Best restaurants in Los Angeles: LA's best vegetarian-friendly restaurants

LA's best vegetarian-friendly restaurants are as varied as the city's neighborhoods, from meatless Chinese in SGV to an Italian hotspot in Venice.

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Wild mushroom and buckwheat crepe at Hatfield's

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Mushroom risotto at Elf Cafe

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Elf Cafe

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: apple tarte tatin at Hatfield's

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Photo courtesy Hatfield's

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Hatfield's

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Photo courtesy Hatfield's

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Hatfield's

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Photograph: Alen Lin

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: cauliflower T-bone at Superba Snack Bar

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Photograph: Alen Lin

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Superba Snack Bar

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Photo courtesy Superba Snack Bar

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: chestnut agnolotti at Superba Snack Bar

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: sweet and sour "chicken" at Happy Family

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Buddha's Feast at Happy Family

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Paru's Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles: Paru's Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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

All that bacon worship getting you down? In a city where you can find a farmers market any day of the week, year-round greens and a collective love of kale that borders on worship, finding a plate of perfectly prepared dirt candy is easy. We've combed through the city's eateries from ethnic to high-brow and picked six of LA's best vegetarian-friendly restaurants.

RECOMMENDED:Best Restaurants in Los Angeles

Elf Cafe

The quintessential Echo Park restaurant—a tiny, romantic, cash-only cave where the staff all look like members of some obscure art band who sing about responsible hedonism and turn veggies into magic. Farms are named on the menu, and chef/owner Scott Zwiezen is serious about his food philosophy, from local and non-GMO ingredients to specified sea salts and cooking oils. Early proponents of the kale salad ($13), the kitchen at Elf also makes a rich, wild exotic mushroom risotto ($22) and a housemade labneh ($12) topped with date-olive tapenade— tangy, cool and ready to be scooped up with pieces of warm pita.

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Echo Park

Paru's Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

Ring the doorbell on the heavy metal gate and you’ll be buzzed into a wholly unexpected patio full of twinkly lights—an oasis in the middle of a nondescript stretch of Sunset—and diners in many variations of yoga pants. Paru’s serves South Indian food, redolent with spices and herbs that permeate the restaurant’s interior in a warm, piquant cloud that hits you as soon as you enter. The full dinners are the best way to try everything: Indian Thali ($14.95) gives you a selection of puri, two curries, sambar (a lentil gravy), rasam (a yogurt-based soup), papad (lentil crackers), pickles and dessert; while the Queen Paru is a creamier choice, with coconut chutney, raitha and ghee to accompany your paper-thin dosa (rice flour crepe) and idli (a savory rice and lentil cake).

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Hollywood

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 an 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. Other Japanese dishes are easily vegan, such as versions of tempura, fried shishito peppers and seaweed salad, as well as savory ramen and miso soup.

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Downtown

Happy Family

Always crowded with tables of chattering Chinese families (and their sullen teenagers), this San Gabriel Valley joint serves vegetarian versions of American favorites of the sweet and sour pork and cashew chicken (both $5.50 lunch specials) variety, but the real draw is the all-you-can-eat menu ($13.95). Dishes are brought out a couple at a time, and with dozens of choices, a dedicated eater can sample everything from green mustard with bean curd sheets ($7.95) to the sesame chicken ($8.95). Of course, vegetarian doesn’t always mean healthy. The fried bread adds an appealing (and greasy) crunch to every bite.

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Monterey Park

Superba Snack Bar

No, Superba’s not a dedicated vegetarian restaurant, but chef Jason Neroni is as passionate about the veg-friendly “From Our Backyards” selections as he is the porchetta and pheasant. While the cauliflower T-bone ($16) will wow—a smoky, yielding slab of the white stuff, lovingly dotted with a parsley purée and orange and olive pistou—be sure to add an order of housemade pasta to your meal. The ricotta gnudi ($14), hand-rolled little puffs that sop up Parmesan-flecked broth and charred lemon brulée, are anchored by hearty spigarello, a green in the running to displace kale as Most Beloved Vegetable.

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Venice

Hatfield's

Hatfield’s always manages to ride the line between formal presentation (precise dinnerware, impeccable service) and SoCal casualness (bustling open kitchen, wall of live herbs). This is due to owners Quinn and Karen Hatfield, chefs with mile-long bona fides who remain truly welcoming. Their four-course, vegetarian prix fixe ($53) gives meat-eschewers a high-end dining destination. The courses change seasonally, but you will likely start with a beautifully composed salad of seasonal greens, followed by a housemade pasta—a recent offering was a mustard green and ricotta ravioli—and a wild mushroom and buckwheat crepe stuffed with a mélange of creamy oat groats and marinated beets. The prix fixe comes with your choice of dessert—it's hard to pick just one—each described with a simple listing of ingredients, but prepared with surprising and challenging execution, in the best of ways.

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Los Angeles

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