When the mood strikes for some flavorful, healthy and quickly served snacks there’s a place on Main Street in Santa Monica that fits the bill perfectly. It’s a super casual joint, where you can sit outside with your dog and enjoy a steaming hot plate of pad thai or some cool tofu spring rolls.

For those of the vegetarian and vegan persuasion, there are few options in this town, even though we probably have more than most American cities by a factor of 10. Asian food, in general, is a good go-to for vegetarian options, and for those looking for some solid Thai flavors – Thai Vegan is the place to start.

Thai Vegan is a walk up, order from the window, and grab a seat somewhere at the approximately 4 tables they have, and wait for them to call your number. There is some outside seating where the dogs are usually ruling the parking lot. Located next to The Bike Shop in a mini-strip mall, this restaurant serves high quality, super flavorful Thai food with a vegan flair.

I’ve been a semi-regular here for years, even though I’m nowhere near a vegetarian or vegan. I just love the ability to walk up, order some spring rolls, and a fried rice and sit under the giant ficus as the world walks by.

What would Asian cuisine be without some type of dumpling? And here, Thai Vegan provides a pan-fried, vegetable filled dumpling that is a perfect appetizer. The other big mainstay of any decent Thai restaurant is a satay – beef, chicken or tofu. Satay is strips of protein on a skewer and then grilled, in this vegan establishment, tofu is the only option, but it does come with a peanut dipping sauce.

The spring rolls are a delightful mix of spring greens, tofu, shredded carrot and rice paper wrapper. They come with a slightly tangy and spicy peanut sauce for dipping that definitely becomes addictive. Each order contains two rolls and I find that they are an easy way to eat my salad. One order is generally enough for a mid-afternoon snack, or as the precursor to a larger meal.

Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand. Usually, it involves shrimp and chicken for a protein. Thai Vegan

uses tofu and I don’t even miss the more traditional proteins. Frequently I find myself sharing an order of the spring rolls and plate of Pad Thai, which is more than enough to satisfy me for several hours.

I’m a huge fan of grilled pineapple. I like in on my pizza, I like it with sticky rice and I love it when the pineapple in a fried rice or chow mein has been slightly charred on the wok. The caramelization of the sugars enhances the fruity goodness for me. The Tofu Fried Rice at Thai Vegan is a fragrant mix of onions, raisins, vegetables and rice all mixed in a wok and served piping hot. I find it ultra-tasty on a cold afternoon and highly recommend it as a comfort food.

Thai Vegan offers a standard lineup of curries; green, yellow, massaman, panaeng and pineapple. I’ve only tried all of them with no losers in the bunch.

Dessert is a typical sticky rice with mango, or maybe some juice, or a Thai Iced Tea or Thai Iced Coffee.

This is not a formal restaurant, you’re expected to bus your own dishes, use the plastic ware or chopsticks and don’t expect to be waited on. But, if you’re looking for tasty, vegan Thai – it’s a solid choice that won’t disappoint.

Thai Vegan deserves 3 stars out of 5 for ambiance & décor and 5 out of 5 for the quality of their food. Prices range from $5-8 for small plates, under $10 for second-course items. Parking is available, and there is some street parking.


2400 Main St

Santa Monica, CA 90405

(310) 581-4255

No Reservations Required.

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