Best restaurants in Los Angeles: LA's best vegan restaurants

Whether you're craving soul food or creative sushi rolls, LA's best vegan restaurants are aplenty with tasty fare that even meat eaters will want to chow down.

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Photograph: Courtesy Cafe Gratitude

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: I am Grateful at Cafe Gratitude

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Photograph: Courtesy Cafe Gratitude

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: I am Thriving at Cafe Gratitude

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: vegan pepperoni pizza at Cruzer Pizza & Pasta

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Cruzer Pizza & Pasta

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Cruzer Pizza & Pasta

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Portobello burger at Flore Café

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: lemon berry cake at Flore Café

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Eastsider tacos at Flore Café

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Flore Café

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Shanti quesadilla at Leaf Organics

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: lasagna at Leaf Organics

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Shanti bowl at Leaf Organics

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Leaf Organics

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: "tuna" melt at Sage Vegan Bistro

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: street tacos at Sage Vegan Bistro

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Soul Bowl at Sage Vegan Bistro

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: quinoa corn cakes at Sage Vegan Bistro

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Tempeh chorizo tacos at Seed Kitchen

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Bean and grain burger at Seed Kitchen

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: sweet potato fries at Seed Kitchen

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: spicy "tuna" on crispy rice at Shojin Organic & Natural

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: spicy shiso tempura at Shojin Organic & Natural

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Dynamite Roll at Shojin Organic & Natural

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: chili at Stuff I Eat

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: organic soul food platter at Stuff I Eat

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: bread pudding at Stuff I Eat

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: Stuff I Eat

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: lentil loaf burger at Vegan Glory

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: green curry at Vegan Glory

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: pho at Vinh Loi Tofu

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: bun at Vinh Loi Tofu

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles: tofu pudding at Vinh Loi Tofu

The word "vegan" no longer raises eyebrows and prompts jokes about nut loaf the way it might have even a decade ago. Today, there's a smörgasbord of meat-and-dairy-free restaurants in Los Angeles: from seitan burgers by Madonna’s former personal chef to heaping platters of soul food. There are plenty of spots considered among LA's best vegan restaurants. Here, the ten best—all 100% vegan.

Cafe Gratitude

Critics' pick

Both of these beautifully designed locations feel almost like vegan Eden, full of a cheerful wait staff, diners with perfect postures and glowing skin and dishes that are affirmations themselves, so you will have to declare, "I Am Thriving," to order the soup of the day. It's true: When the server takes your order, they will ask you, “What are you grateful for today?" and you will feel compelled to answer. Embrace it, because the bright, perfectly composed food will have you coming back. If you’re feeling especially in tune with the world, you can order the I Am Grateful, the simple but delicious "community bowl" of kale, quinoa, black beans and garlic-tahini sauce—$3 for those in need (or cash-strapped) or $14 for a post-yoga meal-in-a-bowl.

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Los Angeles

Cruzer Pizza & Pasta

Old-school vegans couldn’t have dreamt of such a place: A 100% meat-and-dairy free pizza parlor that’s also gluten-free (wheat dough is available upon request). And this is no sleek and modern spot, slinging words like “artisanal" and "local"—this is a joint, a tiny shop staffed with fresh-mouthed dough slingers. How are the pies? Delicious. If you go GF (gluten-free), you’ll get a rice-based dough that's airier than wheat. While lacking that glutinous chew, it still has enough variation of texture and crispness to satisfy. Choose a variety of faux meats, including a wholly convincing "pepperoni," or try a specialty pie like the popular Philly Cheese Steak Pizza. There’s not much space to dig into a slice, so get yours to go or opt for delivery if you’re in the area.

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Los Feliz

Seed Kitchen

Just a few blocks away from the coast, this compact Venice eatery always has customers gathered around its communal tables, sharing sweet potato fries and tips on nearby surf spots. Chef Eric Lechasseur began exploring macrobiotic cooking when his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (she has since recovered) and continued with it when his celebrity clients (Madonna, Gwyneth, to name a couple) requested the same healthy meals. There are some Japanese-influenced dishes here, but the real draw is the list of burgers—choose tempeh, seitan or bean and grain—that provide all the full-flavored drip and crunch of an In-N-Out run, along with vastly superior fries (cooked in rice bran oil, no less).

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Venice

Shojin Organic & Natural

Yes, Shojin is eccentric. Located on the third floor of an indoor mall in Little Tokyo, this pretty Japanese restaurant has very specific instructions for seating and bag placement: handbags are placed in a designated basket next to your table and a portfolio of exuberant pro-vegan cartoons make an appearance at the beginning of the menu. But almost everything on that bill of fare is excellent and instead of wheat-based faux meats, Shojin uses tofu and tempeh, along with a interesting range of veggie and grain substitutions. For example, a mix of quinoa, miso and vegan-mayo make for an interesting and tasty topping on the traditional Dynamite roll, which we can’t get enough of. Other Japanese dishes are easily vegan like versions of tempura, fried shishito pepper and seaweed salad, as well as savory ramen and miso soup.

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Downtown

Stuff I Eat

Everyone who comes in to this homey Inglewood spot is treated like family—you’ll even get a scolding if you don’t clean your plate (or at least box up your leftovers). They’ll let you taste before you order, but be warned: Finishing a whole serving can be a difficult task with portions as generous as these. You’ll find toppling platters of vegan soul food—mac and cheese, BBQ tofu, greens, cornbread and slaw—and Southern-style specials like stick-to-your-ribs cornbread casserole with chili. Hearty, down-home fare is elevated with super fresh ingredients and a light touch, despite the ample portions. For dessert? Opt for a slice of the sweet potato pie or fresh-out-of-the-oven, sweet bread pudding.

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Vinh Loi Tofu

Fresh tofu is worlds away from the processed, packaged variety from your local supermarket cold case. Fill up on the fresh stuff—from soymilk to silky tofu pudding served with sweet ginger syrup, each batch is made on-site with non-GMO soybeans—at this always-packed little café in the San Fernando Valley. Vinh Loi hits all of the high notes of Vietnamese cuisine, serving up pho and bun that are spicy, savory, sweet and sour in equal measure. A surprising number of patrons bypass the extensive menu and opt for dealer’s choice-type ordering: Go up to the counter and tell them what you like and don’t like, and they’ll surprise you with a platter of something delicious.

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San Fernando Valley

Sage Vegan Bistro

Imaginative and hearty, dishes at Sage feel like they’re nudging vegan cuisine in a new direction, while the Echo Park crowd ranges from hipster to hippie. Sage is one of the few vegan places in LA to make use of jackfruit—dressed up with chile in Street Tacos or as a tuna substitute in the "tuna" melt, just one of the United Nations-array of sandwiches that include meat-free versions of banh mi and a po' boy. Dishes have interesting touches: Quinoa corn cakes are served with a sharp and crunchy slaw for just the right amount of zing, while the Soul Bowl is served with whole, dehydrated okra for an unexpected crunch. Finish with an order of Kind Kreme—cashew, almond milk and coconut–based ice cream—scooped straight from the ice cream counter.

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Echo Park

Flore Café

On the eastern end of Sunset Junction sits this homey café which feels like one of those East Village Hungarian restaurants that have been dishing up beef pierogies since Allen Ginsberg’s day. Instead, you’re much more likely to see a member of the Like dining on Eastsider Tacos (seitan topped with cashew cheese) or one of the five tasty burgers (the portobello seitan is a favorite). Sit outside and people watch as locals, all in various states of stylish dishevelment, walk by. Be sure to order one of the vegan desserts—we love the excellent lemon berry cake—which are on display in the deli cases. Many of the carbs here are gluten-free, including the pancakes, and GF substitutes are readily available.

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Silver Lake

Leaf Organics

Proprietor Ron Rotondi may have trained under celebrity raw food proselytizer Juliano, but the Culver City chef operates a more inclusive, affordable eatery for raw foodists and vegans alike. Though uncooked foods figure heavily on the menu at this minimalist and modern cafe, there’s also a good selection of cooked vegan options, many with flavors inspired by Rotondi’s Italian heritage: Lasagna, made with dairy-free Daiya cheese, gluten-free lasagna noodles and his Rotondi family’s marinara sauce recipe, is a hit. There’s also a series of "vegan fusion" dishes, like the Ethiopian-inflected One Love, a kale and split pea stew, and the Indian-flavored Shanti, a mix of chana masala and saag that’s served as a wrap, bowl, quesadilla or atop a sweet potato. Finish off with housemade chia kreme, an icy dessert of fermented chia seeds and made into a variety of sundaes.

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Mar Vista

Vegan Glory

LA's myriad of vegan Thai restaurants could be a sub-culture all its own, and for our money, this is the best of them. Tucked inside a Mid-City mini-mall, this no-frills eatery offers all the Thai staples like pad thai and tom yum, as well as lentil burgers and a few Mexican standbys like burritos and quesadillas. The extensive menu offers something for everyone, but you’re better off ordering standout dishes like creamy green chili, full of eggplant and bamboo in a coconut milk base, and the spicy papaya salad that packs a fresh lime kick. The Thai iced tea is also exemplary, with an intense tea flavor that balances out the sweetness.

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Los Angeles

Comments

4 comments
Monique
Monique

There are a few delicious spots that you are missing, but one standout is Rahel's Ethiopian Cuisine on Fairfax in Little Ethiopia. Her food is so good & athentic that SoCal health food stores carry her to-go's in their deli sections. The restaurant is humble, but the food is delicious.

Jenny
Jenny

Missing the best of them all, SunCafe Organic. Mint Shamrock Shake, Lettuce Tacos, Nachos, raw Lasagna, Chocolate Almond Butter Vegan Cheesecake. Named one of the 10 Best Restaurants for Lunch in L.A. by OpenTable: http://suncafe.com

KarenK
KarenK

How is the best vegan restaurant not listed: SunCafe Organic!

susan
susan

how could you have forgotten native foods and real food daily in your best vegan places??? they are both 5 star food for everyone, even those who arent vegetarians or vegans....