Best vegetarian restaurant in L.A.

Despite being named Elf Cafe, don't expect Will Ferrell to be slurping spaghetti with syrup and mini marshmallows at this Los Angeles gem. Instead, plan to sit for the best vegetarian meal you've likely ever had-- in the coziest, most romantic dining room this side of the Atlantic. This was our third trip back, and i will continue thanking my handsome husband for even discovering it one day, after some online research for great vegetarian options. Why? Flavor. Texture. Art. All on your dish. Chef Dave Martinez makes sure your senses are completely satisfied with recipes that edify the natural-born flavors of the cafe's organic, locally sourced veggies. Vegan and gluten-free choices are available, too, and believe me when i say even meat-eaters won't feel cheated here. I'm eager to try Elf's new brunch (see Los Angeles Magazine write-up), but our favorite time to visit is dinner. By that time, its cafe windows are warmed by candlelight and its dark wooden tables, bricked walls, and clay tile floors are that much richer. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] The tiny but unforgettably impressive kitchen at Elf Cafe in Los Angeles, easily one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. Linger for the ambiance. (photo by[/caption] A full menu is available online, and reservations are required, which is half the charm. When the already-intimate dining room is operating at capacity, you're practically rubbing elbows with the guests next to you. There is a unifying, communal pleasure in that, like you're all in on a secret. We started our meal with the perfectly thinned (but not liquified) Avocado Puree, blended with tahini, garlic and spices, drizzled generously with olive oil, and paired with warm, lightly toasted pita. I'm pretty sure i could eat that every day of my life. (Wow. Just wow.) Next was another starter, the broccolini, slighty crisp stalks of broccoli with genuine, charbroiled taste. (More perfection.) Moving to entrees, we chose the Fattayer, a puff pastry made fresh, and filled with seasonal veggies (i would buy these by the dozen if i could). The pastry arrived to the table so hot that it steamed when cut. ("When was the last time you actually had hot food like this at a restaurant?"my husband gushed.) Then arrived the tagine, a Moroccan-inspired potato stew/curry, pooled in a broth flavored in part by lemon juice and sweetly stewed raisins. Dessert options that night were a saffron pudding or-- our choice-- the vegan chocolate mousse, which we made short work of. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] the avocado puree is my new favorite dish at Elf Cafe in L.A.'s Echo Park neighborhood; (photo:[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] broccolini, in a delicious bed of melted feta (or yogurt?). Either way, sure to please. (photo:[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] the Fattayer puff pastry is made at Elf Café by scratch and, wow, can you tell (photo:[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] vegan chocolate mousse at Elf Café (photo:[/caption] Brunch Hours: Sundays, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dinner Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 6 - 10:30 p.m. * Reservations are by email Corkage fee: $20    

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