Sage Vegan Bistro

Review by: Michael Stern

Dining Virtues

“Feast without the beast.” Sage Vegan Bistro in Los Angeles, CA makes that its battle cry. You will find no animals or animal products on its menu.

Local farmers deliver organic and pesticide-free produce every day. The menu assures us that they are not just any farmers. They are regenerative farmers. That means they see themselves as stewards of the land they farm. They grow what they grow in ways that replenish and recycle rather than use up resources.

Animal Substitutes

How does all that translate into lunch? If you don’t crave animal protein, you can be happy eating here. It presents one major challenge, at least to carnivores. They’ve designed many of the dishes to be mock protein things. They do their best to imitate meat and dairy products. In other words, they remind you of what they are not. For those not fully committed to a plant-based diet, that can be frustrating.

Jackfruit masquerades as carnitas in loaded nachos, as pulled pork in a BBQ sandwich, and as tuna in tuna salad. Cauliflower replaces chicken in Buffalo wings and on pizza. (You can ask for your pizza crust to be gluten-free buckwheat.) Sage makes its mac & cheese using Follow Your Heart mozzarella. In that case, potato starch and coconut oil combine to imitate cheese. Tempeh substitutes for beef in the Cali Avocado Pesto Burger. Ravioli come stuffed not with meat or cheese, but with squash. Cashews form the non-Alfredo sauce that decorates the ravioli.

Bowls Are Best

The vegan dishes that make my taste buds happy are bowls. They do not pretend to be something they are not. One does not miss meat or cheese in a polenta bowl topped with sauteed vegetables. A Brazilian bowl of beans, plantains, guacamole, pico de gallo, hot peppers, leeks, and mushrooms wants no improvement. The miso rainbow bowl of brown rice, seaweed salad, tofu, fried eggplant, pickled cabbage, et. al. tastes just right. Top it with avocado, and it gets all the better.

Animal-Free Beer

One item on which it is natural to feast without the beast is beer. Women-owned and boasting that it is the first brewery in the Echo Park Area, Sage offers an array of artisan brews. They come with such fanciful names as Hopster Haze, Boozy Booch, Carob Coconut Stout, and Crispy Boi Rice Lager.

What To Eat

Sage Vegan Bistro Recipes


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