LA Just Re-Opened: Here Are 10 Great Places to Eat Plant-Based. Let’s Support!
Los Angeles has been through a lot so when the restrictions got lifted for indoor dining we all had the same idea: Let’s support our favorite plant-based places and show that we’re glad they are still here. This list is your guide, from diner fare to Mexican classics to date-night special occasions, this is the town that offers a choice for every part of the vegan or vegetarian's life. And bring your non-veg loving friends, since they will be amazed at how delicious it all is.
1. Gracias Madre (8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069)
Calling all: Hip vegans. If you enjoy a scene, heaping servings of Mexican food, live music and signature cocktails and want to feel like you’re back in Tulum, this is your haven. For fans of Dos Caminos who are looking for more plant-based options, head over to West Hollywood and order Gracias Madre's tacos. If you like tequila, I recommend drinking the “So Fresca So Clean” cocktail, a refreshing drink garnished with a rose petal.
Plant yourself: Head to the bar while you wait for a table. You’ll jump into a fascinating conversation with friendly people before the ice in your drink has melted. Order the guacamole and you will never want to eat it anywhere else: the avocados are so fresh, and they're flavored with the perfect balance of lime juice and cilantro. The house-made tortillas chips are so addicting, make sure to let your server know to keep them coming all night.
Must haves: The "crab" cakes, made of hearts of palm, are fresh and delightfully lemony and have a hearty, crab-like texture; the chipotle aioli sauce is sweet and creamy and compliments the acidity of the citrus. Be Sure to Enjoy: You can’t go wrong with any of the vegetable plates or bowls, but I recommend the Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos. Their texture has the same consistency as real meat, and the pickled cabbage gives them a tangy kick. What to Skip: Don’t bother with the grilled tofu dish, stick to ordering the main Mexican dishes, which Gracias Madre is known for.
Don’t leave without: Ordering the fudge brownie. This is not your average warm brownie with ice cream; it’s drizzled with salted mezcal caramel sauce that is out of this world and topped with coconut cashew whipped cream that is soft and fluffy with bits of coconut “bacon” on top to give it a warm crunch. It’s ok to lick every last bite off the spoon.
Note: Temporary Closed in West Hollywood, Open in Newport Beach
2. Mendocino Farms (Non-Vegan Restaurant With Vegan Options), several locations, (7100 Santa Monica Blvd Suite 195, West Hollywood, CA 90046)
Calling all: If you’re looking for a fast-casual and consistently excellent farm-to-table meal, Mendocino Farms is like a vegan’s Panera Bread, but a little more upscale. It’s a franchise but only in California. The menu is not made for plant-based people exclusively, but they have a separate vegan menu that goes a long way. You can also choose to swap out meat for tofu in most of their non-vegan options because they have a full range of cashew and tofu options -- so pretty much anything here can be made entirely vegan with a simple substitution.
Plant yourself: On the patio, overlooking the hustle and bustle of LA, where for these few blocks on Santa Monica Boulevard there is foot traffic for your people-watching entertainment.
Must-have: The Vegan Banh Mi is the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever tasted: the tofu has a smokey flavor and the sauce has a thick, sweet texture. The vegetables add flavor and a tiny bit of spice, and it’s the perfect way to stay full throughout the day since the sandwich is enormous, big enough to split.
Be sure to enjoy: The Artisan Blend Passion Fruit Black Iced Tea to wash down your sandwich. Also, the taco salad has plant-based Impossible "chorizo" with vegan chipotle ranch sauce. It will satisfy your taco craving minus the carbs and is a great option if you’re hungry but don’t feel like a sandwich.
Don’t leave without: Soaking up the scene. Place your order at the counter, take a number and sit down, inside or outside. So if you’re meeting friends for lunch, or want to eat outside with your dog, this place is your spot.
Note: Open for pickup and delivery.
3. Backyard Bowls, Two Locations (WeHo, Downtown)
Calling all: Açai lovers! If you’re craving an easy and healthy lunch with an option of a grain bowl or açai bowl, Backyard Bowls is up there with the best bowls in LA. The texture of the acai is smooth and not too sweet, and they have a long list of add-ons so you can top off your bowl with fruit, almond butter, and seeds, or mix in nutritional benefits like pea protein, spirulina, maca, and more.
Plant Yourself: At the West Hollywood location on Beverly Blvd. and sit outside with the panting dogs and people watch on the busy street.
Be sure to enjoy: The Açai alternative, called the Dragon Bowl, made with Pitaya (instead of Açai), if you have a sweet tooth, this is a sweeter option. The grain bowls are also worth a try, you can get one Açai bowl and one grain and split with a friend because the portions are on the bigger side. Customize your own bowl or order one of the three pre-fixed options.
Must-have: The Arroz Verde bowl ('green rice' for you non-Spanish speakers) is a fresh and filling bowl bursting with lentils and hummus for a good source of protein. Striking the perfect balance between savory and sweet, you'll leave fully satisfied.
Don’t leave without: Taking a picture of your masterpiece meal because their dishes are totally Instagram worthy.
4. Double Zero ( 1700 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, CA)
Calling all: Pizza, cheese, and bread loving vegans! My favorite vegan chef Matthew Kenney recently opened a Double Zero restaurant on the west coast in Venice after his success at the New York location. This place is pizza heaven, and your non-vegan friends will appreciate it just as much as the 'real thing'. It’s a great date spot although it can get noisy, but despite the volume, it keeps its chill vibe and boasts unbeatable food.
Must-haves: Other than the outstanding pizzas, the zucchini lasagna and cheese board is a must-order appetizer. It's a perfect masterpiece of sliced zucchini layered with thick vegan ricotta cheese and red sauce. The cheese board is picturesque so be sure to snap your Instagram before your friend is tempted to dig in. The cheeses are nut-based and look and taste just like actual cheese, but with a lighter texture that I'm partial to. With a nice glass of red wine, you will feel like the most sophisticated vegan on the west coast.
Be sure to enjoy: If you’re in the mood for a creamy and sinful 'za, order the truffle cashew cream pizza. And if you’re in the mood for meat alternative proteins, order the farro-fennel sausage pizza. It is a bit on the spicy side but the faux sausage taste like actual sausage. I would suggest ordering more than one pizza for the table, to try a taste of each and if you don’t finish, pack them to go.
Don’t leave without: A full stomach. It’s ok to over order, these leftovers taste even better the next day.
5. Crossroads Kitchen (8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, California 90046)
Calling All: Love birds! Did someone say date night? Crossroads Kitchen is an upscale vegan restaurant with a romantic ambiance. Dress up and enjoy the scene filled with posh vegan eaters. Come hungry because the entire menu is worth trying. Presentation is key here so make sure to Instagram each dish and hashtag #crossroadskitchen.
Be sure to enjoy: The watermelon salad-- it is a refreshing taste of summer, and super hydrating, especially if you spend the entire day in the sun. The baked mushroom "scallops" are loaded with flavor and topped with a whole grain mustard cream that melts in your mouth.
Must-haves: You'd be hard-pressed to find a vegan breakfast sandwich as good as the Impossible sausage sandwich at Crossroads Kitchen. Even if you don’t have time to sit down, ordering to-go will start your busy morning on a high note. On the savory side, their crepes are excellent: the melted "cheese" will stick to your fingers and the caramelized onions taste almost candy-like. If you want to enjoy a southern breakfast, the chicken and waffles are definitely worth trying. The texture of the chicken nearly exactly replicates real meat itself but with a little less chewing required: it's not as tough, boasting a more flaky consistency. And of course, the waffle is mouth-watering and sweet as can be. Smother it in maple syrup and vegan butter and go to town.
Don’t leave without: Ordering a side of the decadent, juicy, maple breakfast sausage.
6. Cafe Gratitude (512 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291)
Calling all: Foodies with different palettes! Café Gratitude is a fun place to enjoy vegan foods from different cuisines.
Plant yourself: First of all, go to the Venice restaurant because it’s location is close to the beach and the shopping area. I suggest having a beach day and Bird over (the rent-able electric scooters scattered all around LA) to this spot for lunch.
Be sure to enjoy: The selection of salad or rice bowls inspired by different countries, such as the Indian curry bowl made with lentils and has a refreshing mint aftertaste. The Mexican bowl absolutely puts Chipotle to shame, with fresher ingredients and a filling serving.
Must-haves: Two things: the vegan nachos for dinner and the almond square bar for dessert. The loaded nachos are covered with pico de gallo and smothered with warm cashew cheese. They're a great appetizer to split with a few friends if you don’t mind sharing. I typically get full before dessert when eating here so I get three almond bars to-go, freeze them and enjoy: they taste like a Klondike Bar after a few hours in the freezer. Make it extra decadent by taking a scoop of So Delicious ice cream (found at Ralphs or Erewhon) and sandwich between the almond bars for a homemade ice cream sandwich.
7. Wild Living Foods (760 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90014)
Calling all: Hungry Vegans! This chill spot has a variety of options ranging from healthy to delicious plant-based junk food.
Be sure to enjoy: The killer salad bar, if you can’t spare a cheat day. I totally recommend the medicinal salad for a healthy boost of nutrients, but the best tasting one is Cesar Chavez. It has the right amount of spice with the bits of jalapeños and some sweetness from the seaweed. It's topped with crumbled brazil nuts to give it a healthier crunch in lieu of croutons. If you order any one of the sandwiches, burgers, or wraps, you'll fall in love with gluten-free bread.
Must-haves: The guacamole burger and the BBQ bacon chorizo burger are the best on the menu. I ask for light guacamole because I think they put a little too much on it, but that's your call, avocado lovers.
Can’t leave without: A signature dessert smoothie. Depending on what kind of sweet tooth you have, they offer vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry option that will blow your mind. My favorite is the wild peanut butter chocolate topped with crunchy trail mix.
8. Sunlife Organics (10250 Santa Monica Blvd #1383, Los Angeles, CA 90067)
Calling all: Surfers and beach babes! Sun Life Organics is down the street from First Point Surfrider beach and the Malibu Pier, so soak up the sun and ride the waves over to a refreshing acai bowl. Be careful because this will become a weekly visit. Most of their food is vegan with the exception of their bone broth and a couple shakes (but are easy to make vegan).
Plant yourself: At the Malibu Mart (Malibu East) location. It’s a quick order and sit down café and an easy spot to have a casual business meeting, meet a friend or just relax by yourself.
Must-have: The Bliss bowl is an açai bowl topped with a crunchy superfood raw trail mix that has a touch of sweetness and spice. If you love nut butters, like me, they have the thickest cashew butter that is great to top off any açai bowl. I also ask for more on the side and buy a jar to go. Be Sure to Enjoy: The most interesting smoothies and shakes. Take note: some are not vegan unless you swap out the non-vegan ingredients, so be sure to inquire before ordering. My favorite smoothie is the Mystic and the protein is supernatural, sprouted brown rice. It has a thick texture because of the raw cashew butter and is super filling, perfect for breakfast on-the-go.
Can’t leave without: A matcha latte. The health benefits of matcha are endless but you won’t think be thinking about health when you’re sipping on this sweet, refreshing drink.
9. Plant Food + Wine (1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291)
Calling all: Wine drinkers! Plant Food + Wine is another of Matthew Kenney’s restaurants so you will recognize some of his classic dishes like the raw zucchini lasagna or the cilantro-coconut kimchi dumplings, all complemented with amazing plant-based wine pairings.
Plant yourself: In the middle. Here, it feels like you're eating in a flourishing garden with tiny fairy lights sparkling above you in the trees, creating a sexy, sophisticated atmosphere. The ambiance of this restaurant is incredible and totally date-night approved.
Must-haves: The wild mushroom sandwich with truffle aioli and caramelized onions is sinful and hands down the best vegan sandwich I’ve ever tasted. And if you like how this sandwich sounds, you have to order the truffle potatoes: cooked to perfection, these potatoes are crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside, and have just the right amount of truffle aioli.
Be sure to enjoy: The delicious wines, but just be careful because the price points can be a shocker. Unsure? They will pair a wine with your meal, just ask!
Can’t leave without: Curing your sweet tooth. You have to try the gluten-free tiramisu. This is not the typical layered cake in the shot glass cup, this is a fluffy, mousse-like masterpiece with a hazelnut brittle.
10. Sestina Pasta Bar (9725 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232)
Calling all: Pasta, pizza, and wine lovers, anyone enjoys a five-star meal while feeling like you're eating in a Tuscan villa, this restaurant is your one-way ticket. Enjoy homemade pasta cooked al dente made with quality ingredients, strictly plant-based. Indulge in the flavors of creamy nut-based cheese and savor the umami taste of fresh sauces.
Must-haves: The creamiest and richest casarecce with wild mushroom crema and black truffle. If you're looking for non-pasta options, you can't go wrong with these vegan items: Caprese, arancini, focaccia with whipped almond-based ricotta, and an assortment of pizzas.
Be sure to enjoy: The most delicious panna cotta dessert you will ever taste. The thick, creamy, melt in your mouth, molded Italian cake is a treat you won't forget. You will have no idea it's vegan and gluten-free.