Santa Monica has plenty of vegan restaurants, but until last week, it didn’t have a place where plant-based eaters could pick up a cupcake on the way home, relax over brunch or enjoy a leisurely dinner with a glass of wine.
Erin McKenna opened a new iteration of her vegan and gluten-free bakery last Saturday at 1415 Montana Ave. Erin McKenna’s Bakery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to the sweet treats that have made McKenna’s Larchmont Village location a cult favorite among Angelenos in search of vegan brownies and bagels.
McKenna said she chose Santa Monica for her next location because she saw a lack of vegan baked goods on the Westside and wanted to fill that void.
“The Westside is very progressive and a lot of people are passionate about animal rights and sustainability, but there aren’t a whole lot of vegan bakeries, which is baffling,” she said.
Her Larchmont location was already absorbing that demand from the Westside, she said.
“At our Larchmont location, we see a lot of people who travel all the way from the Westside to pick up cakes or Postmates two donuts across town on a regular basis,” she said. “It just made sense to come out here.”
McKenna didn’t want to replicate the Larchmont bakery in Santa Monica, however.
Her previous three bakeries — in New York, Orlando and Larchmont — never had much room for seating, limiting her menu to baked goods. The larger location she found on Montana allowed her to have many more tables and chairs, waiters and a full menu.
Now, McKenna said, she finally has a place to serve the recipes she has published in her three cookbooks.
Her pizzas — cheese, pesto, Margherita and roasted vegetable — have proved particularly popular in the week since the location opened, she said. They join mac and cheese, salads and avocado toast on the savory menu. There’s also vegan, gluten-free wine and beer selected by Rustic Canyon’s sommelier.
What she’s most excited about, though, is brunch. McKenna said she has been perfecting her French toast, pancakes and waffles recipes for years.
“It’s wonderful to be able to sit down and relax on the weekends with some pancakes, a cup of coffee and a waiter taking care of everything,” she said.
McKenna’s ultimate goal for the Santa Monica location, she said, is to push the envelope of vegan cuisine in an era where vegan and gluten-free baked goods come as a standard option in many bakeries.
“When people walk in that door, I want them to be so excited to be there because we offer things they can’t get anywhere else,” she said. “It’s just a fun place where you can go and not worry about ordering the right thing. The hardest decision you have to make is what looks best to you.”