There's no better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a vegan meal. For starters, nothing had to die for you, which is pretty much the epitome of love. Then there's the fact that you're a normal human being and normal human beings want to get some on Valentine's Day and heavy steaks, thick cream sauces and dairy-rich desserts aren't exactly eaten in the name of beach bodies.
Luckily, numerous local restaurants just so happen to be serving cruelty-free dishes Friday and Saturday that prove the ol' axiom that “veganism is for lovers,” which means romantic Angelenos have no excuse not to enjoy themselves while the rest of us curl into the fetal position as our cats wonder why we're so alone.
Between Feb.13 and 16, lovers can enjoy a “lucky penne pasta” — kale, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and peas in a lemon cream sauce — with a Caesar salad and garlic bread for $9.95. Make sure to save room for the pink chocolate cupcake with raspberry frosting for $2.95. 114 Gayley Ave., (310) 209-1055; 9343 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-3601; 2901 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 314-4333; nativefoods.com.
The Green Temple
The outdoor patio at Redondo Beach's The Green Temple is one of the most romantic locations in the region. So, when you factor in the all-organic, all-gluten free, all-vegan meal — roasted root vegetables with maple syrup and mustard glaze over quinoa, mixed greens raspberry salad with balsamic reduction and organic triple mousse (chocolate, coconut raspberry) served for $18 between 5-10 p.m. — your odds of walking to the nearby beach while holding hands is almost guaranteed. 1700 S. Catalina Ave. #103, Redondo Beach, (310) 944-4525; greentemple.net.
Two versions of surf 'n' turf ( one vegan — roasted seitan steak and hearts of palm crab cakes served with smashed Weiser Farms potatoes, baby heirloom carrots mushroom gravy and dill aioli — and one not — braised Niman Ranch osso buco short-rib and garlic butter poached shrimp served with smashed Weiser Farms potatoes, baby heirloom carrots and red wine Demi-glace) will be served Friday and Saturday, which means you can take your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend one night for meat and the person you're cheating on your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend with the other night for vegan. 2141 Sunset Blvd., (213) 483-2337; mohawk.la.
Once you've been with a person long enough, you tend to forgo the formalities of Valentine's Day in favor of a night on the couch in your pajamas watching reruns of The Golden Girls. If this sounds like your type of fun, perhaps you should do so with a heart-shaped coconut mound, cookie cake and doughnut or a chocolate-dipped strawberry from Erin McKenna's. 236 N. Larchmont Blvd., (323) 463-2023; erinmckennasbakery.com.
Real Food Daily
Have you ever thought, “Hmm, I really want to commit to [insert your date's name here], but I'm not so certain if he/she will allow me to stuff myself in public?” If so, Real Food Daily's got your answer because the restaurant's Valentine's Day menu is enough to keep you full until next February thanks to a four-course meal featuring amuse bouche, roasted cherry crostini, fire roasted tomato soup or insalata valentina, beetroot risotto or seitan picatta and Neapolitan mousse or limoncello pot de creme for dessert. 514-516 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 451-7544; 414 N. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 289-9910; 899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 844-8900; realfood.com.
The Grain Cafe
The Grain Cafe opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. on Saturday, which means there are no excuses for not getting a $21.95 chicken plate served with a choice of asparagus soup or side salad, mashed potatoes and bread pudding. Unless you're too busy doing it all day, which is a very acceptable excuse. 4222 W. Pico Blvd., (323) 931-4034; graincafeonline.com.
One Veg World
Avocado rolls, creamy potato leek soup, quinoa hearts (red bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, spinach and mushroom topped with tomato-basil sauce), strawberry cheesecake and sparkling apple cider is available Friday from 5-9 p.m. and all day Saturday for $23.95. Reservations recommended. 178 S. Glendora Ave., West Covina, (626) 917-2727; onevegworld.net.
If a $39 three-course meal comprised of “crab cake” tartar, creamy cauliflower soup and a sushi box (with a gift!) sounds like the perfect way to say “I love you,” then you'd better make a reservation now as the Culver City location is offering only 50 reservations while the downtown spot has 100. Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F, 333 S. Alameda St. #310, (213) 617-0305; 12406 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 390-0033; theshojin.com.
After devouring a $50 four-course prix fixe menu including sopa de betabel (roasted be love farm beets, ancho oil, cashew crème and burnt orange pecan dust), ensalada higo asada (roasted fig, hazelnut, cashew truffle cheese and arugula), lentejas estilo querétaro en croix (braised lentils, roasted root vegetables, grilled pineapple, plantain beet ribbons, micro cilantro and pastry), pastel de chocolate con chile (luxardo cherry cashew cream, chocolate chile ganache, cinnamon syrup and smoked salt) and a Jalisco kiss cocktail (botanical infused tequila blanco, house-made rose syrup, lemon and sparkling wine), you'll definitely be thanking your mother she said yes to your father all them Valentine's Days (and nights) ago. 8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 978-2170; graciasmadreweho.com.
Owner Matthew Kenney is not only one of the world's greatest vegan chefs, he's also a pioneer in the fight against overpopulation. If he wasn't, why else would he be serving a 10-course menu featuring herbs, flowers and yogurt; Asian pear, lemon thyme and mustard brittle; beets and berries, Meyer lemon and wild cress; avocado, radish, smoked almond and tarragon oil; cauliflower and walnut tart; smoked maitake, shaved carrots, satsuma puree and chervil; celeriac tagliatelle black truffle puree, walnut crunch and oxalis; cava and rosehip sorbet; chocolate layer cake; and cookies on Valentine's Day? 395 Santa Monica Place Suite 333, Santa Monica, (310) 394-7046; mathewkenneycuisine.com.
By selecting items such as the beach taco KyeRito, nahm jim KyeRito, 5 Spice Peanut KyeRito, sweet kale salad and a black bean brownie, diners can not only eat a vegan meal for Valentine's Day, they can also answer the question, “What's a KyeRito?” 1518 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 395-5937; kyesmontana.com.
Chef Dreux Ellis debuts his latest tasting menus at Cafe Gratitude's Venice and Larchmont locations. For $30, diners get a choice between the appetizers Yo Soy Feliz, Celebrating and Present and entrees Transformed, Warm-Hearted and Terrific. Luckily, the decision-making process is easy for dessert as only the Loving — strawberry meringue hearts on a chocolate, almond hemp seed crust, topped with cashew coconut whipped cream and raw cacao chocolate sauce garnished with marinated strawberries — is part of the menu. 639 N. Larchmont Blvd., (323) 580-6383; 512 Rose Ave., (424) 231-8000; cafegratitude.com.
Special yoga classes will be offered at The Springs, but this is Valentine's Day, so trade downward dog for down the hatch as the blood orange kombucha (ginger kombucha, blood orange juice and hibiscus) will get diners in the mood for a $55 three-course menu featuring bitter greens, fennel, white chocolate balsamic vinaigrette, blood orange and cracked hazelnuts; cauliflower risotto, lobster mushrooms, corn and asparagus; and chocolate fondue and strawberries, pineapple, banana and oranges. Perhaps, if you're lucky, doing so will get you into another downward position. 608 Mateo St., (213) 223-6226; thespringsla.com.
Tony's Darts Away
You should be excited not only because Tony's is serving something called a “vegan brunch extravaganza” from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday but because you can bring your dog on the patio, who, by the way, can also receive a Valentine's Day treat. Angeleno cats would be jeaous except they don't care. 1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, (818) 253-1710; tonysda.com.