Kusaki group shot
Photograph: Courtesy Kusaki

The best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles

Whether you’re craving soul food or creative sushi rolls, L.A.’s best vegan restaurants boast tasty fare that even meat eaters will want to order.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Advertising

Plant-based dining in L.A. has come a long way from the days when Annie Hall parodied the Source, one of the city’s trendiest (and cult-iest) vegetarian restaurants in the ’70s and ’80s. The word “vegan” hasn’t raised eyebrows or prompted jokes about granola or nut loaf for years, if not decades, and there’s more 100% plant-based options on menus at regular restaurants than ever before. National chains like Veggie Grill have made animal product-free dining easier, if not necessarily healthier, and the last five years have seen an explosion in the city’s plant-based fast food options, whether you’re eating an Impossible patty at Burger King or Carl’s Jr or opting for a local joint like Burgerlords or Monty’s.

These days, you can find slices of pizza piled high with veggies and faux meats; fully plant-based takes on Mexican cuisine; L.A.’s always trusty Ethiopian restaurants; and more vegan Italian dining than you can shake a stick at. For those who seek it out, you can also find amazing Asian cuisine sans animal products, including Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cooking that rivals the city’s best restaurants. In our humble (and vegan-vetted) opinion, here are the very best of the best places for plant-based eats—though some places do serve a few dishes containing egg.

Editor’s note: With all of the city’s new vegan fast food options, we’ve elected to remove all fast food burgers as we scout for the very best spots that use the same third-party faux meats. We’ve also removed Sage, which has begun serving meat and dairy. Stay tuned for an update this summer with our favorite meat- and dairy-free burgers in town, plus more new destination-worthy vegan restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Los Angeles

The best vegan restaurants in L.A.

  • Vegan
  • Melrose
  • price 2 of 4

This high-end vegan restaurant has long delighted omnivores with its flavorful, imaginative dishes, but even those who balk at the meat-like taste and texture of Impossible will find something to love on the menu of Crossroads. Chef Tal Ronnen, a favorite among celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, reinvents meat-free fine dining with dishes like Rockefeller-style baked mushroom “scallops’’ and a pasta carbonara, which comes topped with a tomato “egg yolk” that actually bursts. The Melrose flagship, known for its white tablecloths and cozy steakhouse-esque setting, draws a fashionable younger crowd, as well as a surprisingly older, suit-clad type, but those in the Valley can also visit its newer second location in Calabasas. Other standouts include the artichoke “oysters” and French onion soup. For a special occasion, it’s worth it to spring for the seasonal tasting menu ($175), which includes shaved truffles, champagne and a meet-and-greet with the chef.

  • Vegan
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4

Compared to sleeker, newer plant-based concepts, Shojin is quite eccentric: Located on the sleepy border of Mar Vista and Culver City, this quirky Japanese restaurant has specific instructions for bag placement—handbags are placed in a designated basket next to your table. But almost everything on the bill of fare is excellent, and Shojin uses tofu and tempeh, along with a rainbow of veggie and grain substitutions, to craft glorious and entirely vegan sushi and tempura. For example, a mix of quinoa, miso and vegan mayo make for an interesting and tasty topping on the dynamite roll, which we can’t get enough of, and mushroom tempura gets a smart sprinkling of truffle salt. Other Japanese classics are easily vegan, too, such as blistered shishito peppers, seaweed salad, ramen and miso soup. Best of all, it’s all gluten-free, with many soy-free options as well.

Advertising
  • Vegan
  • Larchmont Village
  • price 2 of 4

L.A.’s Café Gratitude locations in Larchmont and Venice feel full of cheerful wait staff, diners with perfect postures and glowing skin and dishes named for affirmations so you’ll have to declare something like, “I Am Thriving,” to order the soup of the day. It’s true: When the server takes your order, they’ll most likely ask, “What are you grateful for today?” but don’t let that stop you. Embrace it, because the bright, beautifully composed food will have you coming back. If you’re feeling especially out of tune with the world and need a drink, look for the sangrias, elevated tonics, or wine. There’s also a great happy hour on weekdays from 4 to 7pm with discounted snacks like warm almond burrata, loaded nacho fries and grain bowls. And omnivores, don’t let the vegan menu stop you from ordering a creamy, decadent dessert: The tiramisu is some of the best in town, and there’s usually a completely raw-food sweets option on the menu.

  • Vegan
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4

This plant-based fast-casual restaurant in Culver City comes from Heather Golden Ray and Jenny Engel, the sisters behind Spork Foods, a vegan catering and cookbook empire. Since opening last August, Hey, Sunshine Kitchen has become one of the highest rated independent restaurants on Yelp. After one bite of food here, you’ll quickly realize why. The warm, vibrantly colored grain bowls, particularly the Mediterranean chickpea option, pack major flavor in humble packages and can be modded out to your exact specifications. The hot sandwiches and tacos made with plant-based fish, jackfruit carnitas and Beyond beef crumble hit the spot for a tasty lunch or comfort food craving. The attention to detail and overall deliciousness is on par with one of my favorite plant-based restaurants of all time: Chef Tanya’s Kitchen in Palm Springs. Grain bowls, tacos and sandwiches might not sound all that exciting, but Hey, Sunshine Kitchen is proof that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel—you merely need to perfect it.

Advertising
  • Korean
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 3 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Vegan-friendly. This modern Korean restaurant in the Arts District now offers one of the best plant-based tasting menus ($110) in all of Los Angeles. Though Baroo’s Kwang Uh also serves meat and seafood, the world-trained South Korean chef puts as much thought and detail into his vegetarian and vegan options. Both require 24 hours’ advance notice, but each includes thoughtful substitutes like smoked hearts of palm, fermented radish and seasonal vegetables. The star of the show, however, is the bansang, a collection of different types of pickled and fermented vegetables served alongside a bowl of rice. It’s a direct import from predominantly plant-based Korean Buddhist temple cuisine, which Uh says Baroo derives significant inspiration from.

  • Japanese
  • Mar Vista
  • price 2 of 4

You won’t believe your eyes or taste buds at this vegan sushi restaurant, where a tapioca-based fish substitute expertly mimics nigiri and sashimi within the city's first plant-based omakase. Led by Dillon Bolin, a former chef at Phillip Frankland Lee’s Sushi by Scratch (f.k.a. Sushi | Bar), Kusaki also offers an à la carte menu that includes crowd-pleasers like avocado crispy rice bites, crispy garlic “tuna” sashimi and portobello mushroom fries. Though the minimalist design does its best to conjure up a sleeky, au courant L.A. restaurant, the atmosphere does little to disguise the fact you're eating next to a 7-11. Alongside tapioca-based creations, you’ll also find more overtly veggie-based, delicious sushi options made with trumpet mushroom and sweet corn in a flavorful meal that would surprise the most dubious omnivore.

Advertising
  • Ethiopian
  • Downtown Santa Monica

Smorgasburg alumna Tezeta “Tete” Alemayehu, an Addis Ababa, Ethiopia native, serves African-inspired vegan fare at Berbere in Santa Monica. For approximately 200 days out of the year, half the population of Ethiopia traditionally fasts by abstaining from all animal products. Meat, dairy and eggs might be forbidden, but bright and vibrant Ethiopian spices such as berbere, korerima and beso bela are not, providing Alemayehu with the perfect canvas to work her magic in dishes like blueberry teff pancakes and clay pot garbanzo stew with teff injera. Berebere also offers an expanded menu of flatbreads, burritos and tacos, in addition to the signature, must-order Eat the Rainbow, a quartet of colorful vegetable and legume stews served with spongy housemade injera. Tip: Order the strong, citrus- and spice-infused Ethiopian coffee and tea. If you’d rather skip the caffeine, there’s a juice bar too, with healthy juices and smoothies bottled on-site.

  • Japanese
  • Studio City
  • price 2 of 4

Vegetarian (serves egg). Right next to Studio City’s always-crowded Easy Street Burgers, chef Shanshan Liu Estacio is serving some of L.A.’s most flavorful, affordable vegan sushi and ramen. Aside from optional egg add-on, everything at Gokuku is 100% plant-based. Creations like the Salmon Lover (made with a tapioca-based fish substitute), Dynamite Shrimp and Gokoku’s take on a classic California roll would fool even the biggest sushi roll fan, and the rich, sunflower seed-based broth here is one of the best bowls of ramen in the city, vegan or not. Estacio rounds out her menu with rice plates, a killer take on garlic noodles and plenty of appetizers—and while the dizzyingly large menu might offer dozens of options for your meal, no need to worry: Everything’s pretty great.

Advertising
  • Mexican
  • West Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

It should be said, right off the bat, that Gracias Madre is beautiful. A cross between Mexico City chic and Palm Springs casual, this vegan Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood (and Orange County’s Newport Beach) 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’s truly fantastic. The queso fundido with warm house made cashew cheese, jalapeño, tomatoes, pico de gallo and chips is another favorite starter to share. For dessert, a more traditional option might be the flan, but the churros are the way to go, and always get them with a cup of creamy horchata latte. The bar stocks an impressive tequila selection, too—because hey, margaritas are definitely vegan.

  • Italian
  • West Hollywood

This small West Hollywood wine bar transports you to Naples with a warm, romantic ambience and traditional Italian classics so good that you might not even notice the meatballs are made from mushrooms and lentils rather than pork and sprinkled with macadamia parmesan. Italian American chef and owner Tara Punzone has been vegan for more than 30 years, and many of her best recipes—like the black magic lasagna bursting with cashew ricotta, mushrooms and black truffle cream—are vegan conversions of her favorite family recipes. Wash down her made-from-scratch Neapolitan pizzas and pastas with a juicy bellini or biodynamic wines from Italy and around the world. If you’re down in the South Bay, you can also enjoy a slightly smaller menu at Pura Vita’s second location in Redondo Beach.

Advertising
  • Thai
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

This casual strip mall gem in Santa Monica serves some of the most flavorful and unique vegan cuisine on the Westside—a part of town where there’s already plenty of plant-based dining options. You’ll find all the takeout staples here like massaman curry, green papaya salad and various stir-fries, but the more creative dishes like beet-dyed noodles and cashew-“tuna” endive cups are where chef Gunn Pankum really shines. Rather than cater to every diner, the former head of Silver Lake’s Bulan Thai—also on this list—serves a curated menu of refined Southeast Asian specialties that just happen to be completely plant-based.

  • Vegan
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Made with minimally processed ingredients like beans, chickpeas and tofu, the deli “meat” sandwiches defy all flavor and taste expectations at this daytime-only vegan spot. Owned by namesake chef Maciel Bañales Luna and her husband, Joe Egender, the storefront offers fully plant-based takes on classics including a delicious Italian cold-cut sandwich made with vegan cheese from Follow Your Heart. Before noon, there’s a delicious breakfast burrito and French toast, and a small selection of desserts and sides (we recommend the chicharrones made with tofu skin). A cold case towards the back also offers packages of housemade deli meats, if you’re interested in bringing home a taste of Maciel’s, and the Highland Park shop has expanded its reach to Central L.A. with a lunchtime residency inside the Dime (Thu–Sun 9am–3pm).

Advertising
  • Thai
  • Silver Lake

Vegetarian (serves egg). Located across the street from the Silver Lake Erewhon, this longtime Thai restaurant (with a second location on Melrose) is beloved by vegetarians and vegans across the city for its massive menu and rich, bubbling curries. Soy-based chicken, beef or duck substitutes pepper the soups, stir-fries and noodle dishes, and the deep-fried orange chicken is perfect for anyone craving a cruelty-free taste of Panda Express. While most of the menu is vegan, a few signatures contain egg, like the signature snap pea salad, which combines the thinly sliced veggies, cashews, onions and carrots in a chili tamarind dressing and tops everything off with coconut cream, crispy shallots, dried chilies and a fried egg.

  • Mexican
  • Westwood
  • price 1 of 4

After learning he was prediabetic in his mid-20s, Gregory Owens decided to go vegan—and put his own twist on his mother’s Yucatecan recipes in the process. One thing led to another, and the self-taught chef founded Hijo de Su Madre as a food truck in 2019. Now, he and his wife Amber run this no-frills strip mall joint in West L.A., where you’ll find tacos made with flavorful jackfruit-based cochinita pibil, playful banh mi-inspired tofu and deep-fried Baja “fish” (quinoa-battered daikon radish). All tacos can also be made into heftier burritos or grain bowls, but you’ll likely want to save room for Owens’s other Yucatecan specialties, like mushroom-stuffed cabbage rolls, papadzules (egg-stuffed rolled tortillas) and sikil pak, a traditionally vegan Mayan dip made with pumpkin seeds. Owens also offers occasional one-of-a-kind tasting dinners—subscribe to Hijo de Su Madre’s email newsletter for updates.

Advertising
  • Reseda
  • price 1 of 4

This all-vegan restaurant in Reseda and Cerritos hits all of the high notes of Vietnamese cuisine, minus the need for animal products. You can barely taste the difference, aside from some textural shifts, in Vinh Loi’s selection, including delicious “shrimp” and lemongrass grilled “duck” rolls. Chef-owner Kevin Tran delivers the same beautiful blends of aromatic herbs and long-simmered meaty flavor (courtesy of plenty of mushrooms) in Vinh Loi’s bun bo hue and “beef” pho. The Reseda outpost also doubles as a tofu factory—which means Vinh Loi’s soy milk and creamy tofu custard served with ginger-infused simple syrup are just as delicious as the savory menu offerings, which include plenty of fusion items.

  • Bakeries
  • Frog Town
  • price 1 of 4

Justine Hernandez's charming all-vegan Frogtown bakery doesn’t offer a full menu spread like the other spots on this list, but its handful of ever-rotating, plant-based sandwiches, biscuits, pies, cookies, galettes, quiches and breakfast burritos are more than worth a visit. By day, Just What I Kneaded whips up colorful pop tarts, cinnamon rolls with lemon zest cream cheese frosting and more—with a full coffee program, to boot, making this a must-stop for breakfast or simply an afternoon snack. By night, stop by the bakery's newly opened wine bar, aptly named Justine's, for chef Simone Schlanger's tightly curated menu of plant-based bar bites.

Advertising
  • Italian
  • Sherman Oaks
  • price 2 of 4

Located in a former Chinese restaurant (you can spot it by the entrance’s unique circular archway), this vegan Cal-Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks comes by way of San Diego. The pizzas and pastas here make for top-notch plant-based comfort food, but there are a few healthier options like the “really good” salad made with roasted garlic vinaigrette and shaved housemade mozzarella. Vegan or not, you’ll want to drink the sunflower seed-based garlic butter, which comes with Donna Jean’s house bread, and you can’t go wrong with any of the desserts, which use coconut cream for that oh-so-dreamy dollop of whipped cream on top. During weekend brunch, you’ll find much of the same savory items, plus a killer cinnamon roll French toast, a tofu scramble and a Just Egg frittata that comes fully loaded with fresh veggies, carrot romesco and pickled onions.

  • Mexican
  • Van Nuys
  • price 2 of 4

At most taco joints, plant-based fillings are typically limited to mushrooms or nopales. Both are acceptable, if not entirely texturally fulfilling, options. For a truly impressive array of vegan tacos, head to El Cocinero in Van Nuys. The no-frills strip mall joint uses jackfruit and a handful of old-school soy products to successfully imitate the crunch of chicharrón, the pull-apart nature of carnitas and even the juicy chewiness inherent to al pastor. Pile your choice of plant-based protein into tacos, a burrito or even a basket of nachos topped with vegan cheese. A newer quesabirria taco made with jackfruit offers the same spicy, rich flavors of traditional birria without any of the meat, plus an excellent consommé on the side. Our only complaint? The slightly limited hours—El Cocinero only opens from 1pm to 8pm, Tuesday through Sunday.

Advertising
  • Vietnamese
  • El Monte
  • price 1 of 4

For a flavorful, plant-based Vietnamese lunch in the San Gabriel Valley, look to this longtime vegetarian restaurant in El Monte. Aside from egg noodles, almost everything on the menu is vegan (and marked as such), and the animal product-free “fish” sauce dressing will impress even those familiar with traditional nuoc chấm. On our visit, we enjoyed the summer rolls made with mock shrimp, mushroom-based pho and imitation Hainan chicken made with bean curd. Other highlights of the menu include the bun bo hue—a lemongrass-rich soup—and any vermicelli bowl or rice plate that features the surprisingly satisfying imitation ham.

  • Vegan
  • Lincoln Heights
  • price 1 of 4

Forget the myth that vegan means bland. At Cena Vegan, generational recipes for salsas and marinades—the kinds of marinades normally reserved for meats—make this entirely plant-based Mexican-food spot home to some of the most flavorful tacos, burritos and nachos around. There are spicy cashew cremas, saucy seitan al pastors and agua frescas, not to mention hand-pressed corn tortillas that are, you guessed it, also totally vegan. The former pop-up now has three locations: Lincoln Heights, Long Beach and Whittier. Head here whenever you’re craving tortas, tacos, tamales and some of L.A.’s largest burritos almost every day of the week (the Long Beach location is closed on Mondays).

Advertising
  • Vegan
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

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 ramenya concept. Ramen Hood’s OG ramen, served with mushrooms, chili threads and nori in a piping-hot sunflower seed 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 banh mi poutine or tofu al pastor—and make it a combo meal.

  • Vegan
  • Beverly Grove
  • price 2 of 4

L.A.’s myriad vegan Thai restaurants could be a subculture all its own, and for our money, this is the best of them. Tucked inside a Mid-City mini mall, this welcoming spot offers all the Thai staples like pad thai, see-ew and tom yum, as well as grilled tofu 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 curry, full of eggplant and bamboo in a coconut-milk base, and the spicy papaya salad packing a fresh lime kick. "Meat" components include soy-based chicken, fish, beef and more, which can fill curries, dumplings, soups, salads and stir-frys. Even the Thai iced tea is exemplary, with an intense tea flavor that balances out the sweetness.

Advertising
  • Ethiopian
  • Central LA
  • price 2 of 4

While Fairfax's Little Ethiopia is full of vegan-friendly eats, Rahel is the area's sole fully plant-based restaurant. Owner Rahel Woldmedhin was the original founder of nearby Messob before opening her vegan eatery, which eschews imitation meat and instead focuses on vegetable-rich stews accompanied by injera. In addition to yemisir kik wot (split lentil stew), yeshiro alicha (chickpea stew) and yedinch wot (potato stew), there's a nice selection of combination dishes that bring diners' favorites sides together. The best way to end the meal is with Rahel's vegan cheese cake—and perhaps a special Ethiopian juice, like telba (made from flax seed) or besso (made from barley). 

  • Bakeries
  • North Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

We scoured the city for amazing cinnamon rolls, and while the enormous cream cheese-slathered version at Lodge Bread has its merits, we’ve yet to find a better version than Christopher Federici’s Gooey Center Bakery. Fluffy, soft and coated in just the right amount of frosting, these buns are worth chasing across town. Best of all, they happen to be plant-based—though omnivores likely won’t be able to taste the difference. On various days of the week, Federici also hands off plenty of buns to several specialty coffee shops around town: You’ll find a matcha variety exclusively available at Koreatown’s 6xs Coffee, though you can find the blueberry and standard buns elsewhere as well. To find out where you can find Gooey Center near you, follow the bakery on Instagram.

Advertising
  • Vegan
  • Inglewood
  • price 2 of 4

Everyone who comes into 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). 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.

  • Vegan
  • Marina del Rey
  • price 3 of 4

This plant-based upscale-casual chain has landed in L.A., bringing the same resort-chic design and pressed watermelon nigiri that's made Planta a hit in Toronto, NYC and elsewhere to Marina del Rey and Brentwood. While the MDR location is ostensibly more Latin-focused (hence the Cocina modifier), the truffle kamameshi and tasty sushi and yakitori offerings are still the strongest items on the menu. How does Planta compare to other major players in L.A.'s vegan dining scene? While not groundbreaking by any means, the tasty cuisine and sophisticated ambience add up to an excellent Westside dinner destination—and a great vegan special-occasion eatery.

Advertising
  • Studio City
  • price 2 of 4

Serving both raw and cooked vegan food, and making almost everything from scratch, SunCafe has become a favorite for more than its nearby Valley dwellers looking for healthy lunch and dinner options. The casual spot along Ventura Boulevard has your standard soups and salads, sure, but there are also burgers topped with cashew mayo, and BLTs with tempeh bacon, and decadent baked lasagna with brown rice noodles and walnut pesto. Stick around for their popular smoothies, which range from healthy-tasting kale options to dessert-inspired pumpkin shakes, or grab a plant-based cupcake or slice of cake—good luck on leaving without one: They’re tantalizing in that deli case.

  • Vegan
  • La Cienega
  • price 2 of 4

With locations in West Hollywood and Pasadena, Real Food Daily is a vegan’s delight, 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 Mexican (tempeh tacos with cashew cheese and pico de gallo) to Mediterranean (salad featuring kalamata olives, quinoa tabbouleh, and za’atar dressing) all while delivering comforting classics and touches that appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike. A few breakfast items are available all day, too, so you can nurse that hangover with a breakfast burrito packed with scrambled tofu, hash browns, tempeh bacon and more at all hours.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising