My wife and I recently took a three-day vacation up to Los Angeles, a mere 2 hour drive from San Diego (when traffic cooperates, anyway). It rained nearly all weekend which foiled a lot of our plans to go hiking and exploring outdoors, so we really dug in to find the best vegan restaurants in L.A. to try out. Both my wife and I have been vegan for a little over 2 years (and vegetarian over a decade) and while we love the vegan dining scene in San Diego, Los Angeles blew us away with both the sheer number of great vegan restaurants, as well as the quality & originality of places to go. I made a thorough list of places I wanted to try before the trip began, and we didn’t have a chance to try them all but I thought I would at least share some of the highlights from the 10+ vegan establishments we did get the fortune of trying since every single one of them was worth trying again.
My Vegan Gold
We stopped at My Vegan Gold first on our trip after getting off the freeway and not even to our hotel yet, since it was on the way. Based on their Yelp reviews I wanted to try their nachos, and they did not disappoint (note: they don’t photograph as well as they taste). Prices were very reasonable, service very quick, and this place is a great lunch spot or if you’re just in the mood for a casual meal.
This all vegan cheese shop makes artisinal cheeses from various nuts ranging from pistachio, macadamia, almond, cashew, etc. The creamy brie was my favorite, the salty goat cheese was my wife’s favorite. The owner is the sole proprietor and makes all of the cheeses himself and he let us try various samples before settling on our three favorite to buy and take back to our hotel room. They also sold baguettes and crisps to try the cheese with, so it was a perfect place to kick off the trip. It is located in West Hollywood right off Sunset Boulevard, right near a Veggie Grill in fact.
For dinner we visited the highly-anticipated Crossroads Kitchen in West Hollywood. Crossroads is regarded as one of the best restaurants in LA period (not just compared to other vegan spots, but all cuisine types). It was swanky and romantic on the inside, and everything was super creative. Food is in small plates style and we were advised to get 5 dishes between the two of us. My favorite was the spaghetti carbonara which had a raw “egg” yolk that you could actually break and the yellow yolk would spread over the pasta…it tasted and looked just like an egg, which was crazy. The kale salad, while simple, was also one of our favorites – so much so that we ordered a second one to-go for our room later. I definitely recommend trying out this place, especially if you want a more upscale experience.
Elderberries Threefold Cafe
This cafe is great for breakfast or lunch, located just down Sunset Blvd. They offer a pay it forward program where people can pay what they are able to pay, and have more of an activist vibe to the restaurant including a huge NODAPL sign up front. I love this vibe and approach, but it might not be the best place to take meat eaters or people who want something a bit more “fine dining” from an ambiance perspective. I had the grilled mac n cheese sandwich and it did not disappoint.
Real Food Daily
This was actually my favorite place in the sense that I could see myself eating here every day and not getting tired of it. They had a huge menu ranging from very healthy macro bowls (above) to more vegan “junk food” options like nachos and chicken wings. I had the breakfast burrito pictured below and it was AMAZING. It’s a sit down restaurant, but pretty casual and plenty spacious – so bring your family, dog, whomever and check it out.
We’ve been to Gracias Madre in San Francisco before, and the LA version was equally as delightful. This all vegan Mexican restaurant has a really creative menu and has a great, trendy vibe to it. It’s great for dinner, date night, or a power lunch. They also have good drinks if you just want to grab a beer and appetizer. Definitely check this one out, too!
Oh man, may I present to you the world’s best vegan mac n cheese! This place was awesome. We went for brunch, but it is good for any meal. Lots of super healthy options, or indulge in something more caloric…either way, they have you covered. It is located in Studio City and has some parking on site, although probably not enough. It’s perfect to visit before or after hiking Runyon Canyon if you’re coming from the South.
Fresh Fruit Company: Santa Monica
This all vegan frozen “yogurt” place was my wife’s favorite of the trip. They had four flavors plus a bunch of vegan toppings ranging from fresh fruit to oreos. If you miss soft serve or froyo from your lacto-ovo or omni days, then definitely head here for your fix!
This trendy spot is right in the hard of Santa Monica near the promenade. It had a great menu of pretty creative food, as well as a bunch of pre-made deli style options if you want to get something to-go on your way to the beach. We tried the fried tofu sandwich special and it was SO good. We came in the middle of the afternoon so it was a pretty odd time to eat, so I’d like to return and eat more.
Plant Food & Wine
This was my favorite spot from an ambiance perspective, and I’d say the culinary chops of this place rival if not exceed Crossroads. Everything was super gourmet, and the backyard patio was super charming. If you’re in Venice, this place is a must-try!
This was our last stop of the trip, and our first time to Silver Lake / Echo Park area. I wish we had more time to explore this up and coming area, as there are tons of other vegan places in the area. We both loved our meals, especially the Brazilian wrap that I got (pictured above). They oddly do not serve coffee past 11AM which was an odd policy (espresso drinks are still available though, just no drip coffee) but otherwise a great experience. The vegan ice cream makes a great dessert too.
More Places to Try:
- Little Pine
- Flore Vegan
- Joi Cafe:
- The Vegan Joint
- Au Lac