Formerly known as the Golden Mean Café, this Wilshire Boulevard mainstay has been serving up tasty plant-based renditions of American classics (with a side of positive vibes) since 2009. Save for a coat of splashy lime green paint and an Instagram-worthy succulent wall, little has changed after the café rebranded as Viva Vegan in early 2019. The upbeat atmosphere and celebrated menu remain intact, still offering favorites like the Chick’n Parm, mac and “cheese,” and baked nachos, as well as a rotating selection of desserts crafted with gluten-free and raw diners in mind.
The undisputed showstopper of this establishment is its “Works Burger,” a handheld masterpiece comprised of 27 ingredients, including a layer of smoky tempeh bacon and signature house sauce. Past its locally sourced, eco-conscious fare, Viva’s environmentally minded mission shines through its reclaimed wood dining room and recycled take-out containers (which also happen to be compostable, if you feel like taking one of their superfood smoothies or shakes to-go).
Further down Wilshire, Veggie Grill’s seasonal selections are just as notable as its extensive regular menu offerings (one reviewer raves that the dishes here range from “really good” to “unbelievably great”). Between burgers, sandwiches, bowls, tacos, and a selection of “comfort favorites,” there’s something to gratify every kind of craving.
Though they may not be solely dedicated to plant-based food, it’s worth noting that many of Santa Monica’s other dining establishments also offer at least one vegan option on their menus (aside from the expected salad entrées). For example, if you happen to be in the mood for pizza, 800 Degrees, Fresh Brothers, Urth Caffe, and Grey Block Pizza all offer pies with vegan sauce and cheese.