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What: Tacos and chili cheese dogs aside, Los Angeles tends to conjure up thoughts of skinny girls and ripped men rollerblading beachside, drinking soy lattes and eating organic vegan wraps before hitting up an afternoon Bikram yoga class. Blame it on countless movies and TV shows…but sometimes the shoe does fit (we’re looking at you, Santa Monica!). It’s true there are a lot of vegan/vegetarian cafes in L.A., and, as health-conscious lovers of pork belly—and walking oxymorons, perhaps—we are going to make a controversial suggestion to the carnivores among you: Try vegan food! L.A.’s vegan scene is far more advanced and gourmet than that of most U.S. cities, and many of the restaurants happily reflect the city’s ethnic diversity. Give it (and peace) a chance.
Where: Since 1993, Real Food Daily (multiple locations including 414 N. La Cienega Blvd. in West Hollywood, map) has successfully combined veganism and seasonal organic cooking with gourmet flavors and beautiful presentations.
When: Mon, 11am-9pm; Tues-Fri, 11am-10pm; Sat, 8am-10pm; Sun, 8am-9pm
Order: Pictured is the excellent club wrap, with seitan, tempeh bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and vegenaise ($15; also available as a triple-decker on sourdough bread)—it was delicious, satisfying, and actually tasted like a club sandwich. But the menu is long and varied, with some Mexican (“diablo tacos,” with spicy braised jackfruit), Asian (ramen bowls, filo samosa), and Italian (lasagna with cashew ricotta, pizza, calzones) influences. There are soy-, wheat-, yeast-, and gluten-free options as well.
Alternatively: We suggest you scope out the many websites dedicated to vegetarian and vegan restaurants in L.A. Other spots that come highly recommended include West Hollywood's all-vegan Crossroads (8284 Melrose Ave., map), with a plant-based seasonal menu and a full cocktail program; vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre (8905 Melrose Ave., map), also in WeHo; Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine (1047 S. Fairfax Ave., map) in Little Ethiopia, with a popular $10.99 all-you-can-eat daily lunch buffet (11am-3pm); Shojin (333 S. Alameda St., Suite 310, map), offering Japanese macrobiotic vegan and organic food in Little Tokyo; Vinh Loi Tofu (18625 Sherman Way, #101, Reseda, map), an inexpensive Vietnamese vegan restaurant and tofu producer in Reseda, about 35 minutes northwest of downtown L.A; the macrobiotic M Café (two locations including 7119 Melrose Ave, Hollywood, map), which is mostly vegan but does serve fish; and Flore Vegan Cuisine (3818 W. Sunset Blvd., map) in Silver Lake, which does creative all-vegan, organic fare (lots of wheat- and gluten-free, too) including tempeh “Tu-No” melts, seitan tacos, and popular breakfasts/brunches (vegan croissants! biscuits and gravy!).
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