LOS ANGELES | guides by honestly, though

vegan-honestly-though-Los-angeles

I am absolutely in love with Los Angeles. So much so that during our last trip, Maxim and I decided (on a total whim) to cancel our flight home and extend our trip. We ate almost exclusively at all-vegan restaurants, walked way more than an LA local would feel comfortable with and soaked up every last drop of Vitamin D. While a little (lot) extra at times, I've fallen in love with the vibes. Scroll through for my favorites spots to hit up for drinks, food and a little sweat sesh. 

 

 
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 📍cafe gratitude

📍cafe gratitude

 📍cafe gratitude

📍cafe gratitude

 

WHAT TO EAT & DRINK IN LOS ANGELES 

Gracias Madre

A cute, 100% plant-based restaurant hip to celeb spotting and outdoor seating. Their batched cocktails are worth the Uber alone, but the real draw is Mexican inspired menus that stay away from processed vegan ingredients (like vegan cheese shreds). Their spicy margarita was everything I wanted in a refreshing cocktail, but it's the chorizo tacos that left me hot and heavy. 

Pot Cafe

This coffee shop (and perfect place to answer emails) is nestled right in Koreatown within The Line Hotel. They serve Pressed Juicery, great coffee, chai pudding and other breakfast basics. The real draw is the ample seating — especially booths — and a bar at the opposite end of the light-drench room. With daily happy hours. 

Cafe Gratitude

An uber trendy 100% plant-based restaurant with locations all over town. Their food is SO GOOD — so much so that we went back two more times before leaving. They're catering to an instagram audience, with light drenched locations, endless plants, and marble tables. Instead of ordering meal names, you state an affirmation (which is then repeated back to you). For example, you can be Eclectic and you'll receive the buffalo cauliflower. 

Coffee at Sasquatch

Right downtown in WeHo, Coffee for Sasquatch is a clean line, ultra modern, v minimal type of LA coffee joint. Their coffee isn't above and beyond, but the location is strong enough to keep you around — and snap some instas. 

 📍real food daily 

📍real food daily 

 📍coffee for sasquatch

📍coffee for sasquatch

Alfred Coffee & Tea

Insanely trendy (just check all of their locations on insta) and perfect for snapping a few pics. Their pumpernickel bread is vegan, FYI, and a total must order. I also swear by their match tea. 

Commissary

Their brunch is not super vegan, but honestly, though their location is reason enough to make a trip. Get your weekly fill of instagram content while sipping on one of their many cocktails. Grab a spot at the bar or along the communal tables. 

Real Food Daily

*Named best vegan brunch in America* — a fact I do not take lightly, which had me running from spin class straight to one of their outdoor tables. I tried their burrito, beet burger and potato wedges with vegan mayo. I returned to them at LAX for one of their basic bowls with tofu and noodles. Try their treats, as well, like their insanely good chocolate chip cookies or a slice of their pie. 

Crossroads Kitchen

Maxim (self-proclaimed labrador puppy when it comes to his eating choices) called this one of this top 5 favorite meals ever. And he's not alone — this über popular spot tucked off Melrose is a mediterranean inspired tapas joint where everything is made from plants. Some of the popular dishes in this constantly changing menu? Calamari with hearts of palm, taquitos made with impossibly foods meat and lasagna with ricotta cheese. 

Dinosaur Cafe

A kitchy little cafe near Y7 Studio Silver Lake. It's the perfect place to grab some java after your yoga studio. 

 📍gracias madre

📍gracias madre

Umami Burger

THEY SERVE THE IMPOSSIBLE BURGER AND THAT'S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. Maxim and I got different burgers, but according to you guys, the truffle burger seemed better. 

Taste of India

Last time I was in LA (for 24 hours), we made sure to eat here for dinner. Justin Beiber loved the place, and the dimly lit restaurant and amble floor cushion seating was the exact vibe we were looking for. But it was the food — INCREDIBLE INDIAN FOOD — that sealed the deal and left us begging for more. Unfortunately, the location has since moved to Sunset Blvd, downsized the seating, installed sterilized lighting and cheap, cookie cutter interior and completely ruined the place. If you're getting takeout, this is a must. If not, definitely don't. 

Pump 

Ultra trendy spot for amazing people watching — we had drinks and apps, while watching the world go by on a Thursday night. Also where I famously freaked out more about seeing Ken and Giggy than Lisa Vanderpump. So much so that I yelled for a picture, to which he obliged. 

Enigma Coffee

A cute coffee shop that's probably no bigger than 200 square feet — if you're in the north of west hollywood, it's a perfect neighborhood spot to walk to on Saturdays. (Can you tell I'm already planning out our move to LA?) 

 

 
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 📍not even halfway up runyon canyon

📍not even halfway up runyon canyon

WHAT TO SEE & DO IN LOS ANGELES

The Comedy Store

If you're a fan of comedy in any capacity, you HAVE to check this out. Multiple shows a night in the heart of Hollywood where heavy hitters (think: Dave Chapelle, Ali Wong, Tom Segura, etc) just so happen to drop-by. There's a minimum two drinks per person order and almost every seat is a good one. 

Griffith Observatory

Get the best views of LA. Go at night, bring a bottle of wine and thank me later. 

 📍beverly hills overlook

📍beverly hills overlook

 📍view from runyon canyon

📍view from runyon canyon

Hollywood Tour Bus

I remember when I was a little kid, my parents would take us into downtown DC on the weekends to play tourist, take those duck tours and see the city from a tourists point-of-view. In the weirdest way possible, it was one of my favorite things ever.  — So continuing on this love, I believe everyone needs to do the Hollywood Bus Tour. It's literally the cheesiest thing you'll ever do, but omg it's so worth it. You get to sit in an open-air bus with ridiculous headphones and listen to someone spit out facts and tidbits about the city of entertainment and Kardashians. 

Recommendations: TMZ Tour | Ultimate Hollywood (for the homes) | Universal Studios Tour 

 

 

 
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WHERE TO MOVE IN LOS ANGELES

 📍Y7 studio weho

📍Y7 studio weho

 📍cyclehouse weho

📍cyclehouse weho

 📍Y7 studio weho

📍Y7 studio weho

Y7 Studio

Y7 originally started in Brooklyn as a fun, little side hustle pop-up from Sarah Levey. But the hip-hop yoga class (in a nutshell) quickly gained a cult following, expanding out to Los Angeles. Their indoor-outdoor location in Silver Lake is GORGEOUS, but I went to their WeHo location alsmost every single day I was there. The format is simple, too: Three sets of flows, set to music (lots of hip hop), each done three times. The first round is slow. The second is set to your breath — and the third is a free flow, meaning you add in or takeaway whatever feels good to you. It's in a heated room with candles and "a tribe called sweat" plastered across the walls. And each class left me begging for a studio in DC (hint, hint @Sarah). ALSO MEGHAN MARKLE APPARENTLY GOES TO Y7 WEHO. 

Runyon Canyon

I mean, have you really gone to LA if you don't get a selfie mid-hike? But walk to Griffith Avenue and then follow the stream (honestly, though) of people walking up the sidewalk. You'll get to the entrance (with a honor-based mini market for water, etc) and can then decide to do either the East or West path. It's a good hike, too, so don't do it in flip-flops too like a certain person tried to convince me to do. 

CycleHouse

A local spin studio with two locations — but hit up the WeHo one. It's nestled in an alley off of Melrose Avenue and right next to Alfred Tea Room. Their classes are crazy hard — think out of the saddle runs and heavy climbs every other song. Their facilities rock, their swag is INCREDIBLE and they offer eucalyptus towels after class.

*Pro tip: Take Erin's class.* Her class is easily one of the hardest spin classes I've ever taken with my bike. Bonus points for coming up to me in the middle of a song and adding on weight until I could hardly cycle. 

SoulCycle

I mean, obviously. A lot of people recommend this place for the celebrity spotting, but tbh it's just an insane workout and I love going to SoulCycle wherever I am. 

wine wednesday: a sulfite-free red for winter nights

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BOTTLE: Stellar Winery's Live-A-Little Really Ravishing Red

Origin: South Africa

What is it: 100% Shiraz grapes

Year: N/A

Where to find it: Whole Foods, Mom's Organic Market, Total Wine & More, Boutique Wine Shops (call ahead) 

Price Range: $9 

Thoughts: A lovely red that pairs perfectly with homemade pizza or a piping hot bowl 'ol curry. Fruity, but not too dry, and a little spicy. It's organic, sulfite-free and has less sugar than most wines. It's a perfect weeknight wine, which is why Maxim and I have found ourselves reaching for on our trips to Mom's Organic Market. 

Become a sommelier: Though wine has been made in the area that is now South Africa since the 1600s, it saw a major setback in the 20th century. Insects and pests ravaged vineyards, and for a large part of the century, the grapes were distilled into cheap brandy. But today, South Africa is one of the world's top ten sources of wine.

Enjoy your Wine Wednesday! 

And ICYMI: I'm learning what goes on behind-the-wine each week with the help of Wine: A Tasting Course. Buy the book and learn right along with me! 

More than Tofurkey: An Honestly, Though Guide to Vegan Thanksgiving

More than Tofurkey: An Honestly, Though Guide to Vegan Thanksgiving

Being one of the only (if not the only) plant-based persons at holiday gatherings can be tough. I've been the only one at Thanksgiving with my family since I stopped eating meat about a decade ago. And back then, vegan was not trendy in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. (Ahem —aow a-days, there's an annual vegan Thanksgiving. )

Read More

All of the dc-based food + drink startups you need to check out ASAP

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If you're a Washingtonian, you know that there's been a huge scene for #madeindc in recent years, including the incredible Union Kitchen — a food accelerator that's helped to launch some of DC's (and my) favorite brands — think Pinch Dumplings, Takorean, Swizzler, 'Chups and Compass Coffee. They even have two grocery stores in the District, just to help these brands land in the hands of customers. 

Meet The Makers is their bi-annual (I think) meet and greet event for the general public, food buyers, press + #madeindc businesses. You may have remembered that I went last winter to bring you guys a round-up of every veggie-centric food business to look out for. Aaaand we're back again! 

Side note: Scroll to the bottom to see Maxim's amazing name tag for the event. 


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TRUE MADE FOODS

OKAY. I'm starting off with this one because I only had a taste but I REALLY need to get my hands on a few bottles (hint hint). True Made Foods makes a bunch of sauces and condiments that are 100% made from vegetables. Their Veracha instantly stole my heart — it's vegetable sriracha

Available here + here. 

SUPERFOODS WATER

They're in the middle of launching (but follow their insta for updates). They're a drink company that makes "superfood waters" like collagen blends, tumeric mixes, etc. 

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SASYA FOODS

A long time favorite of mine. When Sasya Foods was just launching last winter, I fell in love with their spreads. And now they've added rice lentil chips to their line. Truth be told — I bought two bags at Taste of DC and have already crushed them. Keep an eye on them, because they're going to be a big player in the DC Food Scene. 

Available here and at union kitchen grocery. 

JRINK JUICERY

Another fan favorite of mine — Jrink is a popular juice + health foods place with locations across the district. Their newly released Pumpkin Chai is to die for, but any of their juice cleanses are transformative as well. 

Available from their stores or for delivery. 

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SNACKLINS

 Think: Pork Rinds without the pork. 100% vegan, 60 calories per bag and available throughout the District. But be warned: They’re super addicting. I can eat an entire bag in one setting. 

Available from all these locations. 

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DON CICCIO & FIGLI

A 5-year-old startup dedicated to bringing gourmet, handcrafted, Italian liquor to the District. Their classic limoncello is a fan favorite. But if you love something earthy + heavy, look at Luna Amara. 

Available here. 

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WHOLESOME NIBBLES

Super yummy "treats" — aka balls — made from nutritious ingredients. They're filled with things like raspberry, coconut, dates + chocolate. Also: sugar-free, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. 

available here. 

OH-MAZING GRANOLA

Healthy. nut-free granola company, all available online for now. Their Caribbean Delight is the only vegan flavor — but it's really good. 

Available here. 

LAOBAN DUMPLINGS

Another food startup that I've loved watching grow and totally prosper. When I first met LaoBan Dumplings, they were in their humble beginnings and within a few months started popping up around the District. Less than a year later, and they're getting ready to open their first store front — CONGRATS! Veggie + meat options, too.

Check them out. 

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AU'SOME FOODS

Recently launched and the makers of nut butter with argan oil, aka a "solid gold oil." They have four varieties including one with honey. I wanted alllllll the samples because of how delish they were. 

 They're not yet available, but stay tuned! 

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RUBY SCOOPS

Amazing, healthy(ish) sorbet and ice-cream . They don't use sugar — their pomegranate pear sorbet is sweetened with apple juice. And you can really taste all of the fruits, instead of tasting the syrup-y substitute with a lot of sorbets. 

 Available here. 

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REPUBLIC RESTORATIVE

I meaaaan, if you're not already a huge fan of Republic Restorative, get ready to be. Republic Restorative is a female-founded, female-run distillery. They made waves during the election for creating "Rodham Rye" and actually presenting it to HRC herself. Their newly launched Borough Burbon is wicked smooth — one of the only liquors I've ever wanted to drink straight-up. Also try their spiked lemonade (yum). 

SWAP FOODS

You guys know that I'm madly in love with Swapples — the gluten-free yucca waffle. Their founder, Rebecca Peress, famously went from concept to store-shelves in just six weeks. Read her story because she is a total bossbabe.

Available from:  Mom's Organic Market, Union Kitchen Grocery. 

WATUSEE

WatUSee is a vegan foods company. They make these amazing "chickpea puffs" in flavors like zesty ranch + caramel sea salt. But they're not really in startup phase anymore — they're available all over grocery stores. But still delish. 


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Maxim likes to do what he calls "The Bonus Fry" — basically his pick of the day or event.

The Bonus Fry Blue Ribbon Winner

"EatPizza because they have accomplished modern-day culinary sorcery to create a delicious pizza that can be made in 10 minutes at home, is frozen, but tastes fresh, is organic and non-GMO, and is only 540 calories for the whole pizza."


But also a huge shoutout to these foodie businesses that are also making local, vegan foods + drinks a reality. Make sure to give them all some social media love, and look out for them in local food stores! 

  • Vegetable + Butcher 
  • Modern Bar Cart
  • Chocotenango
  • Caribe
  • Compass Coffee 
  • Shrub District 
  • Foodhini 
  • Port City Brewing
  • Crepes Parfait 
  • Atlas Brewing 

 

wine wednesday {ruffino rosé}

So I would actually consider this as more of a rose champagne, but we should also find something to celebrate each day of our live so cheers to that! 

Maxim and I live next to a CVS that supplies a lot of alcohol, and so we often times find ourselves puttering on over in search of a cheap bottle of red or canned rose. We say this and thought we'd try it out as it was a newcomer to the shelves. 

It's bubbly + sweet + goes great with La Croix if you're more of a spritzer-type (shoutout to Kate). Cheers! xx 

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Ruffino Sparkling Rose

BOTTLE: Ruffino Sparkling Rose

Origin: Tuscany, Italy 

What is it: Prosecco (Glera) grapes

Where to find it: CVS, Target, Whole Foods, Total Wine & More. 

Price Range: $12-15 

Thoughts: I really loved this wine — like REALLY loved it. It's sweet and bubbly without tasting like carbonated sugar, which is honestly such a really struggle with rose. I tried it with cranberry juice + loved it, too. But for the best possible experience, drink it as a frosé during a picnic in the park with a spread of {vegan} cheese + crackers + grapes. Or on your balcony on a hot evening after work. {p.s. more frosé recipes here}

This bottle is totally my vote to bring to summer lunches when cans aren't going to fly. 

ENJOY YOUR WINE WEDNESDAY! 

And ICYMI: I'm learning what goes on behind-the-wine each week with the help of Wine: A Tasting Course + The Secrets of Sommeliers

wine wednesday {canned rose}

As I write this, the door to our balcony hangs WIDE open + it's still light after 6:30 p.m. And all of that could only mean one thing: ROSE SEASON IS BACK. 

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CAN: Presto sparking rose

Origin: Italy 

What is it: 11% ABV

Year: 2015-ish

Where to find it: Whole Foods — it's branded for the "cheaper" 365 market.  

Price Range: $12 for a four-pack. 

Thoughts: Uhm, it's rose in a can. It's literally amazing. This one is dry + sweet + I swear I can almost TASTE the summertime.

Become a sommelier: I'm like not even embarrassed to admit this, but I just spent multiple hours researching canned wine so that I could bring you guys some fun history. SO, Australian's invented canned wine, which is the most unsurprising wine fact ever. It was first done by two wine producers back in 1996, and Barokes Wine has since prided themselves on having the best system in the world for canning wine. They call it "VinSafe."  

Enjoy your Wine Wednesday! 

And ICYMI: I'm learning what goes on behind-the-wine each week with the help of Wine: A Tasting Course. Buy the book and learn right along with me! 

 

wine wednesday {albero rosé}

It's finally getting warmer, which can only mean one thing for wine wednesday: the return of rose! 

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BOTTLE: Albero Rosé

Origin: Spain

What is it: Bobal Grape, Rose

Year: 2015

Where to find it: Trader Joe's (hell yeah) 

Price Range: $6.99-8.99 (depending on location) 

Thoughts: I love, love Spanish wine. Argentinian and Chilean are, of course, my favorites, but I'm a huge fan of Spanish wine. It's dry for a rosé, which I absolutely loved. I was expecting something sugary to hit my lips, but it's lack thereof actually made me enjoy it way more. Since it's so dry, it goes well with (apparently) fish and ham. But I paired it with an easy, salad from SweetGreen filled with quinoa, spinach, corn and tofu. And it was amazing. 

ENJOY YOUR WINE WEDNESDAY! 

And ICYMI: I'm learning what goes on behind-the-wine each week with the help of Wine: A Tasting Course + The Secrets of Sommeliers

wine wednesday {bogle vineyards essential red}

So, honestly, though, my bloggy-blog has fallen a little bit  by the wayside recently after some, well, crazy stresses going on in my life. I've been in a slump and felt devoid of creativity. But I've been drinking more probiotics, taking my B12 daily, and have started brining my gym back to the office with me so that I'm more inclined to hit that after-work Zengo class (p.s. if you're not already going there, you need to be. It's AMAZING).

BUT WINE WEDNESDAY IS BACK, you guys. I have tons of wine that I've been drinking lately that I'm ready to share with you guys. AND I've been reading that sommelier book that I was given over the holidays. I'm honestly so into it and I really recommend it for anything that's ever marginally interested in wine — if you're between the ages of 18-35, we all know you are. 

BOTTLE: BOGLE VINEYARDS ESSENTIAL RED

Origin: California 

What is it: Red blend 

Year: 2014

Where to find it: Whole Foods — B O T T O M  shelf 

Price Range: Under $10

Thoughts: Love this wine because it's cheap and juicy and delicious and perfect for when you want something for a good get together with friends or a fun afternoon in an apartment with your bestie while gossiping. Lots of berry flavors in here and it goes really well with burgers (with this AMAZING veggie patty that bleeds), chocolate or cheese. Okay, yes, those things go with, like, everything. But this wine goes REALLY well with meat-y flavors. If you're not into red wines, but want to try a red, this is the one to try. 

Become a sommelier: APPARENTLY, there is a huge thing in the world of sommelier-ing surrounding the "timing" of delivering wine in restaurants. I kid you not, this is a direct quote from Secrets of the Sommeliers, "The wine must go down before the food...It if doesn't, it's a huge disservice to both the food and the chef." NOW YOU KNOW, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. If you want to do a service to both your meal AND the person who cooked it, make sure you're throwing back a few glasses before you eat. You're welcome.

And ICYMI: Last year, I began learning about what goes on behind-the-wine each week with the help of Wine: A Tasting Course. But over the holidays I was gifted a new book, Secrets of the sommeliers, which now is guiding my "become a sommelier" section each week.