Our Critics' Picks



514-516 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, California 90401
Erven +

Anne Fishbein Shredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisin


  • Lunch: daily 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: Sun.-Thu., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-10:30 p.m. Cafe/to-go marketplace, daily, 11 a.m.-close
Omnivorous chefs making plant-based cuisine is perhaps the year's biggest trend (Erven's website calls it "coincidentally vegan"), but at Erven, former Saint Martha chef Nick Erven pulls from ingredients flavors and textures that you didn't know they had. The restaurant serves creative pastries and juices and a bunch of salads during the day, but the nighttime menu is where the real thrills lie. Kale cavatelli comes in a stunningly bright "tom yum gravy," along with squash, hen of the woods mushrooms and pears. Soft, wobbly tofu is paired with lightly charred Brussels sprouts and doused in a pickled-garlic ponzu sauce. This chef loves acid, and uses it to great effect. Even on a chickpea fritter turned dark with black garlic, the flavor that really sets the dish ablaze is the yuzu that dances at its edges. Add a fun wine list and service that is sometimes pitch-perfect, and you've got a restaurant that could very well act as the poster child for this new, thrilling era of plant-focused eateries. —Besha Rodell
Read our full review."

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