The Best New Vegan Dishes In LA
Our new favorite plant-based dishes in the city.
Whether you’re gluten-free, vegetarian, or just looking for a new place to take that vegan cutie you met in traffic (or at least that's what you're telling the parents), we have good news: it’s never been easier to eat a plant-based meal in LA. And no, we’re not just saying that for dramatic effect. We checked out all of the new openings serving vegan food across the city, and put each of the standout dishes on this guide.
A few of these spots opened in 2020, but these last couple of years have been a blur, haven't they? From plump pork spring rolls, and thick pepperoni pies, to a plant-based soul food plate that has given us a new appreciation for fried cauliflower, here are the best new vegan dishes in LA.
Dish: Frowny Meal
As you might have already guessed, the Frowny Meal from Mr. Charlie’s in Miracle Mile is a vegan spin on the Mcdonald’s Happy Meal. For around $15, you get an impossible burger, four chicken nuggets, and a small order of french fries in a big red box. It’s a perfect lunch option if you’re in the mood for a greasy fast food experience, but we were most impressed by the french fries. These tall, crunchy straws of golden potatoes taste like they’ve been soaked in fatty oil and covered in salt, much like the delicious McDonald's fries we've come to know and love. Be sure to ask for a side of BBQ sauce to go along with your meal—it has the power to take each and every dish at Mr. Charlie from good to great.
Dish: Cacio e Pepe
We’re convinced this is the best plate of vegan pasta in LA. The spaghetti itself is perfectly al dente, the cashew cream sauce is as smooth as silk, and the entire dish is coated with just the right amount of black pepper for a kick of spice in every bite. The plate is large enough to share, although you won’t want to. So maybe just keep it all to yourself that next time you want a filling meal under $20 in Santa Monica.
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Dish: Omni Pork Fresh Spring Rolls
Each of these huge spring rolls comes stuffed with a slab of meatless pork that’s about a foot long, a handful of vermicelli noodles, chopped cucumbers, sliced carrots, and lots of cilantro. After dunking one in the plum dipping sauce, we bit into what tasted like a chunk of Oprah’s herb garden. The crunchy cucumber and sweet pork pairs well with the fresh cilantro and vinegary plum sauce. Two of these at lunch time kept us full until dinner, but this Cambodian spot in Mid-City has a bunch of other dishes like banh mi, walnut shrimp, and loklac you should save room for.
Dish: Sicilian Pizza
Please excuse the slightly graphic name—is it a nod to burnt tongues… because the pizza is so hot? Someone, help us out here—but this Silver Lake vegan pizza spot is a great place to pick up pies before a game or catch up with friends over garlic knots. There are two types of pizzas, ones made round and thin and Neapolitan-style, or thick Detroit-style, and we prefer the latter. The dough is nice and springy, slightly sour, and very thick—pan baked and covered in garlic, red sauce, a pesto drizzle, and almond ricotta cheese. Yes, this tastes amazing straight from the fridge the next morning.
Dish: Tortilla Ice Cream
Before coming to Awan, we had never used “tortillas” and “ice cream” in the same sentence. Now, we can’t shut up about this dynamic duo. This rich, nutty flavor is so precise, and immediately reminiscent of a hand-pressed blue corn tortilla. It leans savory, but there is a slight sweetness that shows up as a surprising undertone. We were introduced to this ice cream on a random Monday night stroll through West Hollywood, and our freezer has been stocked with a pint ever since. This is just one of the inventive flavors created at this small ice cream window, but we also love the bergamot, chocolate hazelnut, and cara cara flavors.
Dish: Kabob Wrap
The vegan kabob is BeeWali’s signature dish. And while it’s available on a plate with rice and hummus, we prefer to have it wrapped in warm pita bread. The meat tastes like it’s been marinated in garlic and mixed with lots of herbs, while the yellow sauce brings a kick of sweet and spicy flavor. If you get excited about soft and doughy things, know that the fresh, fluffy pita bread leaves a powdery residue on your fingertips.
Baba's Vegan Cafe
Dish: Welcome Plate
Baba’s Vegan Cafe specializes in the kind of plant-based food that doesn’t pretend to be meat. And their rainbow-colored welcome plate has every kind of crunchy or creamy sensation you could possibly want in a plate of food. It’s essentially a vegan soul food sampler platter reworked with notably fresh vegetables, and it’s one of our favorite meals in South LA. The plate comes with baked mac and cheese topped with crispy fried cauliflower, plump black beans with rice, crunchy lentil fritters, and collard greens. They also serve Jamaican patties, smoothies, and a bunch of other healthy stuff on the menu.
Wolfie’s Nashville Hot Chicken
Dish: Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich
Wolfie’s doesn’t just make one of the best vegan fried chicken sandwiches in LA, they also make one of the spiciest. The crunchy, juicy chicken patties are done Nashville style, and you can choose your preferred spice level on a scale from “No Spice” to “Super Spicy.” We usually go with medium or hot, because the “Super Spicy” sandwich here tastes like a flaming hot punishment. But no matter how spicy you want it, the sweet slaw, potent pickles, and chili garlic aioli will help balance things out on your sandwich.