A (Vegan) Foodie Tour of Los Angeles
Dinner time? You’re in for a treat!
Plant Food + Wine
If you only get to have one dinner in L.A., you have to go to Plant Food + Wine (by vegan superstar Matthew Kenney). This modern fine dining establishment is 100% plant-based and mostly raw. The restaurant has a gas fireplace in the front room, and a beautifully landscaped patio in the back that is lit up with strings of soft glowing lights in the evenings. You can see into the pristine and bustling kitchen and watch the professional chefs prepare the eye-catching dishes. Chef Matthew Kenney started this location as a teaching institution, and the upstairs part of the building houses a raw vegan cooking school. Everything is sourced locally a là Alice Waters, meaning that you get the best of the best of L.A.’s legendary local produce from the world’s first and greatest farmer’s market, the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. We tried the cheese plate, pressed miso pear salad, raw lasagna, and strawberry cheesecake, which was plenty to share. Go for a glass of vegan wine. Everything is animal-product free. Reservations should be made in advance to ensure that you can be seated, especially on weekends.
This vegan ice cream shop is open until 10pm and nested inside of the vegan restaurant Sage. It’s across the street from Lassens, a local chain health store, making it the perfect stop in case you need to pick up something (or want to spot one of the many A-listers, like Olivia Wilde, that love this place). I recommend the mint chip gelato, which was very light and refreshing.
The next morning, head over to:
On your second day in Los Angeles, head to Crossroads Kitchen for breakfast (they open at 10am on weekends). This famous spot is the epicenter and leader of vegan cuisine, and it doesn’t disappoint. Chef Tal Ronnen has his own cookbook (grab a copy inside), and the décor is historic bistro feeling. The front room is lit by skylight and best for a sunny breakfast or brunch. We tried the shakshuka with chickpea fritters and warm homemade pita bread, the french toast, and Crossroads benedict. Don’t forget a side of persimmon and pomegranate fruit mélange and coffee. Their soy lattes are also fantastic. Be sure to make reservations in advance and to snap a pic in front of their iconic subway-tiled logo out front.
After breakfast, if you feel like taking a long walk, take a stroll straight down Melrose, to:
A big breakfast calls for a post-indulgence shopping break, and MooShoes is just the place to head. This is the second location of the vegan shoe store that started in New York. Spend some time hanging with Owen (pictured below), and Wrigley, the store’s furry shopping assistants. While you’re there, pick up a new handbag as well, because you can never have too many eye-catching vegan fashion pieces to brag about to your friends. And when you’re done shopping, KindKreme is just around the corner, in case you didn’t get your fill last night!
After shopping at MooShoes, head back the way you came, but this time through West Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, to:
This was my lunch spot in Los Angeles. Gracias Madre is an all-vegan Mexican-inspired restaurant in West Hollywood with a jaw-dropping gorgeous outdoor patio and open-air indoor seating. Think mosaic tile floors, dream Moroccan star-punched lanterns, and knobby shade trees. The menu was beyond fantastic. We split the tasting menu and added an order of Mexican street corn, which was more than enough for two. Our favorite was the sweet potato quesadilla. Dessert is included and the Mexican wedding cookie was worth noting, pairing perfectly with the Mexican chocolate ice cream. The decadent fare doesn’t weigh you down, leaving you feeling satisfied and light at the same time.
We planned our trip around the world’s first vegan music festival celebrating animal rights. The event was hosted by Moby and benefited Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit dedicated to animal rights. The inaugural events were at the Fonda Theater on Sunset strip and was the absolute best place to connect with the coolest of cool vegans. It is, after all, L.A.. If you can, plan your trip around an upcoming event with Eat Drink Vegan, the city’s go-to event planning entity for vegans. They do many amazing events every year and have a large Facebook page, which is great for connecting with locals and figuring out what’s going on in the city the weekend you plan on being there.
Here’s a fun taste of what Circle V is all about:
Accommodations: L.A. doesn’t have any vegan or vegetarian hotels. I recommend doing what I did and staying in an AirBnB in Silver Lake. This neighborhood is L.A.’s Williamsburg. It’s cute and up-and-coming, with lots of shopping and dining options in the eastern part of the city. It’s a 20-minute drive to Hollywood and another 20 minutes to Venice Beach on the coast.
L.A. is a very car-centric city with basically nonexistent public transportation. Everything is very spread out and you can’t walk between spots. You need a car to get around. I rented a ZipCar and used Uber to fill the gaps. It’s was cost effective, convenient, and liberating, not to mention really fun. You can even rent a convertible mini cooper for extra flare. If you go with ZipCar, leave a least a week and a half to register online so that you have time to get your ZipCar card in the mail.
Who says you have to sacrifice lifestyle for ethics? I certainly had both and don’t feel any worse for it.
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