Real Food Daily is the OG in vegan dining in Los Angeles, but you don't have to be vegan to LOVE the new Real Food Daily Menu!
Originally founded by Ann Gentry, the Santa Monica location was the first 100% all-vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, but a lot has changed since 1993. The new owner, Adaline Bettcher, has been in charge since 2017 and has ushered all three locations into the new millennium of vegan cuisine with a Real Food Daily menu that tastes as good as it feels to be saving animals.
Full disclosure, I am not vegan, but if I didn't know better I wouldn't have ever thought I wasn't eating real cheese, butter, cream...you get the idea.
Here's a look at the best food on the Real Food Daily Menu when you're visiting during lunch or dinner. I hope it inspires you to take a break from meat, at least for a meal.
There's no better way to get your appetite roaring than with a heaping plate of Nachos ($9,$14). It's made with melted cashew nacho cheese and sour cream, with guacamole, beans, and pico de gallo over an overflowing amount of blue and yellow corn chips. There's also a rotating Soup of the Day ($5,$8) and the vegan staple Buffalo Cauliflower, served either roasted or deep-fried ($11).
There are three salads to choose from on the Real Food Daily menu but if you really want something egg-citing, then order the Caesar ($15) which has no eggs at all! It's made with hearts of romaine lettuce, cornbread croutons, capers, and a light but still creamy dressing without a lick of parmesan.
On the burger menu, you can choose between two different Impossible Meat burger options (Classic American or the Western); or you can go with their Original RFD Burger that is made in-house ($16). The Original feels like an homage to the early days with a consistency that's closer to beans versus the burger patty substitute you might be used to. It's served on a ciabatta bun with melted cashew cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and a chipotle aioli with a choice of fries, onion rings, or a side salad.
While you might be tempted to settle in with something from their Sandwich or Pizza section during lunch, I urge you to give in to the big guns during dinner and prepare to have your milk mind blown with their entreés!
The Lasagna made with ricotta, cremini mushrooms, marinara, and oil is so close to the original that I have to question why I'm eating dairy in the first place ($19)! The only difference is this lasagna is so much lighter than what you're used to that you might levitate out of the restaurant instead of having to adjust your belt buckle. This is the dish that Adaline Bettcher hopes will turn the world vegan "one lasagna at a time." This is a must-order!
Another stunner is the Spicy Ramen Bowl served in a super flavorful miso broth with vegetables that change daily along with grilled tofu, mushrooms, and sriracha ($17). Best of all if you bring some of this enormous portion home with you and refrigerate it, it doesn't turn into a ramen jello that you would rather forget you ate in the first place.
Other great, filling options include Building your own Basic Bowl if you're expert enough to choose your own proteins, grains, and greens (starts at $11). I prefer to leave it to the professionals.
The beverage options could be a restaurant all their own, with sections like Juices, Smoothies, Milkshakes, Drinks, and MORE Drinks to choose from. They have Fresh Cold Pressed Juices made in house ($11) like The Herbivore with parsley, kale, celery, and cucumber; or you can go with a local Bottled Juice like a Ginger Shot ($4).
Smoothies kick those juices up to a meal with ingredients like Hemp milk, goji berries, raw cacao, and dates in the Superfood Smoothie ($10). Do you like Milkshakes? Choose from over 6 choices like Coffee Chocolate Ganache and Strawberries and Cream crafted with hemp milk, agave syrup, and coconut milk ice cream made in-house ($8).
Drinks and More Drinks include flavored Lemonades, Kombuchas, and Coffees with yummy milks and natural sweeteners ($3+).
While not on the official menu because they are always changes, you'll have to scope out the case of sweets on your way in or grab something on the go on your way out.
The Vegan and gluten-free Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake begins with a chocolate fudge cake base, below a chocolate mousse center, finishing off with a coconut cream topping. This dessert is out of this world delicious and impossible to tell it's not filled with dairy. If you're in a hurry, make it a Berry Parfait over a sponge cake for the road.
When to Visit
Brunch takes place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at both the Pasadena and West Hollywood locations. Bottomless Mimosas are the feature then at just $20 for a never-ending glass. They also offer All-Day Breakfast items like Pancakes or a Breakfast Calzone if you can't make it on the weekend ($14-$18). Otherwise, the Pasadena and West Hollywood locations are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (9 p.m. for Pasadena) for both indoor and outdoor patio dining (Pasadena is closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Lastly, if you're flying out of LAX Terminal 4, you can dine as early as 8 a.m. on the weekends and 11 a.m. on weekdays.