• LA’s Top 5 Omnivorous Restaurants (For Vegans!)


    Okay, so we’ve already posted about the best vegan and best vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles, but sometimes we vegans HAVE to eat in omnivorous restaurants. That’s a part of life. What’s interesting, though, is when we find meat-serving restaurants that we WANT to eat in. That’s a whole different story, and LA has a few outstanding omnivorous establishments that go out of their way to cater to vegans. Here are our favorites.

    M Cafe

    While the “M” in M Cafe probably stands for Macrobiotic, I believe it actually stands for Mmmmmmmm, which is pretty much what I murmur with every bite of this amazing food. With a totally vegan menu except for fish, M Cafe has a chic urban appeal, backed up with an A-list of ingredients (and clientele) all layered over an efficient kitchen and fair pricing, considering how great the food is. While the last year or two M Cafe’s items have been prepared by kitchen staff rather than chefs, their menu items are still some of the best in town.

    Vegan Benedict at M Cafe

    Vegan Benedict at M Cafe

    The Big Macro is arguably LA’s best vegan burger. The broccolini pepporochini is without a doubt LA’s premier broccolini, and the Vegan Benedict is constantly voted one of the “best” breakfast items on any local menu. There are plenty of vegan options at all times of the day, and the rotating menu constantly keeps one coming back for more. The deserts are out of this world, along with the very best vegan tiramisu known to humanity. Check it out!!

    Purgatory Pizza

    It’s probably inaccurate to credit Purgatory Pizza with single-handedly introducing incredible vegan pizza to LA, but we’re going to anyway. The insatiable team, formerly headed by Chef Ricky, that painstakingly worked to veganize an entire product line and food preparation process has gone from strength to strength. Purgatory was not only the first pizza place to embrace Teese (the ground-breaking alternative to Follow Your Heart Cheese), but is also the first to stock Gardein and Field Roast as toppings, and one of the first to serve Daiya (the best vegan cheese at time of posting) in SoCal.

    Vegan Chicken Pestop Pizza with Gardein and Daiya at Purgatory Pizza.

    Vegan Chicken Pestop Pizza with Gardein and Daiya at Purgatory Pizza.

    To get your Purgatory Pizza kicks (if you’re not in the delivery area), show up with a bottle of cheap wine and/or a six-pack of beer, then order your pizza to dine in. Feeling like a cross between an 80s suburban pizza joint and some kind of modern art experiment, Purgatory has a great, brightly-lit atmosphere and friendly staff to keep you entertained while you swallow slice after slice of LA’s best vegan pizza.

    Hugo’s Restaurant

    With two locations (one in West Hollywood, the other in Studio City), and a full-on meat-oriented menu, one might be surprised to find that the Hugo’s chefs have created some seriously innovative vegan cuisine. Not only do they have loads of options, but they have menu with several clearly marked animal-free alternatives, as well as dishes that can be optionally veganized. If you can get past the trendy atmosphere, long waits and constant celebrity sightings (I’ve watched the staff at the WeHo location fawn over Gabriel Byrne and Jeff Goldblum within the past few weeks) you’re in for a vegan treat.

    Tikka Masala Veggie Patties at Hugo's Restaurant

    Tikka Masala Veggie Patties at Hugo's Restaurant

    Although I’ve long been a fan of the tofu scramble, I also love the Very Green Casserole (one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever tasted atop stewed vegetables and sauce in a pot) as well as the salads, tikka masala veggie patties, stir-frys and wraps. Make sure you specify “VEGAN” clearly when you order, while the restaurant is extremely vegan-friendly, there may be butter hiding in unsuspecting dishes.


    Sadly, the Toi chain has contracted from two locations to just one, on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Thankfully the sacrificial lamb of this two-outlet chain was the Santa Monica outlet on Wilshire and not the ultimate rock and roll dining location sandwiched between Guitar Center and clothing stores most mortals are too… well… mortal to shop in. Toi has a loud, brash atmosphere with a class-based seating system (some tables suck ass, others are amazing — you ride the wind and luck of the draw depending your arrival time).

    Vegan Pad Thai at Toi

    Vegan Pad Thai at Toi

    Get the vegan pad thai with grilled tofu for a real treat, or the Saigon spring rolls…and make sure you request the hot sauces to dollop liberally over your food. The portions are huge, the kitchen respects us vegans, and most things on the menu can be made vegan — substitute chicken for tofu, oyster sauce for vegan oyster sauce, and you’ll get a superb meal. Take your omni friends there, and chillax the fuck out listening to rock ‘n’ roll on the speakers. Step into the parking lot at the back and you can smell weed in the air. Need we say more.

    Mama’s Hot Tamales

    OK, I’ll admit, MacArthur Park (just West of Downtown LA) has a shady reputation. Lotsa crime, lotsa drugs, lotsa pigeons, lotsa bodegas and lotsa REAL, AUTHENTIC Mexican restaurants. How glad are we vegans, then, that one of the most popular, Mama’s Hot Tamales, has a full-on vegan menu, complete with Daiya cheese, vegan sauces and all the trimmings. Did you hear that? Authentic Mexican food AND Daiya Cheese!!!! That is reason enough to make any top 5 list, as far as we’re concerned.

    Vegan Daiya Cheese Enchiladas at Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe

    Vegan Daiya Cheese Enchiladas at Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe

    At Mama’s you can enjoy all the greasy, cheesy filling Mexican food that omnivores love to death, but prepared under the supervision of Mama herself: the real deal, a Mexican señora who could not be more understanding of what a vegan is, what we need and how to prepare the food for us.

    Honorable mentions: Green Peas, XIV, Zpizza, Cafe Muse, Interim Cafe, Mani’s Bakery

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13 responses to “LA’s Top 5 Omnivorous Restaurants (For Vegans!)” RSS icon

  • mama’s hot tamales is trying to gentrify the community and push all the other small businesses out. she is fishing for big investors. it’s really sad because her restaurant started as a launching pad for small food cart vendors. don’t support her restaurant!

  • Where is Sante La Brea???

  • hugo’s always + foreva.

    macarthur park could use some upgrading. i support small businesses and all but definitely don’t feel safe walking around that area.

  • I hate being anywhere near MacArthur Park. That’s the only reason I haven’t been to Mama’s Hot Tamales yet.

  • I LOVE M Cafe’s Vegan Benedict! I really didn’t like Mama’s Hot Tamales’ food or service. To each his/her own, I suppose.

  • You can call Mama’s and ask for them to open the gate and they will let you park in the back. I hate finding street parking there and then being chased by the idiots trying to sell me drugs.

  • A Votre Sante (Brentwood) all the way for me 🙂 I have eaten there 5 times since getting back to LA!

  • home restaurant! the silver lake location is larger than los feliz and i have *never* had to wait for a table. lots of great vegan options, just be sure to specify vegan. a great “garden burger” fresh made (not the frozen kind), wraps, and salads. but my top eats are the vegetable soup (it’s about that time of year), and the tofu scramble is the shizznaat! couple decent beers on tap and if you go for the tofu scramble have it with their delicious absolut mary (made with peeper vodka). breakfast is served all hours. going over there noooow!!

  • i love m cafe! but, though i am in total disagreement with the comment about gentrification in m. park, i don’t think mama’s is all that great. it’s really good, but has not been as good as i’ve wanted it to be.

  • This is a banging review! I CAN’T WAIT to get my life back (another week to go!) & try all these places!! THANK YOU!!!
    🙂 c

  • Shady reputation? Because it isn’t your lily-white, tacky, bougie neighborhood? Pendejos.

  • This all looks excellent

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