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A plate of wide pasta with meat sauce on top
Tagliatelle bolognese from Crossroads.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

24 of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in L.A.

Metropolitan Los Angeles is one of the most creative, pluralistic places in the world to eat, and that goes for vegetarians and vegans, who can choose from an astonishing array of restaurants. Whether you’re already a plant-forward person or contemplating a change in diet, here’s a list of restaurants to check out.

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The papdi chaat at Ambala Sweets and Snacks.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Ambala Sweets & Snacks

Artesia Indian
It is difficult to not fall fast — and hard — for the papdi chaat at this tiny restaurant and snack shop in Little India in Artesia that’s been around for more than 40 years. The popular Indian street food snack is a crowded medley of highly crave-able, complementary flavors and textures and is built like an artfully structured mountain of nachos. The base is papdi — puffy, fried discs of dough with hollow middles. Atop the papdi are scattered chickpeas, bits of boiled potato and diced raw onion, a layer of yogurt, a drizzle of sweet and syrupy tamarind chutney and dollops of tart green chutney. It’s finished with what tastes like a sprinkle of chaat masala and broken bits of sev, a crunchy noodle made from chickpea flour paste. Crunchy, sweet, sour and spicy, it hits all the pleasure pressure points. And there’s a lot more on the menu too: crisp, delicate dosas, paratha stuffed with paneer or vegetables, and an entire bakery case full of sweets.
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The Royal Noodle Soup at Au Lạc ’s Fountain Valley location
(Au Lac)

Au Lac Fountain Valley

Fountain Valley Vietnamese $
The best pho involves a broth that simmers for hours, developing layers of flavor and sophistication from boiled and roasted bones, vegetables and spices that subtly lap at the senses rather than overwhelm them. At Au Lac, the Traditional Noodle Soup is pho-like, but the richness of boiled down beef bones is replaced by a wallop of star anise (the restaurant describes the soup as an anise broth with saw-leaf herb). For something a little more balanced, the Royal Noodle soup is a work of art. Similar to a tom yum, the broth is fragrant and tart with strong notes of lemon grass. Both soups are served with your choice of noodles (there’s even a gluten-free kelp noodle option), and traditional pho accouterment, along with sliced mushrooms and strips of soy “beef.”
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Pastries from Bakers Bench.
(Bakers Bench)

Bakers Bench

Chinatown Pastries $
It takes some bakers years to perfect the art of the croissant, but for Jen Yee, a veteran of some of the world’s most storied restaurants and pastry programs, perfecting the vegan croissant took only a few months. The former pastry chef of Echo Park’s Konbi — as well as a former employee of Bouchon, Jean-Georges and Craftsman and Wolves — branched out on her own with a kiosk within Chinatown’s Far East Plaza in 2021, and it’s there that she sells, on weekends, some of L.A.’s best most exquisite dairy-free baked goods. The croissants maintain that iconic layer upon layer of buttery flakiness and are worth a visit alone, but there’s much more on offer here: chewy and sweet molasses cookies, Danishes brimming with seasonal fruit, sugar-dusted cinnamon knots and whatever else catches Yee’s imagination. Just get there early: Pastries are sold first come, first served, and almost always sell out.
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The Go Fish Filet from Beleaf Burgers in Chino Hills.
(Beleaf Burgers)

Beleaf

Stanton Vegan fast food $
There are plenty of restaurants pushing vegan fast food, but Beleaf was inspired by what owner Wally Vu and his partners call “suburban food culture.” It’s their take on nostalgic fast-food favorites such as the In-N-Out Double Double and the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. The Beleaf Go Fish Fillet is made with a filet of soy protein that tastes like a giant, dense fish stick; it’s blanketed in a square of vegan American cheese that melts and tastes like the real thing. Beleaf also has plant-based versions of the most beloved fast-food burgers and sandwiches, including a single or double cheeseburger, a fried chicken and hot chicken sandwich, and a chicken bacon ranch sandwich.
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A vegan cheeseburger from Burgerlords.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Burgerlords

Chinatown American $
Owner-co-founder Frederick Guerrero and his team are the kings — or, more fittingly, the lords — of the house-made vegan burger patty in Los Angeles. When Burgerlords launched in 2015, the Chinatown burger stand sold both vegan and meat options. A Highland Park location was opened in 2019, and the whole operation went vegan in 2020, offering only non-dairy grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, tahini-almond-soy milkshakes, and a vegetable-and-grain burger patty. The patties feature a blend of 30 ingredients, including eggplant, barley and kombu, making for both flavor and heft that can stand up to the ample In-N-Out-inspired toppings. New items and specials have popped up over the years — such as the chicken-inspired tofu nuggets as well as a hot dog (the latter of which can be found at Brain Dead Studios in Fairfax and Walt’s in Eagle Rock) — but it’s always remained the same thing at its core: a California burger shop, now completely vegan.
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A dish from Cena Vegan.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Cena Vegan

Lincoln Heights Mexican $
From a single Highland Park taco stand to a plant-based retail empire, Cena Vegan has grown to serve some of the best vegan Mexican food in Los Angeles. The secret is in the sauce: Owners Gary Huerta, Carmen Santillan and Mike Simms use marinades and spice blends to infuse house-made seitan al pastor, jackfruit carnitas and other proteins with East L.A. flavor, and then fold them into freshly pressed corn tortillas, massive burritos, nacho boats, tamales and heaped-high tortas. A rainbow of salsas, chipotle cashew crema, guacamole and more accoutrements provide all the customization you’d find at a classic non-vegan taqueria. Find Cena Vegan for takeout and delivery in Lincoln Heights Tuesday to Friday and Sunday, and on Sunday at Smorgasburg. Its plant-based proteins, available under the name Plant Ranch, can be ordered online and shipped, or found locally at shops such as Lassens.
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BBQ jackfruit ribz from Compton Vegan Express served with mac n' cheeze (CQ), collard greens, baked beans and cornbread.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Compton Vegan Express

Long Beach Soul Food $
Compton-born Lemel Durrah is a former high school teacher who tried a 21-day plant-based diet and never looked back. In 2017, the self-taught chef started Compton Vegan as a food truck serving what he calls vegan soul food: jackfruit ribz, cornbread, mac and cheese loaded with plant-based fried chicken and fried plant-based shrimp. The truck is on hiatus at the moment, but you can still find his food at the Daisy Diner ghost kitchen in Long Beach. I recommend an order of the BBQ jackfruit ribz, which come with mac ’n’ cheese (it has more of a cheese-ish seasoning than an actual sauce), baked beans, well-seasoned collard greens and a cornbread muffin. The ribz are tender and slathered in Durrah’s signature barbecue sauce; a thick, smoky, spicy sludge worth licking off your fingers. You can order it with most of the menu, and you should.
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Spaghetti carbonara from Crossroads Kitchen
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Crossroads

Beverly Grove New American $$$
After nearly a decade as one of L.A.’s finest plant-based restaurants, chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads remains an innovator in vegan dining. One of Ronnen and executive chef Scot Jones’ secrets to that success is treating the restaurant as a space and cuisine that appeals to everyone: the vegans, the meat lovers, the vegetarians and “flexitarians.” The menu comprises Mediterranean and modern American dishes including fresh handmade pastas like the silky tagliatelle; thick wedges of Sicilian-style pizzas with coconut cheese that melts in satisfying puddles; carbonara with yolk-like tomato that’s mixed with the pasta; and “artichoke oysters,” which are fried mushrooms topped with kelp caviar to replicate that brininess of the sea. The menu seemingly offers something for everyone, and that’s the key.
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The pesto pizza from Double Zero.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Double Zero

Venice Italian $$
The restaurant is part of the Matthew Kenney empire of plant-based restaurants that includes Plant + Wine in Venice and Make Out in Culver City. Think of Double Zero, named for the type of flour used to make the pies, as an excellent pizza restaurant that happens to be vegan. The crust is leopard-spotted, chewy and crisp. The pesto pizza is filled with greens. The crust is painted with a thin layer of almond ricotta then completely covered with a mess of arugula and shaved zucchini. The Venice Beach restaurant offers a selection of pasta as well. The cacio e pepe is nothing like a traditional cacio e pepe, but it’s creamy, the pasta is cooked well, and it satisfies like a good bowl of pasta.
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The falafel sandwich at Hasiba
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Hasiba

Pico-Robertson Middle Eastern $
There are a number of restaurants serving contenders for the title of “L.A.’s best hummus,” and Hasiba could be at the very top of the list.” . The Israeli- and Moroccan-inspired hummusiya from Lodge Bread’s Alex Phaneuf, Or Amsalam and Ben Amsalam takes great care with its garlicky, tahini-laden chickpea purée, which can come simply dressed with lemon juice, paprika, herbs and olive oil, or decorated with the likes of tender roasted mushrooms. And the casual spot takes great care with everything else: its rainbow of Middle Eastern vegetable salads, its fluffy-centered falafel, its spiced bowls of shakshuka, its classic sabich overflowing the warm handmade pita with parsley and tahini. Here, it always feels impossible to go wrong, no matter your order.
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The Honeybee burger from Honeybee Burger
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Honeybee Burger

Fairfax Vegan fast food $
Los Angeles is a wellspring of plant-based burgers. It’s easy to find Impossible or Beyond Meat on a bun, but what sets Honeybee apart is the variety and the presence of one particular condiment. The house-made onion jam should be bottled and sold at a store near you (and me). The onions are soft, sweet and jammy. They taste like they’ve been cooking low and slow, stirred every so often, for hours. Ask for it on the burger, the Brekky Bee breakfast sandwich and even inside the Bee-rito (a breakfast burrito with JUST plant-based eggs).
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A pastry and hot beverage from Just What I Kneaded.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Just What I Kneaded

Elysian Valley Café $
After years as a plant-based pastry wholesaler to a range of L.A. coffee shops, Justine Hernandez’s homey bakery operation has a bricks-and-mortar cafe in Frogtown. Just What I Kneaded serves some of Hernandez’s most popular items — the lemon-zested cinnamon buns, the pinwheels, the cookies — alongside an expanded menu of new savory vegan goods that tend to be produce-forward: quiches filled with farmers market vegetables, breakfast burritos, bodega-inspired breakfast sandwiches on house-made bagels, granola bowls and grilled cheese sandwiches among them, plus a rotation of seasonal pop-tarts. There’s ample patio space and a full coffee bar for anyone who needs to take a break with a plant-based pastry, an almond-milk latte and a bit of sunshine. Just What I Kneaded’s menu changes daily; look to its Instagram account for menu updates and specials.
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The spicy carrot roll from Make Out.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Make Out

Culver City American $$
Ignore the name of the restaurant. Then allow me to recommend the spicy carrot roll sushi. Carrots, once pulverized in a Roubo coup, drained and mixed with nutritional yeast, cashews and lemon juice, are a suitable substitute for sushi rice. Really. The carrot pulp is pressed down onto crisp nori and filled with avocado and radish. You won’t be fooled into thinking it’s straight sushi, but it is satisfying. Get an order of the guacamole too. The mashed avocado is velvety and well seasoned, and it comes with crisp, nutty, savory seed crackers that rival any good tortilla chip.
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A burger and drink from Modern Times
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Modern Times Dankness Dojo

Downtown L.A. American $$
Part experimental brewery, part all-vegan gastropub, Modern Times’ Los Angeles outpost is a neon-tinged, 1980s-nostalgia-bedecked restaurant that reimagines bar food classics as entirely plant-based. The San Diego-founded brewery and coffee roastery — with locations in Anaheim and Santa Barbara, among others — serves a full food menu at the Dankness Dojo downtown, where the staff can get weird with their fermentations. To complement the 30-plus beers on tap, they cook up some of the neighborhood’s most playful items: panko-coated Korean-inspired croquettes filled with creamy mashed potatoes and kimchi; carne asada fries, where braised seitan replaces steak and cashews form the sour cream; sliders beefy with Impossible patties topped with coconut-based cheese; and a very Taco Bell-esque “Munchwrap,” where Impossible ground “meat,” shredded lettuce, cashew crema, a tostada shell and more get stuffed and folded neatly into a tortilla, then grilled. Enjoy with a beer or a nitro cold brew under the cursive pink neon: “Be Excellent to each other.” (It’s what Bill and Ted would do.)
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A double cheese burger from Monty's Good Burger
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Monty’s Good Burger

Koreatown American $
The buzzy and philanthropic vegan burger shop with big merch drops, fundraising collabs with artists like Brock Hampton, and a love of dog adoption also happens to sell some of the best non-meat, non-dairy burgers in the Southland. From Culver City to Riverside, Monty’s Good Burger takes a streamlined-menu approach, offering a seemingly simple roster of Impossible burgers, fries, tater tots and oat-based shakes — not to mention a newer house-made fried chicken sandwich, which took months and at least $10,000 to develop, according to co-founder Nic Adler (Nic’s On Beverly, Eat Drink Vegan). But there’s also a secret menu with items promoted on Instagram that might include freshly baked cookies blended into shakes or, if one is really hungry, the Dogpile: a mound of fries, tots, onions, cheese, and two Impossible burger patties smothered in all of the restaurant’s house-made sauces.
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A two vegetable dish combo with pickles, raita and chapati from Namaste Spiceland
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Namaste Spiceland

Pasadena Indian $
There is a constant line along the hot bar at the Pasadena location (there’s another in Thousand Oaks) of this restaurant and market, where the day’s offerings are displayed. You can always count on a selection of vegetable dishes and at least one paneer. On a recent visit, the paneer jalfrezi — rectangles of paneer with diced tomato, peppers and onions simmered in a rich, creamy gravy — was wonderful. I ordered a few spoonfuls alongside the “okra and potatoes,” chunks of okra and potato stewed until tender with lots of fresh cilantro. The samosas were heavy and dense with curried potato. The paratha were on the thinner side, but with crisp, almost flaky edges and a chewy middle. If you pay an extra $1 with your combination plate (which includes pickles, chutneys and raita), you can have garlic naan in place of chapati. The naan is puffy, blistered and served piping hot. It’s well worth the extra $1.
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A photo from Nic's on Beverly.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Nic’s On Beverly

Beverly Grove New American $$$
Nic’s serves a broad and well-executed modern American menu to its plant-forward patrons. There are plenty of classics to be found (beer-battered Good Catch “fish” and chips with an herbaceous tartar sauce; substantial Impossible burgers, truffled and not; rich French onion soup smothered in gooey non-dairy Gouda) as well as a few hyper-local nods, including the Chinois on Beverly, a nod to Wolfgang Puck’s famous Chinese chicken salad. The Kennebec “fries,” razor-thin potato slices layered to form thick wedges, are a thing of beauty. Even the Detroit-inspired square pies hit every note, with crispy-bottomed fluffy pizza dough laced with caramelized, crunchy cheese around the edges. Its success is perhaps unsurprising, given the team’s storied pedigree: Nic Adler (Eat Drink Vegan, Monty’s Good Burger), Steven Fretz (Top Round, Coast Range) and Jesus Samudio (formerly Cal Mare) running the food, with Jason Eisner (Party Beer Co., Wolfie’s Hot Chicken) helming the cocktails.
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A burger with fries served at Nomoo.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Nomoo

Fairfax American $
Swapping beef burgers for vegan burgers, Nomoo launched in the former Johnny Rockets space on Melrose Avenue in early 2020 and has been serving plant-based burgers, shakes and fries with a philanthropic bent ever since. The patties are made by Beyond Meat, and the fried Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich features Chick’n, but the sauces, the salads and even the milkshake base (which uses almond and oat milk and requires 18 hours to make) are whipped up in-house. The menu is small but offers plenty of customization: The organic sodas can include CBD for $2 extra; sides can be ordered as half fries, half salad; and the fries can come loaded animal-style, a la In-N-Out, or smothered in truffled non-dairy cheese. What’s more, Nomoo donates 10% of its profits to a nonprofit such as Mercy for Animals each month.
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Vegetarian feast combination from Rahel Vegan Cuisine
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Rahel Vegan

Little Ethiopia Ethiopian $
You won’t find any alternative proteins on the menu at Rahel Woldmedhin’s restaurant in Little Ethiopia. When she opened two decades ago, she wanted to highlight actual produce, putting together a plant-based menu of mostly stewed vegetables. The vegan feast combination is indeed a feast, and the best way to sample most of the menu. The platter is served on a tire-sized piece of injera, the slightly sour-tinged springy flatbread made from teff that serves as both your plate and your utensil. A scoop of various stews are all neatly lined up on the bread creating a mosaic of colors: cabbage stew, whole lentil stew, split lentil stew, split pea stew, string beans with carrots, zucchini stew, chopped kale, chopped tomato with jalapeño and garlic and sunflower seed mixed with injera. They are all wildly different but with a single throughline: regardless of the spice, the flavors are concentrated and vibrant. Served alongside the platter is a large, crispy sambussa filled with berbere-spiked lentils. This is a meal best enjoyed with others, but even alone, the act of ripping off pieces of injera and using them to swipe up ginger, garlic and turmeric-laced stew is comforting on any level.
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Ramen from Ramen Hood.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Ramen Hood

Downtown L.A. Japanese $$
Chefs Ilan Hall and Rahul Khopkar don’t just serve some of the best vegan ramen in town — it’s some of the best ramen in L.A., period. The “Top Chef” winner and Lucques vet, respectively, run a plant-based ramen-ya housed within Grand Central Market that ladles rich, satisfying and substantial broths into wide-brimmed black bowls with perfectly chewy eggless noodles. This ramen carries much of the creaminess and depth one finds in a tonkatsu broth, with none of the pork. Here, sunflower seeds and garlic paste provide a base, while traditional toppings can include baby bok choy, bean sprouts, chili threads and nori slabs. Other options, such as alt-protein OmniPork or an “egg” made with reconstituted broth, Agar-Agar and soy, mimic familiar ingredients. Round out the meal with plant-based small plates such as cucumber salad or the “ahi tuna” crisps, where seasoned beets replicating fish get piped into crispy rice spheres.
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The Brussels sprouts at Seabirds.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Seabirds Kitchen

Long Beach Eclectic $
I will never tire of good Brussels sprouts. Everyone’s favorite gastro-pub starter was labeled a fad, but they never really faded away, and that’s a good thing. The sprouts at Seabirds are crispy — the kind of crispy that tastes deep-fried and makes you forget you’re eating a cruciferous vegetable. Tossed with lime, Dijon, cayenne pepper and fried garlic, they’re tangy, salty and keep their crunch. It’s an ideal prequel to the stuffed shells (artichoke and spinach filling with almond ricotta) or the bibimbap bowl brimming with fermented cauliflower, spicy, tender jackfruit and plenty of gochujang over brown rice.
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Plantae mushroom sushi at Smorgasburg.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Smorgasburg (Mort & Betty’s, Señoreata, Plantae, Maneatingplant)

Downtown L.A. Many Cuisines $
Think of Smorgasburg as a plant-based paradise complete with vintage shopping and clean restrooms. With nearly a dozen vendors selling vegetarian and vegan offerings, the Sunday food market is the perfect place for a good old-fashioned food crawl. Start with brunch at Mort & Betty’s. The Megan Thee scallion bagel is smeared with cashew cream cheese and topped with carrot “lox” (smoky slivers of carrot), salty olives and fresh tomato. Follow the bagel with some dill pickle latkes (a classic latke spiked with pickle juice and plenty of fresh dill). Next, there’s vegan sushi at Plantae. The teriyaki mushroom roll is stuffed with battered and fried mushrooms and drizzled with a sweet glaze. The next logical step is to eat the mushroom bao and garlic noodles from Maneatingplant, a vendor housed in an old school bus. The noodles are springy and pungent with garlic, and the bao is actually two fluffy bao stuffed with fried mushrooms. For a savory dessert (my favorite kind), there’s the Frita Cubana sandwich from Señoreata. It’s made with Impossible meat that mimics the consistency of sloppy Joe, a slice of melted plant-based cheese and a heap of fried potato matchsticks. It’s what you wish the lunch lady shoved over the counter in high school, and even better.
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The crispy oyster mushrooms from Vege Paradise.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Vege Paradise

San Gabriel Valley Chinese $
This restaurant is located in what could be my favorite shopping center in the San Gabriel Valley. There’s a 99 Ranch Market in one corner, excellent soup dumplings upstairs, char siu downstairs, very good bubble tea, multiple bakeries and a candy store. I’m a frequent diner at Vege Paradise. On my first visit, I didn’t realize it was a vegetarian restaurant. You’ll find versions of kung pao chicken, shredded pork with bean curd and various fish dishes made with soy-based proteins. And most items on the menu can be made vegan — you just have to ask. The congee is a cross between a corn soup and rice porridge, thick, gloppy and comforting. One dish I never miss is crispy oyster mushrooms. The plump mushrooms are lightly dusted in a gossamer breading that shatters on impact. A few slivers of chopped chiles and fried leaves of basil serve as an unnecessary but welcome garnish. I could eat an entire bowl of these dangerously perfect mushrooms, and I have. I think I found my new favorite Netflix snack.
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A meal from Wolfie's Hot Chicken
(Wolfie’s Hot Chicken)

Wolfie’s Hot Chicken

Highland Park American $
There’s no chicken at Wolfie’s, but things can get heated. Richard Chang (formerly of Tehuanita 2.0) and Jason Eisner (Party Beer Co., Nic’s On Beverly) turned a Nashville-inspired hot chicken food truck into a bricks-and-mortar restaurant and bar in Highland Park, and it’s here that Wolfie’s serves tempeh-based “chicken” sandwiches and tenders, plus fries, burgers and brunch. The Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches can be ordered as mild, medium, spicy or super; other options include a bourbon barbecue-sauce fried “chicken sandwich,” and a Korean fried chicken sandwich topped with gochujang glaze, kimchi-vinaigrette slaw, and a chili-and-garlic aioli. It’s quick, it’s casual, it’s bursting with flavor. Get extra ranch.
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