Tag Archive for: Elf Cafe

We drove by Elf Café the other night – and it was BUZZING!

Considered by many to be the best vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles, the six-year-old Echo Park restaurant now has something new to offer its patrons (and to compete with the giant and vegan-friendly Mohawk Bend next door): Beer and wine!

Owner and chef Scott Zwiezen is focusing this new menu addition on a natural/organic approach. He explains in an email to us:

Our focus is on wine, with emphasis on biodynamic and natural, dry-farmed wines which utilize native yeasts and natural forms of pest control. There’s a Loire we have in, for instance from Olivier Cousin -a visionary of modern biodynamic winemaking- that is, simply put, incredible. We have also been meeting with and buying wines from other small producers in California, France, Portugal, Australia and Chile.

And there’s beer too – Evan George, of Hot Knives and formerly of Elf, is helping curate the beer menu. Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist IPA and Solidarity will be available, as well as organic options from Eel River Brewery and Iron First (Vista, California).

Both the beer and wine list will change, depending on availability and season.

We can’t wait to check it out!

As we reported last June, Elf Cafe is expanding its footprint and applying for a beer/wine license. Just recently, the nearly six-year-old vegetarian restaurant broke ground and is well on its way to getting that license!

Thankfully, the restaurant will not have to close down for any of the renovations as it takes over the next door space formerly known as Branche Boutique, so you can still get your amazing vegetarian food. For those fans of Elf Cafe, or those who are general fans of cool locals who have cool businesses, you can support the restaurant’s new endeavors with a limited time deal. Almost like a Groupon or Gift Certificate, Elf Futures allows you to purchase a gift certificate that is worth twice as much when you spend it. So, for instance, $50 gift certificate will actually gets you $100 worth of food and drinks… in the future. Get it?

Elf Futures will only be available through October 31, 2012, and redeemable from January 1, 2013 through January 1, 2014. They can be purchased at the restaurant during business hours.

Elf Café is located at 2135 W Sunset Blvd and is open Wednesday through Sunday, 6-11:00 pm.


Last February, the Hot Knives guys (the ones behind the super awesome Salad Daze cookbook) sold over 100 falafels in just three hours – and it was clear Los Angeles needed more falafels.

Tonight, the late-night falafel popup returns to Elf Café in Echo Park to serve the buzzed and hungry. In case you missed it last year, Hot Knives describes their falafels as the following:

Our falafel balls are crackly crunchity on the outside but moist inside thanks to a fresh handmade batter of chickpeas and chickpea flour studded with fresh parsley, mint and cilantro.

The warm pita and falafel comes with hot sauce, garlic-tahini, homemade smokey hummus, and a tapenade of green olives, turnips and pickles. One sandwich, no options, no seating, totally vegan.

So be sure to head over on the early side, sales start at 9:30 pm and go until 1:00 am – or until sold out. Bring cash, falafels are $5 a pop.

Five years ago, Elf Café opened its doors to Echo Park vegetarians and vegans seeking gourmet Mediterranean themed cuisine. Until a couple of years ago the small, 700 square foot restaurant on Sunset Boulevard barely had a kitchen; they were using hot plates and convection ovens to churn out plates just a few nights a week, but still managing to convince even the heartiest of meat-eaters that vegetarian food can be good – like, really good.

Owner and chef Scott Zwiezen has been planning for over two years now to expand and “evolve” the restaurant into the adjacent space, plans which are now finally in motion. In the summer of 2012, the hot plates were replaced by a real kitchen that currently serves 20 seats. The expansion will add 448 square feet to the restaurant, including an additional bathroom, office and storage space, and eight more seats for the restaurant.

On top of taking over the empty “Branche Boutique” space next door, Elf Café has applied for a beer and wine license. Aware of the concentration of alcohol licenses in the area, Zwiezen has been doing outreach in the immediate radius since January. They told the Neighborhood Issues Committee of the Echo Park Improvement Association last night that the majority of the input has been favorable.

They’ve also got some neighborhood interest in new free cooking classes starting July 17, which will focus on introducing vegetarian cooking to Spanish-language speakers on Tuesday nights when the restaurant is closed.

And it’s a good time for the restaurant to start expanding its services – food critic Jonathan Gold lists Elf Café as one of his favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, recently recommending the restaurant for vegans and vegetarians in an online chat for the LA Times.

Currently, Elf is open just Wednesday through Sunday from 5:00 pm to about 1:00 am, but they will expand those hours under the beer and wine license. They are currently asking for 7:00 am – 2:00 am so that they have some flexibility should they want to start offering brunch and lunch service (which neighbor Mohawk Bend also offers). It’s unclear whether or not the expansion will now require them to provide a certain number of parking spaces.

A public hearing on the beer and wine license is expected to be in August this year, construction will start that same month but the restaurant should only be closed for a few days.

Elf Café is located at 2135 W Sunset Blvd.

Elf Cafe is re-opoening tomorrow, July 28 (according to the sign on the front door), after a week-long closure for renovations. While we haven’t gotten the final word from the restaurant about what exactly is going on with renovations, they told the Huffington Post last February of plans to expand the restaurant into the space next door (perhaps Branche Boutique, pictured above), which they had just acquired.

We’ll have to see what happens when Elf Cafe re-opens tomorrow!

Elf Cafe is located at 2135 W Sunset Blvd. Click here for the menu.

Elf Cafe
2135 Sunset Blvd.
Wednesday – Sunday 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Reservations: email elfcafe@gmail.com

v= Vegan, gf = Gluten Free
Cash Only. Elf uses only organic, sustainable, locally grown products and only local rennet-free cheeses.

The restaurant is currently under construction to expand its kitchen, but we can still expect the great menu below!


Mediterranean Lentils: A crock of organic lentils topped with mushrooms and carmelized onions (v, gf) – 9
Baked Sheep Feta and Tomatoes: Served with thyme and oil cured olives (gf) – 12
Soup du Jour: Our soups are made fresh daily with vegetables, olive oil and spices (v, gf)
Vegan Fondue: Pan-roasted vegetables and herbs served with a walnut romesco dip (v, gf) – 9
Labneh: California goat yogurt cheese with date, kalamata olive tapenade & warm pita (gf) – 12
Tahini Avocado Puree: Creamy avocado hummus served with garlic and warm pita (gf) – 9
Roasted Flatbread Shawarma: Similar to a shawarma sandwich served open-faced with crispy oyster mushrooms, spicy hummus and savory cabbage salad (v) – 12
Roasted Beet Carpaccio: Served chilled with savory pickled salsa and grated horseradish (v, gf) – 10
Spiced Moroccan Olives and Roasted Almonds: with rosewater infused organic dates (v, gf) – 6
Cornmeal and Herb Dusted Spicy Oyster Mushrooms: Our version of ‘hot wings’ crispy oyster mushrooms served with marinated celery salad and bleu cheese cream reduction (gf) – 10


Spicy Moroccan Kale Salad: A mountain of kale topped with charmoula dressing, harissa, avocado & sheep feta (v without feta, gf) – 13
Greek Village Salad: Traditional Greek salad of sheep feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives & onions (gf)- 12
Lebanese Cabbage Salad: Made with organic cabbage, dried mint, sumac, garlic and lemon (v, gf) – 8
Elf Salad: Mixed greens with dill, avocados, potatoes, olives and green beans (v, gf) – 11
Raw Organic Kale and Avocado Salad: A mountain of kale with avocado, hemp seeds and fresh blood orange dressing (v) – 12

Main Course

Spanakopita: Traditional Greek spinach and sauteed greens pie served in a filo shell with wild rice, tomato coulis and seasonal vegetables – 17
Braised Portobello Mushroom: Stuffed w/ seasonal risotticelli & smokey mozzarella on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes (gf) – 18
Moroccan Vegetable Tagine: Moroccan vegetable stew served over red quinoa with a side of spicy homemade harissa (v, gf) – 16
Baked Tart with Thyme and Garlic: Served on a bed of mixed green salad (choose two fillings or add a third for $1). Roasted tomatoes, mushrooms or red bell peppers, rosemary potatoes, carmelized onions, feta cheese, blue cheese & smoked mozzarella – 14
Stuffed Mediterranean Dolma: Sauteed chard filled w/ lentils, wild rice & mushrooms served with seasonal vegetables (v, gf) – 14
Savory Crepe and Chevre Butter: A chickpea crepe filled w/ spinach and cheese gratin & topped with a dollop of homemade goat cheese butter – 17
Roasted Beet and Braised Fennel: Served with aromatic wild rice and port wine reduction (v, gf) – 16