I hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream of all of the delicious vegan food. No really—this happened. Two weeks ago, I traveled to SoCal for a business trip, but naturally had to check out all of the vegan hotspots while I was there. Normally, traveling with non-vegans is hard because (of course) they want to try all of the non-vegan restaurants out. However, I was lucky enough to be traveling with a co-worker/friend of mine who appreciated a good plant-based menu. You can bet your bottom dollar that I had been trolling all of the Instagram influencers to find which trendy vegan spots to put on my hit list. And while we weren’t able to visit all of them, we ended up going to quite a few that I think are worthy of an Instagram post. So here we are. Hope you enjoy (and don’t get too hungry, haha!).
cafe gratitude, newport beach
I had heard about Cafe Gratitude from so many different people on so many different Instagram accounts. When I posted on my Instagram story (shameless plug, go follow me here!) asking for recommendations, the number one restaurant that people told me to try was Cafe Gratitude—and boy, it didn’t disappoint!
For starters, the interior was gorgeous. I’m not sure if all of their locations are as pretty as this one, but the one in Newport Beach was totally Instagram worthy. The tables were white and marbled, and there were succulent plants everywhere. Clearly, the folks behind Cafe Gratitude wanted anyone and everyone to want to take photos and post them on Instagram.
The food, however, stole the show. Forget Instagram aesthetics for a moment, and let’s talk about variety and flavor. While Cafe Gratitude isn’t a solely vegan eatery, they did have plenty of vegan options to choose from. I ended up dining on the “Powerful” Superfood Granola bowl which consisted of homemade coconut yogurt topped with fresh quinoa granola and Incan and mixed berries. The yogurt in this bowl was hands-down the best I have ever tried.
Of course, I couldn’t not get one of their delicious-sounding lattes. To make things even better, all of the dairy-free milks were made from scratch daily. I decided to go simple and order a decaf latte with homemade almond milk—it was wonderful.
coffee dose, costa mesa
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I’m a huge @shutthekaleup fan. Jeanette (the founder of @shutthekaleup) had posted about Coffee Dose several times, and the humorous—and sometimes vulgar—lattes caught my attention. And while I love a witty latte, I don’t enjoy spending money on food/drinks that only look good, not taste good. However, I knew that if Jeanette was recommending Coffee Dose, then it must be good.
My co-worker and I made our way to Costa Mesa, and as soon as we walked into the cafe we already knew that it was a place made for Instagram photos. From the neon signs and artsy back patio with a wall painting that read “SIT DOWN, BE HUMBLE” (Kendrick Lamar fans, where you at?) to the abundance of plants all around the interior, it was clear that I needed to whip out my iPhone camera to snap quality Instagram content. As dumb as it sounds, the place had so many photo opportunities that I couldn’t pass up.
As for my order, I got the “Goldie.” This drink was a concoction of organic turmeric, cinnamon, vanilla, oat milk, and espresso. Trust me when I say there’s nothing better than a good turmeric latte, especially one that’s not too spicy! I would definitely recommend Coffee Dose if you want tasty coffee drinks accompanied by Instagram-worthy decor.
vibe organic kitchen & juice, newport beach
We honestly stumbled upon Vibe in lieu of being in a rush to get to the business conference we were attending that day. Thank goodness for Yelp, because I don’t think we would have found this place otherwise! Tucked into a strip mall in Newport Beach was this lovely and delicious juice bar. Since we were in a hurry, we decided to grab smoothies to fuel the rest of our afternoon. While the interior isn’t as flashy as Cafe Gratitude or Coffee Dose, it was the perfect spot to stop to grab something quick, nourishing, and tasty.
I always go for green smoothies whenever I have a smoothie. Why, you ask. Well, I love getting my greens in even if I know I don’t have time to chow down a whole salad or a plate of veggies. This delicious drink, dubbed the “Green Junkie", was a blend of kale, spinach, celery, banana, pineapple, and spirulina. I decided to sub the vegan protein powder for raw hemp seeds, because I didn’t want the protein powder to overthrow the flavor of the smoothie. Overall, it was a super tasty way to pack in all of the goods needed to fuel the rest of our busy day!
great white, venice
My coworker had been hyping up Great White at least a week before our trip. After she had initially told me about it, of course I did what any other social media savvy person would do, I looked them up on Instagram. On their feed was a variety of colorful and delicious looking food. If you know me, you know that what struck my eye on their feed was the bright blue smoothie bowl. Before even stepping foot into Great White’s walls, I already knew that I was going to dine on.
The restaurant itself is housed on prime real-estate: a block away from Venice Beach, across the street from the hanging (and very photo op. worthy) Venice sign, and the hotspot itself has indoor-outdoor seating that’s perfect for California’s warm temperatures. Since it was cooler outside, we decided to sit inside but since the walls were completely open it felt as if we were sitting on the patio with the rest of the diners and their dogs.
As I mentioned above, I already knew what I wanted to eat. Behold, the Blue Smoothie Bowl. A beautiful blend of banana, pineapple, passion fruit, e3 live, and chia seeds topped with homemade granola, fresh berries, and an edible flower. If this bowl doesn’t scream “California Girl,” I don’t know what does!
erewhon market, venice
If you follow ANYONE on Instagram who lives in California, then chances are you’ve heard of Erewhon Market. If you haven’t heard of Erewhon, then just imagine a glorified Whole Foods with more vegan options, more exotic pre-made foods, and a heck of a lot more expensive—seriously, Erewhon makes “Whole Paycheck” look like a joke.
Anyways, we went to Erewhon twice during our three-day stay in California. Both times, I tried something new. The first night I decided to try their raw burrito which consisted of a zucchini, apple, flax, coconut, and turmeric raw wrap filled with “taco meat” (AKA sunflower seeds, walnuts, and spices), romaine lettuce, mangos, cashew cheese, tomatoes, and salsa. This wrap was hands-down one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten…and 100% vegan!
The second time we went to Erewhon, I decided to fill my bowl with ingredients from their salad bar, as I was taking it to-go with me on our flight back to Chicago. I added kelp noodles, roasted veggies, cabbage, micro greens, organic romaine, and a little bit of quinoa to create a tasty salad. To top it off, I drizzled the bowl with liquid aminos and oil-free balsamic.
kreation, los angeles
Kreation has to be one of the fanciest smoothie/juice bars I have ever stepped foot in. Forget what you know about smoothies (yes, I’m talking about your oh-so-basic strawberry banana smoothie), because Kreation has some fancy blends.
We stopped by Kreation in Los Angeles immediately after our 4-hour flight. Since our flight left Chicago at around 6am, we had not eaten anything all day, so it’s safe to say we were famished. Truthfully, I was a little underwhelmed by this Kreation location, as everything was already prepackaged—they were not making smoothies on location. However, I was hungry and needed some good nourishment and hydration, so I decided to grab the Warrior bottled smoothie.
Inside this purple blend was banana, pineapple, beets, cucumbers, spinach, basil, orange, grapefruit, blueberry, turmeric, acaí powder, camu camu, flax seeds, and pomegranate powder. It was delicious, filling, and really hit the spot. Would I recommend Kreation? Probably not this location, as I would have liked to visit one of their actual cafes. With that being said, for a quick on-the-go smoothie, I definitely think that Kreation is a good option that suits all dietary needs.
Have you ever been to California before? If so, what are your favorite places to eat? How about your favorite things to do? Let me know in the comments below so I can add them to my hit list the next time I’m in the West Coast!