BEST OF LAIST

8 Great Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants Even Carnivores Love

Vegetarian and vegan food has had a bad rap as "rabbit food" for a long time. These days, it's different, especially in Los Angeles, where the cuisine has evolved rapidly in the past decade, giving even the most carnivorous among us good reason to go meatless—at least once in a while. Here are some of the best vegetarian and (gasp) vegan restaurants for meat eaters—places where almost anyone can find a satisfying, delicious, and even gluttonous meal. No teensy four-leaf salads here.

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro

Great for brunch, lunch, or dinner, Sage offers a tasty, eclectic menu. You'll find burritos covered in mole, samosas served with tamarind sauce and mango aioli, and decadent chili burgers with a seasoned portobello mushroom "patty", tempeh bacon, sun-dried tomato, cashew cheese, and homemade spicy dill pickles. They also serve a large selection of pizzas and nut-based KindKreme ice cream.

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro is located at 1700 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 989-1718

Gracias Madre

This stylish West Hollywood restaurant has made plant-based food sexy. The space is beautiful with an airy indoor area and a patio where the vibe is laid-back by day and energetic by night. Chef Chandra Gilbert serves Mexican-inspired comfort food dishes with lots of flavor. Cripsy flautas are filled with sweet potato and topped with fresh pico de gallo, cashew nacho cheese, and guacamole while sopes are piled high with beans, pickled cabbage, crema and pineapple-habenero salsa. Don't miss bar man Jason Eisner's potent cocktails made with house-made syrups, shrubs, and seasonal juices.

Gracias Madre is located at 8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood; (323) 978-2170

Doomie's Home Cookin

If you've heard of Doomie's, then you've probably heard all about their famous Big Mac, which, ironically, is part of their "secret" menu. The towering burger tastes a lot like the real thing, but it's bigger and some might say even better. The other choices at this casual vegetarian/vegan restaurant are also big on mock meat and have stick-to-your-ribs appeal—there's the fettucini alfredo, fried "chicken," and mac and cheese. A health food restaurant this is not, but it is a good place for vegetarians to grub with their meat-eating friends.

Doomie's Home Cookin is located at 1253 Vine St, (323) 469-4897

Bean Sprout Cafe

This Arcadia Taiwanese restaurant serves a fresh array of curries, soups, and rice dishes. It has a "beef" noodle soup prized for its rareness. The dan-dan mein and the dumplings are always a good choice. Regulars swear by their rainbow roll, which is nothing like the sushi roll you might be thinking of. Bean Sprout's version is more like a spring roll filled with lettuce, shredded carrots, sprouts, and crushed peanuts and topped with a bit of mayo.

Bean Sprout Cafe is located at 103 E. Huntington Dr., Arcadia; 626-254-8708

Elf Cafe

This Echo Park eatery has been a neighborhood favorite for close to a decade among meat-eaters and vegetarians, alike. The food is so hearty and flavorful that you just don't miss the meat at Elf. Chef David Martinez's Mediterranean-flavored dishes include king oyster mushroom kofta with saffron cous cous, scallion yogurt, crispy chickpeas and orange blossom dates. There's also a tempting array of starters, including risotto croquettes with smoked gouda beer sauce and dips, like cilantro hummus and the avocado tahini puree.

Elf Cafe is located at 2135 Sunset Blvd; (213) 484-6829

Organix

In the back of this little Eagle Rock market, you'll find a small kitchen serving a large menu of feel-good vegan favorites. Meatless burgers are done up with pickles, grilled onions, and tomatoes, and they even do their own version of the Big Mac called the Mac Daddy. The best of the sandwiches is a pulled-"pork" number that uses marinated jackfruit in place of meat and finishes it with slaw and pickles. Burritos and tacos are also popular.

Organix is located at 1731 Colorado Blvd; (323) 254-0284

CrossroadsMeatball.jpg

Crossroads Kitchen

The food at Chef Tal Ronnen's Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose Avenue is upscale and beautifully plated, creating a legit fine dining experience complete with craft cocktails and modern decor. Small plates include porcini-crusted smoked eggplant with caramelized onions, flatbreads topped with spicy "meatballs," and a wood-fired lasagna that's earned a cult following. Sunday brunch features french toast with almond mascarpone, fried "chicken" and waffles, and an eggless veggie chorizo frittata.

Crossroads is located at 8284 Melrose Ave; (323) 782-9245

Veggie Grill

It's a chain, but it's also a crowd pleaser, and meat-eaters tend to enjoy their burgers and pasta dishes. Salads are big and flavorful, and their bowls are loaded with vegetables. Snacks and sides like "chicken" wings, mac and cheese, and nachos always getting eaten right up. Don't forget the Sweatheart fries, sweet potato fries served with chipotle ranch dressing. Real Food Daily has similar appeal, but carnivores seem to like this place more.

Veggie Grill has many locations. Check the website to find one closest to you.