• i’m a vegan visiting los angeles. where should i eat?

    March 9th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, vegan events, vegan stuff

    …i get emailed this question AT LEAST 3 times per week. i thought it may be easiest to just write a post about it and point everybody here from now on.

    before you read any further, please check out our 2010 lists of top vegan restaurants, top vegetarian restaurants, top omnivorous restaurants, and top ten things to eat in los angeles.

    alright, now for the out of town list. i’ll try to break this up in a way that makes sense: fancy dining, casual dining, and pizza. that’s all that matters, right? and i’ll also let you in on a few of my favorite dishes from each restaurant. this is not a list of every vegan-friendly place in LA—that’s what the sidebar of this blog is for. these are just my top picks of places you should visit if you are only in town for a couple days. if you disagree, prove it in the comments section. here we go!

    fancy dining:

    the absolute best vegan restaurant in los angeles is madeleine bistro, no contest. unfortunately, they are only open friday through sunday and are located waaaaaaay out in tarzana, which is probably miles away from where you are staying if you are visiting LA. they are definitely worth the trip though, so my advice is to head over there for a weekend dinner or sunday brunch. the best dishes include freshly made donuts (brunch only), lemon rosemary or chicken-fried seitan, red beet tartare, and CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE! also, if you are ever lucky enough to be in LA when madeleine bistro is offering a tasting menu, DON’T MISS IT. for more info, stalk madeleine bistro on facebook. they update their page frequently, and their hours and menu are constantly changing. BYOB only.
    for more info, hit up madeleine bistro’s site
    and check out our review of them on quarrygirl

    vegan red beet tartare from madeleine bistro

    shojin in downtown LA is another great place for a fancy meal. it’s an all vegan japanese restaurant, and the food is amazing. the ambiance is nice and upscale, but it is located on the top floor of a mall…so that’s a bit strange. be sure to order the dynamite roll, and also the spicy rock shiitake tempura! they serve beer, wine, and sake.
    check out their website
    check them out on quarrygirl

    dynamite sushi roll at shojin

    hugo’s restaurant has two locations (in the valley and west hollywood), and is a good pick for a fancy-ish meal, breakfast through dinner. the restaurant serves meat, but also offers lots of vegan options, so it’s a great place to dine with omnivores. i usually order off of the specials menu, which changes every month. anything containing the “new american veggie patty” is a safe bet—that thing is awesome! they serve beer and wine.
    check out their website
    and quarrygirl reviews

    veganized pasta victor at hugo's restaurant

    casual eating:

    DOOMIE’S HOME COOKIN’! this place is insane, there’s really nothing like it. the almost entirely vegan comfort food joint (they also have a real cheese option available for some dishes), is located at fountain and vine in the heart of hollywood. all of the food is ridiculously good, and they are always coming up with new stuff. this is not a health food restaurant, so go expecting deep-fried greasy goodness. my favorites are the country fried steak, croissants, burgers, and pot roast. i hear the fried oreos are great as well. no alchohol at the moment.
    check out doomie’s on facebook
    and on quarrygirl

    country fried steak at doomie's

    pure luck in east hollywood is another favorite for casual dining. they’ve got great sandwiches and mexican-style food, plus a good selection of craft beer on tap. be sure to order something with jackfruit carnitas. my favorite menu items are the torta, the bbq sandwich, and the potato pals. head across the street to scoops for some vegan gelato when you’re done.
    pure luck’s website
    pure luck on quarrygirl


    veggie grill is another great bet for vegan fast food. they’ve got burgers, mock chicken sandwiches, salads, chili, nachos, mac n cheese, and desserts. super clean and corporate, in a good way. they have locations all over LA–from the beach areas, to santa monica, to west hollywood. most outlets serve bottled beer and wine.
    check out veggie grill’s website
    and their quarrygirl reviews

    el dorado burger at veggie grill

    flore vegan in silverlake is one of our all time favorites. they have a great location in at sunset junction, definitely a place to hit up if you are passing through town. the restaurant is pretty small inside, so i always like to get there early. normal menu items not to miss are the seitan quesadilla, reuben, and club sandwich. on the weekends, they also do a crazy sunday brunch with items like biscuits and gravy and chicken waffles! what?! yep, seriously. no alcohol.
    check out their website
    and quarrygirl reviews

    club sandwich and potato salad at flore vegan

    tony’s darts away is another must visit. the craft beer bar in burbank has an insanely vegan-friendly menu full of sausages, salads, and specials. they’re located near the burbank airport, so if that’s where you are flying to/from, tony’s is super convenient. if you are lucky enough to be there when vegan “wheatloaf” sliders are on the menu, order them! the beer selection at tony’s is also super impressive.
    check out tony’s website
    and our reviews of them on quarrygirl

    wheatloaf sliders at tony's darts away!

    native foods in culver city is an all vegan restaurant with an enormous menu full of good stuff. they’ve got a few locations in socal, but the culver city one is the best. whatever you do, don’t go to the westwood location if you can help it. the culver city one is way bigger with more seating, plus a good selection of bottled beer. my favorite menu item is the oklahoma bacon cheeseburger. probably the best vegan burger in los angeles. other good things include native chicken wings, any of the earth bowls, and specials.
    native foods on the web
    native foods on quarrygirl

    oklahoma bacon cheeseburger at native foods

    m cafe is absolutely delicious, and has a melrose location, which is convenient if you are there shopping. m cafe serves MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE breakfast in LA, the vegan benedict. it’s so good. the only thing is, they stop serving it on weekdays at like 11:30am…so get there early. other good things include the big macro burger, the club sandwich, and the bbq sandwich. m cafe also has a beverly hills location, if you are over in that area.
    check out their website
    and QG reviews (please note, the culver city location no longer exists)

    vegan benedict at m cafe

    stuff i eat is one of my favorite restaurants in town, and they’re all vegan. i’m almost hesitant to put them on this list…because they’re located all the way out in inglewood. they’re worth the drive though, i swear! plus, they’re pretty close to LAX, so they make for a great pre or post airport meal. the food is all super fresh and high-quality, and the portions are GIANT. go with the soul food platter or kilamanjaro quesadilla.
    check out their site
    and our reviews

    kilamanjaro quesadilla at stuff i eat

    locali is worth checking out, mostly because they serve the best vegan reuben known to man. pretty much everybody i know who has tried it is in love with it. locali is a convenience store, so seating is limited. go get that sandwich though, and eat it in the parking lot. i won’t judge. locali is on franklin, so it’s pretty close to hollywood and silverlake.
    check out locali’s website
    and our review of their crazy sandwich

    vegan reuben at locali

    PIZZA (yes, pizza is the most magical food of all and it deserves its own category):

    cruzer pizza in los feliz is LA’s very own 100% vegan pizzeria—surely, that’s worth supporting! they serve up loads of delicious pies stacked with daiya and all types of mock meats…plus a great selection of sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. be sure to order the quarrygirl pizza, named after yours truly. 🙂 it’s covered in a mushroom blend, lots of field roast sausage, and a garlic/olive oil sauce. unfortunately there’s no seating inside cruzer, so you may wanna grab a pizza and take it back to your hotel, or devour the whole thing in your rental car. do it!
    check out the cruzer website (ignore the glendale location. it’s closed, i think, and was never all vegan)
    check out our cruzer review

    quarrygirl pizza at cruzer

    masa in echo park is a MUST when you visit LA, no question. they serve the best vegan deep dish pizza ever. authentic chicago-style with cornmeal crust and teese cheese. i’ve heard that they run out of vegan cheese from time to time, so call ahead to be safe. this is my favorite pizza in town. wine and beer on tap!
    masa’s website
    our masa review

    vegan chicago-style deep dish at masa

    hard times in silverlake also serves some amazing pie, and there’s is of the massive ny-style variety. they use follow your heart cheese, their prices are reasonable, and their pizza is unbelievable. it’s also available by the slice, which rules! bottled beer.
    hard times on the world wide web
    hard times on quarrygirl

    massive ny-style pizza at hard times

    pitfire pizza is a local chain with four locations in los angeles, and they just started offering vegan cheese! their thin crispy crust is baked in a brick oven, and is absolutely fantastic. they’ve got a nice selection of beer on tap, and wine as well.
    check out pitfire’s site
    and our review

    brick oven pizza at pitfire

    zpizza and pizza fusion are two amazing pizza chains that both serve vegan cheese. they are not specific to los angeles though, so if i only had a bit of time, i’d hit the above places first.

    there’s my list! go ahead and tear it apart. or love it!


53 responses to “i’m a vegan visiting los angeles. where should i eat?” RSS icon

  • James Bilgihan

    I can’t believe you left Vin Loi off the list. I know you love it and Kevin is the Tofu Robot.



  • Gina Leemhuis

    I agree. Veggie Grill is a must. Chicken strips, sweet potato fries and carrot cake, ok now I’m hungry.

  • Glad to see Pure Luck and Veggie Grill on your list! These are two of my favorites as well! Also good to see your recommendation of Scoops for vegan gelato!

  • Veggie Grill is great, although it’s basically The Gardein Restaurant.

  • @James: only reason vinh loi isn’t on there is its location… so far away!

  • I want country fried “steak” …. right now!

  • I’ve eaten at Hardtimes, they don’t offer vegan pizza by the slice, only the whole pie – at least any time I’ve been there. I prefer Cruzer pizza in Los Feliz, personally. I can’t believe you left them off the list – they are an all vegan pizzeria and they even have a pizza named for you!! ???

  • hmmm. hardtimes has had vegan slices every time i’ve been there.

    you are right…cruzer needs to be on this list! how did i forget the quarrygirl pizza??!!

  • James Bilgihan

    True, true – going there is a bit like a pilgrimage, but oh so worth it.


  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Great recs here for visitors.

  • Elf Cafe is a nice in-between of fancy and casual, and I find the food there to top just about everywhere else in LA. Conveniently located, as well.

  • if only it were possible to get a seat at elf.

  • If you had a category of where to get your “pure and mightier than thou” om shanti shanti raw on I would make a list with Elf, Cru, Cafe Gratitude, Better Life, Juliano’s, and Euphoria loves Rawvolution

    Also don’t forget our lovvvely salad joints: Mixt Greens, Tender Greens, Mrs. Winstons etc.

    or if you are juicing it up? Earth Bar, Liquid, Real Raw Live, Naturewell, Raw Cane Superjuice, Beverly Hills Juice

  • excellent suggestions!

  • RFD’s – I don’t think it’s the best out there, but it’s soooo LA. And if you’re in Santa Monica, it’s an excellent choice. WeHo obviously has far better options. I just think it’s a classic.

  • Real Food Daily definitely belongs on this list. The actual “experience” at the restaurant may not be the best (it’s cramped), but the food is up there with the best of them.

  • Yes, I agree – Cruzer in Los Feliz is more than worthy of being adding to this list. I like Masa and all, but Cruzer pizza is my absolute favorite vegan pizza, hands down, ever!!!!!!!!

  • i will definitely be adding it!

  • longtime reader, first-time poster:
    don’t forget purgatory pizza on the eastside!

  • I wouldn’t send a dog to RFD. Overpriced, crowded, shitty service…. I’m glad QG hates it and it’s not on the list. That’s the place we need to keep visiting vegans away from.

  • i don’t HATE it. i just wouldn’t send anyone from out of town there.

  • Yeah, RFD is officially complacent …at least the WeHo location. Last time I ate there, there was DIRT in my salad…grainy black DIRT. Give ’em the finger and go to Chili Addiction next door. Surprised that one’s not on the list!

    I say if you’re gonna recommend a couple valley places (Madeleine and Tonys), Vinh Loi and Follow Your Heart should definitely be on the list. Oh, and Garden Wok….out of state vegans might not have had Chinese in a long time!!! The definition of “Far” can be determined by the visitor. 🙂 If I didn’t live here, I’d definitely go out of my way for FYH’s reuben or Friday Pizza Night!

  • The times we’ve gone there, sometimes the service was good, sometimes okay, sometimes not so good, But as far as overpriced and cramped? Oh yes! Always! Glad it isn’t on QG’s list!

  • LOVE native foods- one of my favorites! and the Beignets at Madeleine Bistro ARE KILLER GOOD!:):) They didn’t have the donuts when I went but the Lemon Herb Seitan and Beignets were good enough for me:)

  • i totally agree with your selections. i was just trying to make this a core list…not everywhere is on there. stuff i eat and tony’s are far out, but they made the cut because they are both near airports. madeleine bistro, because it’s our one (ONE!) fine dining vegan restaurant.

    but yeah, FYH is a staple.

  • Oh, how about Rahel and/or Nyalla? I just took some out-of-towners for Ethiopian. 🙂

    Oooh, Parus Vegetarian Indian in Hollywood! Masala Dosa *glarghghghghgh* my favorite.

  • those places are great too! these are just my selects if people only had a few days. LA has too many vegan restaurants to get to on one trip!

  • Ever since Native opened in Culver, I’ve been eating there 2-3 times a week…I’m a f’n addict…..and there’s so much variety, I don’t burn out on it.

    I’m so glad the Meatball Sub has stuck around past it’s weekend-special intro. It has replaced the Meatloaf (which wasn’t that great, honestly).

  • Cool…I’m just getting all excited about food. 🙂

  • you have come to the right place, my friend!! 🙂

    i was also debating adding food trucks like mandoline grill….we are so damn spoiled in this town.

  • ooooooh, i did not know that about the meatball sub! good news.

  • GREAT LIST! The only other place I would maybe add is Vegan Glory…their tacos, satay and even banana pancakes (yes random I know) are out of this world…atmosphere nothing to write home about though.

  • Yeah, I’m at the very east end of the Valley so I don’t get there very often. I took my mom to Vin Loi last week, but we were going to another place near the 405 too.

  • Native Food’s Reuben kicks locali’s Reuben’s butt! Seriously.

  • The problem with lists like this is that everyone chimes in with their favorite until EVERYTHING has been mentioned, defeating the purpose of the list.

  • No it doesn’t. Native Foods’s reuben is practically the same, but without salt. Corned beef is supposed to be SALTY.

  • I would take an out-of-towner to Elf to show them what a super-hipster looks like in the wild.

  • I was officially “over” RFD even before Chili Addiction moved in next door. They don’t have a single exciting menu item, and it’s pricey as all hell.

  • IMO, I wouldn’t waste time with Ethiopian or Indian while on a trip. Ethiopian is Ethiopian and Indian is Indian, anywhere. Unless you’re a vegan from Florida or something and you can’t get that stuff.

  • I especially agree with Veggie Grill and Shojin.

    Veggie Grill never disappoints. I could and often do make a meal of the sides. They have the best sweet potato fries anywhere, and the best vegan mac and cheese I have ever eaten.

    Shojin remains my best vegan dining experience ever. From the ramen to the crispy tofu and the grilled steak like seitan with garlic butter, everything was heavenly!

  • All Veggie Grill serves is premade, reheated fake meat. What is so impressive about that? They shouldnt have made this list. Give
    Follow Your Heart their slot.

  • this is a beautiful list of vegan places. I do think Hummus King could have been added since it is just off the 170 fwy and has the best vegan falafels ever, and that hummus is da bomb! Oh and they cater too… I agree that Vinh Loi is kinda far, however they truly have the most unique vegan cuisine ever and if i were a vegan tourist visiting L.A. I would be OK with driving a little out of my way to experience the most amazing tofu ever, and made fresh by the owner in their own little tofu factory behind their kitchen. Did you know that they now have “Spam” tofu at Vinh Loi? I mean how often do you come across vegan spam? And it is sooo good! All you Vegan tourists visiting L.A. should try Vinh loi
    you will love it!

  • I have been to almost all of these places (except for Tony’s and Hard Times) at least once to a handful of times but we are addicted to Shojin, Native Foods, and Madeleine Bistro. I can’t count the number of times we say we are going to try something new but end up at one of these three places in the end lol Great picks 🙂

  • the faux chicken at veggie grill is sooo good.

  • Pretty sure it’s just Gardein?

  • I SO agree about Veggie Grill’s mac & cheese! It’s wonderful! Also love the Bali Bliss Burger fixed Kale Style!

  • im so hungry now!!!!

  • Great list… someday it might be fun to put together a vegan eats list that correlates with tourist activities: “Going to check out muscle beach in venice? ______ is in walking distance an has the best ________.”

  • Well, I’ll tear it apart. People are coming to LA to sample restaurants that provide cuisine that could only be had here, and we’re sending them to a bunch of so-so vegan pizzerias? What? I also don’t understand why we’re repping decent restaurants like Doomie’s and Hugo’s and Flore just because they’re in hip neighborhoods. If people want a proper food tour of LA, let’s have them do it right! This isn’t Portland – you can’t just cruise downtown and find great vegan places, you have to dig.

    I don’t know if the rest of the commentariat agrees with me, but I think there are three restaurants in LA that are among the top 10 vegan places on the West Coast:

    * Stuff I Eat (Inglewood)
    * Vinh Loi (Reseda)
    * SunPower (Studio City)

    (If I had to round it out to five awesome soul of-the-city restaurants, I’d add Mama’s Tamales and either Au Lac or Thuyen Vien in OC.)

    Now only one of these places is on this list, and half the entry is an apology for its being in Inglewood. Stuff I Eat is only worth it because it’s by the airport? You’re making the most creative restaurant in the city sound like a goddamn Nathan’s. You can’t get food like Stuff I Eat’s anywhere else: the carrot untuna should replace guacamole as the California state dip, that Kilimanjaro is one of the seven wonders of the world of vegan cuisine, and the tacos (2 for $6 on Tuesdays!) are maybe the best I’ve had. By the airport, my foot!

    As for Vinh Loi’s being in Reseda, Madeleine is in Tarzana! And never open! And is it really unique, like Stuff I Eat or Vinh Loi? You can have the same experience at Portobello in Portland or Blossom in NYC or Millennium in SF.

    Love the site as always, QG, but today I have to be cruel to be kind.

  • People are coming to LA just for the vegan food? That’s news to me. I don’t think tourists want to cover 500 square miles by public transportation or a rental car. When I travel to another city, I don’t care HOW good a place’s reputation is, if it’s hours away I don’t make the trek.

  • I went to LA pretty much only for the food (and the vegan beer fest.) People do it.

  • Nah, they’re like the 17 other vegan Thai places in LA… Vegan Express, Vegan Factory, Vegan House’s 2 locations, Vegan Joint, Vegan Plate, Bulan’s 2 locations, California Vegan’s 2 locations, Green Thieves Veg[etari]an’s 2 location, LA Vegan, Lotus Vegan, My Vegan, Truly Vegan, and Bright Star Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga. Did I forget any?

  • Not sure, but I think you named all the ones in Hollywood/West Hollywood. My favorites: Green Leaves, Truly, and Bulan. : )

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