My Top 10:
Vegan Spots In Los Angeles
— 2018 Edition —
This is the first edition of my annual top ten list of almost entirely vegan restaurants across Los Angeles. The ten spots listed below are a culmination of recommendations from friends, fellow vegans, and of course - the occasional Yelp review. This certainly is not a definitive list of what LA has to offer when it comes to vegan food, so you can imagine I have a lot of places that I can’t wait to share with you in 2019. Although not all are qualified as providers of whole food plant-based meals - since one of the restaurants is a donut shop, and another is a halal tandoori eatery - they were all frequent favorites of mine throughout 2018 and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as well whenever you’re in town or looking for something new to try.
1. The Vegan Tamale Co.
This technically isn’t a “restaurant” per se, but rather an amazing food catering company that sets up shop in a local night market in DTLA right next to Donut Friend (another contender on this list). Matias and I recently discovered them and we cannot get enough of their tamales. Growing up in Southern California has been a blessing because I have always had access to amazing Mexican, Salvadoran or other Latin American food cultures from North and Central America. However, since going vegan, I have been craving some good alternatives and the Vegan Tamale Company exceeds all expectations. We will definitely be going back for more!
2. Sage Plant Based Bistro and Brewery
So I had been hearing about Sage Plant Bistro and Brewery for a while now and I was finally able to go with Matias for a recent night out, and I was taken aback with all of the options. We went to the location in Old Town Pasadena - and the ambience was amazing. What’s even better is that we were able to treat ourselves to delicious pasta and Mac & Cheese Pizza. I mean, need I say more? I am really looking forward to going back to Sage and trying out everything else they have to offer.
3. Donut Friend
If I could eat donuts all day from Donut Friend...what a life. So, as I mentioned in a previous description, Donut Friend is in DTLA, close to the Eagle Rock neighborhood. Matias and I found Donut Friend when we were out in Pasadena and we’ve been back a few times since. All of their donuts are entirely vegan. They also have plenty of gluten free options as well, which is awesome! If you need more convincing, customers have the option of ordering artisanal ready made donuts as well as customizing your own with fillings like jams, creams, and even ice cream. And what would a donut shop be without coffee or hot drinks? Have no fear - they offer all that too.
4. The Source Cafe
The Source Cafe is a local gem that I love going to when I’m in the mood for a good breakfast. This restaurant is located in Hermosa Beach and offers vegan, gluten free, paleo, keto, organic...you name it - they have it, and they have it for everybody. From delicious smoothie bowls to tofu scrambles and beyond, The Source Cafe is a great restaurant for vegans and non-vegans alike, and I will definitely be visiting again in 2019.
5. Equelecua Cuban Cafe
First of all - shout out to one of my best friends for bringing me here way back when. In all honesty I don’t even remember if we went to Equelecua in 2017 or 2018 - but I know I have been there and back again a few times since then! So, growing up, I never at pork - which meant that there was a lot of caribbean food that I had missed out on. Cuban food belongs in that category - but all that changed when I was introduced to Equelecua. The restaurant is located just north of LAX in a hole in the wall location and is entirely vegan. And it’s delicious. I’ll be back in 2019! My favorite meal there is the Ropa Vieja.
6. Stuff I Eat
Stuff I Eat is probably one of the most well-reviewed vegan restaurants nearby. It’s located in Inglewood and it offers a phenomenal variety of whole food plant-based tex-mex and soul food with a side of anti-imperialist and anti-colonial artwork displayed throughout the restaurant. If that isn’t convincing enough…*gives side eye.* For all of the non-haters out there, the most popular dish at Stuff I Eat is the Soul Food Platter - which I have yet to try, because they usually run out close to the end of the day (which is when I went)! So, if you want to try it - make sure you place an order to go earlier in the day or try them out for lunch, rather than dinner.
I found out about Orveganic when I was found myself sitting in my silent office with a really loud, growling stomach -- I didn’t prepare lunch (bad, I know). But we all have those days when we are in such a rush and are just looking for the quickest bite to eat. Usually, the fast food means you are ditching anything nutritious for the sake of time. The contrary was true however, at Orveganic. This up and coming restaurant located in Hawthorne started selling food products at local farmers’ markets and recently opened up a brick and mortar location that offers a variety of delicious whole food plant-based meals and and “meals” - their rendition of plant-powered protein drink meal replacements. I found them to be on the pricier side, but when comparing it what I used to eat - the quality of the food and customer service is reason enough to support their restaurant.
8. Al-Watan Halal Tandoori Restaurant
Okay, so real talk - Al-Watan has been a favorite of mine before and after becoming a vegan. They are in no way a vegan restaurant, but they do offer some great vegan and vegetarian dishes along with their traditional halal tandoori meals. Al-Watan is located in Hawthorne and is perfect for families, couples, single people, vegans, non-vegans - it’s an all around great place to eat if you are a fan of Indian and Pakistani cuisine (which, I am). They are also extremely affordable - so even more reason to visit them. My go-to meal is the plain basmati rice with Daal Chana, a lentil curry.
9. Cafe Gratitude
Cafe Gratitude is a popular vegan restaurant with multiple locations across LA; I visited the location in venice. Although the restaurant is pricy - and a place I would recommend you frequent if you, like me, are on a budget - it is a great place to go out for a casual evening or lunch out. They have a great selection of whole food plant-based meals such as entrees that are aptly named “Elated,” (Mole Abuelita Enchiladas) and “Blessed” (Blackened Tempeh Bolognese). Cafe Gratitude also has three other LA locations along with locations in Newport Beach, and San Diego.
10. Veggie Grill
I hate to even include the overly-priced fast food chain here, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t. In all honesty - if I purchased outside food - it was almost always from veggie grill. You’ve probably seen them pop up in parts of your own neighborhood. They offer good plant-based food. And I would consider them as part of a “Vegan 101” education on “what not to eat all the time.” But, for what it’s worth - they did help satisfy my mac and cheese cravings every now and then. But at $5 per tiny container of the delicious side, it’s not a cost-effective method of eating vegan, or being healthy for that matter. So, if you must - I’m sure you can find a Veggie Grill near you. Pro-tip: sign up for the emails or download their app so you can get access to coupons and build up points and get discounts on your food when possible.
And that concludes my first annual review of my top ten vegan eats around Los Angeles! What are some of your favorite vegan places to eat in your hometown? Until next time, happy new year!