26 Reasons Why L.A. Is Vegan Food Heaven!
Los Angeles is known for a lot of things, including Hollywood, smog, and sunshine—but did you know that it’s also a vegan’s dream? You really can’t go more than a couple of blocks before running into veganized deliciousness, from authentic Mexican food to inventive fusion cuisine. L.A. truly is vegan food heaven. Here are a few MUST stops for any Angeleno (or anyone lucky enough to visit!):
Flore may be tiny, but its menu packs a big punch. The eatery offers up vegan versions of comfort food faves, such as vegan club sandwiches stacked with avocado, taco salads topped with spicy seitan and a cilantro sauce, and a wide array of vegan cheesecakes, cupcakes, and more. The real reason I’m obsessed with this place, though, is its brunch, which features a tofu version of eggs Benedict, cranberry-walnut French toast, and even a vegan omelette. Oh, and did I mention its massive breakfast burrito packed with tofu, kale, potatoes, tomatoes, and everything else magical in the world?
Why, yes, that IS a fried mac-and-cheese ball covered with buffalo sauce. The Gluten-Free Bowl of Soul is just one of a whole menu of freaking awesome food options. My favorite? The Jackfruit Nachos or the Raw Bowl, which comes with vegan alfredo sauce and homemade vegan cashew-dill cheese. Be still, my heart.
Chipotle’s Sofritas might be best thing to happen to vegans in the last 10 years. Oh yeah, I said it. Uh, spicy tofu deliciousness and signs promoting it to boot? Yeah. Freaking yummy. Add Sofritas to your bean and rice burrito (Chipotle’s beans and rice are vegan, woo woo!) and top with guacamole and hot salsa, and your life will instantly be better.
Vegan. Doughnuts. That’s all I need to say. Oh, and I’ll just leave this here … and yep, that’s a vegan doughnut FILLED WITH VEGAN WHIPPED CREAM. Contain your screams.
OK, OK, you can’t always eat doughnuts for lunch. If you’re looking for something healthier, Fala Bar is the spot. This new vegan joint offers up four different types of falafel, including spicy and crunchy, and its wraps are out of this world! Fala Bar even has cute little to-go cups with falafel, tabbouleh, and Israeli salad. Yumminess.
No L.A. vegan list would be complete without the almighty Veggie Grill. This place is a faux-meat lover’s dream, offering up fried “chicken” sandwiches, vegan BLTs, buffalo “chicken” wings, vegan cheeseburgers (get ’em “El Dorado–style!”), bangin’ salads such as the All Hail Kale, and more. Not in L.A.? Look for Veggie Grill to open a location near you, as it’s expanding all across the country!
Vegan tamales and taquitos, soy chorizo burritos stuffed with Daiya vegan cheese, nondairy ice cream … you name it, this little taco stand has it!
Mohawk Bend’s menu is the opposite of most—it indicates if a dish isn’t vegan, because so much of the menu IS! From chili “cheese” fries to buffalo cauliflower to BBQ tofu pizzas, this spot will satisfy all your cravings.
Scoops is an ice cream joint that rotates its flavors every day. Several of them are vegan, and they aren’t your average ol’ chocolate and vanilla, folks. We’re talking maple Oreo, salted caramel, burnt sugar, and waaaaaaay more.
This two-person taco stand powerhouse offers up $2 and $3 tacos—including jackfruit, potato, and bean tacos. All tacos come with your choice of two yummy toppings, which include pico de gallo, chipotle mayo (vegan, of course!), tomatillo, or coleslaw. These guys are little, but that just means you can eat more. Hands down the best vegan taco in Los Angeles!
Doomie’s is legendary for its ridiculously “meaty” menu. This place has mastered mac and “cheese,” and it has the most realistic vegan fried chicken around. The desserts, such as dairy-free brownies and vegan crème brûlée, are killer (without anyone being killed!).
Indian-Mexican fusion? Yes, please. We’re talking aloo gobi burritos topped with cashew “cheese” sauce, samosas the size of your fist, spinach tofu tacos, and more. Yum, yum, yum!
All-vegan pizzeria? Yup, L.A.’s got one.
Native Foods Café is another must if you’re looking for comfy, “meaty” food—it’s also a great place to take your meat-eating parents, friends, and enemies. 😉 My go-to is the Greek Gyro Bowl (lemon-garlic sauce, uggggh!) or the nachos, but people also love the restaurant’s Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and Chicken Run Ranch Burger. Not in L.A.? Look for a Native Foods Café near you—locations are opening up all over the country!
Healthy and full of yumminess, Cafe Gratitude dishes up seasonal, organic dishes, including several raw dishes if you wanna be ultra-healthy. I love its I Am Fortified, which comes with steamed veggies and kale, brown rice, and a yummy garlic-tahini sauce. The eatery also offers enchiladas, veggie burgers with coconut bacon, tamales, fresh juices, and tasty desserts.
Gracias Madre is the sister restaurant to Café Gratitude, so expect healthy dishes packed full of flavor, such as butternut squash quesadillas, vegan taquitos, and the El Plato, which is made with seasoned beans, mole potatoes, seasoned veggies, rice, pesto, guacamole, and more. Gracias Madre also has locations in the Bay Area.
This new spot is one of my faves, largely because it opens early! Get your breakfast on here with the Avocado TLT (pro tip: add the dill-cashew sauce!), vegan pancakes, the Moros Cakes, or one of the other delish dishes. Oh, and the vegan whipped cream is house-made. Heaven.
This is the classic restaurant for vegan comfort food—think vegan versions of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, nachos, and way, way more. Oh, and this place has a vegan “fauxtess” cupcake. Mmmm.
An all-vegan Thai place? Yes, please! My Vegan Gold is one of many delish vegetarian and vegan Thai places in L.A (others include Bulan, Vegan House, Vegan Joint, and more). The standard yumminess can be found here: red, yellow, and green curries with tofu or vegan chicken, beef, or even shrimp; spicy tofu and rice dishes; healthy spring rolls; and way, way more.
Organix is an all-vegetarian grocery store. That’s pretty awesome in and of itself, but to top it off, it has a vegan deli! You can get vegan burritos, tacos, burgers, and more, including a fried “chicken” and mashed potato burger (OMG). If that’s not enough to send you running to Organix, the store has also partnered with Plant Food for People to offer up its jackfruit tacos! A match made in heaven. ♥
OK, this one is fancy—and pricey—but it’s pretty much a must-try. The highlight is chef Tal Ronnen’s Kite Hill vegan cheese, which comes on a fancy-schmancy “cheese” plate, stuffed in delicious vegan ravioli, and more. The menu also offers up vegan lasagne, “crab” cakes, and delish desserts such as lemon cannoli with candied Kalamata olives.
Locali got me with its vegan Reuben, but its Badass sandwich is famous around these parts. The Badass features vegan sausage, dairy-free cheese, chipotle sauce, and maple syrup—pure deliciousness on an English muffin. If you’re looking for something healthier, the eatery also offers up salads and smoothies as well as unique vegan products in the grocery section.
If you’re a total sucker for good Middle-Eastern food, this is the place for you. Sunnin has vegan spinach pies (or fattayer), droolworthy fattoush (a Lebanese salad tossed with lemon dressing and pita chips), falafel, spicy potatoes, and more.