Southern California has always been a plant-happy hub for experimental preferences and palettes thanks to the hippies and health-conscious culture. That being said, over the last few years, we’ve seen a boom of plant-based cuisine even in meat-heavy restaurants. Angelenos are simultaneously foodies and we want great plant-based options. Just the old-school crunchy stuff like sprouts and lentils is not enough; we want cocktails with our kale and chickpeas! Here are some of our go-to plant-based spots in different neighborhoods.
(Note: Some of these plant-based restaurants also have eggs or dairy on the menu as protein options)
Traipsing through the streets of New Orleans, the humidity-filled air is infused with spices, jazz and the smell of seafood. Cajun culture is both beautiful and heavy; just like the food. With a food so full of sausage and shrimp, the vegan dish is a rare treat. Enter Krimsey’s Cajun Kitchen in Van Nuys. Southern California was blessed with some of the finest Cajun cuisine west of the Mississippi and it’s entirely plant-based and a 100% woman-owned business.
Treat yourself to Southern classics like hushpuppies, fried green tomatoes, jambalaya, gumbo, a New Orleans po’boy made with seasoned and battered hearts of palm and southern-style collard greens smoked up with shredded maple coconut instead of pork! End your meal with authentic French Quarter style beignets and some chicory coffee. Or make that your whole meal. We certainly won’t judge you.
Tucked sweetly on the corridor between the Valley and Hollywood, Vegetable is easy to drive by but hard to forget. The name Vegetable seems pretty straight-forward and just by glimpsing at their menu, their food seems the same. But the magic they craft from mere simple ingredients is jaw-dropping. Literally, you will be dropping your jaw and eating everything.
While they do have eggs and cheese on the menu, almost everything comes in a 100% plant-based version including a vegan cheese plate, vegan grilled cheese and vegan mac and cheese. When you are done eating your weight in nut cheeses, treat yourself to any item on their rotating menu. Faves include saffron-infused sweet corn grits, slow-roasted maple glaze carrots and their three-bean chili with cornbread and maple butter.
Strolling the streets of NYC or on a rainy day in Portland, soup is everywhere. But Los Angeles has been a veritable soup desert for years. Especially good, healthy, plant-based soups. Enter Soup Goddess in Burbank. From rich and creamy decadence like Vegan Pot Pie to diet-friendly options like Vegan Cabbage Fit Soup. They also have sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies, vegan nachos called Nacho Daddy and other punnily-named dishes like the Bae-rito. Come for the digestion-easy soup, stay for the rest!
Follow Your Heart
Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park has been around since the ‘70s, starting as a cafe and then morphing into a cafe and natural foods after they took over a butcher shop. Ever since then, Follow Your Heart has been one-of-a-kind in burgeoning plant-based scene in Southern California. Now we see their products on grocery shelves around the country, but for years the only way you could eat Follow Your Heart (or any decent vegan cuisine) was to deep into the Valley.
In a modern world full of plant-based options, why is Follow Your Heart on our faves list? Because they continue to keep our health central to their mission and are willing to experiment with new food trends. They currently have one of the only SOS-free (salt, oil, sugar) menus that we know of, plus all their other good stuff, too!
Kitchen Mouse is what tween ‘70s suburban California hippies dreams are made of. The decor is chic hipster grandma with melty mint and light coral everywhere and cookie jars and macrame lining the walls. Over the years, this Highland Park staple has expanded to include a larger second dining room that has a kids play area (so, great for young families!).
They also now have Topo next door for grab-and-go vegan and gluten-free items, including whole freshly-made lasagnas! Everything is vegan and gluten-free with the exception of eggs as a protein choice. Popular items include vegan chilaquiles, snickerdoodle pancakes (get the coconut whip cream) and the tempeh reuben. They also have cookies and treats; our faves are the PB&J cookies! Tiny morsels of heaven.
Jewel in Silverlake comes from the creative mind of plant-based chef, Jasmine Shimoda. After being spoiled with her whimsical creations at the now-defunct The Springs, she opened up her own restaurant with her partner for what they call a “plant-forward, farmer-driven” menu. Almost everything on the seasonally-inspired menu is vegan or gluten-free, with the exception of eggs as a protein choice and honey.
The little jewel box of a place is a nod to old-school Silverlake; sparse and a little bit punk rock. Not in decor, but in attitude. The same goes for the menu with a goth-friendly gluten-free activated charcoal pizza crust smothered in almond ricotta, the Forbidden fried rice with crunchy garlic and black rice and the Cocomari baja tacos made with young coconut meat.
Owned by vegan activist and musician, Moby, Little Pine in Silverlake is a warm and modern sundrenched refuge for plant-based eaters with upscale tastes. The ambiance is minimal and romantic, even for a leisurely brunch of vegan biscuits and gravy with friends. It is also the perfect place to feel casually fancy on a second date. The menu is eclectic American and refined comfort food at its best.
Think pastas, polentas, flatbreads and bisques. Hearty and filling. Who says vegans need to be hungry? Oh, but the thing we love the most about Little Pine though is that 100% of their profits benefit animal rights organizations. 100%!
The gastronomic alchemy of Ramen Hood in Downtown Los Angeles is like pure magic. If that sentence seems intense, just wait until you see their audaciously realistic vegan eggs sitting delicately on top of a steaming bowl of ramen. Your eyes will not believe the deceit. Ramen is usually such a heavy affair, with rich pork broth and layers of animal-based condiments.
The vegetarian variations almost never compare. They are either too watery or too salty. But Ramen Hood has meticulously recreated the depth of a ramen broth in their plant-based fare. Made with sunflower seeds, the broth can be regular or spicy and is full of chewy oyster mushrooms, nori and sprouts. For a pre-bar hopping fill-up, they also have bahn mi poutine, which is just as good as it sounds.
Equelecua Cuban Cafe
Tucked away in an industrial little area near the airport, Equelecua Cuban Cafe is a quaint spot full of old-world charm. Cuban food is renowned for being laden with cheese and meat, but Equelecua creates rich dishes reminiscent of some of the best in Miami’s Little Havana.
Their attention to flavors and, most importantly, textures is incredible with a nearly-authentic picadillo lush with green olives and raisins, or the savory vegan shrimp which is rare in plant-based restaurants. Stop by for a super-caffeinated cortadito and a faux Cubano before taking off on your own tropical adventures.
Stuff I Eat
An old-favorite, Stuff I Eat is a hidden gem in Inglewood that has been serving the local community with health-conscious plant-based fare for many years. We lovingly call it “Stuff Your Face.” Starving after a long plane ride, this is the perfect place to pop in for a southern-style banquet of feel-good and 95% organic soul food.
The soul food platter is our go-to with vegan mac, greens, cornbread, black-eyed peas and BBQ tofu. They also have an amazing enchilada pie that will recharge you after jet setting without setting you back that much cost-wise. Truth be told, our favorite thing about Stuff I Eat is the welcoming staff and Chef Babette Davis who appropriately calls herself a “vegan comfort food specialist.”
Plant Food + Wine
The biggest perk of plant-based eating is that you can take your meal fresh from the garden and put it almost directly onto your plate. Plant Food + Wine in Venice really makes this locally-sourced, seasonal cuisine a special occasion, almost like a ritual of the senses.
The outside dining area of Plant Food + Wine transports you into a sleek garden of delights as you wait to munch on seasonal fare like cashew raclette, golden beet crudo and gluten-free golden milk “cheesecake.” Yes, that golden milk with turmeric and caramel apple. Make reservations and expect to spend a birthday girl budget here. And if it is your birthday, opt for the six-course tasting menu. You are worth it!
Raw food gets a bad rap as being a cuisine, well, full of inedible collard leaf wraps. But Make Out in Culver City has the kind of plant-happy raw food dishes that you will be craving on those hot summer days. Every dish is a gorgeous work of art that really helps you eat the rainbow of vitamins you need. The menu is moderately-priced fresh California fusion highlighting their cultural diversity of our city.
Yes, there are salads and things wrapped in collards, but they are worth it for the delectable insides. A few of our favorite things include the raw Cacio e Pepe made with kelp noodles and black pepper cream, the Guac with spiced cacao crackers and the hearty quinoa breakfast with almond butter.
Plant-based Mexican fare has been done (and deliciously) for many years, but Gracias Madre in West Hollywood has upped the bar with impeccable Instagram-worthy ambiance, inventive plant-based fare and gorgeous cocktails that begged to be sipped on their alfresco patio.
It’s true that Gracias Madre has that cool-factor, but the dishes are really sparkling examples of how you can make plants both attractive and appetizing. For those missing fresh seafood flavors, their crab cakes and young coconut ceviche is a blessing that reminds us of warm sunny beach days. They also have virgin cocktails like margaritas and micheladas for the non-partaking babes.
Monty’s Good Burger
The veggie-friendly hamburger shack is quintessential California, but Monty’s in Koreatown makes their burgers next level. Their style is reminiscent of another popular burger joint that people flock to, but sans the guilt: In-N-Out. Monty’s has a simple and curated menu that even kids and carnivorous out-of-towners will love.
You get a single or double with the incredible Impossible Burger patty, regular fries or tots, a single kale salad for the more health-conscious, floats made with soy ice cream, cookies and lemonades. And the adorable pup who is the illustrated mascot for Monty’s? A real life dog! How cute is that?
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but those people have probably never had carbs. If you are looking for a giant bowl of pasta covered in mouth-popping tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, Pura Vita in West Hollywood is a romantic escape into delizioso plant-based Italian food. Dinner is resplendent with decadent Italian-American dupes like the Black Magic Lasagna made with black truffles and cashew cream.
Lunch includes pizzettes just made to accompany a bottle of their vegan-only wine. Gluten-free options are offered for almost every dish, so brunch includes a nutella crostini (gluten-free if you desire) and almond ricotta pancakes.
If you’re a wine-and-cheese-plate sort of girl, you don’t have to sacrifice your hedonist traditions for your heart health. Vromage in Hollywood is the first dairy-free cheese shop and their cheeses are so luscious and rich, no one at your dinner party will know the difference.
Vromage makes their cheeses with nuts, seeds and love. Anything from a smokey and smooth pecorino with ash, a creamy brie and a spicy pepper jack. Whatever your dairy-free heart desires. They also have a petite grab-and-go menu that includes seasonal sandwiches and salads for a luncheon at the beach or picnic at the Hollywood Bowl.
Where is your favorite place to eat plant based?
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