In many cities and places around the country, being a vegan can be difficult if you want to go out to eat or even get takeout. Some places hardly have a vegan option (unless you count fries as a meal as a vegan option), and others might be able to give you a salad, but not much else. Some might even be openly hostile to vegan diets taking them as a threat to their business. And as you know, good vegan food is so much more than salads and fries.
Vegan cooking and cuisine have advanced so much over the past few decades that few people can say it is missing much. Regular access to things like the impossible burger is only a few years away (and even available now, depending on how you look at it). Seasonings and cooking methods for alternatives to known dishes have been perfected. The removal of animal products from our food culture is possible in many instances, and these restaurants are proving it one amazing meal at a time.
And Los Angeles, being a city with so many different lifestyles and so many people, is one of the places leading the charge. Here are five of the best vegan restaurants in the city that you should try out no matter what you eat in your day-to-day life. And given that everyone’s tastes are different, we have placed them in no particular order:
1) Sun Café, Studio City
Our first choice for a vegan restaurant is Sun Café, which many vegans in Los Angeles probably already know about and hopefully have had a chance to visit before. Featuring some of the best plant-based cooking in the city, Sun Café has been named one of the best restaurants in the city multiple times, meat or no meat. And for those who worry about the impact of restaurants on the environment, Sun Café has been noted as the most sustainable restaurant in Los Angeles (and there are a lot of restaurants in this city). They use organic ingredients, and you will feel great after eating or drinking anything they offer.
The café itself is positively lovely (there’s a patio with a great view), and you will be happy to eat there. Some of their more popular dishes include unique pizzas, a waffle with coconut whipped cream and seasonal fruit, and a vegan pot pie that looks filling and delicious. The café also has a variety of wines and drinks (including fresh juices, shakes, and smoothies) on offer, making the Café a perfect place to wind down in a vegan-friendly environment.
If you want to check out foodie photos, go to their website here. Alternatively, if you want to add something new to your home cooking or try something out, they also have online or in-person cooking classes, which can be a great time and educational for any vegan worried about getting a balanced diet that’s also appetizing.
2) Sage Vegan Bistro, Culver City, Echo Park, Pasadena
We got hungry just looking at the menu at Sage Vegan Bistro, which is a place that serves, as expected, excellent vegan cuisine that primarily uses locally sourced (and very fresh) ingredients. And if you want something that’s like wings so you can get your sauce on, then they have wonderful cauliflower “wings” that you can give a try. If you want something a bit lighter, they do have a brunch menu and plenty of delicious sandwiches and wraps that will keep you going and not hold you down. Their entrees, however, currently veer towards the “pasta” side of vegan, with delicious sauces and sides that bring in unique uses of vegetables and inventive cooking.
They also have a fair share of drinks available, which makes Sage Vegan Bistro a lovely spot to wind down your evening before going home. They do their own brewing, and anyone who loves to try new beers will want to test out their brews (which are made with seasonal and organic ingredients, making each batch unique).
If you want to know more, you can go to their website and even order online. There are four locations, but people in Los Angeles gravitate towards the Echo Park branch.
3) Souley Vegan LA, Los Angeles
The original Souley Vegan was born in Oakland. However, the LA spot in East Hollywood is just as good, and you can get pickup of whatever you happen to be interested in that day.
Some of the amazing food you can find at any of the locations includes Hearty Croquettes, Spice Buffalo Seitan Strips, Light & Crispy Okra, vegan takes on famous creole dishes, and Okra Gumbo. A creole touch and flavor is a theme throughout all the dishes, and that kind of great cooking is something you normally have to go to Louisiana for. You get that sense at any of their locations, and you can’t help but feel brighter after going.
We recommend going to their website and seeing if you like what they have on offer in advance. Delivery or pickup is available for those on the go and if you have a party and need a lot of great vegan food, you’ll be pleased to know they do catering as well.
4) Crossroads Kitchen, West Hollywood
Next up we have Crossroads Kitchen, sitting on Melrose Avenue int he heart of West Hollywood. This is a favorite for many celebrities and was infamously shouted by Katy Perry as her favorite small business take-out spot on American Idol.
Crossroads has a changing menu seasonally, allowing for variety to hit the page, while remaining consistent with its signature appetizers, entrees and desserts year round. Note that they are open for lunch and then closed until dinner begins at 5pm each evening. The food is on the pricier side, so we recommend planning a sit down dinner, coursed and paced to enjoy the experience. Check out more about the restaurant here.
5) Shojin, Little Tokyo, Culver City
With two different locations, the Shojin we are talking about here is the one in Little Tokyo that specializes in “sushi” dishes. They aren’t, particularly into meat substitutes. Instead, they are focused on creating the best dishes possible and bringing forth new ideas. This makes Japanese cuisine feel at once traditional and new for vegan and non-vegan eaters alike. They are also great for people who also might be worried about allergies. All their entrees are nut-free, and many more are soy-free (which can be hard to find with vegan food). Whatever your concerns, Shojin will have something for you.
While we don’t wish to sway your appetite too much (by all means, follow your eyes, heart, and taste buds when there), but you should totally try some of their Shojin Shiso Gyosa, Buffalo Tempura Cauliflower, or anything else that strikes your fancy!
If you want to learn more, you can get out their menu online here. Perhaps you can get a few ideas about taking your vegan cooking somewhere new yourself.
Additional Vegan Options
If you want a full vegan dining experience for yourself and everyone else, the above places are best. However, we would be remiss to say that vegan options are becoming more popular across the city. More chefs and restaurant owners are seeing the demand for at least vegetarian meals. Vegan options are becoming easier to make and standard to learn in some variations.
If you’re in any restaurant in Los Angeles that isn’t hyper-specialized, check the menu for anything tagged vegan or a vegan section of the menu. It’s much more common than it used to be, and most places are careful to make sure that they follow those promises. It might not be exactly the same level of quality as the dedicated restaurants above, but it can still be amazing.