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


    Yesterday we brought you a list of the 5 best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. But if a 100% vegan eatery isn’t on the cards for whatever reason, LA has a superb selection of vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurants, some of which rival or exceed the offerings available at vegan-only establishments. From a 60s-era hippie health-food store to a moderne hipster hangout, LA has it all. Check out our top five vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurants and please let us know in the comments if you think any don’t deserve the list, or you have a favorite that should be on it.

    Follow Your Heart

    Psychedelia. Woodstock. Topanga Canyon. Flower Power. Tie Dye. We have many things to thank the late 60s for, and Follow Your Heart is one of them. This amazing vegetarian oasis, established in 1970 in Canoga Park, has LA’s premier (= only) vegetarian grocery store with a TON of vegan products (some of which can’t be purchased anywhere else). Not only that, it has a cosy restaurant and patio where some of LA’s finest vegan food is waiting for you.

    Vegan Reuben at Follow Your Heart

    Vegan Reuben at Follow Your Heart

    Don’t miss the Reuben Sandwich (make sure you ask for extra 1,000 island dressing), as a human being has to try this out at least once in their life! There are many, many dishes with home made fake meats, and vegan entrees such as breakfast burritos, benedicts etc. Follow Your Heart does a SUPER job with the restaurant food and you pretty much can’t go wrong. If you’re averse to honey (hopefully you are, bees are cool), the buns have honey in them, so be sure to order your delicious burger on VEGAN bread.

    Fatty’s & Co

    Fatty’s is an interesting place. So overtly pretentious, yet with honest down-to-earth food items you can’t get anywhere else it’s a somewhat strange place to dine. If you walk in when the place is empty, the greeter will give you a hard time because you didn’t make a reservation, but when you’re seated in this pristine restaurant with cavernous ceilings you will be served some truly special food.

    Vegan Chartreuse at Fatty's & Co

    Vegan Chartreuse at Fatty's & Co

    After wading through a pretty dairy-heavy menu, there are some vegan wonders which await. Half the appetizers are vegan and run the gamut from bread and oil (very special, bread and oil, I might add) through blackened tempeh to more obscure things like “far east rolls” including non-meat chicken. This is a place with powerful entrees as well — get the vegan paella, ravioli, sloppy joe or chartruese for a throughly different and high quality experience. There are also some rare deserts, including a cotton candy that’s only available if a certain person is in the restaurant (Mrs. Dingle, I kid you not). Eat here when you really want to impress a date or experience vegan fine dining to the fullest.

    Flore Cafe

    Like a phoenix from the ashes, Flore Cafe rose from the amazing Vegan Spot, my favorite ever vegan restaurant. Despite a rocky existence (after the abrupt closing of Vegan Spot I firmly expected this place to be shuttered when I next visit), Flore Cafe has some great vegan food that’s served fast and of very high quality. Almost totally vegan except for a few egg and dairy items, Flore Cafe is unlikely to disappoint. Plus, they really raise the bar with their excellent “all you can eat deals”—from their regular Sunday $10 brunch, to their special event buffets—they give us several reasons to watch them closely.

    Tofu Scramble at Flore Cafe

    Tofu Scramble at Flore Cafe

    The tofu scramble (if you’re really lucky you’ll be eating that at one of the botomless Sunday brunches) is some of the best in town, along with the breakfast burritos, burgers and salads with seitan. Also, their fake tuna a.k.a. “tu-no” is awesome — especially when served on the tu-no melt. Like its sister restaurant Flore (located just 1/2 mile away), Flore Cafe offers organic meat-free menu with fresh ingredients and attention to detail, yet the restaurant is rarely crowded. Not the best place to dine in, but great for a quick snack or take-out feast.


    Californian-style Mexican food can be well prepared with vegetarian or vegan ingredients, and Cinnamon has perfected the art. Situated in a nondescript single-frontage store in Highland Park, Cinnamon has a warm, family atmosphere in common with all the best Mexican restaurants. Most times, the owner will be there to personally advise on her menu creations as well as supervise the kitchen. With a huge menu of high quality food items, you basically can’t go wrong.

    Chorizo and Tofu Tacos at Cinnamon Vegetarian

    Chorizo and Tofu Tacos at Cinnamon Vegetarian

    Although a vegetarian restaurant, pretty much anything can be veganized or is already vegan. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas, all the regular Californian-style Mexican food is well represented as well more authentic stuff such as tamales, mole and empanadas. You got your mock meats, spicy black beans, fresh and crunchy vegetables and the typical sauces — all optionally vegan. Cinnamon proves that great Mexican food can be made vegan.You can eat here with a clear conscience because you KNOW the rice has no chicken broth and the refried beans no lard. Check it out…. you really won’t be sorry.

    Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

    While our friends at Cinnamon excel at vegetarian Mexican-style food, Paru’s knocks the ball out of the park with vegetarian Indian food. Since the 1970s, Parus has been quietly plugging away, serving some of the best Indian food this side of Brick Lane. With a strict policy on preparing vegan food separately in the kitchen, they are to be trusted with our veganocity. The place is a little foreboding upon arrival. It seems like you’re entering a bail bond office or brothel in a sketchy part of town (they buzz you in), but once past the reinforced door you’re in a private patio that leads to an intimate restaurant.

    Punjab Glory at Paru's Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

    Punjab Glory at Paru's Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

    All but a couple of the menu items are either vegan or can be prepared vegan, and the best bet is to get a few side orders with some rice and bread. It’ll cost you a lot less than the signature dishes, and is a great way to experience the variety of food Paru’s has to offer. Get the dosa (puffy bread that looks like a deflating balloon), bonda (fried potato balls) and one of the lentil dishes. Paru’s is a welcome break from our fake-meat-tofu world as they make everything by hand from vegetables and legumes. That’s a rare thing these days.

    Honorable mentions: Bulan Thai, The Spot, Nite Moon Cafe

    Tomorrow, we’ll be presenting the Top Five LA vegan-friendly omnivorous restaurants. Stay tuned!

    Tags: , , , , , ,

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

  • I LUV Cinnamon! I wish it was closer.

  • Maybe my boyfriend and I ate at Cinnamon on a bad day, or perhaps we just ordered the wrong things, either way this place was hands down the WORST vegan Mexican either of us have ever had. Beyond that it may have actually been the worst meal either of us have ever had.

    He had the chicken mole. The chicken consisted of 3 of those fake drum sticks you buy in the frozen section of Whole Foods. The mole tasted as if someone had dumped a handful of Red Hots into it. It was literally didn’t taste anything like a mole so much as an artificial cinnamon sauce. This lovely entree was paired with some rice that tasted borderline rancid, and some kale salad which was soggy beyond recognition.

    My meal-chicken in salsa- was slightly better, but by no means good.

    For appetizers we ordered empanadas, and nachos. The empanadas were delicious, but the nachos were terrible. Just some stuff thrown on chips. The cheese wasn’t even melted, just thrown on top like a big nacho salad. This was incredibly disheartening as we get really excited about good vegan nachos.

    I won’t even get in to the weird, robotic, and inattentive service but suffice it to say that it left much to be desired.

    In short we wanted to love this place, and instead have found a new restaurant to avoid like the plague.

  • i think you overrate flore. i actually don’t like the food there.

  • Wow, the only place on this list that I’ve tried is Paru’s and it was OK. Gots my work cut out for me. 🙂

  • sadly, Flore had a “Restaurant Space available” sign on their awning

  • i would throw cafe muse in there. only because i haven’t been to cinnamon. but i would keep paru’s up there! GASP!

  • brittany: as good as it may be, cafe
    muse isn’t a vegetarian restaurant. they serve tuna!

  • OoOooooh, I need to check out Cinnamon!!! Looks TASTY!!!!

  • cinnamooooon!!!!
    the vegetable enchiladas and tamales are my favorite. i ordered a dozen tamales to take to a pot luck style function and they were a huge hit! not to mention they were piping hot and packed in a heavy duty tray with a huuge container of salsa. traditional mexican joints serve them over in a plastic bag and charge extra for a large salsa.
    the only thing that i would like better is if they made their chips fresh instead of from a bag.

  • I still have to try most of these!

    I think you may have mixed up dosa with chapati. Dosas are long rolled up crepes made from fermented rice and lentils, which gives them a slightly sour taste.

  • If you stop @ Cinnamon i recommend the CARNITAS!! I’m mexican & carnitas are pretty much @ every family event I attend, so when I saw them on the menu i had to try them. I’m so glad we have a place like this in my side of town! 🙂

  • Update: Cinnamon is now serving Daiya cheese!!!

  • Just ate at Fatty’s for the first time and seriously had the best meal I have ever had. Ever. Seriously. We started off with the bread and oils. It was the end of the night so the bread wasn’t warm but everything else made up for it. Truffle oil is amazing. For my entree I had the Chartruese. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, the flavors were spot on, the tofu coating was perfectly crisp and flavorful but not too salty or greasy. It was perfect. The chocolate fondue was perfect as well, sweet but not too sweet, fruit was at its peak, and the brownies were the perfect balance between light and slightly soft and the chocolate was sensational. Best meal ever.

  • Fatty’s rocks and I love FYH enough to drive to Canoga Park anytime. I have yet to try Cinammon because my Highland Park-living friends (veggies as well) dismiss it. But it sounds worth a try.

  • Your list is missing the best vegan restaurant in L.A. SunPower Natural Cafe. Be sure to try the Kale Shake, it tastes like pistachio soft serve. The raw nachos will knock your socks off! Great soups, pizza (raw or cooked), amazing fresh made burgers, kelp noodles. I’ve tried them all and smiling ear to ear afterward.

    Oh, there desserts are all gluten free and sent from heaven – cookie dough pie, chocolate mint…


  • Fyi, the owners of Fattys state they are on a “creative hiatus”, however they assured us they would reopen the restaurant. They just couldn’t say how long it would be. Their web site is still up and they offer mailing list requests to alert you as to when they will reopen.

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

Leave a reply