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by Paige Newman and Jon Charles Newman, Exclusive to VegDining.com
The Los Angeles area is huge, and since it is a greatly international region, you can find numerous vegetarian choices – everything from Mexican eateries and Thai vegan restaurants to farmer’s markets and dozens of health food stores.
The ecologically-friendly coastal city of Santa Monica is a good place to start, boasting many veg-friendly restaurants. Always popular is the all-vegan Real Food Daily. Interim Café (formerly Newsroom Café) has meat-free chili, tofu burgers and more, while Juliano’s Raw serves unique items like zucchini fries and avocado soup and is run by a raw food pioneer, Juliano.
In ritzy Brentwood, A Votre Sante is a nice bright place, offering several vegetarian items from falafels to tostadas.
On hip Melrose Avenue, M Café de Chaya is full of vegan options with a macrobiotic focus, including shiitake avocado rolls and homemade desserts. Or you can find deliciously handmade ice creams, including smooth vegan flavors like pistachio lemon and maple at nearby Scoops on N. Heliotrope at Melrose Avenue.
If you are in the Westwood area catching a movie, Native Foods has wonderful, big portions.
Braving the traffic from West L.A. to the less culturally inspiring San Fernando Valley might be worth it for the many vegetarian options.
Follow Your Heart (the makers of a favorite type of vegan cheese) in Canoga Park is a classic, with veggie pizzas, burgers and other sandwiches, and an adjacent natural foods store.
In Tarzana is the exquisite Madeleine Bistro, a fine dining experience that just happens to be all-vegan. The menu changes seasonally, but one can mention the chicken-fried seitan or portabella steak. The desserts must be sampled too.
Also in Tarzana is Vegan Factory, one of the many Thai-vegan places to open recently in the broader L.A. area that features all the standard Thai dishes, which can be ordered with tofu or a variety of faux meats. Try the yellow curry or the prik king (green beans and your choice of “meat” and chili).
In Studio City, tucked in a corner of a tiny nondescript strip mall is Leonor’s, serving predominantly Mexican dishes, but also a variety of sandwiches and surprisingly good soy cheese pizza. Check out the many “chicken” dishes (tacos, enchiladas, tamales, etc.) for a start.
To really get a feel for the wealth of veggie choices L.A. has to offer, one would definitely need a car, a comfortable budget and many free days to explore.
Paige Newman was raised in Los Angeles but now resides in San Diego. She is a longtime vegan and writer of veg-friendly travel articles.
Jon Charles Newman, Paige’s cousin, is a lifelong musician and resident of L.A. who has gradually gone vegetarian over the last several years.
This article was originally printed in VegDining.com. Photos Courtesy of Paige Newman.