I have been home from Los Angeles for about a week and I am already planning my next trip back to La-La-Land. If that doesn’t tell you how much I love this city, I don’t know what does.
When my friend, Crystal, texted me out of the blue in mid-October with a message saying “Hey, girl, have you ever been to LA?” and then proceeded to tell me about this incredible vegan festival that was taking place in mid-November, my initial response (at least internally) was “there’s no way we can plan such a big trip so fast. I haven’t saved up money for this. I’m running my own business. I work a part time job. There is just no way.”
Instead of responding that way, I asked for more info on this vegan festival. Once she told me about Circle V, I knew we had to do whatever it would take to make it happen… and that’s exactly what we did.
Before we get to the food and the festival, I want to tell you about a MUST for vegans visiting the Los Angeles area.
I am vegan first and foremost for the animals. I went vegan for the animals before I really researched or understood the incredible health and environmental benefits. If you’ve read my story, you know how putting names and faces with the animals on my plate turned me off of the meat industry and eventually lead to me going full vegan. Farm Sanctuary in Acton, California (about a 45-minute drive from Hollywood) gave me another opportunity to connect with the animals.
There is a guided tour here where you are given the opportunity to meet, love on, and hear the stories of the 100+ animals who are lucky enough to call Farm Sanctuary their home. This was one thousand percent the best part of our trip for me.
But second best was the food and I’m sure that’s what you’re really here to see.
I tried to put these all in order from favorite to least favorite, but I just could NOT do it, so here they are in no particular order.
My five favorite vegan food spots in LA:
We actually ate at Crossroads Kitchen twice during our five-day trip. It’s apparently a pretty hoppin’ joint for celebrities. During our first visit we saw Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 fame. During our second visit, we spotted Tobey Maguire of Spider-Man 1, 2, and 3 fame. I’m not going to tell you that I squealed when I saw him enter the restaurant, but I’m also not going to tell you I didn’t.
Probably the most popular item on the all-vegan menu is the famous Impossible Burger. It’s only served Monday-Friday, while supplies last, so make sure you plan around that if you’re wanting to give this burger a try. Also, learn from my mistake. Don’t order the special with spicy peppers and pepper jack cheese. I didn’t get a good taste for the burger over the spiciness of the other food. It was delicious, but I didn’t feel like I got the Impossible Burger experience, ya know?
During our second visit, I decided to try the chicken and waffles and I made an excellent choice. The waffles were fluffy and light and the chicken tasted how I remember fried chicken tasting. The syrup was an unusual combination of hot sauce and maple syrup, but it worked well for this dish.
Funny story. For our second trip, we couldn’t decide between a few dishes, so we decided to get three entrees and some sides. When a waiter from the kitchen came to deliver our food, he had this look of “oh no, there must be some mistake here” before he went back to the kitchen only to learn all of that food was indeed for us, haha. No shame in our vegan game.
Pro tip: Get the chocolate milkshake to go
2. Donut Friend
You’re going to have a hard time picking just one flavor, so I recommend you don’t. Even if you go for a dozen, it’ll be hard narrowing these down, but I’ll give you some recommendations because I know just how hard it can be. Crystal and I each got six donuts so we could eat some and kindly bring some back to our boys. We don’t have anything like this in Kansas City…. yet.
- Nutella Vision
- Polar Berry Club
- Strawberry Lab *my favorite*
- Pumpkin Piebald
- Fritter Seems Forever
You can find full descriptions and a menu, including limited edition donuts, right here.
3. Sage Bistro
Sage Bistro is another place we visited twice. While our service was lackluster for the first visit, the food was so good that we decided to give it another chance. Good thing, because brunch here is perfect.
Visit one: I got the Baja Tacos. Anything with fried avocado is a winner in my book. We also split the buffalo cauliflower wings. Just typing that out made me start to drool a little.
Visit two: I typically go for sweet breakfasts, but after all the sweets on our first half of the trip, I was craving something a little more savory. I ended up ordering the Breakfast Bowl with hash browns, tofu scramble, tempeh sausage, rice, beans, salsa verde, pico de gallo, and some sort of cheesy sauce that I could lick right off my fingers. Our service was also better this trip. I can’t guarantee that the service will always be great, but the food will be!
I’ll admit that we got a little anxious when we showed up and this place was empty. I mean, we had every single table available to choose from, so we thought maybe this couldn’t be all that great.
Turns out that we just showed up at the wrong time. By the time we sifted through the all-vegan menu and finally made some decisions, the tables had filled up.
The next things to fill up were our stomachs. We both ended up getting variations of their soy chicken. Crystal ordered their orange chicken and I had the chicken panini with sundried tomatoes, avocado, and garlic veganaise. Both were delicious. When I go back, I’ll definitely be getting my own order of orange chicken and not sharing with a single soul. Or maybe I’ll try the vegan short ribs.
I’m not used to having so many options!
Fans of Shark Tank may recognize this place.
The options here are basically limitless. You can choose from signature flavors or choose whatever your heart desires and make it your own.
If you choose to make your own, you’ll first choose a frosting. Flavor options include chai, orange, cream cheese, peanut butter, marshmallow, and about a dozen others.
Then you choose toppings. You can add cookie dough, brownie bites, pretzels, bananas, caramel sauce and/or just about any other topping you can think of.
I personally felt a little overwhelmed with trying to come up with my own flavor, so I chose the signature flavor Cookie Monster with cream cheese frosting, cookie dough, and chocolate drizzle. I have zero regrets.
When your friend/significant other/cousin/grandmother/dog texts you and asks if you want to go to LA, do it. Just do it.