Week #2 in the Where Should We Eat Series is written by Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian and author of Plant-Powered for Life. Sharon lives in Los Angeles and as a fellow dietitian and foodie, I trust the LA restaurants on this list deserve their spot here. If you live in the LA area, or are planning a visit, leave a comment and let me know if you’ve been to any of these places, or have any places you wish made the cut! You can find out more about Sharon at www.sharonpalmer.com.
I’ve lived in LA now for more than 20 years, and I am so excited to see the explosion that has occurred in our dining scene. A renaissance in eclectic, historic, ethnic neighborhoods, and a restoration of the Downtown region have reenergized our dining scene, bringing a number of creative, hot chefs to open creative, approachable eateries. I follow the best of LA dining lists and have created perpetually evolving, long list of restaurant to visit, and I still haven’t made it to the end of my list! The region’s access to amazing, local foods combined with a diverse population also makes it a Mecca for local, sustainable foods with global flavors. And since I’m focused on plant-based food choices, it’s always a pleasure to find so many really delicious options in restaurants all over the city. Read on to discover my 9 favorite LA restaurants.
Crossroads | $
I love this completely plant-based restaurant in LA, which I have reviewed several times on my blog. The chef Tal Ronnen is a leader in the plant-based culinary movement, and he makes exceptionally elegant yet approachable vegan foods in this Hollywood restaurant, which is always a hotspot for celebrities. The menu changes frequently, but I’m very fond of sharing small plates so you can taste lots of the restaurant’s flavors at one meal.
Favorite Menu Items: My favorites are the lentil flatbread, kale Caesar salad, filled squash blossoms, pizza, and mushroom ravioli. And save room for the plant-based desserts, which are all about comfort!
Real Food Daily | $$
This restaurant is my go to plant-based comfort food spot. The organic, vegan food is very simple, humble, yet really good. Ann Gentry is a plant-based legend in LA, bringing vegan food to the masses before it was even a thing! I love her light Mediterranean approach to her dishes, as well as her comfort food classics. She also changes her menu seasonally, so you can enjoy light summer fare and then move on to fall harvest foods. Her big bold salads are memorable and instant favorites.
Favorite Menu Items: Mediterranean bowl, Southwest salad, Great Cardini, supreme burrito bowl, and lentil loaf with mashed potatoes. The desserts are incredible too (love the carrot cake!).
Gracias Madre | $$
This plant-based Mexican restaurant is right in the fashionable part of West Hollywood, and it serves amazingly, healthy tasty Mexican foods with a modern edge. All of the dishes are vegan, but you would never guess it! The dishes features lots of intriguing plant foods with bold flavors and spices.
Favorite Menu Items: Cauliflower Frito, Quesadilla de Calabaza, grilled corn cakes, and enchiladas verde.
Cafe Gratitude | $$
With a few locations scattered around LA, I am just in love with this simple, humble plant-based restaurant that serves up more than just food! The servers give you a word of the day, to help you spend a few minutes meditating about something beyond your iPhone and your traffic commute. The mission of the restaurant is to honor beautiful, healthy, organic, plant-based foods. The menu items are clean and pure, listing them by names such as Brilliant (coconut ceviche), Fabulous (raw Mexican lasagna), and Kansha (grilled ramen with vegetables).
Favorite Menu Items: I love the salads and vegetable dishes which have a global influence of flavors and exotic dressings.
Providence | $$$
Providence, led by talented Chef Michael Cimmarusti, is one of LA’s most celebrated restaurants, winning numerous awards. The ambience is cool, serene and artistic and the service is exquisite. The restaurant only offers a pre-fixe tasting menu, so this is a special occasion restaurant, and the array of small dishes are meant to be enjoyed over many hours.
Favorite Menu Items: Vegan tasting menu! The food is elegant, focusing on local foods prepared and served in the most expressive of ways.
Union | $$
One of my favorite restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County is Union. Led by critical darling Bruce Kalman, the small restaurant focusing on freshly made Italian food celebrates local sustainable food in all its glory. This is a restaurant that boasts a blackboard drawing of the Pasadena farmers markets and quotes from Alice Waters.
Favorite Menu Items: fresh bread served with house-made pickled vegetables, roasted heirloom carrots with carrot pesto, and freshly made pasta with San Marzano tomato sauce.
This plant-based recipe in the San Fernando Valley has quickly become one of food critics’ favorites, due to its haute, ultra-creative expression of plant-based meals served in a fresh, Bohemian setting. You’ll find dishes redolent in flavor served on “nests” and wooden platters, making eating there a truly interesting experience.
Favorite Menu Items: sourdough bread with crushed tomato oil, lemon and pistachio kale chips, hand rolled pasta, and vegetables in a box. And save room for their amazing smoked olive oil grapefruit dessert!
Sun Cafe | $$
The San Fernando Valley is becoming home to a number of fine plant-based restaurants, including Sun Café. This organic, plant-based restaurant also serves raw food choices, and the food is just simply delicious—straightforward, uncomplicated, yet bold and creative.
Favorite Menu Items: Sun nachos, lettuce leaf tacos, BBQ cauliflower, kale colossus, and tempeh burger.
Tuning Fork | $$
Another San Fernando Valley trend is really cool gastropubs, often showcasing great craft beer alongside really good food. They are also dishing lots of plant-based options, offering “v” for vegan food choices right on menus. Tuning Fork is one of my favorite Valley gastropubs, with a cool, hip vibe, good bear, and great plant-based food, along with other options.
Favorite Menu Items: ratatouille, warm spinach salad with quinoa, cauliflower flatbread, and their lentil quinoa patty served with pita.
That's all! Where are your favorite places to eat in LA? Let us know in the comments below!