• 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: , , , , , ,
  • September 11th, 2009quarrygirlfatty's & co, LA restaurants


    fatty’s & co in eagle rock is a very special place. the small eatery focuses on fine gourmet-style meat-free cuisine with good wine, and an upscale atmosphere. you wouldn’t think eagle rock is the kind of place where you’d find a fancy vegetarian restaurant, but it is. granted, the menu at fatty’s is a little heavy on the dairy side, but the vegan dishes they do serve are nothing short of excellent.

    recently i dined at fatty’s and ordered the first vegan entree listed on the menu, the chartreuse. the description boasted that it was the “original dish of the Carthusian monks,” so i just had to give it a try.

    chartreuse: The original dish of the Carthusian monks using layers of braised spinach, carrots, beets and celery root, served here with herb crusted tofu fillets a la dijonnaise and mushroom velouté. $15

    chartreuse: The original dish of the Carthusian monks using layers of braised spinach, carrots, beets and celery root, served here with herb crusted tofu fillets a la dijonnaise and mushroom velouté. $15

    the dish reminded me of an even more delicious version of a red beet tartare, complete with braised spinach, beets and carrots sitting on a pond of tasty gravy. it was all topped off with two huge slices of crusted tofu, that tasted eerily close to battered and fried fish…but in a good way, not a gross way. although the dish was moderately-sized, it was extremely filling—there was so much flavor and richness packed into each bite. i assure you, monks never ate this well.

    with each entree ordered, you receive your choice of vegan soup or salad. i went with the salad, which turned out to be much more interesting than i expected. this was no green salad, mind you, but a clump of pureed jimaca mixed with other vegetables in a light sauce and garnished with blueberries and pine nuts. it was cool, crisp, and oh so refreshing.


    you end up paying a bit more at fatty’s, but the beautiful presentation and high-quality ingredients make up for it. it’s not often that vegans get to partake in a true fine dining experience, so i suggest you check this place out as soon as you can. just be sure to make reservations. fatty’s is packed during peak hours!


    fatty’s & co
    1627 Colorado Blvd.
    Eagle Rock, CA 90041

    Wednesday – Saturday 6pm – 10pm
    Sunday 5pm – 9pm
    Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

    Tags: ,
  • November 5th, 2008mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    Every few years, a great culinary idea comes along that revolutionizes fast food. Over the past 50 years we’ve seen burger chains, pizza chains, burrito chains, sandwich chains and even coffee chains. The basic premise is the same: “Here’s our basic product, now you tell us what you want on it or in it and we’ll complete the preparation just for you!”. And, it works. In my vegetarian days I used to love experimenting with different pizza toppings, and still now, a visit to a Subway fills me with excitement as I get to decide every time what kind of vegetables I want on my Veggie Delite(tm).

    Now, the vegetarian and (more to the point) vegan world has no specialist fast food concepts that are aimed directly at us. Of course, we can get ‘something’ at most chain establishments but food preparation practices and very limited choice typically leave us with the least appetizing thing on the menu.

    A small, European-based chain called Maoz threatens to change all this with a stunningly simple, yet highly compelling, concept that’s vegetarian in nature but appeals to carnivores as well. With today’s emphasis on fast, healthy food that’s inexpensive I think they might just be on to something. See how deceptively simple the menu is! (pdf link)

    At a Maoz you get handed a warm, soft pita bread with a few perfectly cooked and very tasty falafel balls deep inside, and your choice of several integrated condiments (I like Humous, but there are two other vegan options), then (get THIS!) they let you loose on an amazing cold salad bar that’s NOTHING like you’ve ever seen before. Here’s my Maoz, after salad bar application, outside the Union Square outlet this past weekend.

    I’ve visited two outlets: Union Square (twice!) and London once. Both were highly consistent and tasted almost exactly the same. That’s a good sign for fast food, as the founder of McDonald’s, Sam McDonald (or whatever his name was) had an obsession about the customer experience being the same globally. Now, talking of customer experience, you’re in and out of the place pretty quick. Even on crazily busy Union Square Market Day

    It works as follows:

    • You line up
    • You order a “Maoz with X”, where X is the condiment you want
    • They hand it to you, usually within a minute
    • You get to peruse and help yourself to as many things as you want from the salad bar
    • You get to stand in the street and eat your Maoz, or take it back to the office

    The real kicker here is not so much the amazing pita and falafel but the incredible choice of salad items you can put on it. Here’s what I put on mine:

    Spicy Mushrooms with Chilies, Toasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, Carrot and Garlic Pickle, Onion and Chili relish, Fresh Zucchini and Lime

    I then proceeded to add some amazing cilantro-based hot sauce all over the top before retiring to a bench in the square to eat my lunch. Miss Anthrope was a little more cautious (her noted hatred of bell peppers can only be described as a handicap in situations such as this), opting instead for only Cous Cous, Tabouli and Tahini:

    But, even with such a limited selection, the Anthropic One had one heck of a sandwich to enjoy. I hope beyond hope that Maoz takes off in the US. They seem to be opening more outlets (Washington DC and somewhere on the West Coast [Seattle or Vancouver – difficult to tell from the map] are about to open, and they have a franchise application on the US site, which (if we were not in a historic credit crunch) would be a great indicator of more restaurants in the US to come.

    Regardless, I’ll be in London in a few weeks and will report back on Maoz, along with a storyboard of ordering and dressing the perfect sandwich.

    Do visit one of their locations if you can. You won’t regret it, even if you have to fly to Amsterdam or Mumbai to enjoy. Meanwhile, here’s the Union Square location exterior:

    If you ever walk past, please stop in for a Maoz. All this deliciousness was only $9.90 + TAX. Can’t think of a better deal for fast, healthy nutritious food in Manhattan — or elsewhere!

    Tags: , , ,
  • May 10th, 2008quarrygirlfollow your heart, LA restaurants, the spot

    at quarrygirl.com, we are always looking for new vegetarian restaurants to hit up, and last weekend we got lucky with the spot.

    savory garden burrito: with garden veggies, cheese and savory sauce (all non-dairy): $8.95

    guacamole burger: a homemade burger patty served on a wheat bun with guacamole and a side of almond rice: $8.95

    as many of my fellow imbibers know, the hermosa/redondo/manhattan/whatever beach areas are great places to find breweries and specialty beers. what i DIDN’T know until last weekend, is they are also great places to find uncharted vegan fare.

    after planning a day of drinking in hermosa beach, i decided to research some food options on the internet. one spot, a vegetarian restaurant, kept gaining my attention and outshining all the other restaurants with its glowing reviews. so of course, we had to give it a try…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,