I am a bonafide LA Native and 14-year vegetarian, here to share with you the secrets of dining out in the City of Angels.
Best Indian Restaurant:
Samosa House West
Samosa House East
The twin Samosa Houses are practically down the street from each other– that said, I recommend the West location, which is about 5 or 6 times the size and not only offers lots of seating but also has an Indian market inside. Contrary to what your first (and fourth) impression might be, they do offer an a la carte menu. (That’s where you get the Samosa Chaat [pictured]– a savory concoction of split samosa smothered in three sauces and chana masala.) However, their real business is the fabulous vegetarian cafeteria table, where you can get the most amazing combo plate for around $12. The whole place is vegetarian, and it’s vegan friendly, too.
Best Fine Dining:
Where do I begin? If you are a vegetarian or vegan and you want to go somewhere really special and enjoy nice food, you generally have to get dressed up, watch your freinds or family drool over their meal, and pretend to love your veggie medly – which was the only choice for you on the menu (unless you eat fish.) Not anymore! Crossroads Kitchen is a beautiful dining room that offers sophisticated and delicious vegan cuisine, and can compete with the best of them. “You would never know it was vegan,” your carnivore friends will say. It is a small plates menu and everything is good.
Best Indulgent Thai Restaurant
A little storefont on Beverly Blvd next door to a Supercuts. You would never guess they serve some of the most delicious Thai food in town– and it’s vegan! The curries are creamy and rich, the veggies are vibrant and fresh, and the mock meats are, well… not disgusting at all! They also serve great kombuchas. It’s a simple place, but dimly lit and nice for a romantic evening.
Best Healthy Thai Restaurant
Further down the street on Beverly, this time next to an independent hairdresser’s, is Vegan Glory, the healthist Thai restaurant I’ve found. Everything is cooked with clean living in mind– they even have a supply of New Age magazines by the front door. Don’t let the hippies turn you off. You will seriously enjoy your lunch and feel great for the rest of the day.
Best Vegan ‘Fast Food’
Its better than fast food — more filling, better flavors, more variety, a nice place to sit, and… watermelon mint lemonade??? It’s also not that fast– probably right in-between a fast food joint and a casual sit down place. The menu at Veggie Grill ranges from spicy Buffalo wings to healthy Asian bowls to fried fish tacos and crab cakes to seasonal soups to burgers. All are good. Around Thanksgiving, they have a “Thanksgiving Sandwich” which includes “turkey,” stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all the other “fixings.”
Best Veggie Sausages
Dog Haus is not a vegetarian restaurant, but they have a great selection of veggie sausages and hot dogs which make it a great place to go for us herbavores. Check out their menu online and see all their amazing sausage creations– then add either an Italian or Turkey Apple sausage in place of meat. The veggie sausages they serve are great in their own right, but all the toppings really hit the spot.
This attractive space is nestled amongst a bevvy of Ethiopian shops and restaurants on the stretch of Fairfax Avenue between Olympic and Pico known as Little Ethiopia. Their daily lunch buffet is the way to go. If you miss it, order one of their incredible combination platters– you’ll thank me if you do. Ethiopian food slightly resembles Indian in that it is heartily spiced and stewed, much of it curry-style (here known as a “Wot”), and it utilizes lots of fresh vegetables and legumes. The last point lends it perfectly to vegetarian cooking — Rahel happens to be a completely vegan restaurant. At Rahel you have to specially request a fork if you want one; otherwise, you will be scooping up your food with injera, an Ethiopian spongy flatbread.
Best Vegan Sushi
Shojin is notoriously hard to find, but worth the effort! Tucked into the third floor of a Japanese shopping mall in Little Tokyo, it is a well-decorated, even a little upscale dining room. They have a full menu of completely vegan sushi – rolls, handrolls, soups, etc.,– which is truly delicious. One time I experienced their prix fixe holiday menu, which really was inventive and not pricey at all (between $30-40 per person if I remember correctly.) A vegetarian or vegan looking to treat themselves should check this place out.
Best Vegan Diner
Doomie’s Home Cookin’
The portions are huge, greasy, and good. There are about six or seven variations of french fries (garlic aoli fries, buffalo fries, nacho fries…). There’s Mexican food, there’s burgers. What more could you want? Its on Sunset and Vine in Hollywood 😉