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There's are a few unfair notions vegans come up against when trying to explain their eating preferences to non-vegans. It's that nothing satisfies vegans, that vegans demand too much of their food, and most of all, that vegans are missing out on the best the world has to offer. So, putting that to the test, let's just dive into the best of vegan restaurants in California. Thirteen cities, thirteen vegan destinations..
It's an upscale hipster vegan restaurant in Los Angeles with organic GMO-free food with locally sourced ingredients that will keep the staunchest carnivore coming back for more. It's not just the food though - the philosophy is vegan too. The cutlery asks: 'What are you grateful for?' The menu item read differently too. Have a Vivacious as an appetiser, with a Pure salad side. We like the sound of the Inspired asparagus risotto.
It's a tough world out there for lovers of vegans who also love Mexican food. Most of this poor, ignored community have to prep their own tacos and burritos. So it is no surprise the San Francisco Bay Area is a mecca for those who discover it. It looks like a normal diner, but it is not. Beautiful little portions - crisp chips and plump quesadillas, black bean burgers and crabless cakes - are as much of a delight to look at as they are to eat.
Price for two: $30
Plumeria, 4661 Park Blvd, University Heights, San Diego
If a newbie vegan ever complains they miss savory food this vegetarian Thai restaurant ought to make keep them from converting back. Animal products are strict no-no's (with some exceptions for egg), yet none of the delicious tang of Thai cuisine is lost. The portions are massive. The ingredients are mostly organic. And the scent in the air is mouthwatering.
Price for two: $30
Walia Ethiopian Cuisine, 2208 Business Cir, San Jose
This homely restaurant's placement on this list is honorary, since they do serve non-vegan items, including meat. But considering that Ethiopian vegan cooking is a rare bird, we thought we'd mention it. Also, more vegan restaurants need to remember that wine and beer are friendly to vegan menus. Try the veggie combo, a mix of the highlights from the vegetarian menu in this vegan restuarant in California
Vegans like their food on the go too, and they don't mind if their meals aren't always solid. The lightning quick service at this grab-and-go juice bar has propelled it into a spectacular success. Their cute glass juice bottles are a kaleidoscope of color, almost collectible in their aesthetic. That's not to say they don't have real eats. Just try the spring rolls, fruit cups and protein bars!
Price for two: $15
Veggie Grill, University City 4353, La Jolla Village Dr, La Jolla
Shut up naysayers who complain about vegan inventiveness by taking them out to lunch here. Huge portions at reasonable prices. Food served in a beautiful aesthetic presentation of color and shape. For proof, try the crowd favourite Sonoran Bowl. And you will not be able to tell the texture of the vegan Buffalo Wings apart from real chicken. And just in case you were wondering if it looks like a classic grill house, it does!
For those of you still not sure what it means, Shangri-La was a fictional paradise in a famous 1933 novel. And the proprietors at this vegan restaurant are living up to that name in every way! Massive portions and a peaceful atmosphere make this wholly organic and seasonal menu one of the best you'll ever sample. Everyone comes back for more! Being contemplative over lunch was never more delicious!
You know a vegetarian restaurant is badass when its menu items are named Native Scorpion Burger or a Moroccan Earth Bowl. Bowls and burgers and wraps make up the bulk of its offerings. Their drinks are like an explosion of refreshment, especially the Lavender lemonade. And as one reviewer puts it 'the nachos are the bomb'. The cupcakes are really pretty. And if you want to eat here every day (and you will want to), their combo prices are great.
Yes, the best vegan restaurant in Anaheim serves meat too, but don't complain until you try the mango salad. It tastes like a burst of cool water on your face on a hot day feels. Not kidding. A restaurant that is equally superlative at vegan and non-vegan options promotes peace in the world, bringing carnivores and herbivores together over a great lunch. If that's not goal worthy of a vegan we don't know what is.
In every way, this is a classic American cafe, other than everything being vegan. The menu is a combination of sandwiches, smoothies, juices, and plates. Mix in the exemplary customer service, a wine list and a really mid-western vibe, and you have a neighborhood staple.
Price for two: $30
Appu’s Cafe, 3816 Woodruff Ave Ste 100B, Long Beach
People don't usually think of spicy Indian restricting itself to vegetarian choices and they are so wrong. You'll find out exactly how wrong at this devoutly non-meat cafe. It's not just the food though. Any one who has spent time in India will tell you that every element of this restaurant - the decor, the seating, the lights, the color scheme, the presentation - is Indian. And not tourist brochure Indian either. Authentic neighborhood-style Indian.
Even the most die-hard carnivore will have to at least put to the test a frequently heard claim of this restaurant - the vegetarian chicken is better than the actual chicken. But if anyone asks, let them know that the 'Loving' in the name has all gone into the exemplary fusion food, not the service. The waiters and cooks are charmingly grumpy, and in a way, that makes the experience better. Try the coconut cream pandan cake. And take a picture of the menu, where the food items are cutely named 'The Guru' or 'The Dharma'.
Garden Of Eat’n, 588 Old Mammoth Rd, Mammoth Lakes
You walked in here because you just had to give props for the cutesy name. And then you just had to give props for everything else. The flowery tablecloth. The whiteboards with colorful menus written in cursive. The green vines hanging over the windows. The adorable purple and orange decor. And you haven't even gotten to the food yet. Don't worry. You will. And it will be worth it.
Price for two: $25
If this list won't shut your non-vegan friends up, nothing will, and you might as well let them continue to shoot off at the mouth. It's too bad really, and ironic. Coz it's them who are actually missing out on the best of your world.