Story written by Jordyn Mcanany.
1. Veggie Grill Probably the best thing that’s happened to herbivores since the introduction of carbs, Veggie Grill finally brings the convenience of a fast food restaurant to those who are sick of ordering only “sides”. Veggie Grill offers a plethora of options, from super healthy salads to huge, fatty burgers. It takes a bit longer than your normal fast food restaurant and it is definitely a LOT pricier, but it’s well worth it when you’re having a craving. I take my omnivore friends constantly and even they will request to go from time to time. I tend to stay away from the other meats as I’m picky with textures, but the chicken is convincing enough to fool even the most dedicated meat-lovers. I’d love to be more adventurous and try more of the menu, but with prices like 14$ for a burger a la carte, I usually stick to what I know I like. Until then, I’d recommend trying the chicken fingers and the cauliflower mash.
2. Tender Greens Tender Greens is that weird middle point between boring, chain restaurant and an actual quality dining experience. It’s utility-line like service is definitely sub-par but it’s décor is pleasing. The food is relatively cheap for the quality.
I’m not sure if Tender Greens is actually healthy or everyone assumes it is, but regardless it’s a nice place to go when you can’t come to a mutual decision on anything else. I usually get the falafel, which can come as a sandwich or as a plate – with a side salad, some sort of potato, and pita bread. I usually choose the latter, and the quality of my meal has varied greatly each time. They have probably some of the most unique falafel that I’ve ever tasted, and I’m not exactly sure if I see it as a plus or a minus.
Despite the name, there’s actually not a lot of vegan options. There’s the falafel and then all the salads, but only if you pick a vegan dressing. However, if you’re a meat lover, all my friends seem to love the cuts they offer. Despite this lack of diversity, I’d definitely recommend when going out with a mix of vegan and non-vegan friends.
3. Gracias Madre Gracias Madre has an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic. In fact, it’s the main reason I go. Both the indoor and outdoor areas have a picturesque look, although if you choose the latter I’d come with a reservation. Private seating usually yields an hour wait even off-peak, but there’s almost always seats at the community table if you don’t mind sitting next to strangers.
If you’re simply looking for Mexican cuisine, I’d probably choose elsewhere. The menu is quirky but it’s not necessarily better, and almost all Mexican food can easily be made vegan in the first place. Still, if you’re looking for a nice photo op or to run into a celebrity, Gracias Madre offers an interesting menu filled with unique tastes.
I usually stick with the pazoles, which is absolutely delish. To be fair, I’ve never actually had non-vegan pazoles, so I’m not quite sure how it compares. I don’t have a picture because I decided to be adventurous and order something else off the menu, which ended up being sort of a mistake.
The Jackfruit tacos (pictured above) actually taste amazing. I’ve never had a pork taco, but it’s what I would assume a pork taco would taste like. It doesn’t really have a fruity taste at all and definitely resembles meat more so in that category. However, the texture is somewhere oddly in-between. I couldn’t get past that, and didn’t end up finishing my meal. The sides were absolutely delicious though! It came with vegan refried beans and veggies – which were doused in a really nice, tangy sauce. I also ordered a side of rice and some chips while we waited (which cost 4$ a la carte, or 12$ with guac). Gracias Madre also has their own house-made cashew nacho cheese, which I absolutely adore.
While Urth’s food is delicious, the seating arrangement is not for the faint of heart. Unless you’re lucky enough to find a seat tucked into the corner, you can expect to spend most of your meal anxiety-ridden. The way the restaurant works, you order your food and get a “ticket”. You then are left to find a seat by yourself, and it’s no easy task. The line is literally never ending – bad during off-peak times and somehow worse during peak. I never go during those times, but it’s not unheard of to have to wait for a seat.
If this is something you can look past, I’d recommend it. They have tons of salads and smoothies and are vegan friendly in that accord. I usually get their kid-sized mac and cheese, which comes with a side of fresh fruit. The portions are large enough that I end up taking half of it to go. While it’s vegetarian friendly, it’s not vegetarian exclusive. There’s plenty of healthy, meaty options for those who wish to choose them.
5. Ysabel Ysabel has a really cool, chic vibe. It’s hard to really capture the feel of this place in pictures because it’s purposely kept dark in order to prevent that. The whole place is a mix of indoor and outdoor, with trees scattered around both parts. There’s “bleacher” style seating when you first walk in, followed by very intimate furniture scattered around a couple fireplaces. If you go right, there’s an opening to the bar. If you go left, there’s a ton of tables for the “restaurant part”. Somewhere in between, there’s a few low key booths – although the entire place reeks “privacy” as it is. Which makes sense, considering the restaurant is a favorite spot among celebrities.
I don’t necessarily like to eat here because there isn’t a lot of vegan or vegetarian options. When I want something to snack on, I’ll go for their truffle fries or a side of their potatoes, which are surprisingly flavorful. My friend swears by their oysters, but naturally I haven’t tried them. When I do go, it’s usually just to lounge about with friends and have a drink or two. Not to mention the place just has a nice feel to it. I also met Harry Styles here once, after my friend had an awkward encounter near the bathrooms, so honestly? If anything, just go for the encounters.
Honorable Mentions I don’t go to these places enough to accurately (or fairly) review them, but I’d definitely recommend them if you’re in town. Most of them require a reservation – sometimes made weeks in advance. However, they’re places that everyone should visit at least once while in LA.
– No, not Weho. It’s definitely worth the traffic on the PCH. Boasting amazing, one-of-a-king ocean views, Nobu Malibu is a favorite among locals, tourists, and even celebrities. There’s no bad time to go, but obviously getting seated right before sunset is ideal. Reservations for such a time will need to be made at least a month in advance; or even impossible for peak times. While there’s surprisingly plenty of vegan options, you also might want to save in advance. Just a single piece of sushi cost upwards of 8$, and there’s a minimum to reserve your seat.
The Nice Guy While its popular has definitely died down, The Nice Guy was once the most exclusive spot to grab a bite to eat. You are almost guaranteed to see a celebrity; that is, if you are able to get a reservation. The restaurant was so selective at one time that you had to get a referral just to have a chance.
Nowadays, its much more relaxed. Other than peak times, you can easily get a reservation if you watch for one. You’ll still probably see a celebrity, but maybe one from a reality show versus Drake. The food isn’t really all that interesting mainly because it was never meant to be. The Nice Guy was built on exclusivity and status. While it’s lost a bit of appeal, I’d recommend going just to say that you went.
Catch See: The Nice Guy. Everything that TNG once was, Catch has now taken its place. I’ve never been and I don’t enough about it to properly write a review. But it’s too popular now not to mention.
Doomies Whether you’re vegan or not, everyone should at least try Doomies once. I’m not a huge fan of super fried food – and I wasn’t a huge fan of this place, for that reason. However, the “friend chicken” tasted exactly like the real thing – skin and all! My friends swear by the vegan Big Mac, pictured above.