I love animals, just not for breakfast, lunch, or dinner anymore, nor for the snacks in between.
My journey to la vida veganista (& vegetarianism) has been a clear choice for me and almost seamless because of the exceptional choices and fabulicious flavors (minus just a few missteps when traveling and dining out). While it might not be an economic or unfathomable choice for most, it’s definitely one to consider.
So, open your mouth nice and wide and try some meatless meals this October to participate in Vegetarian Awareness Month. And—if you open your mind just a little bit, you just might find a great meal without meat in it a little more often.
Let’s suppose you’ve decided to eat less meat, or are contemplating it. Here is a list of some of the best, and highly-recommended veggie-friendly and vegan food havens from the left coast to the east and some spots in between:
This Silverlake jaunt is a vegan resto that uses organic ingredients, and has tasty gluten- and soy-free options for those with food sensitivities.
A favorite of mine for brunch (and now din din), it also has a delicious and much more extensive dinner menu. The “Chicken & Waffles” is my go-to Sunday morning must-have. It’s lightly-breaded and seared faux chicken served atop potatoes and smothered in mushroom gravy…hmm hmm good! Other brunch goodness includes the “Classic Tempeh Reuben”, grilled & marinated tempeh served on rye with layers of cashew & tofu cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 Island.
For dinner I’ve had the “Eastsider Tacos”, seasoned seitan on stone ground tortillas and topped with cashew cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and with a side of cilantro cream, pico de gallo, and black beans and brown rice. You must try vegan carrot cake and chocolate strawberry cake, they’re delish too.
I’ll most definitely be back to discover even more vegan treasures there.
Flore is located at 3818 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026. Hours vary, Mon: 11am – 4pm, Tues – Fri: 11am – 10pm, Weekends: 10am – 10 pm. Breakfast served until 1 pm.
Native Foods Cafe is a vegan restaurant designed to meet the needs of today’s discriminating, health-conscious diners looking for great-tasting food… both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Native Foods was founded 17 years ago by acclaimed vegan chef Tanya Petrovna and its success can be measured by its 6 locations in Southern California (and a 7th in Encinitas opening soon), 3 in Chicago, and in Portland, Oregon opening in November.
This is where I go for their delectable “Ensalada Azteca Salad” (with fresh avocado, cucumber and jicama salsa atop quinoa, romaine and Chef Tanya’s award winning mango lime vinaigrette and finished off with currants, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro), the “Greek Gyro” (thinly sliced Native Peppered Seitan sautéed with shallots on quinoa, steamed vegetables, and kale with lemon garlic sauce and hummus, served with grilled flatbread), and the “Chicken Run Ranch Burger” (crispy-battered Native Chicken, ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, and onions). Native Chicken is made from free range soy, wheat and pea protein.
They create their cheese by creatively blending cashews, sunflower seeds and other nuts to create textures from creamy to crumbly, and all desserts are dairy-free, cholesterol-free and refined sugar-free.
And while you’re there, do not forget the “Crispy Sweet Potatoe Fries” (lightly fried in canola and seasoned with curry), the “Watermelon Agua Fresca” (fresh watermelon juice with a touch of mint and sweetened with organic agave), and the “Chocolate Love Pie” (thick and lustfully creamy chocolate filling in a delicious spiced almond crust).
I’ve had almost everything here, and nothing has ever disappointed. This is definitely one of the best vegan places in Los Angeles!
And check out some other L.A. vegan goodies previously reported The Fast & The Savory at Tangerine Living.
Gracias Madre is serving 100% Organic Mexican cuisine in the heart of La Mission in my beloved hometown of San Francisco. Gracias Madre is vegan, and the menu is seasonal and determined by what is currently available at their organic (Biodynamic method) Be Love Farm in Pleasants Valley, California. It was started by Terces and Matthew Engelhart (of popular and renowned Café Gratitude).
Gracias Madre’s seasonal menu respects the Earth and her cycles and showcases local fruit and vegetables at their peak so that our food is fresh, vibrant and flavorful. They believe that eating local, organic food prepared simply and with love is medicine for both the body and spirit.
I love it here, it always feel warm, authentic, and well, home-y! I can never get enough of their Empanada (homemade pastry filled with grilled plantains, served on a bed of spicy mole sauce, topped with cashew cream), the Pozole (traditional hominy stew in an ancho-chile broth), the Tamal (stoneground heirloom masa steamed in the husk filled with sautéed zucchini and onions, served with beans and escabeche), Be Love Farm Peach Cobbler (served warm with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream) …and the cocteles (the sangria, mojito, and margaritas made with agave and soju are simply irresistable!)
They offer the non-GMO varieties of heirloom corn to make their handmade tortillas and tamales, and all of the cheeses, milks and ice creams are made using nuts.
Gracias Madre is located at 2211 Mission Street, San Francisco, California. Open 11am-11pm, 7 days a week.
Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant
Golden Era was introduced to me by a good friend last year when I went home for a visit. A group of us ate there together and I was amazingly surprised how mouthwatering and lush the cuisine was…it’s one of the reasons I eventually became vegan! I never thought food could taste this good.
The freshly prepared vegan dishes feature the bold and delicious flavors of Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, Indian, and Thai and everything is prepared from scratch daily and with only the freshest premium vegan ingredients…and no MSG, milk, or egg.
Golden Era is in the epicenter of the TL, the Tenderloin( or if you want to be bourgie, you’d say Tender Nob). So, by no means is it in a fancy locale, but let me tell you the food is downright ambrosial. What’s good is their specialty dishes “Happy Tamarind” with slices of soy “beef” cooked in sweet tamarind sauce and served w/ vegan chips, “The Queens Chicken” with soy “chicken” caramelized in sweet chili soy sauce and embedded on lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, and the “Pho” with Vietnamese rice noodle soup w/ organic tofu, soy protein, bean sprouts, and fresh basil.
Great taste and even better prices always wins… And, it’s so yummy too!
Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 572 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco, California 94102. Open Wed-Mon 11am – 9pm, and closed Tuesdays.
Blossom serves organic vegan cuisine in a chic atmosphere, and encourages a vegan lifestyle with its principles and the 5 locations in New York which includes, their two restaurants Blossom and Cafe Blossom, two fast-food shops called Blossom Du Jour, and Cocoa V, their vegan chocolate boutique and wine cafe.
Blossom uses fresh organic ingredients from local farms and small distribution companies and all their dishes are animal free.
There’s many tasty eats here and the noteworthy standouts are: “Porcini Cigars” with hand-rolled phyllo filled with porcini mushrooms, almonds, and ground tempeh, served over a cashew pesto, finished with pomegranate seeds, “Seitan Skewers” with bbq’d seitan meat, onions and peppers, jicama carrot coleslaw, “Southern Seitan Sandwich” with spiced breaded seitan, caramelized onions, avocado, chipotle aioli on rosemary focaccia, “Soy Bacon Cheeseburger” with caramelized onions, tapioca cheddar, soy bacon, grilled mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, chipotle aioli on a sesame bun, and “Warm Spinach Salad” with tempeh bacon, crumbled soy filet, spincah, grilled Asian pear, and a citrus dressing.
If you’re ever in NYC, check out any one of their various spots…it’s well worth the trip!
This is Miami’s first (and maybe only) 100% vegan eaterie on wheels that serves up a twist on soul food classics and where all cheeses and meats are plant-based alternatives.
Catch them if you can because the Soyrizo & Pepperjack Mac N’ Cheese is TDF, and the Pulled “Pork” Jackfruit Sandwich is my favorite, and the Sweet Potato Fries and the Portobello, Pea & Mozzarella Mac N’ Cheese are pretty darn good too.
All cheeses and meats are plant-based alternatives, and all of their sides are gluten-free, some soy-free & we have gluten-free noodles on hand at all times. They have a dedicated GF (gluten-free) fryer, as well as pans & cooking utensils.
Small selection of eats, but it’s fresh and mostly made to order, and the great price is well worth any wait. Since it’s always on the move, locations vary, check Mac’n Food Truck website for more info.
Choices Cafe is an eaterie with all kinds of Organic, Mexican, Americana, and Thai goodness…something good for all tastes, and eating philosophies. It’s located in the heart of Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, and recently I discovered this cute cafe on my last visit to Miami.
Here you’ll find some creative and lovingly prepared foods, made from fresh and organic fruits and veggies. The menu varies with daily specials and continues to grow and evolve, but they’ve created three menus to choose from “Soul-ution” with meatless alternatives to traditional foods like pizza, lasagne, burgers, and pancakes , “Raw-volution,” serves up wholesome raw foods like Pad Thai, a sprout salad, and “Evo-lution,” with healthier vegan meals like tacos, burrito, and salads.
Try the Tacos or Burrito with soy chorizo, so very yummy! I can’t wait to go back on my next visit to Florida, and see what other goodies they come up with.
What’s great here besides the great selections, but that everyone can individualize their salad, sandwich, burrito, juice or smoothie, or select from a wonderful range a ready-made plates of vegetarian sushi, rich salads and even vegan pizza if they want to.
Choices Cafe is located at 379 SW 15th Road, Miami, Florida. Open Tues – Fri 11:30am – 8:00pm, Weekend 9am – 9pm, and closed on Monday.