craving some good ol’ greasy comfort food, look no further than Doomie’s, home of the famous vegan “Big Mac.” Menu staples include fried chicken, mac and cheese, and plenty of other “guilty pleasures” that are typically MIA in a plant-based diet. We just can’t promise you’ll leave without going into a minor food coma (but it’s totally worth it).
Runner up: Veggie Grill
Winner: Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine
Generally speaking, Ethiopian cuisine is an excellent option for plant-based dining, but having an Ethiopian joint that’s completely vegan is a special treat. The quality of Rahel’s wide array of vegetables, lentils, stews, and greens is impeccable and perfect for family-style sharing. Plus, the lack of utensils creates an adventurous new experience for first-timers.
Runner-up: The Grain Café
What are your favorite plant-based spots in Los Angeles? Tell us in the comments!
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Photo: Respective Restaurants