• LA’s Top Five Vegan Restaurants


    Following three years of eating out on LA’s vegan restaurant scene we thought it would be good to come up with a “top list” of the establishments we, and the commenters on this esteemed blog, thought were really good. Check out the end for honorable mentions, restaurants that didn’t quite make the list. Want to bump a mention off the list, or add your own? Please comment. Don’t be shy. We had to start somewhere.

    Madeleine Bistro

    Advice when visiting Madeline Bistro: Sit facing away from the window and forget that you walked past the exotic lingerie store a few doors down, after an excruciatingly long drive from pretty much wherever you live. If you can suspend the belief of where you are and how you got there for long enough, you’ll enjoy some of the most incredible vegan food on the West Coast, and probably in the world.

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict at madeleine bistro.

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict at madeleine bistro.

    Chef Dave Anderson has spared no expense or time in thinking through and preparing the most minute details of every menu item. From a doughnut that is so light and fluffy it practically levitates, to a veganized carbon-copy emulation of a Big Mag (which I’m told by omnivores tastes way, way better than the real thing), through magical soufflés and German Mac ‘n’ Cheese (complete with Bacon bits!) you are certain to delight in the experience of fine vegan dining with a menu as inventive as it is familiar. Every dish at Madeleine’s has that “HOW DO THEY DO THIS?” question mark hanging over it. Dave Anderson is a culinary genius, and we should all be glad he decided to practice his art on us vegans.

    Stuff I Eat

    Situated on a quiet street a block from busy Manchester Blvd. on the edge of Inglewood is an absolute gem of a vegan restaurant: Stuff I Eat. With an eclectic menu of options spanning the gamut from soul food through Mexican-inspired and down to earth, honest to goodness, American-style favorites, Stuff I Eat excels in every category. The staff are all so helpful, polite and caring that one feels grateful to be in ‘their’ restaurant. The portions are HUGE, and the quality of every food item, from the way it looks to the way it tastes cannot be overstated.

    part of the soul food platter at stuff i eat

    part of the soul food platter at stuff i eat

    Feeling hungry? The $18 “Organic Soul Food Platter” will fill you up, as well as one or two of your guests. The burritos are to die for (how many burritos have fresh, steamed broccoli topping them?). Any place that has a menu item called “Sumthin-Sumthin”, makes its own dressings from scratch every day and serves a $5 taco with so much filling that they throw in an extra tortilla so you can “make two out of one” clearly has an appreciation of food. If you have the same (or even if you don’t), Stuff I Eat will be some of the best Stuff you will EVER Eat.

    Vinh Loi Tofu

    Kevin Tran, the chef/owner/cashier of Vinh Loi Tofu is probably the King of Los Angeles vegan cuisine. Sitting on his throne behind the counter at Vinh Loi Tofu, he rules his mini-kingdom of obedient, smiling tofu-preparing workers who create some of the most stunning vegan food in town. In his modest Reseda restaurant (about the size of a donut shop!) he manages to squeeze in not only a tofu factory but also a kitchen that prepares no less than 126 vegan specialty menu items, along with several “new inventions” that Kevin has cooked up to try out on us unsuspecting, but very lucky, vegans.

    ham sub at vinh loi tofu

    ham sub at vinh loi tofu

    With so many menu items it’s really hard to choose favorites (and, to be fair, I try to mix up what I order, but in a lifetime one can only scratch the surface of Kevin’s creativity). Signature dishes we see people ordering time and time again include the Banh Mi subs (of which there are 13 varieties) ranging between $4.50 and and extortionate $6! Kevin’s tofu and fake meats blend perfectly with fresh vegetables in his soups, stir fries, teriyaki noodles and salads. If you’re feeling really adventurous, just ask him for his “special of the day”. You won’t be sorry.

    Pure Luck

    On our first visit to Pure Luck, we were intrigued to watch a tattooed dude (who we later discovered was Ben, the guy who dreamed up the establishment) wheeling a toilet through a busy restaurant and out of the door. He returned to climb, precariously, above the food area while he installed a WiFi access point suspended from the ceiling by green cables, that’s still there to this day. While this entertainment was going on, my friends and I got quietly drunk on craft beer, and full of potato pals, followed by several plates of fresh salads, rolls with exotic ingredients and burritos. Pure luck doesn’t quite have the atmosphere of a bar, but you can squint your eyes and fake it real easy, with at least 10 beers on tap and an endless supply of comfort food you can’t go wrong.

    angélica’s garbanzo salad sandwich with potato pals at pure luck

    angélica’s garbanzo salad sandwich with potato pals at pure luck

    Must-have dishes are the jackfruit-anything (especially the Todd’s BBQ Sandwich or Torta), Fresh Noodle Salad and the deep fried stuff (Potato Pals, Rosemary Fries, Sweet Potato Fries). The Tofu Pesto Sandwich is also an excellent choice, arriving on a crusty, fresh La Brea Bakery roll. Chow on some great bar food, drink some of LA’s finest beers and smile in the haze of how great it is to be vegan in this day and age. Thanks, Pure Luck, for all the good times.

    Oh, and the toilet was abandoned in the parking lot by the dumpster when we left.


    I recall hanging out as a teenager in the Tokyo district of Akihabara, where bright lights, video arcades and electronics stores are punctuated only by sushi bars and upscale dining. The shopping mall in Little Tokyo (just south of Downtown LA) contains all of the above plus an amazing find if you trudge to the top of the escalator: Shojin Restaurant. to call this place “fine dining” would be an understatement. Hand polished silverware resting on starched tablecloths await your vegan self. Nuvo-Japonaise decor and Frank Sinatra on the speakers round out this most eclectic of dining experiences. Your shy, yet overly-attentive and awkwardly chatty serving staff will do whatever it takes for you to have a great time, as plate upon plate of amazing food spirits itself out of the kitchen to your pristine table.

    vegan dragon roll at shojin

    vegan dragon roll at shojin

    Whether you go for the sushi (with seitan, tofu and other faux-fish accoutrements), the pan-fried seitan stir-fry or the incredibly tasty hand-made deserts you will know that such care has been put into preparing your food with prime, organic ingredients that you just can’t go wrong. Order as much stuff as you like — the portions are small, but the taste is big.

    Honorable mentions: A Taste Of Life, Native Foods, Veggie Grill, Casa De Tree, Cru, Flore, Cafe Flourish, Rahel’s, and Seed

    Check back tomorrow, for our list of the top five vegetarian restaurants that are vegan friendly.

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46 responses to “LA’s Top Five Vegan Restaurants” RSS icon

  • i have been to 4/5 of these places! what would my list be? hmmm… i’m gonna say 1) madeleine bistro, 2) taste of life, 3) veggie grill, 4) pure luck, 5) flore

    the franken stand would be on here if it was an actual restaurant. and a shout out to doomie’s – if they were still open they’d knock flore off my list.

    i’m probably gonna get shot but i’m not as big of a fan of shojin and vinh loi as my veg friends. i’ve had fine meals at both but nothing to get a food boner over.

  • I’m still confused why you think Pure Luck is the best restaurant ever. Maybe because you’re a drinker, and those beers are enticing.

  • thanks! really wanna check out madeleine.

  • Madeline’s is wonderful- definately a special ocassion place. I always have to put my vote in for Native Foods. 😉

  • I know this is all about the best Vegan food in LA, but if you love Madeleine’s Bistro, you should try Millennium Restaurant in San Fran, if you haven’t already. BTW, as of yet, I have only tried and enjoyed Madeleine’s Bistro and Shojin from your list, but I can’t wait to try the others! 😉

  • What about Green Leaves? I guess its not that fancy of a joint, but the food is awesome!

  • My 2 Cents: I know the staff can be rude and all of that, but Real Food Daily has much better quality of food than most restaurants in L.A. Their menu is diverse and their ingredients are always fresh and mostly organic. Their desserts suck, but their salisbury seitan dish is awesome, stick-to-your-ribs eatin’, their brunch menu has incredibly fluffy pancakes, and their nachos are the best vegan nachos you’ll find anywhere.

  • Annie, Green Leaves doesn’t count! This list is for vegan restaurants, and they aren’t really vegan. Plus, their food is dirty anyways.

  • fuck.. i need to go to Stuff I Eat.
    i can’t argue with the list. Shojin and Mads Bistro are the best two places ever. i’ve had that ham sandwich once at vihn loi and found it to be incredibly dry and unappetizing, everything else i’ve had there is stellar. Pure Luck is delicious.

    my top 5 vegan friendly places:
    M Cafe
    Bulan Thai
    Whole Foods

  • Never been to Vinh Loi Tofu or Stuff I Eat, but the other three are tops in my book.

    For the next list (vegan-friendly) Fatties and Hugo’s have to be tops. Outside of the legit vegan places, those are my favorite restaurants.

    Madeline’s just got flooded, by the way, but I think they’re re-opening shortly.

  • great list! stoked that shojin is number 1 its’ my fav also though i don’t go enough .. i’ve never been to madelines or vihn loh 🙁 , so i’d replace those with veggie grill and DOOMIES! (rip) well that might not count.. although doomies would be my number 1 for sure.. one world in covina, becuase of the all you can eat $8 vegan buffet every month .. and the philly steak sandwich.. nom nom nom

  • Only been to two and both were great. But (in reference to the best on the West Coast part) there’s no way Madeline is anywhere near as amazing as Millennium in SF.

  • My personal faves are Madeliene Bistro, Follow Your Heart and Real Food Daily. I’m excited to try the other places on your list, keep up the good work….the planet and it’s animals really appreciate it! Joey T.

  • if Native Foods was a bit more convenient than westwood it would easily be in my top 5. i think i like it a tab bit better than veggie grill. the mad cowboy bowl is killer.

    the economy has also claimed another victim, Taste Of Life has closed their restaurant. you can still get their awesome shit every sunday at the hollywood FM.

  • annie – are you serious about green leaves? i suggest you read more of this site.

  • for those of you chiming in with VEGETARIAN or OMNIVOROUS restaurants, we will have best of lists for those over the next 2 days. these are just vegan restaurants. stay tuned! 🙂

    oh and BTW, doomie’s was vegetarian, not vegan. and i wish it was still open.

  • Out of the three, I have only been to Pure Luck and Shojin.

    And I must step in on the Shojin debate. I was sorely disappointed with the food there. And a few of my friends were as well. I had a bento box lunch with the hamburg steak and okra cakes. Both were quite bland.

    Some sort of green vegetable tasted like vodka had been poured on it. I am a yogi, and do not ever put alcohol to my lips. They could have warned me that their food was covered in alcohol.

    The space is beautiful, and maybe I will give it another shot.

    Having never been to Madeline Bistro, my top five would be:

    1. Native Foods
    2. Vegan Glory
    3. Bo De Tinh Tam Chay (a Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant in Westminster)
    4. Pure Luck
    5. Good Karma (the vegan Venice boardwalk place that is now closed)

  • i definately think more people need to try loving hut in alhambra. they have got to be my favorite vegan eatery in so cal for the past year or so.
    pure luck is great, and i adore the jack fruit torta, but i also do feel they are a bit overrated by most local vegans. i wish the menu had more options, that’s fore sure.

  • I’ve never been to Stuff I Eat, but I would pretty much agree with the list. Only been to Madeleine Bistro once. I liked it, but I need to go again before forming a strict opinion.

  • and i must agree with susilol about millennium restaurant! i wish there were one in LA. the food taste and presentation is amazing. nom!

  • doomie’s wasn’t vegan?! f that, then. my top 5 stands.

  • Madeline Bistro is closed till Oct 2nd =(

  • Gosh, I can’t even chime in really there isn’t anything at any one of them that I can pretty much eat any more aside from steamed veggies and brown rice! doh I sound like a looser!

  • man, i’ve only been to 2/5! got some work to do 🙂

  • Oh yay! I’m so excited you made this list. I’ll have to check out Madeline’s Bistro one of these days…

    My two cents though: get Seed off the honorable mention list. My last apartment was on 17th and Pacific, so I was literally directly across the street from the place. I ate there three times, hoping maybe I had gotten the wrong thing the time before. But seriously, everything there, side from the mediocre burger (way underseasoned) is AWFUL! Their seitan is like a salted sponge. Try it again sometime, I’m sure you’ll agree!

  • oh man seed is so fucking good! i forgot about that place!.. and yes doomies was veggie.. still number one on my list though ,, only thing not vegan was the cheese option and the bacon with whey , so its pretty close! .

  • I second your endorsement of Stuff I Eat. Now, what happened to Real Food Daily?! That gets my top vote. I have not eaten at your other top four.

    Now as for your honorable mentions: I can’t believe your have Casa De Tree and Rahel’s in there. They are both so oily.

    I’ve been to something like a dozen Ethiopian places in LA, but none of them measure up to Ras Kassa in Boulder CO.

    Veggie Grill is great for what it is, which is a pretty limited menu. Their “All Hail Kale” salad and chile are great. Seed and Cru are great. Native Foods: so-so and salty. I have not been to the others.


  • Wow, awesome post! I love making top 5 lists SO much. I went to Shojin for the first time for my birthday, and it was mostly awesome! The BBQ seitan appetizer and the dragon roll were scrumptious. However, the Spicy Tofu with Vegetable entree was highly disappointing…bland. But free awesome ice creamy dessert!

    Pure Luck will always be in my top 5. I really must try Madeleine Bistro and Stuff I Eat! Vinh Loi Tofu is really good if you’re into fake meat, which I am sadly losing my taste for.

  • Oohhh I forgot about Loving Hut. That has become my favorite vegan place, but it’s so far! Native Foods rules but inconvenient as hell (I agree it’s a step up from Veggie Grill). Stuff I Eat is a gem, but also too far! Doomies was nasty and I’m not surprised it closed.

    I definitely prefer to eat at vegan restaurants that are also organic. I would choose RFD over other places even though it’s more expensive and the food is so-so sometimes. I like higher quality food.

    Shojin is simple, classic Japanese food. It’s not going to be heavy on the salt or spiced up. If you eat out a lot at places like Pure Luck, it’s not surprising that you would think it’s bland. I love the simplicity, but I’m also a macrobiotic chef.

  • Can you please clear up why you repeatedly praise Pure Luck, a “vegan” restaurant that you found to serve milk product, yet bash the Thai vegan restaurants that do the same (according to your testing)?
    Why isn’t Pure Luck similarly avoided/shit talked? Just wondering.

  • Pure Luck is just not that good.

  • anonalong

    I am also totally confused by that.

  • Pure luck is the best vegan food I’ve ever had, apart from the closed Good Karma in venice.

    Quarrygirl, you should try Vegisoul near USC. Pineapple jalapeno burger is tasty.

  • anonalong and mattlos: not sure if you read operation pancake or not, but pure luck came positive for casein while other restaurants came up “high” or “overloaded”. while i still don’t eat the soy fish at pure luck, it could have been something as little as kitchen contamination.

    i still believe even the thai restaurants that came up “high” aren’t intentionally lying….they probably just have an issue with their manufacturer.

    the only restaurant i have been really hard on is green leaves, because their test came up “overloaded” and people have suspected them of lying forever.

  • I have been to 4 out of 5 & enjoyed them all! Looks like I need to try Stuff I Eat.

  • All hail Vihn Loi!!!

  • Tried Pure Luck for the first time today and I must say their food is pretty darn tasty! I fortunately made my way there as the door opened. The bread was fresh 😉 I am still full and happy! It doesn’t help that I went to Scoops when they opened too 😉 Check out the forum for todays vegan flavors 😉

  • Tried Pure Luck for the first time today and I must say their food is pretty darn tasty! I fortunately made my way there as the door opened. The bread was fresh 😉 I am still full and happy! It doesn’t help that I went to Scoops when they opened too 😉

  • Tried Pure Luck for the first time today and I must say their food is pretty darn tasty! I fortunately made my way there as they were opening the door. The bread was fresh 😉 I am still quite full and happy! It doesn’t help that I went to Scoops right after when THEY opened :p

  • Wow. Poor internet connection during class. Kept thinking it didn’t go through. Lol sorry *blush*

  • Mad Bistro- best Vegan restaurant hands down. And the staff is super sweet 🙂 Leave good tips!!

  • Shojin is excellent, and one of my favorites. Upscale dining, healthy food and plenty of raw vegan choices.

  • Madeleine is amazing. Pure luck didn’t do it for me – pretty ordinary. I love Flore and have always had good luck at RFD, WeHo. Shojin pretty good.

  • here’s a HATER for you, “actress” Erin Cummings, quote from her Twitter page:
    Seriously? If these hippies at the vegan place don’t stop singing folk songs and make me my fucking smoothie, I’m going to cut down a tree.

  • Here’s a HATER for you:

    from her Twitter page (an LA resident):
    Seriously? If these hippies at the vegan place don’t stop singing folk songs and make me my fucking smoothie, I’m going to cut down a tree.

  • This list is older, SunCafe would be #1 on my list now. Both cooked and raw food at it’s best.

    Kale Shake – Yes, Kale but amazing taste
    Best Nachos in L.A., healthiest too
    Raw Lasagna
    Cookie Dough Pie – It will change your life

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