Who Needs Salad When You've Got Caprese Chicken Balls?
Culver City, Echo Park, Pasadena
This trio of organic vegan eateries boasts a massive menu running the gamut from tacos and tostadas to burgers and banh mi, along with a creative selection of pizzas and Sage’s signature cauliflower-based wings. Founder Mollie Angelheart’s small-batch raw vegan ice cream is available at all three locations as are wine, cocktails, and craft brews. The larger Culver City venue also features a 1,500-square-foot outdoor beer garden.
After a revamp last year by Tony Yannow’s beer-and-vegan-focused Artisanal Brewers Collective, Beelman’s Pub is now simply Beelman’s: a plant-based pub doling out casual fare with Asian influences. There’s snacky stuff like smoked tofu wonton bites, crispy garbanzos tossed with togarashi and gochujang, and heartier offerings including a loco moco bowl made with Impossible meat, tater-tot “Tachos” topped with cashew cheese, and a kicky chili dog. In addition to the big beer selection, the bar’s cocktail menu -- including a few offerings on draft and a smattering of frozen drinks -- is a solid one.
The growing fast-casual chain now has 13 locations around LA, all of which offer a much-appreciated quick bite for vegans and those who want a break from the Double-Double (hard to believe, but those people do indeed exist). The place offers vegan alternatives not just to burgers, but also stuff like taco salads, brats, and that food-world darling the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. The chain also recently rolled out an all-day breakfast burrito stuffed with soy chorizo and the mung bean-based Just Egg.
If you’re looking to seal the deal with a vegetarian, Matthew Kenney’s vegan venue should be your go-to date spot. The space is stunning, the patio is pretty, and you’re in Venice, so it’s automatically uber-cool; then there’s the upscale inventive menu, with seasonal dishes like yellow watermelon poke with gooseberries, cashew raclette, and kelp noodle cacio e pepe. The organic wine list is a good one, and you can also opt for the 6-course tasting menu if you really want to impress.
El Segundo, Pasadena, Santa Monica
Wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil originally founded this string of bright-and-airy eateries, focused on a vegetarian-heavy menu centered around his anti-inflammatory food pyramid; think black rice, berries, kale, and avocado. The result is pretty delicious, drawing in a serious weekend brunch crowd for juices and smoothies, avocado toasts, and egg-and-grain bowls. It’s worth a stop-in for dinner, too, thanks to a solid selection of salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and entrees, along with fresh fruit-laced cocktails and beer and wine.
Marina Del Rey
We can’t tell you exactly what dishes used be offered at this longstanding Lincoln Avenue bar (famous for its crowd-drawing turtle races) before it reopened last December -- and that’s because we don’t know anyone who ever ate there. But after a total renovation both to the formerly divey space and the menu (once again by Artisanal Brewers Collective), there’s all kinds of vegan-friendly fare on offer including a hummus-and-pickled veggie plate, some super salads, an Impossible burger. Bonus: Nearly all of the pizzas can be made with vegan cheese, and even vegan sausage if you like.
Hollywood, Venice, West Hollywood
Delis can be dangerous; if you stop paying attention for a second, you might very well wind up devouring a pastrami sandwich the size of your head with a side of mayo-soaked potato salad, and a knish for good measure. Doling out healthy, sustainable fare, Locali can be your safe place with veggie-friendly versions of deli sandwiches including its fabled Reuben, along with quinoa bowls, killer vegan breakfast sandwiches served all day, probiotic smoothies, and coconut fro-yo. There’s omnivorous fare too, but the place is happy to customize dishes and make them vegan-friendly -- hear that, every other restaurant in LA?
This vegan New York import has been super-buzzy since opening next to the first 365 by Whole Foods in Silver Lake. It makes everything in-house – from its pesto “meatballs” to its burgers – and also does vegan ice cream, as well as a packed weekend brunch.
There is, perhaps, no single restaurant on Abbot Kinney that is more Abbot Kinney than this “vegetable slaughterhouse” that’s equal parts hotspot, brunch hangout, juice bar, and vegetarian eatery housed within an absolutely stunning space, with a people-watching patio we’re assuming costs somewhere around $600 million a month to operate. Look for small plates of veggies as well as larger dishes of stone-oven pizzas, pistachio pesto lasagna, and a mushroom tempura po’ boy -- then, wash everything down with a cold-pressed cocktail.
Located in an old Vaudeville theater, this Echo Park gastropub touts more than 70 beers on tap along with a vegetarian-heavy menu with both straight veggie items (like a smashed pea toast with almond ricotta and street corn) as well as vegan plays on crab cakes and chili cheese fries -- and it throws a couple bones to carnivores with burgers, fish tacos, and pepperoni pizza. On weekends, expect live music from DJ Twist every Friday and Saturday along with a late-night menu until 1am and pizza by the slice till 1:30pm.
According to tabloids, for the brief moment Beyonce went vegan, Native Foods was her go-to spot -- and if it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for you. The Santa Monica and Culver City locations have closed, but the Westwood store is still going strong, and its various versions of faux meat are so meat-like that they’ll fool all but the most devoted carnivores.
The Valley’s stacked with veggie and vegan options, but this meatless Pan-Asian kitchen blasts out coconut curries, pad Thai, and Japanese gyoza that could easily compete with any meatier options. Make sure to hit the goji berry-infused ginger-quinoa fried rice for a bit of sweetness to balance all that savory.
It’s probably the most famous vegan restaurant in town (and it ain’t cheap), but the Med-inspired fare at Crossroads is always excellent, and the scene’s always a fun one. Start with the lentil flatbread, then work your way through the rest of the menu -- highlights include the shishito-and-peach salad, almond ricotta-stuffed zucchini blossoms, and corn ravioli. End with a hot fudge sundae, and realize that vegans are also capable of walking out of a restaurant filled with regret.
This hidden Indian restaurant is an all-vegetarian Mecca in a part of town where you’d be far more likely to find a great selection of bargain tires than incredible Far East eats. Step through the iron gate into the surprisingly spacious dining room and order up one of the remarkably reasonably priced combos or curry dishes.
This vegan Mexican restaurant will make carnivores forget how much they love carne asada with flavorful, organic, plant-based plates of chilaquiles, enchiladas, pozole, coconut ceviche, and plenty of other interesting Mexican-inspired dishes. The cocktails are killer, and there’s a popular $7 food-and-drink happy hour during on weekdays, too.