Best Vegan Brunch Los Angeles: Café Gratitude
This is the first post in an ongoing series about my favorite vegan brunches in Los Angeles.
You see that picture? Take a good look at that picture. That’s the elusive vegan scone from Café Gratitude on Larchmont. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to see one of those. In fact, if you’re like me, and the idea of getting to a restaurant before 10 AM is entirely incompatible with the idea of having a nice relaxing brunch, you may never see one in real life.
My grandmother used to make scones every time I would come to visit, so, in my mind, this bland baked good is loaded with emotional heft. Café Gratitude’s version is nothing like Grandma used to make; it’s huge, it’s sweeter; it’s fruitier. It is the Holy Grail of vegan brunch in Los Angeles.
The server will tell you they have them, and then come back to your table and apologize profusely, and ask if you would like the savory scone instead. This has happened to me at least six times. You do not want the savory scone. One time, I got the savory scone with the fruit compote, thinking I could pretend. That proved to be a bad plan. I do not recommend dipping the onion-y scone in fruit jam.
(One time I asked them, if the sweet scone always sells out by 10 AM, why don’t they just make more of them? And the answer was, “we need the space for the other baked goods.” Which seems like a strange rationale, right? Like: “Sure we could make more of the thing that sells out in an hour, but then where would we store all this other stuff nobody’s buying?!” I mean, I don’t have an MBA or anything, but to me that sounds like a strange business plan.)
Anyway, the terrific news for you, my late-rising friend, is that you can order the Bonita, which is another one of my favorite vegan brunches in L.A.
That’s “local brown rice rice or quinoa, black beans, salsa fresca, avocado and nacho cheese topped with pumpkin seeds. served with four corn tortillas.” Pro tip: get a mix of brown rice and quinoa, and add the maple coconut bacon. Basically, this is the same meal as the non-breakfast Mucho, but it’s a mercifully smaller portion, a little less expensive, and served with corn tortillas on the side. (I never touch the tortillas, I just eat it with a fork.)
Really, you can order anything at Café Gratitude and come out ahead; I’ve never had a bad meal there. The seasonal specials have always proven to be especially delectable.
The restaurant, true to its San Francisco roots, is a little bit odd, but in a really charming way: if they’re not hurried, the wait staff may ask you if you want to hear the question of the day (“what are you manifesting?” and “what are you committed to?” were two recent questions).
All of the dishes are named for adjectives, so when you order, the idea is that you are supposed to say “I am [name of dish],” and the waitperson will reply “You are [name of dish.]” For instance, you could say “I am Courageous,” and the server would reply “You are Courageous,” and then bring you a cup of coffee, which is what you asked for.
All in all, Café Gratitude is an exceptionally solid choice for brunch in Los Angeles. It is likely to delight vegans as well as their carnivorous friends. The food is always fresh, the portions are plentiful, the presentation is excellent, and every once in a great while, they even have blueberry scones.