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The Best Vegan Restaurants in Los Angeles

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Photo courtesy of Sun Cafe on Facebook
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Los Angeles is home to heaps of great meat-free restaurants, meaning that those going vegan don't have to abstain from a great meal out. Here are some of our favorite vegan restaurants around town.

Sun Cafe

This cute little raw and vegan cafe in Studio City makes five kinds of seed and nut cheeses from scratch, has their own in-house soyrizo recipe, and whips up some fantastic gluten-free desserts. Some highlights include their unique wheat-free noodles, like the golden beet linguini and the quinoa pasta mac and cheese. There's also fresh pressed juice, smoothies and kombucha on order. They might be in the Valley, but the ample free parking and cute patio are worth the drive.

Sun Cafe is located at 10820 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, (818) 927-4100

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Sage

Sage in Echo Park follows a farm-to-table model, serving guests fresh, local, in-season produce. The brunch, lunch and dinner menus are nicely well-rounded, offering items like Spinach Avocado and Walnut Sausage Florentine, Falafel Bowl, Butternut Squash Taco and Gluten-Free Coconut Curry. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also important to note for those with sweet teeth: KindKreme is served in-house, too.

Sage Vegan Bistro is located at 1700 West Sunset Blvd in Echo Park, (213) 989-1718

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Photo courtesy of Dr. J's on Facebook
Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

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Dr. Juliet Tien suffered from serious health issues when she was a child growing up in the countryside in Taiwan, but thankfully a local doctor volunteered to raise her and teach her ancient herbology, which ended up saving her life. She now implements those ideas at her Downtown LA cafe, which uses both macrobiotic cooking and Ayurvedic techniques. Though the story is clinical, the food is far from it. She and chef Mika Matsui put an Asian twist on things, offering classics that vegans may miss like vegan Spam masubi and vegetable bulgogi. They also make a vegan Philly portabello cheesesteak that's worth a try.

Dr. J's is located at 334 S Main St, Los Angeles, (213) 537-0905

Shojin

With a motto of "organic and natural," Shojin serves up its Japanese vegan and macrobiotic cuisine in both Downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, giving vegans and vegetarians a delicious option for sushi far above the standard vegetable roll. The myriad of fish-less sushi rolls include ingredients like pumpkin tempura, burdock root, baked barbecue seitan and seasoned sweet enoki mushroom. There are also salads, soups, ramen noodle bowls (only at the DTLA location) and seitan-based entrees. And of course, sake.

Shojin is located in Downtown L.A. at 333 South Alameda Street, Suite 310, (213) 617-0305, and in Culver City at 12406 Washington Boulevard, (310) 390-0033

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Photo courtesy of Cafe Gratitude on Facebook
Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude gets a lot of guff for their thankful hippie attitudes, but the food is actually really good. There are a variety of plant-based bowls on the menu, but a few of our favorites are the "I Am Trusting," three-grain tempeh scramble with seasonal veggies, and the "I Am Whole," a macrobiotic bowl with sea vegetables, braised Garnet yams, adzuki beans, sautéed kale, house-made kimchi, sea whip and black sesame seed gomasio with your choice of local brown rice or quinoa and garlic-tahini sauce.

Cafe Gratitude is located at 639 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 580-6383

Crossroads

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The Mediterranean-themed vegan restaurant opened in March and serves up a fine-dining yet playful experience, courtesy of Oprah's former chef Tal Ronnen. Popular plates include the Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, Wood-Fired Meaty Lasagna and Scallopini with Marsala-Glazed Morel Mushrooms. We know it's hard to believe such dishes could be vegan, but they are, as is the new lunchtime cheese line. The bold and inventive plates match the chandeliered, wood-floored interior, where diners can also sip imaginative, seasonal cocktails poured by Jeremy Lake, like the Shotgun Willie (Barbancourt rum, strawberry-lavender syrup, lime, roasted rosemary) and the Sophia (lime, grapefruit, kalamata syrup, mezcal, tequila, candied olive).

Crossroads is located at 8284 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, (323) 782-9245

Native Foods

We're all about meals in bowls, piled high with veggies, rice and protein, and Native Foods' bowls are some of the best. One of our favorites is the Soul Bowl, made with Southern fried "chicken" with hearty red beans and brown rice, steamed veggies, and kale dressed with ranch and BBQ sauce. It's served with homemade cornbread. (While we do love real fried chicken, their seitan and tempeh are made in-house, and make for an excellent meat-free treat.) Their classic vegan deli reuben, garden pizza, and peanut butter parfait are also up there.

Native Foods has locations in Culver City, Santa Monica, and L.A. proper, with more on the way shortly.

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Gracias Madre's el plato comes with butternut squash, cashew nacho cheese, plantains, cilantro pesto, escabeche, rice, pico de gallo and beans (Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist)
Gracias Madre

Executive Chef Chandra Gilbert created a flavor-rich, seasonal menu for those "sitting at the mother's table," with eats like GMO-free, organic, full-kernel heirloom corn tortillas; organic beans; farm-fresh veggies grown at the family's Vacaville Be Love Farm; butternut squash quesadillas; cashew cheese and crema; cornmeal and potato cakes with avocado; phenomenal mole sauces; roasted chipotle peppers; and of course, trio taco plates. Service can be patchy, but it's worth it for the food. The outdoor patio is one of the best in the city, too. Don't forget to leave an intention card at the shrine before you leave.

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

Seed Kitchen

The vegan, macrobiotic cuisine here is prepared with locally grown, organic produce when possible, and the cafe is dedicated to sustainable, green business practices. We've tried quite a few of Seed's plates, and our favorites are the Seed Chop-Chop salad; the Soyzzarella, Tomato and Basil Panini and the BBQ Tempeh Burger. But our all-time favorite continues to be the Tempeh Chorizo Tacos. The crunchy taco trio is stuffed full of Lechasseur's savory tempeh chorizo, and we readily admit our constant craving. Made with maple and/or brown rice sweetener, the mousses must be sampled.

Seed Kitchen is located at 1604 Pacific Avenue in Venice, (310) 396-1604