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7 Vegan-Friendly Road Trips from Los Angeles

As vintage Will Smith would say, “It’s summer summer summertime” and perfect 78 degree weather, meaning the same as always (sorry Midwesterners) in wonderful SoCal. It’s time to take a break from working on that perfectly golden Beyonce-esque tan, binge watching the latest season of Stranger Things, and getting day drunk in front of families at the Farmers Market (no judgements.) Because we’re feelin’ fine and it’s road trip time! Harold and Kumar did it. And so can you. These are the plant-based pit stops worth puttin’ miles on your ride for.

OJAI

Food Harmonics

When chanting “Goosfraba” like Adam Sandler gives you zero chill while stuck in LA traffic with twenty drivers honking behind you, your third eye is OBVS blind. Which means it’s time for those little chakras to say hi to Ojai! Take a cheeky (literally) dip in the hot springs before heading over to Food Harmonics, where you will experience the most chakra renewing, revitalizing meal of your kombucha-loving life! The restaurant exudes positive energy and love from the top to bottom starting with co-owner and goddess of light, Gabriella Chesneau, who made it her mission that everything they offer be gluten free, organic, non-gmo, and majority vegan! Relax on the dreamy outside patio with your pup while noshing on their famous Raw Vegan Pizza (a dehydrated base made with veggies, sprouted grains and seeds, onion, dates, and parsley, all smothered with the most decadent pesto, cashew cheese, and pickled onions). Don’t forget to crack open one of their organic Samuel Smith Cider’s along with one of their decadent raw desserts like the raw nut balls and be transported to a mindstate of bliss and “goosfraba-ness”.

SAN DIEGO

Kindred

Feeling a bit uncultured from the summer heat melting your brain? Head on down to

classy San Diego and discover what “San Diego” means in German, if it was actually discovered by the Germans in1904, if Ron Burgundy was actually right about all this, but most importantly—about the sweet palatable profiles of Kindred Bar in the neighborhood of Golden Hill. The heavy metal rocker meets whimsical fairy vibe is reflected in all aspects of Kindred’s dope decor, flavorfully loud food, and wicked soundtrack. Roll up for brunch on the weekend and get punched in the face with flavor from dishes like the Tofu Benedict—basil and chive crusted tofu, kale, seitan, and house-made hollandaise on a classic English muffin with a roasted tomato (hail seitan) or the Pancakes—caramelized banana, bourbon butterscotch, whipped coconut cream, sprinkled with chopped walnuts and drizzled with syrup. Don’t forget to get ya booze on with one of their craft cocktails like the Earth Sermon (gin cocktail—nothing godly about it), offer up your prayers to the moon goddess, Zeus, or whoever/whatever you believe in, because you’re in for a sinful time.

PALM SPRINGS

Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

Leave behind fabulous LA for the even more fabulous Palm Springs! After taking 173 pictures of you coyly staring off towards the mountains while sipping a bloody mary poolside at the Ace Hotel, choose your best shot for the ‘gram, then head on over to Chef Tanya’s Kitchen. With over 250 accumulated 5 star reviews, the unassuming deli is worth the bumper to bumper on the 10 freeway (trust us!). With a restaurant motto of “Eat plants, look good in your pants” you know you’ve made the right choice. Live your best festival glam life with the Coachella Forever Salad (beast of a salad made up of fresh romaine & cabbage, quinoa, avocado, cucumber, black beans, jicama, cilantro, toasted pepitas, currants, decadent mango lime dressing, kicked off with chili con limon dust) and a side of Fleetwood’s Macaroni (Elbow noodz, pickled kale, seitan slivers, parsley, shallot vinaigrette). The food is fresh to death and so vibrantly aesthetic, you’ll have enough ‘gram content to recycle for like, the rest of the summer!

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Sandwich by the pool #vegan

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SAN FRANCISCO

VeganBurg

When Spongebob is your spirit animal and you find yourself hankering for a good patty, make the trip to San Fran! Not just the mecca of finding a tech nerd husband or newly discovered ways of transpo, SF happens to be home to the world’s (yes world) first 100% plant-based burger joint. All-vegan fast food burger spots have come a long way in the past few years, and Veganburg is unique in its approach to health first, with a menu that will satisfy your burger cravings without all the shame and self-hate! This site was voted Sir Paul McCartney’s Meat-Free Monday Favorite Fast Food joint, so you know you have made the right decision driving the egregious 7+ hours to get a freakin’ burger. With unique burger choices like the Hawaiian Teriyaki or Creamy Schooms, and sides like seaweed fries or sizzlin’ broccoli, it’s clear that Veganburg does not sacrifice flavor for health. Don’t forget the vegan cheesecake before you cruise down windy Lombard street whence you came knowing you will be back in the city of svelte bodies with your BMI intact.

LAS VEGAS, NV

Chef Kenny’s Asian Vegan Restaurant

Clear out all the bags of Vegan Robs at your local grocery store, pack your best pals into whoever’s car has the least amount of miles on it, and turn on Miley “Party in the USA” cause we going to Vegas! After the inevitable blackout poolside next to strangers you won’t remember tomorrow, forgo betting the rest of your hard-earned cash on Blackjack and instead head to Chef Kenny’s for some of the best vegan sushi on the west coast! With dishes like orange “chicken”, mongolian “beef”, and sushi like the dragon roll (avocado, carrot, cucumber wrapped in rice and “eel” made of eggplant on top), you’ll be doing a double take at the “salmon” sushi (made with tapioca, formed in house!) and “tuna” sushi (soy base). Chef Kenny will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about fake meat. All their plant-based meats not only look like and have the same texture as the real thing, but the taste will have you simply, flummoxed my friend! After your belly’s full and your hangover is on the mend, feel free to take those last dollars and BET ON BLACK.

SANTA BARBARA

Oliver’s

Leisurely strolls through a wine vineyard while you throw your head back and laugh coyly followed by a fancy schmancy vegan dinner at Olivers? Oh, what a wonderful life you lead! The perfect surprise day date destination for that special someone (or go by yourself, why not treat yo self!). Completely plant-based, Oliver’s features a half open space concept, so make sure to don your best dress that you purchased for 7 thousand dollars at Neimans with the good intention of keeping the tag on and returning. Feel like the animal loving king or queen you are while you share delectable bites like truffle potatoes, artichoke “crab cakes”, and the heirloom zucchini and tomato tower. The high-end hot spot also offers large plates for those who never learned to share like pear and gorgonzola flatbread and the Impossible burger on a pretzel bun. Concepted from the creative mind of cellphone pioneer Craig McCaw, everything that comes out of the kitchen is as close to the original form of food as possible, beautifully arranged, popping with color, and very Instagrammable. Don’t forget to throw down those hard-earned bucks on one of their fresh cocktails which feature juice from local Juice Ranch mixed with one of their high-end spirits. Date will be muy impressed ‘fa sho!

PHOENIX, AZ

Verdura

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, if Phoenix was good enough for the world’s greatest heavyweight boxer, we’ll gladly follow Muhammed Ali! After catching the best views at Grand Canyon National Park, make the drive over to Phoenix and  strolling the streets which honor the legendary athlete. Work up that appetite hiking and exploring to get your tum tums ready for the epic flavor profile of Verdura. Described by Chef Chris Gruebele as a “100 percent plant-based, vinyl record inspired restaurant,” the joint certainly does make you feel like you are transported to a simpler, happier time. A time without inflated gas prices, Birds that weren’t animals, and tweeting presidents. With unique dishes like I’m Just A Po’boy (flash-fried button mushrooms, red onion, tomato, iceberg lettuce, pickle, nori,and house-made tartar served on a Noble baguette), Kimchi Arancini (Italian fried rice balls, kimchi, german salad), and their signature Goth Waffle (Japanese-style bubble waffle, activated charcoal, raspberry sorbet topped with shaved coconut), it’s clear this is not your basic b*tch vegan menu. Make sure to stay for the rockin’ tunes during Hipster Hour from 3-6pm for $5 beer and wine and $2 off all apps where you can strike up a convo with some leather clad heavy metal dude who looks like he may break your face in, but just wants to talk about his Kitty named Biff.

Photo credit: Liam Johnson

Cat Limket is a vegan gluten-free actress, model, and activist. She is passionate about healthy and holistic living, cruelty-free beauty, and the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. When she’s not on set or hugging puppies, you can find her on the hunt for vegan gluten-free ice-cream. Catch her currently on Netflix in Spike Lee’s latest thriller, Tales from the Hood 2.

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