Just because you or whoever you’re eating with today has cut out meat doesn’t mean your next meal has to consist of cashew cream and tempeh. The spots on this list include fully vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, and a couple of places that are just really into putting plants on plates. Rather than asking “Is this place good for a vegetarian restaurant?” we judged these spots in the same way we do all the places we eat - by asking “Does the food taste good?” Here are 16 great restaurants that happen to be very vegetarian-friendly.
Kismet is the kind of restaurant you just want to hang out in, slowly working your way through the interesting and fresh Middle Eastern-inspired menu. The broccoli toast, flaky bread with labneh and honey, and persimmon and cucumber salad are all must orders, and also things we think about on a regular basis. There is some meat on the menu at Kismet, but if we didn’t put them on this list, we’d be neglecting some of the tastiest vegetarian food in town.
Maybe you need to apologize to your vegan significant other for eating one too many steaks in front of them, and do penance by eating a lot of vegan cheese. Plant Food + Wine is the way to go. Down the quiet end of Abbot Kinney (closer to the beach), an all-white dining room leads to a stunner of a patio. As for the food, it’s creative but not so out there that a regular meat eater wouldn’t be able to find something to like. The chickpea curry soup should be on your table, and that vegan cheese platter is surprisingly not awful.
Baroo is a very casual strip mall spot in East Hollywood that sort of feels like eating in an experimental lab without all the green goo. There are jars of fermented vegetables all over the walls, a tiny kitchen, and a dining room where you’ll end up squeezed between strangers quietly reading books while they eat faux oxtail ragu. And unlike Robin Williams’ character in Flubber, the mad scientists here know what they’re doing. Everything from the Bibim salad (containing 16+ vegetables) to the spicy kimchi fried rice is both unusual and delicious, and almost all of it is vegetarian. Come here for a solo meal, or if you just want to figure out what faux oxtail is.
You know a restaurant takes its vegetables seriously when they end up in your cocktails as well as on your plate. Downtown LA’s P.Y.T. is just that kind of restaurant, but the vibe is less serious restaurant and more fun place to hang out. There is always a piece of meat and maybe a seafood dish listed down near the bottom of the menu, but make no mistake, the plant-based dishes are the main event here. The salt-baked turnip gets talked about a lot, but the ricotta cavatelli with yogurt and nori is the real star of the show here.
Calling Madcapra a restaurant might be kind of a stretch considering that it’s really a stall in Grand Central Market with some fairly epic lines. But it’s also one of our favorite places in the city that just happens to be vegetarian. The falafel here is something we’d drive across town for, especially the tangy green sandwich stuffed with fennel and cauliflower. PSA: order the beet and sumac soda even if you hate beets - we promise it’s completely refreshing and not at all dirt-tasting.
Hasiba is a small hummisya on a quiet stretch of Pico that has fantastic hummus. You order at the counter, sit at a big communal table or on the patio, and then you have fun making room on the table for all the little plates of food that come out. Don’t stop at the four types of hummus - the sandwiches, like the eggplant-stuffed Sabich on house-made pita, are great, and there’s shakshuka and tasty side salads too. Everything here is vegetarian (and certified kosher), but even if you’re fully carnivorous, this is a place you should be checking out.
When you’re sick of hearing your meat-eating friends whine about how they don’t get enough protein when you pick the restaurant, take them to Botanica. They’ll find plenty of meat on the menu to shut them up while you focus on what this place does best: vegetables. Dishes change seasonally, but you should always start with the excellent crudites and one of the beet cocktails. This is also a solid brunch option, mostly because of the Botanica Bloody and the Turkish eggs with a fantastic garlicky yogurt. And yes, they also have bacon.
A mini-Westside empire (with a location in Silver Lake as well), Samosa House is our go-to for a casual vegetarian lunch or dinner. Walk in, head to the counter, and ask for the three-item combo. You get naan, rice, and the choice of three constantly changing entrees. If the smoky cauliflower curry is present, do not pass go without it.
For those who eat fish, vegan sushi sounds about as exciting as cheese-less Cheetos. But Shojin’s veggie-only menu works mostly because they don’t try to trick you into thinking your vegan baked scallop roll is actually a scallop. You’ll find yourself ordering multiple rounds of mushroom and tofu-centric rolls, at which point anyone you’ll realize that vegan food isn’t just fried fake meats and vegetables.
Too often, vegan restaurants feel exactly like you’d expect a vegan restaurant to be like. But Crossroads is having none of that, and actually feels kind of like a steakhouse that just happens to not serve any steak. This West Hollywood spot has quickly become a go-to for classy, no-patchouli-in-sight vegan dining. Go for the cheese plate, the “meatball” sub, and the artichoke oysters. Their brunch is good too.
If you’re vegan, it’s not easy to find a good boozy brunch place where you can get a meal that isn’t just a bunch of sides. Butcher’s Daughter has a fun brunch with things like spaghetti squash carbonara and a BLT with bacon that’s actually made from beans that won’t make you question whether you just put cardboard in your mouth. This place is on Abbot Kinney, so there will be a crowd, but after a couple glasses of their Saucy Bubbles wine, nothing will bother you very much.
Yes, the menu names are laughable and the entire place can occasionally border on insufferable, but there’s a reason Cafe Gratitude has locations all over the city: the food is better than you’d think it would be. We tend to stick to the salads and juices, but if you’re into the black bean patties and kelp noodles thing, there are plenty of those options too.
A vegan bistro/brewery in Echo Park sounds like a rejected setting for a Netflix pilot, but Sage Plant Bistro is a real place, and the food here is good. They do great bar-style food like carnitas and buffalo wings where the carnitas are actually jackfruit and the wings are actually cauliflower. There are locations in Culver City and Pasadena as well, and all three are filled with people having good low-key meals that happen to be vegan.
Once we found Paru’s, a tiny South Indian vegetarian spot in East Hollywood, we had no idea why more people didn’t know about it. Maybe because the restaurant’s behind a steel gate you have to get buzzed into? But once you’re inside, you’ll wish you knew about it sooner. Paru’s might be kind of quiet, but it’s the perfect spot for a low-key weeknight dinner. As for the food, you’ll find straightforward versions of all the classics - samosas, dosas, and plenty of curries. Order a couple of Kingfisher beers and just let the staff tell you what you want to eat.
Elf Cafe is an Echo Park standby - they’ve been doing their vegetarian Mediterranean thing for more than ten years. There’s everything from a tahini avocado puree to a vegetarian bolognese, and most dishes can be made vegan. This is an excellent Eastside date spot, and you should definitely take advantage of the all-natural wine list. The word natural means this wine is better for you than regular wine. Right?
Rahel is your vegan option along Fairfax’s Little Ethiopia strip, and it’s also one of the best restaurants on the entire street. Come for the yemitin shiro wat (a chickpea stew we’d travel across town for) and BYOB policy, stay for the daily 11am-3pm vegan buffet.