Eat Like a Local: The Best Vegan Dishes in LA’s Inland Empire
We did the research, so you don’t have to.
It’s easy enough to find the best vegan restaurants in the area with a simple Yelp or Google search, but what about when you get there? How do you make sure you don’t get major food FOMO if you order the wrong thing? Here’s a list of some of the best dishes in the IE, chosen by locals, so you can be sure to get the best meal no matter where you go.
Beleaf Double: Beleaf Burgers
Beleaf’s burgers are some of the best in the game. While they have plenty of fried chicken sandwiches, loaded fries, and Korean corn dogs, their simple OG burger is unbeatable. And if you’re going to order a burger … might as well make it a double! Made with two seasoned Beyond Meat patties, American cheese, caramelized onions, and all of the classic burger fixings (including a house spread), this burger will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. Make it a combo with fries and a drink for just $3.25, and grab a few of their house-made “pink pepper” sauces for dunking, and you’re good to go.
Ceviche: Organic Junkie
Organic Junkie is a fully vegan quick-service cafe in Corona with acai bowls, smoothies, and paninis. Everything they serve is delicious, but the highlight on the menu is definitely the ceviche. Made with hearts of palm, avocado, and all the lime-soaked tomatoes, onions, and cilantro your heart desires, this seafood replacement is next-level. The dish is served with two tostadas (or cucumber boats if you’re looking for something lighter) and is the perfect refreshing meal for a hot day.
Photo credit: @meatlessmolly on Instagram
Truffle Shuffle: Spotless Burgers
This new fully vegan burger joint has locations scattered across LA and the IE, but the menu is filled with the same solid lineup no matter which location you hit up. Their Truffle Shuffle is the highlight here, with a hand-crafted truffle aioli sauce topping a Lightlife patty, Good Planet cheese, and all of the classic burger fixings you can’t live without. Served on a fluffy brioche bun and dripping with truffle oil, this burger tastes like something you’d order at a trendy gastropub for $21, so the $11.95 price point feels like a steal.
Bright Star Orange Chicken: Bright Star Thai Vegan
Another of the OG vegan restaurants in the IE, Bright Star has been serving up vegan Thai-inspired food for over a decade. The menu is extensive, with countless appetizers, curries, and rice and noodle dishes to choose from. The Bright Star orange chicken is its namesake for a reason, and one of their most popular dishes. Made with soy protein that’s battered, fried, and tossed in a sweet and spicy orange glaze, this dish has all of the locals talking. Come during lunch hours (11am-3pm), when the dish is served with salad, steamed rice, and miso soup for just $8.99!
Photo credit: @unhealthyvegan on Instagram
Norito: Auraganic Juicery
As the only raw vegan restaurant in the Inland Empire, Auraganic has a loyal following and for good reason! Aside from their cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and acai bowls, Auraganic offers a variety of pre-made raw vegan dishes. The highlight is the Norito—a seaweed “tortilla” stuffed with avocado, a creamy almond spread, tomato, lettuce, and basil. The house-made almond spread is what sets this dish apart, and it’s really too bad you can’t order it in gallon-size portions. If seaweed isn’t your thing, they have plenty of other raw dishes, from pizza and pasta to veggie-packed bowls. All of their raw food is ready-to-eat, so it’s the perfect spot for a quick, healthy lunch break!
Baked Meat Bun: House of Fortune Vegan Cuisine
If you’re looking for authentic Chinese food that just happens to be vegan, you’re in the right place with House of Fortune. The restaurant has a huge menu filled with soups, dumplings, noodles, and savory faux meats in just about every form you can imagine. One of their bestsellers is the baked meat bun—a house-made baked bun stuffed with ground vegan meat, jalapenos, and cilantro. While most of the dishes here are big enough to share (and have leftovers!), you’re going to want to order one of these all to yourself … trust us on this one. And since we know you’re going to want to order more, the veggie chow mein and the General Tso’s Chicken (made with button mushrooms) are honorable mentions at this spot.
Breakfast Sandwich: Plant Power Fast Food
As the OG vegan fast-food spot in SoCal, Plant Power hits the spot no matter what you order. But their breakfast menu (served until 11am) has some hidden gems that often get overlooked. The sausage, egg, & cheese breakfast sandwich is one of the best handhelds out there and comes served on your choice of an English muffin or a croissant. Make sure to grab a side of syrup or your favorite sauce (we love the honey mustard!) to dunk it in. Add on a coffee and a side of hash browns, and you’ve got yourself a vegan breakfast of champions.
Dog Pile: Monty’s Good Burger
Monty’s is known as the vegan version of In-N-Out, with the bulk of their simple menu consisting of burgers, fries, and milkshakes. While their classic burger is one of the best in the game, the secret menu boasts the Dog Pile: a boat of fries and tots that comes topped with two Impossible patties, melted Follow Your Heart cheese, grilled onions, and drizzles of every. single. one of their five homemade sauces. Add a milkshake or root beer float on the way out, and you’re in for an epic vegan food coma.
Build Your Own Bowl: Pepo Melo
Pepo Melo is far from your basic acai bowl joint. They offer more than a dozen different bases to choose from, so even if you don’t love acai, they’ll have something for you (personally, we go for the Blue Majik: pineapple, mango, coconut, and spirulina). The ordering is completely customizable, so you can load whatever base you desire with unlimited toppings, fruits, and house-made drizzles for one set price. Some of our favorite toppings include the macadamia nut chia, gluten-free granola, lion’s mane mushroom powder, and goji berries. Don’t miss out on the house-made cacao or date caramel drizzles for a sweet finish. Everything in the store is vegan aside from the honey products, so there are endless options for a healthy meal at Pepo Melo!
Daal Palak: Ashirwad The Blessings
Ashirwad The Blessings is one of the original vegetarian restaurants in the IE, serving up authentic Indian food since 2012. While some of their dishes contain dairy, just about anything can be made vegan … just ask! Their daal palak has been a local favorite for almost a decade. Made with lightly spiced farm fresh spinach cooked in onion gravy and lentils, it’s a hearty, healthy meal that will satisfy anyone’s palate. To make it vegan, just get it without butter. Make sure to order a few sides of naan to go along with!
Hummingbirds: Madre Tierra
This vegetarian restaurant offers a half Mexican food menu and half sushi menu. If you thought ordering a spicy dragon roll at the same place you order a California burrito is odd … you just haven’t tried Madre Tierra. Come for the breakfast burritos and nachos, but stay for their most popular appetizer—Hummingbirds. This dish features jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and vegan crab meat, then battered with tempura and fried before being drizzled with spicy mayo, eel sauce, and green onions—and you’re likely to see one on every table.
Kona Coffee Cupcake: My Delight Cupcakery
This award-winning cupcake shop always has at least two vegan options available. One flavor rotates monthly, but you can always find the Vegan Kona Coffee cupcake on the menu, and it’s one of their top items (vegan or not!). It’s made with a moist chocolate-coconut cake and a whipped kona coffee mousse dipped in coffee crumbs and topped with toasted coconut flakes. The cupcake comes in regular size or mini, and you can order ahead for easy pickup on their website.
Photo credit: @babubites on Instagram
Street Tacos: Borreguitas Bar Express
While Pomona isn’t technically a part of the IE, this vegetarian authentic Mexican restaurant is a vital part of the local community. As they’re on the edge of the IE border, we had to include them!
This vegetarian authentic Mexican restaurant in Pomona has plenty of vegan options, but their $1.35 street tacos are a deal that’s hard to pass up. Your choice of meat comes piled in a double corn tortilla with onions, cilantro, and green salsa. The meat options include several soy-based options (asada, al pastor, and chorizo), cabbage-based chicken, or our personal favorite, papa con nopal (potatoes and cactus). Make sure to hit them up on Taco Tuesday, when the tacos are only 99 cents each!
Cayla is an event planner, copywriter, catering manager, and vegan foodie. If she’s not working, she’s probably catching one of her favorite composers in concert, riding her bike to the movies, watching a gorgeous sunset at the bluff in Long Beach, or convincing her girlfriend to go out to eat at another vegan restaurant … again.
More from VegOut
Freebirds World Burrito Adds Vegan Chorizo to Menu
Abbot’s Butcher’s plant-based chorizo and Siete Family Foods’ grain-free tortillas are now available at all Freebirds locations.
Starbucks Launches Ready-to-Drink Oat Milk Frappuccinos
The bottled Frappuccinos are available in two new flavors and will be rolling out at retailers over the course of 2022.
The Best Body Lotions for Dry Winter Skin
Harsh winter weather calls for luxurious lotions!
An Interview with AFI’s Davey Havok
Lead singer of punk rock band AFI, Davey Havok is no stranger to veganism—having been vegan for over two decades. As part of the straight edge community in the 90s, he was heavily influenced by its members who also abstained from the use of animal products. In 2021, AFI released their new album, Bodies. We chatted with Havok to learn more about his music career and vegan lifestyle.
Store-Bought Vegan Super Bowl Party Snacks
These plant-based snacks are perfect for your game-day celebration!
Panda Express Is Testing Two Beyond Beef Dishes in Pasadena Starting Today
Panda Express is veganizing more American Chinese classics!
PLNT Burger’s 10th Location Opens in New York City
This all-vegan burger spot has expanded to NYC’s Union Square.
LA’s Pizzanista Launches Joan Jett Heart-Shaped Vegan Pizza
LA’s Pizzanista has collaborated with Miyoko’s Creamery and PETA to honor rock legend and animal rights activist Joan Jett with a limited-edition heart-shaped pizza in a Joan Jett-decorated box.
Pret a Manger Launches Vegan Meatball Wrap in US
The vegan meatball wrap is the first meat alternative option offered by the brand in the US.
LA’s Taco Vega Is Permanently Closing
The popular LA-based vegan restaurant will be closing its doors on Wednesday, January 26 after one year of service.
Add This Must-Try Vegan Protein Powder to Your Post-Workout Shake
We’re starting off 2022 on a fit note with this plant-based protein powder!
McDonald’s Expands McPlant Test to 600 US Locations
The vegan burger will be available in the San Francisco Bay and Dallas-Fort Worth areas beginning February 14 for a limited time.
Subscribe NowOrder the magazine!