Earlier this month, we took a trip to LA to escape the Portland winter. Much to our dismay, it rained while we were there, but we still caught some much needed sunshine. It has been over 10 years since I visited LA, so everything felt very new to me. And of course, our itinerary was planned around restaurants we wanted to visit!
Accommodations & Transportation
Staying at Airbnbs was the way to go as hotels in LA can cost a pretty penny. The one we stayed at in Downtown LA (and has a nice view from the rooftop!) was conveniently located a few blocks from a Metro station. Obviously, LA’s Metro can’t compare to the NYC subway system, but it got us to wherever we needed to go within a reasonable amount of time. As much as people say you need a car to explore LA, we didn’t rent one until the 4th day of our 5-day trip. We still experienced our share our crazy LA traffic.
On this trip, we visited Universal Studios and Disneyland. As you can see, we made a new friend who really likes coffee and donuts! I’ll be writing blog posts about the vegan and vegetarian options at both theme parks, plus tips on how to make the most of your time there. Stay tuned!
After a long walk down Melrose Avenue, Crossroads Kitchen was the perfect spot for a weekday lunch. To be honest, I was expecting more casual setting instead of plush booths, white tablecloths, and elegant fixtures, but I’ll happily take it!
At the moment, Crossroads is the only place in LA that carries the Impossible Burger, and they only serve it for lunch/brunch on weekdays. The burger features heme protein, the ingredient that gives meat its meaty taste, but is also found in plants. The Impossible Burger totally lives up to the hype! Definitely in my top 3, and possibly number 1, but I’d have to do a side by side comparison with some of my other faves to be sure.
Turns out the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had is vegan! Drizzle on that spicy maple sauce and take me to my happy vegan place. Getting the $20 bottle of bubbly with a carafe of grapefruit juice was a very wise decision too. Something tells me Crossroads Kitchen can expect to see us next time we’re back in LA.
I have no idea how many steps we took, but we made our way on foot from Melrose Avenue to Silver Lake over the course of the day. Little Pine has been on my list for a very long time. It’s a 100% vegan, mostly organic bistro that donates all of its profits to animal welfare groups. It’s also owned by Moby, a longtime vegan and animal activist. We didn’t see Moby there, but they do play his music.
The food at Little Pine is all sorts of fabulous, but it was so dark inside the restaurant. Without my camera, we wouldn’t have gotten such a good look at our food. The fried cauliflower with kimchi aioli was great as a shared starter, and John enjoyed the sausage & polenta. I was all about their mushroom bourguignon with fluffy mashed potatoes and juicy crimini mushrooms!
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market is a major foodie landmark in Downtown LA. I vaguely remember coming here for tacos way back when I was a teenager. It’s pretty lively around the clock, and you might have a tough time getting a table on the weekends. I love that food halls offer options for everyone regardless of your dietary needs and restrictions, but we came here for one thing…
It’s not everyday that you come across a 100% vegan ramen joint, and this one even offers vegan eggs. Ramen Hood’s sunflower seed broth with kelp, shiitake, and miso is creamy and tasty without feeling heavy. The noodles were good, though not amazing. The king oyster mushrooms were too tough for my liking. The vegan egg is all looks. I’ll give them credit for attempting a vegan egg, but I wasn’t crazy about it. (I guess there’s nothing quite like a chicken period.)
The Last Bookstore
I wasn’t up for doing much that evening, but I’m glad we popped into The Last Bookstore. It’s an independently owned new and used bookstore located in a gigantic loft space. You could easily spend hours in here flipping through books, and don’t forget to visit the labyrinth upstairs. Lots of great photo ops, like the tunnel of books, but it’s tricky to get photos when it’s crowded. The rare book annex has an incredible gallery wall.
Don’t be fooled by the strip mall-esque exterior of this place, Au Lac offers vegan Vietnamese fusion in a lounge-like space. Some folks were all dressed up for dinner here. The staff seemed overwhelmed by the Saturday dinner rush and completely forgot about our table for a while. They redeemed themselves with the food though. Fresh, clean flavors. I didn’t try the chinoise salad, but it was a hit with John. I opted for the raw vegan Bun 33 noodle dish, which did not disappoint. Healthy, but still very satisfying.
Equelecua Cuban Cafe
Who would have thought that there would be a little cafe near LAX with an all vegan Cuban menu? At Equelecua Cuban Cafe, we happily chowed down on ropa vieja and their mojo wings with garlic sauce. Vegan Cuban is not new to me, but this is the best veganized version that I’ve had so far. There are a number of car rental companies nearby, so next time you pick up a car from LAX, swing by Equelecua for a delicious time.
The Getty Museum
Visiting the Getty Museum was one of the highlights of our trip, and we were graced with beautiful weather that afternoon. Even if you don’t have time for any exhibits, the gardens make the Getty worth a visit, but that’s a longer story for another time. I’ll leave you with that one photo for now.
Strolling down Venice Beach is nice, and it’s a shame that we didn’t get there before the sun had set. But if you’re looking for a cute boutique (not along the boardwalk, but a short walk away), check out Vegan Scene. Home to all things vegan, including some of my favorite cruelty-free brands like Angela Roi and Matt & Nat. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Katrina, an adorable gray and white kitty who is their Head of Customer Outreach. She wouldn’t stay still long enough for a photo!
Plant Food + Wine
This sleek, sexy restaurant by Matthew Kenney is what plant-based fine dining dreams are made of. The patio seating at Plant Food + Wine looked cozy, but we opted for a table by the fireplace in the minimalist dining room. The Plant Bowl was tasty, especially the bright orange pepper romesco sauce. The butternut and potato gnocchi was both beautiful and enjoyable. We usually skip dessert at restaurants, but everything on the dessert menu sounded so temping. The Banana Split Parfait was heavenly! Highly recommend this spot for an upscale meal in the Venice Beach area.