Neighborhood favorite Qusqo Bistro opened a plant-based, delivery-only ghost kitchen on Thursday, May 13, called Llama Love Vegan. It’s an expansion of the 13-year-old West LA restaurant, where owner Lucy Haro developed a menu with traditional Peruvian dishes that could be customized with meat or made all-vegan with vegetables.
For years, Haro served plant-based dishes from her Qusqo kitchen and found a demand with not only vegan customers, but omnivores wanting to eat less meat. All of Qusqo’s sauces are vegan, so Haro simply added meat or vegetables to sauces like aji verde or aji amarillo. It was a natural fit, says Haro. “We do have a lot of vegan sauces and indigenous ingredients that come from our native roots. In Latin America, natives use a majority of plant and fruit-based diets because meat can be a luxury.” she says.
Haro also employed a vegan chef for two years and found suitable vegan cheese products to work with, which helped when developing a twist on huancaína sauce. One of her best sellers at Qusqo is the vegetable saltado. While the original dish is usually sautéed with beef, the vegan alternative is now on Llama Love’s menu. Instead of arroz con pollo or the mayo and tuna-heavy causa, there’s an arroz con cauliflower and causa with vegetables and avocado. Drinks like chicha morada, Inca Cola, and sangria are also available.
Llama Love might be the only all-plant-based Peruvian spot in Southern California, even though Aymara Peruvian Kitchen offers vegan dishes, and DTLA’s Little Llama Peruvian Tacos has extensive vegan-friendly options like shitake mushroom tacos, burritos, and an avocado ceviche tostada. Llama Love Vegan is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sundays from noon until 3 p.m.