Above image: Little Pine
Our recent interview with electronic music legend Moby covered some poignant and heavy subjects, as related to his brilliant, thought-provoking new (and 15th) album Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt – which was released earlier this month through Mute. But perhaps his most pointed and enduring “other” vocation is the defense of animals, which has found voice not only in his music, but also in his high-profile vegan epicurean ventures.
His first was Teany (now closed), which he opened on NYC’s Lower East Side back in 2002. But he has since taken his philosophy to a certainly welcoming Los Angeles – where eating well and eating ideologically has deep roots – with the late 2015 opening of the charming vegan eatery Little Pine, in Silver Lake.
“One of the biggest challenges facing us as a species,” he insists, “is cultivating and extending true empathy and compassion to others, be they human or not.”
Ne’er truer words.
So to that end, we asked him to guide us through his fave vegan haunts in La La Land, from fancy celeb-magnets to low-key ramen shops.
You opened your first Los Angeles venture, the vegan restaurant Little Pine, in 2015. How is that going?
It’s great, even though I have no idea how to run a restaurant. Luckily the women who run the restaurant are way smarter and more knowledgeable than I. My goal was to represent veganism in a very attractive, bricks-n-mortar way, as most vegan advocacy exists in words and pictures and movies…all of which are great. But I wanted to show that veganism can look great and taste wonderful.
Do you find that the enthusiasm for the vegan lifestyle is just as great in both New York and LA?
I guess it depends upon who you talk to. I’m assuming that a steak eating bond trader in NYC might not be so keen on embracing a vegan lifestyle? But LA and New York are both largely progressive cities, open to new, better ideas. And veganism is a new, better idea.
Moby’s Fave Vegan Spots in Los Angeles
Tal Ronnen’s very fancy vegan eatery has brought veganism to a very fancy demographic, who otherwise would have no idea what vegan is. Plus, his restaurant has the best and most random celeb spotting. Last time I was there I saw Johnny Depp having dinner with Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl.
On the Menu: sweet and sour roasted eggplant; grilled maitake mushrooms
When we first opened Little Pine, Krimsey came in and asked me what advice I had for someone thinking of opening a vegan restaurant. My advice was simple: “don’t open a restaurant.” Luckily she ignored me, and opened Krimsey’s, which is wonderful and thriving.
On the Menu: Cajun jambalaya; veggie sausage Poboy
I mean, I’m biased, as it’s my restaurant; but with some semblance of objectivity, I can state that Little Pine is, in fact, really nice. Plus we give 100% of our profits to animal rights organizations. Philanthropic entrepreneurialism? Entrepreneurial philanthropy? Either/or. P.S. – Bring your dog, as our patio is canine encouraged.
On the Menu: lemongrass butternut bisque; parmesan spinach crepe
I really love it when traditionally un-vegan approaches to food are made vegan, and done better in their vegan form than in their prior non-vegan incarnations. Plus going to Grand Market for vegan ramen is fun and makes me feel normal.
On the Menu: spicy ramen
When they opened by the Arclight Cinema, I was convinced they were going to fail, as I wondered who would want vegan fast food in the middle of Hollywood? A couple of years later and they’re thriving; and I’m thrilled to have been completely wrong. Also, eating there before going to the movies makes me feel like I’m living in the suburbs of the future.
On the Menu: rustic farm bowl; kung pao tacos
Matthew Kenney has opened what I believe is the first vegan restaurant in a fancy Beverly Hills department store. It’s worth visiting for the unique-ness, and also that Kenney is the O.G. of incredibly thoughtful and poetic vegan food.
On the Menu: avocado toast; carnitas mushroom tacos
The first vegan restaurant I went to in LA, and still one of my favorites. Their Weekender Brunch, in particular, is huge and great.
On the Menu: spicy BLTA; harvest quesadillas