A vegan café is perhaps a cliche of gentrification, but the block on which Kitchen Mouse just opened in Highland Park already had a vintage clothing store, so was well on its way to being an oasis for the neighborhood's newer residents. But it would be hard not to love Kitchen Mouse, a café in an old storefront that does the shabby/cute/almost vintage thing very, very well.
Kitchen Mouse, which opened on Figueroa St. on May 13, is owned by Erica Daking, who also owns a catering company of the same name. Daking worked in a small restaurant outside of Rome after culinary school, then turned to private cheffing when she moved back to Los Angeles. For the past two years, she's been doing mainly production catering, and has grown her business to employ 20 people. The next logical step for her was a café.
Kitchen Mouse isn't actually technically vegan, though it's close. All the food starts out vegan (and most of it gluten-free), but you have the option to add eggs to any dish. They also use regular milk (organic, of course) for their coffee drinks. It's a breakfast and lunch operation, with salads, rice bowls, and breakfast items like vegan, gluten-free pancakes.
I tried the buffalo bowl, which is a combination of brown rice, black beans, collards, yams, dill-cashew sauce and buffalo sauce. With the addition of avocado, the bowl was way more delicious than I had anticipated – tangy and creamy, with the sweetness of the roasted yams bringing it all together. Along with a hibiscus ginger iced tea, it was by far the most satisfying lunch I had all week.
The café is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., every day except Monday.