Life—like healthy eating—is all about balance. So, after reaching for that second helping of mashed potatoes and gravy or apple pie, maybe it’s time to work a few plant-based food options into your party rotation. Here are a handful of recommendations for Meatless Monday and beyond.
Little Pine in Echo Park is back open for epic brunches on the back patio with Lemon Poppy Pancakes and avocado toast with heirloom tomatoes. Another good option for a gathering is Sage Vegan Bistro in Pasadena, with addictive Cauliflower “Wings,” Loaded Nachos, and Chili “Cheese” Fries for game-day cravings without the guilt.
Along those lines, restaurateur and food festival producer Nic Adler, founder of Nic’s on Beverly (and son of music producer Lou Adler and actress Britt Ekland), decided to add a fun 1950s retro-diner vibe into the mix with Monty’s Good Burger. “I like to transport people with food,” Adler says. “It wasn’t acceptable just to walk up to a counter and order some fried fake food and go. We are looking to entertain.” The quality and execution are so good that you won’t miss “real” burgers, fries, tots, shakes, and the new plant-based crispy chicken sandwich. This is a great stop for lunch until late night. Monty’s has four locations, including Echo Park.
Highland Park now has an outpost of Chinatown favorite Burgerlords, serving a proprietary blend of 30 vegetables, grains, nuts, and spices for patties prepared fresh daily. Nearby, Joy on York is inspired by Taiwanese street food (and is the sister eatery of Pine & Crane in Silver Lake). The menu has plenty of vegan options and a hefty daily selection of farm-grown veggies. Vegetarian Mapo Tofu is a Chinese stew seasoned with fermented chili paste, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn, and mushroom, and you can order a side of vegan sesame scallion bread, which is also used for the braised bean curd sandwich. Even the Forbidden Rice Pudding with coconut milk and sweet potato is vegan.
If you’re looking for a cozy, art-filled, date night, go downtown for gluten-free, macrobiotic, plant-based fare at Shojin on Alameda (also located in Culver City). Japanese-born Executive Chef Jun Matoshiro was classically trained in Kaiseki and serves clean food using zero refined sugar or table salt and won’t even succumb to a microwave. Everything is organic and natural, along with biodegradable and combustible tableware from WASARA in Japan. The mantra is to serve food that is “healthy for the body, mind and soul.” Menu greats include vegan sushi and sashimi, Truffle Maitake and Shiitake Mushroom Tempura, or a chef-tasting menu that includes Shojin Shiso Gyoza—and don’t forget the sake pairings.
Little Flower Candy Co. on Colorado is known for crafted caramels, but also has seasonal vegan pumpkin and buckwheat banana muffins, along with an array of gluten-free cookies and bars. Café menu hits include a power veggie salad with vegan blue cheese and brown rice bowls, and if you want to cater an event at home, try the vegan enchiladas.
And, for comfort food for a crowd, recently launched Vegan Sunday Supper (with Celestino Drago consulting) offers a six-layer, plant-based, sausage lasagna.