Beginners Guide to Eating Vegan Around Highland Park in L.A. »
Move somewhere new, and then pinpoint the nearest vegan donut. That’s the best practice, right? Luckily for me, I moved to the Eagle Rock-Highland Park border in Los Angeles, where there just happens to be a gooey epic of a donuttery rightfully named Donut Friend.
Ah, Donut Friend, the glaze-coated BFF you’ve always dreamed of, topped liberally with rainbow sprinkles.
Owned by musician-record producer Mark Trombino, Donut Friend on York at 51st has all kinds of crazy delicious donut combos — or “signature combinations” — named after bands. All the donuts are vegan and most of the fillings and toppings are vegan too (everything is clearly marked).
Recently, I got the Nutellavision, a fluffy sugar donut injected with vegan Nutella and topped with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. WHAT. I would also recommend Rites of Sprinkles, Drive Like Jelly, and Bacon 182, with vegan bacon.
Also on the same strip of York there’s new-ish pizza place, Town. They always have two vegan slice options behind the glass along with regular pizza, and those vegan slices are thin crust heaven. They do one with Daiya vegan cheese and one cheese-less option, with rotating toppings.
Sandwiched in between Donut Friend and Town, there’s Scoops, which is another branch of the popular LA ice cream shop with inventive flavors including many vegan scoops. Recent non-dairy options include salty chocolate, maple Oreo, and Cinnamon Coconut Burnt Sugar. So yes, three amazingly vegan/vegan-friendly none-to-healthy shops dotting the same small strip of land. It’s all just so decadent.
I promise there are other streets besides York. Highland Park also boasts tempeh-bacon experts/mostly vegan & gluten-free Kitchen Mouse Cafe on Figueroa. The adorable breakfast spot serves the popular Buffalo Bowl with brown rice, black beans, collard greens, yams, and topped with dill cashew and buﬀalo sauces, along with more perfect brunch dishes like the smoky Tempeh Reuben, served open-face, with caraway sauerkraut, cashew cheese, and chipotle aioli. Not only do they have a way with tempeh bacon, they’ve really mastered sauces here.
For a tad fancier evening out than say, splitting a jelly donut on the walk home, there are a few vegan options at popular sit-down Italian eatery Maximiliano, including the vegan pizza with pomodoro, spinach, mushroom, kalamata olive, eggplant, and best of all, truffle oil.
You could also try Good Girl Dinette on 56th at Figueroa, a very vegan-friendly Vietnamese diner with vegetarian pho with rice noodles and tofu, mushroom imperial rolls, and rice cakes with crisp scallion tofu.
Around the Highland Park-Eagle Rock border, there’s also pop-up Plant Food for People, which shows up regularly at vegan grocer-deli Organix in Eagle Rock on Colorado, the Eagle Rock Brewery in Glassell Park, and many neighborhood spots. They make the best jackfruit tacos you’ve ever had, hands down.
And speaking of Organix, stop by this small grocer for your essentials (Earth Balance cheddar squares and Kombucha) but also for that little window of a deli. It’s a porthole to sandwich paradise.
Their sandwiches often come decked out in Beyond Meat and Veganaise, or in the case of the Pulled Pork, shredded jackfruit and cabbage slaw. The seasonal menu also includes gourmet vegan hot dogs, a fried “chicken” sandwich, veggie burgers, and the Poncho (Vegan Carne Asada) burrito. Everything I’ve tried there so far has been worth the wait.
In fact, Organix is the first spot a friend recommended when I mentioned I’d be moving to the area. And what a great suggestion it was.
This leads me to my next point: Surely there are more spots I haven’t yet discovered in the Highland Park/Eagle Rock/Glassell Park region — vegan meals that I’ve missed with this tasty breakdown. Let me know in the comments. And hey, let’s split a vegan donut when you’re in the neighborhood.