Each year the list of Thanksgiving vegan options gets longer, and each year the options extend beyond the traditional feast. Omnivores and vegans can in fact dine side by side—a concept once thought impossible. It’s not an ideal situation for most vegans, but as times have changed and chefs have begun to blur the lines, the concept is not as uncomfortable as it once was. Politics aside, we are functional co-habitants who can dine together in harmony when delicious fare is present.
Enter the diverse town of LA, filled with talented chefs that cater to both parties. This year they have succeeded in producing phenomenal dishes, plates and even entire take-out feasts for you to bring to a pre-arranged turkey dinner.
Here are some personal favorites ranging from traditional to experimental:
1. RFD Real Food Daily (Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Pasadena)
One of the first mainstream vegan restaurants to pave the way was Real Food Daily. It’s a landmark in a town that’s not known for stability. Their menu has expanded over the years to provide an array of healthy favorites and comfort food classics. This year they added a hearty Thanksgiving option that is gluten-free and nut-free, but not flavor-free. It’s the type of plate that allows you to walk away from the table without the added heave-ho assistance.
Dine-in option: the Thanksgiving Teaser Plate with faux turkey, corn-sage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce for $18.
To-go option: butternut squash bisque, faux turkey breast with corn sage stuffing, garnet yams topped with marshmallows, mashed potatoes and parsnips, roasted root vegetables, mushroom gravy, cranberry relish and a slice of pumpkin pie for $45 per person.
Place your order before November 24 at noon for a pick up on November 25 at 2-9pm.
2. M Café (Beverly Hills, Melrose, Brentwood)
This macrobiotic, counter-service café has drawn a large following over the years. Why? Because they have made healthy eating accessible and delicious to the masses without compromising flavor and texture. Since it’s not a vegan-only establishment (macrobiotic includes fish), it’s not too difficult to convince an omni to join you. For Thanksgiving, they have a composed a well thought out, full menu for you to order from.
To-go option: Entrée choice 1 includes holiday seitan roast with sourdough bread stuffing with almonds and raisins, herbed pan gravy and cranberry-ginger relish. Entrée choice 2 is smoked tofu, pumpkin & chestnut terrine en croute with porcini mushroom and red wine. Entrée choice 3 is gluten-free tempeh loaf with porcini mushroom and red wine.
All entrees come with spiced butternut squash soup with nutmeg soy crème and toasted pumpkin seeds and a winter field greens with fennel, cranberries, poached pears, herbed tofu chevre, maple-glazed walnuts and red wine vinaigrette.
Choice of two accompaniments: potato and rutabaga, maple-glazed acorn squash, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, herbed bread stuffing with toasted almonds and raisins, Hijiki brown rice pilaf, green beans almondine, broccolini pepperoncini, butternut squash, fennel and pomegranate slaw, cranberry-ginger relish or mushroom gravy
For two: $75; for four: $135
Place orders by 5pm November 23.
3. Follow Your Heart Café (West Hills)
A notably traditional, all-the-trimmings option continues to have one of the most extensive menus in town. Your choices range from turkey pot pie to rosemary and thyme whole wheat stuffing to everything you can think of in-between. And you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving (they are open) to enjoy some of the special dishes.
Dine-in option: complete Thanksgiving dinner: faux turkey, rosemary and thyme whole wheat stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, country gravy, glazed oven-roasted yams, steamed green beans with toasted almonds, orange cranberry relish and a soup or salad for $19.95, gluten-free option for $24.95
4. Organix (Eagle Rock)
Organix is a family owned and operated vegan, vegetarian marketplace and café located in Eagle Rock and happens to be one of LA’s best-kept secrets, though as their following keeps growing on the daily, it's increasingly becoming less and less of a secret. Their marketplace specializes in procuring the latest and greatest hand-selected items as well as your tried and true favorites while the vegan-only café is known for serving mouthwatering eats.
For the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving they will be serving an incredible “Leftovers” Burger. Run don’t walk, they tend to sell out fast.
Courtesy: @Klean_Slate with a cameo by @vegangirl4ever
“Leftovers Burger” is made with faux chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, grilled asparagus, gravy, fresh spinach and a perfectly toasted bun.
5. Café Gratitude (Arts District Downtown)
Every year, Café Gratitude generously provides an annual free Thanksgiving meal for the community that goes from 11am-3pm, or as they say, “Until the food runs out.” This year it will be held at the Arts District Downtown while all other locations will be closed.
Dine-in free option: The Gratitude Blue Plate—french lentil and butternut squash, smashed heirloom potatoes, shiitake gravy, sautéed greens, Brazil nut parmesan, creamy coleslaw, pickled beets and chopped scallions.
They do not take reservations, it's first come first served.
6. Mud Hen Tavern (Hollywood)
What I love about Mud Hen Tavern is their ever-evolving quest to redefine vegan dishes.
Courtesy: @Klean_Slate with a cameo by @VeganFatKid
To-go option: pumpkin and poblano tamales, late harvest corn, candied yam with spiced pecan crumble, shaved kale and Brussels sprouts with lemon picada, cornbread pudding, oven-roasted broccolini with white bean hummus, green bean casserole, mashed yukon potatoes with truffle gravy, traditional stuffing with caramelized onion, apple and sage and fresh cranberry jam.
Each side serves 4. You can choose between a 3-pack for $40, a 5-pack for $55 and a 7-pack for $65
Must order three days in advance, and when when ordering don’t forget to specify "vegan."
7. Sage Vegan Bistro (Culver City, Echo Park, Pasadena)
They cater to a diverse audience by providing a plethora of hearty dishes and depending on your preference they have both raw and cooked options available. Thanksgiving is no exception when it comes to providing hearty, fulfilling dishes.
To-go option: Family meal is mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, mashed maple yams, cranberry sauce, kale and collard greens, cranberry apple stuffing and pumpkin pie for $189 for four people. Other full-tray specialty items are available for prices that vary between $65-$75.
48 hours notice is needed for all orders. They are closed on Thanksgiving.
8. Vegetable (Studio City)
If you are looking for an option that doesn’t revolve around faux meats and soy laden items, these holiday dishes were designed with you specifically in mind. In addition to the new Holiday Plate, the butternut squash soup and pumpkin pie in a mason jar will be on the menu all season long.
Dine-in option: Savory pumpkin shepherd's pie, squash, heritage carrot, sweet peas, potatoes and red onion in a rich thyme and mushroom stew with whipped pumpkin and mashed sweet potato topper and cranberry stuffing.
Available starting Nov 18 and lasting through to the end of the year. Not open on Thanksgiving.
9. SunCafe (Studio City)
From a small, cozy neighborhood café to a large, fireplace having neighborhood hangout; SunCafe has established itself as a Studio City staple.
Image Courtesy of @Klean_Slate, dessert created by Jenny Bradley
To-go vegan option: arugula salad with grapes, spiced walnuts, red onion and balsamic; garlic roasted green beans with herbs and tahini, butternut squash bisque, garlic mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, baked Brussels sprouts with lemon cream and black garlic, cranberry compote, stuffed acorn squash with millet stuffing, seasonal spices and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake for $60.
To-go raw option: arugula salad, cream of mushroom soup and flax crackers, citrus marinated green beans with tahini, shaved Brussels sprouts with lemon cream and black garlic, wild rice pilaf, cranberry compote, stuffed portobello mushroom cap and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake for $60.
All orders must be placed by Sunday, Nov 22, for pick-up after noon on November 25.
10. Doomie’s Home Cookin' (Hollywood)
Doomie’s brings you all the comforts of your childhood in the most down-home fashion they know.
Dine-in option: faux turkey meat, stuffing, gravy, green beans, yams, cranberry sauce and a slew of desserts for $20.
To-go option: The dine-in option is available for catering. Pick up is November 25 and they are open on Thanksgiving.
11. Stuff I Eat (Inglewood)
Hearty, savory, scrumptious, mouthwatering—the list of descriptions goes on and on when it comes to describing the types of food you will encounter at Stuff I Eat. One of the most popular dishes, The Soul Plate, is comprised of delicious soul food favorites like mac and cheese, cornbread muffin, black eye-d peas and greens. If this isn’t comfort food, I don’t know what is.
Dine-in option: Thanksgiving meal includes seasoned tofu or nut loaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, mac and cheese, yams, cranberry dressing, mixed green salad with green beans or kale greens and a slice of sweet potato pie for $45.
To-go option: A catering option will be available. Open on Thanksgiving.
12. Crossroads Kitchen (West Hollywood)
Crossroads is one of the leaders in high-end fine dining and Thanksgiving is no exception. A four-course, prix-fixe dinner is available Thanksgiving day with reservations made ahead of time.
Dine-in option: First course is butternut squash soup with nutmeg crème fraiche. Second course is autumn chop salad with kohlrabio, Granny Smith Apples, persimmons, candied pecans and a pomegranate dressing. Third course is rosemary and hazelnut scaloppini with cranberry cabernet sauce, mashed potatoes with porcini gravy, classic stuffing (gluten-free option), Brussels sprouts with crispy shallots, currants, maple mustard glaze and sweet potato biscuits. Fourth course includes pumpkin mousse verrine or apple cobbler. $75 a person.
13. Whole Foods Market (Multiple Locations)
Not only are they dedicated to having an expansive vegan selection, they have an impressive Thanksgiving deal that is sure to tickle your fancy. To boot, we’ve also been graced with the Mega Whole Foods Downtown right before the holidays. Convenient? I think so.
To-go option: Vegan Holiday Meal includes field roast puff pastry turkey, mushroom gravy, cranberry relish, cornbread stuffing and mashed potatoes for $59.99 and serves 4. In addition, they have whole pies you can either add to the order or pick up in store. Ordering begins Nov 16. Check out your local Whole Foods to place an order.