Hello, hello fellow herbivores! It’s less than 2 weeks until V-Day and it’s time to think about how to celebrate the people (and maybe animals!) in our lives whom we love and care for. Now I will admit that I actually really love going all out on the bright pinks and reds of Valentine’s Day. I’m a teacher by profession and decorating our classroom and boards for the upcoming seasonal holiday was always a small pleasure of the job. It’s not corny, it’s festive and fun! Bringing that effort to your loved ones meal or room is a thoughtful and deliberate act of love. So get ready for pink, and hearts, and flowers!
A way to a vegan’s heart is through a happy and conscious stomach! Have you decided whether you are cooking or reserving a table for your valentine? A few things to consider are also time of day you’d like to have your date. Some ways to switch it up from your traditional wining and dining night on the town are to serve breakfast in bed or enjoy a gallery or garden during the day and have a lunch date afterwards.
Breakfast in Bed
After scouring different vegan and valentine-themed breakfast recipes I’m loving the look and inevitable yummy tastes of a pinterest find for Red Velvet Beet Pancakes by Emilie Eats. There are plenty of recipes online but I find the bright pink pancake paired with raspberries would just be divine to be served in bed with some warm coffee or your hot drink of choice. The only modification I would make would be that instead of plain maple syrup that you add a little something special. Make a special chocolate syrup and add cocoa powder to the top of the pancake stack for added chocolate-boosting love vibes! Or maybe the Cashew Vanilla Sauce I pinned on our Valentine’s board from the Sugar Free Londoner.
Lunch Date & Homecooked Lunch
After say a visit to the Broad or LACMA museums, a sunny lunch date would be charming. I have two restaurant suggestions near to both of those museums for the lunch hour and those are Cafe Gratitude and Eko Eats.
Cafe Gratitude, Downtown L.A.
Starting off, Cafe Gratitude is a very chic, hipster vegan cafe that is conscious all the way down to it’s plates that greet you with “What are you grateful for?” and the conversation starters that the waiters prompt you with as well. They have a varied selection of dishes with international inspirations; East Asian, Indian, American, Italian, and Mexican. This place would also be great for breakfast or brunch. It’s bright and airy and has great breakfast options. It’s a beautiful place to sit during the day for some light food and lovely conversation. I love that they have a varied dessert and drink menu as well! A little wine in the afternoon never hurt anybody! Cafe Gratitude also has a sister restaurant for vegan Mexican food called Gracias Madre. If you’re looking to add some Latin flare to your Valentine’s day lunch – check them out!
Eko Eats, Downtown L.A.
The next option is a personal craving that I know my omnivore hubby would adore and really appreciate. We are both Asian-American and really love eating food from different Asian countries. It’s just that the chances of finding those beloved dishes with such great flavors served vegan are slim to none. Eko Eats is Korean food for omnivores, vegans, and the gluten-free crowd. Finally, vegan Korean! They have classic orders like bibimbap (rice bowl with veggies), jook (rice porridge), and japchae (glass noodles). Fried chicken can be opted out for organic fried tofu. It’s a simple menu with bold dishes that’s sure to please both the omnivore and the herbivore in the couple. Now if only I saw vegan bulgogi tofu on the menu…
Lastly, a home-cooked lunch for your significant other would also be a very romantic option if you brought it out for a picnic. I kept the flavors fresh and Italian-style. I’ve chosen a few recipes that I’ve pinned for the Balsamic Strawberry Asparagus and the Artichoke Pesto Pasta with Fried Chick Peas! Hardy meals that are easy to eat out on the grass at a park. Don’t forget some Amaretto Truffles! These are all fairly simple and are great for a picnic. A picnic basket, blanket, and some cuddles are all you need to complete a sweet picnic lunch for Valentine’s Day.
Dinner Date & Homecooked Dinner
After browsing the L.A. Weekly article, 14 Places in L.A. to Have a Very Vegan Valentine’s Day, there really are some great places to go and not feel like you are stuck cooking if you don’t have the time or the skills. My 3 suggestions for the a dinner date are Au Lac, Crossroads, and Shojin.
Au Lac, Downtown L.A.
Vietnamese food wouldn’t normally strike me for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. But, the presentation, elegant atmosphere, and delicious vegan food at Au Lac are enough to qualify Vietnamese cuisine into your date night rotation! If the beautiful wooden piano and chandeliers don’t get you, the beautiful and tasty vegan eats will! Classic dishes like pho and bun are available and a slew of other tantalizing options. I especially like how both of the Vietnamese specials sound on the menu. They have a few surprising items on their menu that aren’t of Vietnamese inspiration; like the TiRAWmisu and the Bombay Mix. But I think we can get over it with a piece of the TiRAWmisu…
Crossroads, Beverly Grove
At $$$ on Yelp, this place is definitely a special, once in a long while experience you’d be partaking in. As a mother, it is hard to justify such pricey eats but for Valentine’s Day and to celebrate the love of my life — it is very appropriate. Crossroads is a Mediterranean dining experience that you wouldn’t expect also happens to be vegan! Though I still see other influences, I think they have a menu that is simple but is artfully crafted. The food is presented exceptionally, on double-lined table cloths, with elegant lighting and decor. They also boast of a “full bar and cocktail program.” They have a seasonal menu and offer lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. This is a very classy spot – aimed to impress vegan and omnivore alike. And with options on the menu like Grilled Maitake Mushrooms on a Potato Puree or a fully vegan Kite Hill Cheese Plate – I’m making reservations! They do have a Valentine’s Day special menu if you’d like to peek too!
Shojin, Downtown L.A.
If you’re better half loves Japanese food as much as mine does, this will be especially special for Valentine’s Day. They have your classic Dynamite Rolls and Baked Scallop Rolls but vegan and scrumptious! I’m most excited to see BBQ Kushi-yaki (skewered soy meat) and a wide sushi AND ramen selection on the menu. The last time I’ve been there was for a previous Valentine’s Day and we were there for a multiple-course, special event menu. We also received a souvenir gift of chopsticks and a CD, they gave us a printed photo that they took that same evening with a cute prop — it was just beyond hospitable and cozy. I felt as if a friend was celebrating Valentine’s Day with me. It was very memorable and has since been my only great vegan Japanese experience to date!
Mr. V and I have a history of being heavy eaters and veganism didn’t exactly change that for me. A Grilled Caesar Salad is for starters from Blissful Basil. These just elevates the poor ole Caesar to something you’d take interest in eating not pawning off on a family member or the dog! Second, I’ve chosen two entrees. The Cauliflower Steaks and Mushroom Bourgignon from Making Thyme for Health. If you’re going to make dinner on Valentine’s Day it’s gotta be comfortable but show a lot of love. These dishes seem easy enough to make but are very thoughtful dishes. A comfortable mushroom stew on potatoes? Then vegan cauliflower steak? This trio seem very classic but not boring at all!
Save Room for Dessert!
Last but not least is that sweet treat on the tail end of the meal. Right before cuddle time! My top three choices are an alcoholic dessert, something chocolate-y, and something not chocolate-y. Something pink and bubbly for you is a Raspberry Pink Champagne Float from Brit + Co. For the chocolate lover, which is most of us I think, two different kinds of chocolate fudge. Initially I was going with a chocolate cupcake but that doesn’t exactly scream romantic to me. I think a soft piece of handmade chocolate fudge is sexy and romantic to share. I picked a Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge from Texan Erin and a Salted Caramel Fudge from Feel Great in 8. Lastly for a non-chocolate option, a Strawberry Cheesecake from Lazy Cat Kitchen.
As if this post wasn’t long enough… We have more posts coming covering vegan chocolates for your sweetheart, alternatives to fresh flower bouquets, and gifts! Keep tuning in for Part 2!
The Handy Vegan,