Veganism used to call to mind stereotypes not only of fake meat but also of crunchy, "granola-types" on the fringes of society. No longer. Increasingly, creative LA chefs are figuring out how to make enticing dishes entirely of plant-based ingredients and imparting a gourmet culinary sensibility to vegan cuisine. They're designing restaurants with verve and élan, and the hippest, most fashionable LA crowds are responding in droves. (If you don't believe me, just try to snag an impromptu table at Gracias Madre before 10:00pm on any given night.) There's no need for fake meat when fresh vegetables prepared with care and innovation are all that's required to replicate typically carnivorous treats from burgers to pizzas to tacos. And desserts are getting a vegan makeover too! Whether you prefer a polished meal with a lush cocktail or a quick midday refuel with a super-food smoothie, these vegan kitchens have you covered.
This chic café prepares wholesome, plant-based fare with flair. Each dish is named for an adjective that expresses gratitude, so ordering does double duty as a daily affirmation. You might start with roasted garnet yams ("Comforted"), move on to a veggie brown rice bowl ("Fortified"), and finish with a sweet fig smoothie ("Luscious").
Mexican fare is known for being heavy and meat-centric, but not at this ever-so-stylish WeHo hotspot. In addition to serving enchiladas, tacos, and tamales stuffed with organic vegetables, their bar menu features innovative agave-based cocktails that really sweeten the deal. The mezcal margarita is top notch, as is The Dude Abides: a Mexican white-Russian featuring house-made almond milk horchata, vanilla cinnamon agave, and mezcal.
Powerplant Superfood Café
This small juice bar and café powers you up with creative, organic plant-based cuisine that reflects LA's international diversity. The eclectic offerings range from kimchi avocado hummus to bahn mi to a tostada salad. Don't miss the tempeh Reuben sandwich on gluten-free bread. Red velvet cupcakes? Yep, those are vegan too!
Sage Vegan Bistro
Your carnivore friends might be converted to veganism at this hip, casual bistro. They definitely won't miss the meat in well-executed dishes like butternut squash ravioli and a portobello mushroom "steak" dinner in shallot-red wine reduction. Stop at the KindKreme counter on your way out for a scoop of raw vegan ice cream.
Vegan goes fine-dining at this refined resto. The menu of Mediterranean small plates changes seasonally, but you might find a Bloomsdale spinach salad with almond "ricotta," spiced chickpeas, and kale spanakopita. Decadent desserts, "farm-to-glass" cocktails, and a swank crowd add to the sense that this is the vegan good life.