Vegan travel is off-the-beaten-path travel. Vegan travelers know sometimes we have to go out of the way to find the one vegan or vegetarian restaurant in the city. Oftentimes, we’re connecting buses and trains and walking farther than other travelers who can just stroll to the city center and grab a bite for a couple of bucks. Although there are dozens of delicious vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles basin, when planning your vegan LA trip, going just a little out of your way north to the San Fernando Valley is a must. The Valley is home to some of the city’s vegan restaurant standouts.
Madeleine Bistro- Considered by many to be the top vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles. Since opening its doors in 2005, Madeleine Bistro- owned by preeminent chef, Dave Anderson- has been through many positive changes. Most recently, it began offering The Bistro Box, a weekly home meal service available on Mondays for delivery or pick-up. It’s an excellent alternative to room service on those days when you want to lounge around the hotel pool. Dining-in hours are limited to Friday, Saturday and Sunday and change often. It is recommended that you call in advance. Recommended: Red Beet Tartare, Porcini-crusted Tofu Scallops, Sunday brunch.
Vinh Loi Tofu- Known for its creamy yet firm, made-on-the-premises tofu and heart-healthy soups, Vietnamese Vinh Loi Tofu is located in a strip mall, unassuming yet filled with surprises. Anyone who’s ever thought tofu was boring has not been to Vinh Loi. They can do things with tofu that will have vegan naysayers second-guessing all their preconceived thoughts. Not only are the dishes delectable, but owner, marathoner and chef, Kevin Tran, makes everyone feel at home with his infectious joie de vivre. Meeting Kevin is worth the visit. Recommended dishes: soups and my personal favorite not on the menu: Spicy, curry udon noodles with tofu.
SunPower Natural Café- Located in Studio City, SunPower Natural Café offers an assortment of California-style dishes that will delight new and veteran vegans alike. Its warm orange-peachy interior is a pleasant atmosphere to delight in Los Angeles vegan, organic cuisine. SunPower also offers detoxes and hosts cooking classes with local chefs. The service is very friendly too. Closed Sundays. Recommended: SunPower Nachos, Blueberry Kale Smoothie, SunPower Pizza.
Juicy Ladies – A woman-owned café in Woodland Hills, Juicy Ladies is dedicated to improving their patrons’ lives through organic foods. They offer an assortment of juices, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, raw foods and desserts. This little strip mall find, which also sells health products, hosts detox retreats in Southern California. There’s plenty of outdoor seating for when it’s sunny out. Recommended: Un-tuna salad sandwich.
Vegan-friendly mentions: Follow Your Heart & Hugo’s. While one is vegetarian and one is omni, respectively, both are two of the most vegan-friendly restaurants in the Valley. Follow Your Heart is, afterall, home of Vegenaise and the best vegan cream cheese and sour cream possibly ever.
Here’s hoping The Veggie Grill and Native Foods Café establish locations in the Valley one day soon. Resources for Vegan LA events and eateries: VeganEvents.org, HappyCow.net.
Read more from Feather on her blog, Vegan Around the World.