After six years as a modern American casual fine-dining restaurant serving a variety of meat offerings, Margo’s Santa Monica quietly shifted its menu to 100% plant-based a few months ago. They don’t even have honey in the house.
The move came after the pandemic, when owner Mark Verge and his longtime chef Greg Daniels realized there was a sizable population of people that are underserved in the vegan community on the westside. Daniels oversees the menus at Santa Monica native Verge’s stable of restaurants that includes The Golden Bull steakhouse.
“It was definitely a risk for sure,” Daniels tells L.A. Weekly, at the casual counter service restaurant with a full bar. “I think it’s just demographics versus availability. The vegan community can come in without care or having to pick through the menu and ask the chef what’s plant-based. People have that comfort that they can come here and not have to worry. On the flip side, I wanted a menu that speaks to everybody. I think if you didn’t tell somebody this was vegan, they might not even realize it.”
Small plates include Impossible sliders with jalapeno herb mayo, arugula and American cheese, as well as a sugar snap pea toast on grilled levain bread with ricotta and caramelized onions. The taco trio is as good as the vegan version gets – soyrizo and crispy sweet potato, crispy avocado with shaved cabbage and a young jackfruit al pastor topped with fresh pineapple. All are served with chipotle aioli, pico de gallo, cilantro and lime. The banh mi on a toasted baguette with soy glazed jackfruit, mushroom pate topped with pickled carrots, peppers and cucumber will satisfy even the most discerning carnivore. They’ve also got an extensive brunch menu that includes vegan huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos and frittatas as well as a great pizza selection.
Eleven Madison Park, the winner of three Michelin stars and one of New York’s top restaurants, made international headlines last year when they removed meat from the menu and went 100% plant-based. It’s been packed ever since.
“We did this quietly to explore and tinker with the menu, and I think it paid off,” says Daniels. “We’re getting busier every day. Even the original neighborhood regulars that were skeptical in the beginning are trickling back in.”