I just returned from a week-long vacation in Los Angeles, where the primary goal of my trip was to eat at as many vegan restaurants as possible. If only there had been more room in my stomach and more hours in a day, I would have tried more meals at more restaurants. But I did manage to check out quite a few. I tried, sort of, to stick with gluten-free and sugar-free foods, but there were just too many temptations. And it was a vacation so what the heck. I definitely need to stay on the straight-and-narrow for a while because my pants are now way too tight.
I took some photos of the food I ate but tragically left my camera at the beach on my 3rd day in town. But here is a great shot of the Native Foods cheeseburger, stolen from Vegan Food Blog.
Follow Your Heart, the company that makes the delicious vegan cheese that actually melts, has a restaurant (and full grocery store) in L.A! We stopped there for our first meal of the trip – Sunday brunch. I was able to try a vegan “om-lette” with mushrooms, onions, and vegan cheese. Delicious! I had a taste of their french toast which was just as I remember french toast to be. The tapioca pudding was good, but some of the other options for dessert might have been a better pick. The service was comically bad. We literally had to wave our arms around to get the attention of a server, and even that didn’t work sometimes. Luckily we were in good company so the 2-hour meal was still enjoyable.
Better Life Cuisine is a raw food restaurant in Santa Monica. Our first visit there for dinner was quite good. We tried the supreme tacos and the manicotti rolls, which were both excellent. Filling, without being too heavy. Their raw eggless salad was impressive. After that, it went downhill. Their desserts are tasty, but way way too sweet. We tried the cinnamon roll and the pumpkin pie. But what really disappointed us was breakfast. We grabbed a couple of smoothies on our way out of town for a day trip. We had been looking forward to their durian-coconut smoothie ever since we’d spotted it on the menu. It was unforgivably bad. It smelled vaguely of durian but tasted like watered down almond milk with some cinnamon thrown in. Not sure there was any coconut in it at all. We also tried a Gil’s green smoothie, which was equally bad. If we had not already been well on our way when we tried it, we would have demanded our $10 (each!) back. Truly awful.
Native Foods is an all-vegan comfort food type of place. Not a good choice if you want to eat healthy, but the food was great. The bacon cheeseburger was just like I remember from childhood, except without the greasy meat. We also ordered from the kids menu and got the quinoa macaroni and cheese and the chicken nuggets. Both were amazing.
Real Food Daily is similar to Native Foods in that it offers vegan versions of all your old favorites. I would say it’s slightly more upscale, with respect to both the food and atmosphere. We tried the gluten-free pizza and the club triple decker. We meant to go back for breakfast but never had the chance. If I lived in L.A., I probably would eat here all the time. They also had some raw options.
Seed is a vegan, organic, macrobiotic restaurant a couple of blocks from Venice Beach. They had a big sign about their award-winning blackened tempeh burger. John had the good sense to order that – it was amazing. I got the Japanese vegetable curry bowl (supposedly with wild mushrooms and squash), which was disappointing. Too much carrot, almost no mushrooms at all. The $5 Madonna coconut mouse was good in that it wasn’t overly sweet, but it wasn’t very flavorful either. I’d eat here again, but I’d order differently next time.
101 Coffee Shop was recommended by a friend as the best vegan breakfast in town. 101 is a traditional diner, but it has one vegan breakfast item – “No Huevos” Rancheros. It was so good that it sent John into a tirade about how restaurants in Seattle and Asheville serve flavorless food. And it actually opened at breakfast time which puts it ahead of most of the other restaurants that serve vegan breakfasts. It was also quite a bit cheaper than everywhere else.
Interim Cafe (also known as Newsroom Cafe) was also recommended as having some of the best vegan food in town. Newsroom is not all vegetarian but they have a ton of vegan options. They also have quite a few gluten-free items. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I had the vegan spinach quesadillas – a meal I’ve been craving for years. It was everything I dreamed it would be. I was also able to try a bite of their superfood veggie burger, which was pretty good. The wild mushroom tamales were a letdown. I thought the vegan scone was pretty bad too. The chocolate soft-serve ice cream was impressive.
Babycakes NYC Bakery in downtown L.A. was so good we ordered 3 rounds of food. A great surprise was the fact that much of their items are gluten-free and sugar-free! We had a carrot cupcake, lemon poppy seed bread, corn bread, and banana bread, which were all amazing. The sugar-cinnamon doughnut was OK, but not nearly as good as other vegan doughnuts I’ve had.
On our way to Palm Springs for the day, we stopped in a charming little college town called Claremont for breakfast, and then again for dinner on our way back to L.A. We hadn’t planned ahead so there might have been other vegan places to eat there but we just stopped in at whatever looked promising.
Full of Life had some tofu dishes on the menu that looked pretty good so we decided to give it a try. I was about to order a scramble when I spotted the “Tofu Omlette” on the specials board. Assuming that meant it was an omlette made of tofu instead of eggs, I ordered it. Based on my questions, the woman taking my order must have realized I was a vegan because she asked if I could eat eggs. English was her second language and the conversation was a little confusing but I realize now that it was intended to be a typical omlette but with tofu and veggies inside. What arrived at my table was a pile of the omlette’s insides, very carefully arranged in the shape of an omlette. This wasn’t terribly filling but the spices made it very tasty and they definitely get an A for effort.
Ecoterra is a little hippie grocery store with a cafe inside. Their chef comes in each morning and makes the day’s food items which you can then pick out of a refrigerator. So it isn’t really a cafe in the way we expected it to be. We got some spanish rice and a turkey and cheese sandwich. Good food but nothing to write home about. The guy working there was exceptionally friendly and helpful, even willing to heat up our rice in a frying pan for us because we don’t like using microwaves.