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The best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles

Amber Gibson

Contributor

Los Angeles is known for being ahead of the curve with healthy eating and its wide variety of delicious vegan options is no exception. California’s bounty of fresh produce serves as the perfect palette for these culinary artisans.

Counterpart Vegan

Black vegan chef Mimi Williams is serving the only exclusively vegan tasting menu in Los Angeles. Williams became an owner at Counterpart Vegan in July wasted no time elevating the all-day vegan cafe in Echo Park with an eight-course tasting menu served only on weekends. Inspired by her Creole-Sicilian heritage, there are vegetable-driven takes on classic Italian dishes like carpaccio and bolognese and several handmade pastas and freshly prepared vegan cheeses. Her knack for flavour and seasoning are so precise that the marinated feta served with wide ribbons of beet pappardelle and shaved parmesan topping her mushroom lasagna bolognese could easily be mistaken for the real thing.

Counterpart is partnering with Tilda, a fantastic local natural wine shop, for a special wine list at dinner that includes unique bottles like a sparkling passetoutgrain red wine from Berkeley's Blue Ox Wine Co that's a lively accompaniment to Williams' food. Stop by during the day too for comfort foods like cauliflower mac n cheese and house cured carrot lox served with a bagel and cashew cream cheese.

Little Pine

This beloved vegan sanctuary in Silver Lake reopened this summer with new owners and a new chef, Roberto Martin, at the helm. A robust research and development team deserves credit too, for the hours spent behind the scenes perfecting every detail on the menu, from the sage matcha cream and housemade mozzarella on the seasonal caprese salad to the seared watermelon meant to replicate the meaty texture of ahi tuna when glazed with soy shallot yuzu sauce. Little Pine is playing with flavors and textures in groundbreaking ways, reimagining how we consume familiar fruits and vegetables. The signature plant-based burger, for example, is arguably the best vegan burger in the city (according to die-hard vegans and omnivores alike) and served with a side of cornmeal crusted green beans rather than traditional fries.

Gracias Madre

Los Angeles is known as the best city for Mexican food in the United States, and that extends to vegan options too. Reservations are hard to come by at Gracias Madre, and the West Hollywood hotspot is a celebrity magnet. Amy Adams, Mariah Carey, Selena Gomez and Natalie Portman are just a few starlets who have been spotted dining here. Keep your eyes peeled in the courtyard, one of the best places in the city for al fresco dining.

Begin with housemade chips, salsa roja and guacamole as you might at any Mexican restaurant while perusing the innovative menu. There are jackfruit “crab” cakes with horseradish crema and tacos al “pastor” filled with roasted mushrooms, black beans and charred pineapple. Sauces, like the slow-cooked recado sauce accompanying Japanese yams, are a labour of love, cooked over many hours and even days to build flavour.

The mezcal and tequila list here is outstanding, focusing on smaller producers still cooking agave in the traditional ancestral or wood oven method. The spicy margaritas are the best in the city, or try a flight of different agave varietals if you're keen to learn more about mezcal. 

Cafe Gratitude

Ordering a meal at Cafe Gratitude is designed to be an act of self-love – every dish is an affirmation. Tell your server “I Am Magical” and the best-selling black bean burger with cashew macadamia cheddar on brioche appears at your table, while “I Am Whole” conjures a nutrient-dense macrobiotic bowl with braised garnet yams, adzuki beans, kimchi, sautéed greens and toasted tamari almonds over quinoa. As its name implies, Cafe Gratitude reminds us to count our blessings and celebrate the joy of being alive. This spiritual approach to food has resonated with with everyone from Jay-Z and Beyonce to Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt. Cafe Gratitude now has five locations in Southern California, including on Larchmont and in the Arts District.

Crossroads Kitchen

Crossroads Kitchen founder Tal Ronnen has prepared meals for Oprah Winfrey and is a New York Times bestselling author for The Conscious Cook, teaching legions of followers his secrets to vegetarian cooking. The food here is eclectic with plenty of Italian influence and many vegetarian interpretations of meaty favorites. Housemade lentil and tempeh piccata or eggplant filet with mashed potatoes more than stacks up to the chicken and steak typically used in these recipes. Try the artichoke oysters, made with crispy oyster mushrooms and kelp caviar, or chestnut foie gras dressed with cabernet demi, walnuts and grapes. Ronnen never wanted Crossroads Kitchen to be thought of as a “vegan restaurant,” but rather a great restaurant that just happens to be vegan, where omnivores and meat eaters feel welcome too. He's succeeded – creating a place where having a delicious vegan meal never feels like a compromise.

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