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 vegetarian and vegan restaurants in L.A. slinging slices of pizza piled high with veggies, upscale Mexican food and even takes on the traditionally egg-laden Italian classic, carbonara. Here are the very best—all 100-percent vegan.
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The best vegan restaurants in L.A.
All of L.A.’s Cafe Gratitude locations feel like vegan Eden, full of cheerful wait staff, diners with perfect postures and glowing skin, and dishes named for affirmations, so you’ll 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 out of tune with the world and need a drink, head to the Beverly Hills location (simply called “Gratitude”), because it’s the only one with a full bar—and it’s full of health-minded cocktails featuring fresh juice and mushroom tonics, naturally.
Simply put, Crossroads is a high-end vegan restaurant for omnivores. Plant-based chef-to-the-stars Tal Ronnen is reinventing meat-free meals with flavorful and imaginative dishes that are reasonably priced and served in a cozy, white-tablecloth Melrose Avenue dining room. The fare draws the fashionable, youthful Melrose crowd and a surprisingly older, suit-clad type alike. The thinly shredded sweet and tangy kale salad flecked with currants and pine nuts, and the Farinatta—an arugula salad dressed with a sun-dried tomato pesto over a thin earthy and umami-rich pancake made from chickpea flour and roasted wild mushrooms—are standout plates, as are the faux fried oysters. For a more substantial dish, try the carbonara, which comes topped with a tomato “egg yolk” that really bursts.
Old-school vegans couldn’t have dreamt of such a place: a 100-percent meat-and-dairy-free pizza parlor that’s also gluten-free (with wheat dough available upon request). 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 throwers. 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 glutenous chew, it still has enough variation of texture and crispness to satisfy. Choose a variety of faux meats, including a wholly convincing Italian “sausage,” or try a specialty pie like the popular Jamaican 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.
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 poet’s ilk dining on Eastsider Tacos (seitan topped with cashew cheese) or one of the three tasty burgers (the nacho burger is a favorite). Sit outside and people-watch as locals 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.
It should be said, right off the bat, that Gracias Madre is beautiful. A cross between Mexico chic and Palm Springs casual, the vegan Mexican restaurant is decorated with festive cushions and tiles, a gorgeous courtyard and, inside, high ceilings and a comfortable bar. Wherever you choose to sit, order the guacamole—it is truly fantastic. The sopes with mango, looking like mini savory quiches, are two masa cakes piled high with mango-habanero salsa, black beans, cashew crema and guacamole. For dessert, a more traditional option might have been the flan, but the Mexican wedding cookies are the way to go, and always get them with a cup of creamy horchata latte.
This vegan café has become an L.A. staple thanks to its healthy food, fast service and prices that won’t break a budget. Creative and global-inspired dishes like Thai meatballs, the Bangkok curry, and chickpea tikka masala allow diners to explore culturally diverse cuisines (some are even gluten-free!), while more traditional orders—the BBQ burger topped with seitan bacon and crispy shallots, for instance—are constant crowd pleasers. Native Foods has a beer and wine license, so you can pair your salad with a glass of Chardonnay for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
Matthew Kenney’s sleek Abbot Kinney restaurant serves all-vegan dishes that are almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Locally sourced and ever-changing, the menu is packed with health-conscious takes on classics: Cashew raclette, kelp cacio e pepe and kung pao cauliflower are just a few items to expect, all best paired with that organic and biodynamic wine list, of course.
Sure, most people expect tonkatsu when they visit a ramen shop, but Grand Central Market’s noodle bar flips the script with its entirely vegan ramen-ya concept. Ramen Hood’s OG ramen, served with mushrooms, chili threads and nori in a piping-hot sunflower broth, is comforting and clean-tasting, while the spicy version packs a punch, and the cold ramen throws soba noodles into a smoky chilled onion broth. Vegan eggs, concocted from soy milk and nutritional yeast, add that quintessential bowl topper, making the meal complete for only a couple bucks more. Still hungry? Tack on a small plate—such as avocado toast with yuzu—and make it a combo meal.
With locations in Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Pasadena, Real Food Daily is a vegan’s delight across L.A., offering full plates of whole grains, legumes and vegetables alongside house-made, signature sauces. Dishes run the global gamut, including Italian (penne in a lemony alfredo made from cashew cream) to Korean (a reuben featuring kimchi and marinated tempeh) to Chinese (grilled tofu with a wasabi vinaigrette), all while delivering intricate flavors that appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike. Brunch is also available for weekend diners, where you can nurse that hangover with a breakfast burrito packed with scrambled tofu, roasted potatoes, black beans, tempeh bacon and more.
Imaginative and hearty, dishes at Sage feel like they nudge vegan cuisine in a new direction. Sage, which has locations in Echo Park, Pasadena and Culver City, is one of the few vegan places in L.A. to truly 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 bánh mì and a po’ boy. Dishes have interesting and comforting touches: Quinoa corn cakes are served with a sharp and crunchy slaw for just the right amount of zing, while the mole bowl feels rich and soul-soothing with its brown rice and sautéed veggies in a rich mole sauce. Finish with an order of Ice Kreme—cashew, almond milk and coconut–based ice cream—scooped straight from the ice cream counter.