It’s not easy to find good vegetarian Mexican food, let alone vegan. Thankfully, during my LA trip I was able to finally check out this spot I’ve seen in a Goodful video, to try all sort of vegan Mexican food! We had some time to make it out into the The Valley to try El Cocinero Restaurant! I’ve never had birria tacos or flan before, so to finally try them and it being vegan, you can only imagine how excited I was. Read below for the detailed review and check out more vegetarian and vegan content on the blog or via my socials by following on Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook! See below for a visual teaser of what to expect!
About and Location
El Cocinero is the first vegan Mexican restaurant in the Valley. The founder, Alex, became a vegan around 8 years ago and he mentioned in the Goodful video that the restaurant started by the encouragement of his friends who were shocked to find out when eating his dishes, that they were in fact vegan! What started as popups has now resulted in a restaurant in his own community so it is accessible to more people. The exact location of the restaurant is 6265 Sepulveda Blvd Unit 12, in Van Nuys, California. Parking is a bit limited and unfortunately, there is no dine in option or garbage. We ended up eating in the parking lot as we did not want to mess up the rental.
The pricing isn’t terrible as you can see above with the menu being shown on the screens, as the 3 main dishes I got were around $15 each. I believe the price is justified because of the taste but also because of the portion size you get. When ordering they will ask you to choose “the meat”. The vegan meat options if I can recall correctly are Al Pastor, Asada, Chicken, Jackfruit “Carnitas”, Chicharrón, and Birria. Most of these options are either jackfruit or soy or a combination of both. If you have any questions you can ask them. I felt that the price for drinks being $4, is a little towards the high side but not ridiculous. I did find it odd that the consomé you had buy separate for $4 but still worth it in my opinion.
Speaking of the consomé, you know I had to try this as this was the main reason why I went. The birria tacos was good as it had a little crunch yet still soft with the sauce being coated on top. Once you dip it in, I do recommend you take that bite soon before it crumbles. Also, I would highly recommend you ask for a spoon to finish up the consomé because you will have a lot left over. As mentioned earlier, you do buy it on the side and frankly it is worth it because you can eat/drink this on it’s own. It is warm, with a little spice and flavour that makes these tacos what it is.
The other main meals I got was the quesadilla and the loaded nachos. The quesadilla wasn’t bad either because I enjoyed the texture of the tortilla and even though there was a lot of cheese, it wasn’t an overkill. I will say that the salsas are a bit spicy but I would recommend dipping it into the consomé instead! The loaded nachos was my favourite of the 3 and mainly because the sauce and tortillas chips were so good. The chips were crispy, plus the sauce and meat were layered perfectly so every bite you can taste the full flavour. I will suggest you get a fork for this one because after a while it will get a bit tricky.
Last but not least, I had to try the drinks and the flan! The drinks weren’t bad the first one you see is the strawberry lemonade, which wasn’t bad but a little sour and should have been colder. I also remember seeing some of the strawberries as well. Thankfully I liked the horchata. It was much better than the watered down one at Universal, because with this horchata you can taste all the ingredients. A little bit of sweetness and savoury, with the milk consistency and cinnamon. My favourite from these 3 without a doubt was the flan. The flan had a great soft and easy to eat texture which melts in your mouth. Although a slice was $6 each, I would buy it again.
All in all, I think El Cocinero lived up to the hype! I am so happy I was finally able to try Mexican food in California and it was an added bonus it was vegan! I will say in terms of recommendations is that they should really start to have some dine-in options because it is difficult to eat in your car or outside if you are in a rush, which also takes away from enjoying the food. I did enjoy the food overall and I would like to try it if I am in the valley and definitely recommend it to others as well. If you’ve been here or curious to go let me know in the comments below or via social media by following on follow on Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook as I will be posting more vegetarian and LA content!