• The LA Vegan Bucket List – 10 meals every vegan needs to eat in Los Angeles

    December 28th, 2009mr meanerLA restaurants

    While we usually cover LA’s extraordinary selection of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants (vegan, vegetarian and vegan-friendly), some individual menu items in our city stand out as exceptional, and we thought they deserved their own post.

    We chose no-compromise vegan foods: menu items that make no apology for being vegan and that, with only a couple of exceptions, you can order pretty much any time.

    Have some things to add to the list, or stuff you don’t like? Let us know in the comments!

    A Taste of Life “Breakfast Sandwich”

    UPDATE: just found out that in addition to being available at the Hollywood Farmers Market, this amazing breakfast sandwich can be found at Locali…so you can eat it seven days a week!

    Why? Because it’s awesome, and they don’t run out of them now by 10am like they used to! The Hollywood Farmer’s Market is a Mecca for LA vegans, with plenty of superb things to enjoy. However, the staple food item to eat on the spot is from Taste Of Life. Their amazing Breakfast Sandwich is substantial, filling, tasty and completely vegan, costs only $5 and can be unwrapped and eaten on the go while you’re stocking up on stupidly over-priced organic carrots.

    vegan breakfast sandwich: sausage, tofu, and cheese on a fluffy muffin. $5

    Of course, if Taste Of Life does run out of La’s only vegan “McMuffin” , don’t forget you can get a side of amazing Mac ‘n’ Cheese which you can also wolf down while walking around the market.

    Locali “Vegan Reuben”

    LA’s eponymous Vegan Reuben Wars are, by now, legend. Despite the fact that Locali has done its best to alienate its twitter following, they do make some pretty amazing prepared vegan food, and the Reuben is no different. Like many dishes on this list, somebody sat down, deconstructed a Reuben, thought about how to veganize it, and experimented to perfect it. The resulting complex array of flavors and textures indicate this was no mean feat. We have had readers who have tried this sandwich write in from various different states, and tell us that this is the best vegan reuben they’ve ever tasted. Seriously!

    vegan reuben: marinated deli slices topped with daiya cheese, sauerkraut & smothered with homemade vegan russian dressing. $9.75

    Pure Luck Anything with jackfruit in it!

    jackfruit torta: sauteed jackfruit “carnitas”, plus pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, tomatillo salsa, sliced avocado and vegan mayo on a grilled rustic roll. $9

    Why? Because Jackfruit, done Pure Luck style, is practically in a food group of its own. From the world infamous Todd’s Barbecue Sandwich, to the Jackfruit Torta, Tacos and Burrito, whatever they do to this exotic Bangladeshi delicacy (the Jackfruit is the National Fruit of Bangladesh, in case you didn’t know) takes it to a whole new level. Of course, any of the above ordered with a side of Potato Pals will fill you up on amazing, great value food. Oh, and they have a great selection of microbrews too, served on tap at reasonable prices…

    todd's bbq sandwich: BBQ Jackfruit “pulled-pork” with pickles, onions and vegan mayo on a rustic roll. choice of side. $9

    Madeleine Bistro “Donut”

    fresh organic donut with organic fruit compote. $2

    Why? Because like everything Chef Dave prepares, the donut is at the pinnacle of vegan cuisine. Something so simple and yet so tasty is a real treat to enjoy, and it arrives warm and crispy to your table. Of course, if you go to Madeleine’s for a donut, don’t forget the other menu items so that you can order some of the best vegan food on the West Coast (or any coast, actually). Yeah, and it costs only $2… WTF?

    M Cafe “Vegan Benedict”

    vegan benedict: grilled whole-grain baguette steamed kale, tomato, tempeh bacon with soy hollandaise. $10.25

    Why? Because LA is awash with Vegan Benedicts, and most are created pretty equal – usually some form of English Muffin with tofu, spinach and a creamy sauce. M Cafe, however, throws all they have into the pot on this one with their own crusty bread (baked on the premises), an awesome scrambled tofu mix, crunchy tempeh bacon and perfectly steamed kale, all topped with a wonderfully creamy hollandaise-style sauce. It’s a feast for two, easily eatable by one.

    Vinh Loi Tofu “VL Sub”

    ham sub at vinh loi tofu $5.50

    Why? Because getting full in this town on tasty vegan food for only $5.50 is only really possible in one place: Vinh Loi Tofu. Chef Kevin Tran takes a generous size half baguette, and stuffs it full of his legendary seasoned “vegan meats” (from his factory out back), tons of vegetables, fresh jalapenos and sells it at a rock bottom price. Oh, and while you’re there, order some excellent deep fried tofu, Pad Thai or noodle soup to eat in, or to go. This stuff keeps in the fridge for weeks, and heats up really well, so stock up!

    Purgatory Pizza Any of their gourmet pizzas

    vegan pizza: daiya cheese, kalamata olives, fresh basil and tomatoes.

    Why? Back in the day, Purgatory was the only pizza joint in LA that truly innovated the art of gourmet vegan pizza – breaking away from the humdrum Follow Your Heart cheese. Even though the legendary Chef Ricky has moved out of LA, Purgatory continues to create his awesome recipes with Daiya cheese as well as Field Roast and Gardein “meats”, gourmet sauteed vegetables and a pioneering creativity unmatched anywhere else. Also, you can BYOB, and eat in – try it, you won’t be sorry!

    Purgatory was, is and (until a challenger unseats it!) the best vegan pizza in LA.

    Stuff I Eat “The Soul Food Platter”

    organic soul food platter: yams, Vegan mac 'n ' cheese, Organic BBQ Tofu, organic kale greens, organic mini cornbread muffins and your choice of organic potato salad or coleslaw. $18

    Why? Because just a few blocks from I405 down in Old Town Inglewood lurks one of the most sumptuous vegan dishes known to man, woman or beast. The “Soul Food Platter” is a bit of an understatement, as this dish arrives on two plates, two bowls and a jug or two of sauces and dressing and spans the gamut of Soul Food from beans to mac n cheese to cornbread and greens. (Not all of it would fit into the picture, there are side dishes missing!) This meal is arguably the best vegan thing to eat in LA, is all fresh, organic and just fucking awesome. Nuff Said. Go try it.

    Meet Market “All You Can Eat Brunch”

    vegans get their fill of breakfast, orange juice, and coffee on sunday mornings. $10

    Why? I’ll tell you why. Tofu scramble. Breakfast potatoes. “Bacon”. Seitan sausage. Waffles. French toast. Fresh fruit. All of it the best in town, and all of it (and as much of it) available to you most Sundays for only $10 a person. Add in unlimited organic coffee and fresh orange juice with everything completely vegan, and this event seems too good to be true. Well, it isn’t. It’s good AND true, proving heaven really is a place on earth – or in Silverlake, at least.

    The Frankenstand “The Franken” or “The Witch”

    the franken: this classic sausage will make you feel alive! with a monster blend of sun dried tomatoes and basil giving it a slightly sweet taste. $5

    Mr. Ray “catch me if you can” Frankenstand invented illusive, desirable mobile food dining long before Kogi was a glimmer in Mike Prasad’s eye (he invented Kogi, right?!). Peering out of the shadows of an obscure MySpace page, Frankenstand now has a twitter presence and is much easier to find these days. Show up as late as you like when Frankens are being cooked, and you’ll enjoy awesome service, creative plant-based dogs and a range of sides and toppings, all completely vegan. I love standing in line at 1am outside an event watching omnivores wolfing down vegan food, and going back for more. You should too.

    There are, of course, another 10 awesome meals in LA – Samosa House Jackfruit Curry, Native Foods Cheeseburger, Cafe Muse Buffalo Wrap, Cruzer Pizza (form the all-vegan location in Los Feliz), Flore Seitan Avocado Salad, Frysmith Chili Fries, Veggie Grill V Burger, Mamas Hot Tamales Enchiladas, Shojin Sushi, Yummy Cupcakes in a jar (an amazing invention, if you ask me, and the jars have a second life as wine glasses!).

    There are also another 10, and 10 after that too. I love being a vegan in LA with such a huge choice of amazing things to eat every day.

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28 responses to “The LA Vegan Bucket List – 10 meals every vegan needs to eat in Los Angeles” RSS icon

  • I’m really curious how the Taste of Life breakfast sandwich compares to the breakfast sandwich at Sticky Fingers in DC.

  • i haven’t had a breakfast sandwich in two weeks. i’m fucking ‘wichin!

    i haven’t tried everything on this list and i need do ASAP. it’ll be my resolution this year.

  • So glad to see you included the soul food platter from Stuff I Eat. In addition to an amazing meal, I love going there because the staff is always friendly and the vibe inside is great.

    I’d also add the Morning Glory muffin from Mani’s to the list!

  • I’m planning my next vegan eating vacation for LA in the summer and you’ve pretty much done all the work for me. I’m pretty sure I can visit the 20 places you’ve mentioned in 5 days…the trouble will be finding things to do other than eat. Maybe see a taping of Ellen!

  • Wow. Shocked not to see the BLT & A and Grilled (daiya) Cheese at Cafe Flourish; the Kale salad, lentils, chocolate mousse (made from avocadoes) at Elf; the veggie burger at Akasha (lunch menu only).

  • Red Beet Tartare from Madeline and Dragon Roll from Shojin! Two of my absolutely favorites.

    Also, what is with you guys and Pure Luck? I have been there three times and every time I want to puke. Worst. Food. Ever. Not to mention the service! If you’re not friends with one of the servers, you may as well stay home. My favorite was when I ordered pickle chips, they said they were out of pickles, and then there was pickles in my nasty sandwich.

  • Ok, this may or may not count but the California French Dip at Native Foods is amazing and would definately be on my bucket list and has already been checked off a hundred times over on my list.

    It goes off and on the Costa Mesa menus and may or may not still be on the L.A. menu but is still on the Palm Springs menu. Either way, still on menu or not, ask for it and they’ll make it.

    Tip: you might want to complete your other bucket list items first as you might die from happiness eating the California French Dip. :o)

  • Real Food Daily nachos, probably the one item that makes me love that restaurant!

  • The Locali reuben is so effin’ good; however, I actually prefer the vegan BLT from them. I don’t know how they do it, but … just trust me…try it.

    As for Pure Luck, it’s one of those cases where people either love it or hate it. I’m a big fan (that torta is to die for), but I have friends who want to throw me under a bus just for suggesting a dinner there. *shrug*

  • *chicken caesar wrap from veggie grill!

    *ummm, the franken? really? i love frankenstand but a must have? i duuuunno. for $5 i could get one of theirs or go get a pack of the same exact tofurkey dogs from whole foods.

    *and i love that comment about pure luck. i still love the place, though. (maybe because i am actually friends with the whole staff!)

  • The rock oyster mushrooms at Shojin were the most amazing thing I’ve eaten all year, if not in my entire life.

  • I plan to come to LA in Jan or Feb
    I can already see myself eating there!

  • Pure luck is one of the most inconsistent places I have been in my life. One meal is great and the next is garbage. Unfortunately I no longer take my chances and spend my money where I know it is not a gamble.

  • I have been so afraid to take the chance of going to Pure Luck ever since it was ‘revealed’ that the kitchen staff rotates daily. I’ve heard amazing things about their jackfruit….but I just don’t wanna wind up trying it for the first time on a night where the janitor is preparing my meal.


  • Pure Luck food is nasty and made me sick once….Taste of Life Breakfast Sandwich is not always made fresh and sometimes tastes old….Veggie Grill Bayou Chicken Sandwich is amazing…..RFD Nachos are the bomb….Sante La Brea Baja Tostada is delicious……Stuff I Eat Breakfast Burrito is hella good….Chef Madeleine Strawberry Shortcake is excellent…M Cafe’s Chocolate Cake is to die for….

  • Went to Pure Luck after reading about it here. Sorry, but will not be going back.

  • I’ve eaten half these things, woo!

  • Totally agree with Food Eater. The Rock Oyster Mushrooms at Shojin are *amazing* and one of the best vegan items I’ve ever tasted.

    I just got back from lunch at Stuff I Eat, and my girlfriend and I split the Soul Food Platter.

    OMFG it was sooo good. How do they get those flavors without using ham hocks?

    Couple of other of my faves include the Pearl smoothie at Cafe Flourish and the breakfast burrito at Flore.

    Fun list!

  • Cafe Flourish’s BLT&A may be my favorite sandwich of all time- vegan or not!

  • We were in LA the weekend of the Dec 19th and woke up early to go to the Farmers Market to try the C’est La V breakfast sandwhich and they were no where to be found. We looked at the directory, walked around for 30 min and didn’t see them anywhere – are they there every weekend? We were bummed and slightly pissed so we went to M Cafe and all was better 30 min later.

    I would like to try the BF sammy the next time I am LA if I can count on them being there.

  • CBoulier, the market has been operating at half-steam for the last couple of weeks on account of holiday end-of-the-year shenanigans. C’est La V were MIA this week as well, but so were a bunch of other vendors.

    However, the sandwich in question is from Taste of Life, on the other side of the market. It’s possible that you walked right passed the breakfast sandwich of your dreams!

  • Where’s the love for SunPower Natural Cafe? There Supreme Pizza with cashew cheese and sunflower sausage is outrageous. They make everything from scratch and it’s so full of flavor.

    Also, their cacao cashew shake is amazing.

  • they all look scrumptious! I am seriously thinking of ordering some daiya cheese.

  • I love this post! I might add the kale salad from Veggie Grill, gelato from Scoops, the kale shake at Sunpower, that peanut butter brittle and coconut sorbet dessert at XIV, and maybe a samosa at Samosa House.

    These Pure Luck haters are bananas. I’ve experienced the bad service/inconsistent food combo once or twice there but the food is so damn good they could probably dump beer on my head and I’d still go back.

    Recently, I bought five breakfast sandwiches at Taste of Life and threw them in the freezer because I found myself constantly craving them during the week. One of the best things to happen to L.A.!

    We L.A. vegans are so lucky to have all this stuff!

  • LOVE THIS POST!!!! man i’m hungry!!! and i love pure luck too 🙂

  • Taste of Life – did you try their Black Eye Peas Burger, MAN! We did a “Vegan BBQ Back to School Health Fair” and the 300 plus kids gave up Mickie D’s for weeks.

    Stuff I Eat – I have been working my way through their menu for months and haven’t come close to disapointment, the lemon aide beet juice is the bomb.

  • thank you for this great post!

    some more food for thought: the real food daily caesar salad with avocado, the mezze platter at cru, mani’s bbq ranch salad with tofu, and m cafe’s seasonal corn and lotus root chowder.

  • i definitly can’t wait to eat all these delicious things next month !!!! 😀
    hold on anxiety is getting more and more difficult…
    do you have any other list like these to suggest me?

    thanks, your blog is kind of a guide to my trip to LA!

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