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Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C. in Brentwood and West Hollywood
Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C.
Shimon and Tammar Photography

13 Restaurants Serving Smoky Barbecued Vegetables

Where to find the best vegetables prepared on a grill in LA

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Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C.
| Shimon and Tammar Photography

If there’s any group that’s historically left out of the barbecue conversation, it’s the plant-based crowd. There’s so much emphasis on grilled proteins, but the grilled or wood-fired vegetable is worth consideration, too. Wood ovens fire up every day throughout Los Angeles, providing ample flavor, char, and a smoky finish to cauliflower, broccolini, or even a stacked oyster mushroom kebab from a prominent Downtown restaurant. Below is a guide that shows exactly where to find smoky grilled or wood-fired vegetable dishes throughout Southern California.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Charred cauliflower at Tesse

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It’s challenging to get excited about cauliflower, but chef Raphael Francois utilizes his wood-burning stove to lightly char the main ingredient, then he carefully adds harissa, cucumber, almonds, and pomegranate for a beautiful and salad that rocks notes that skew smoky with a touch of heat.

The charred cauliflower salad from Tesse
Tesse
Mona Holmes

Fire-roasted sweet peppers at Soulmate

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Dining on Soulmate’s lush West Hollywood patio is a must, but it’s also an ideal spot to try a dish like the fire-roasted sweet peppers. The kitchen doesn’t overdo it with the flames, which lets the flavor of the peppers, snap peas, and green onion come through —but there’s still a bit of wonderful char along with lime and a touch of cilantro.

Embered beet from Angler LA

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The beet at Angler takes inspiration from a much more arduous preparation from sister restaurant Saison, where chef Joshua Skenes hung the large red root vegetable above a wood-fired stove to imbue it with heavy smoke flavor. Here in LA, the smoke is less intense, though it still lingers after the beet has been roasted to a dry, prune-like consistency and then rehydrated for a final, savory-sweet fruit snack texture.

Roasted cauliflower at A.O.C.

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Classic restaurant dishes are often discovered during the staff’s shared meals outside of peak business hours, and A.O.C.’s roasted cauliflower is one of them. Available at both the West Third and Brentwood locations, the cauliflower is roasted whole over a fire with aromatics like curry, cumin and coriander seeds, and a splash of red wine vinegar. It’s even showcased in chef Suzanne Goin’s A.O.C. Cookbook

Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C. in Brentwood and West Hollywood
Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C.
Shimon and Tammar Photography

Grilled mixed vegetables at Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill

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A beloved mainstay for Los Angeles, Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill opened in 1948, serving traditional Greek fare with an adjacent market. Staff will delicately throw peppers, onions, tomatoes, and squash on the grill with an easy amount of seasoning. It’s an effortless dish that’s been around for centuries, so take advantage of having this classic Greek combination right here in LA.

Grelhas or grilled vegetables at Woodspoon

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Brazilians utilize the hell out of a grelha, or grill. This traditional metal grate with parallel bars can cook anything over an open flame, and at DTLA’s Woodspoon, chef and owner Natalia Pereira serves a hearty vegetable grelha on wood-iron with rice, dazzling black beans, plantains, collard greens, farofa, and salsa.

Grilled squash, plantain, black beans, farofa, and rice from Woodspoon in Downtown Los Angeles
Grilled squash, plantain, black beans, farofa, and rice from Woodspoon
Mona Holmes

Oyster mushroom kebab at Bavel

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Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’s Downtown Middle Eastern oasis still dazzles, even with its most simple dishes. Case in point: Bavel’s oyster mushroom kebab, which is even featured in the 2021 cookbook “Bavel.” This meaty vegetable is skewered, doused with grapeseed oil, and seasoned with pepper, salt, and sumac before it’s thrown over a charcoal fire. As a final touch, it’s topped with herbs, Meyer lemon, cilantro, and avocado puree.

Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose

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Husband-and-wife owners Ryan and Diana Lamon lead Poppy & Rose, Downtown’s cozy daytime spot. In addition to soulful takes like biscuits and gravy, the kitchen makes a grilled vegetable sandwich with marinated zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and herbed yogurt on ciabatta.

Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose
Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose
Mona Holmes

Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant 

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When the plate arrives with Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant, it’s quite a sight. The eggplant is completely charred and smoky, with layers of Fresno chile. The black bean sauce and sesame help tamper down the heat, but only a bit.

Japanese eggplant from Piccalilli in Culver City
Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant 
Courtesy of Piccalilli

Oven wood-fired squash from Fig

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Chef Jason Prendergast has a thing about securing 75 percent of Fig’s ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The result is a fresh menu that’s ideal for warm weather, especially the slightly smoky grilled squash from Flora Bella Farm with salsa verde, crispy shallots, and a summer pepper squash giardiniera pickled vegetables. 

Oven wood-fired squash from Fig restaurant in Santa Monica
Oven wood-fired squash from Fig
Courtesy of Fig

Eggplant steak au poivre from Butcher’s Daughter

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Butcher’s Daughter does plant-based food all day long in Venice. They prepare dishes where vegetables shine like the eggplant steak au poivre. The eggplant is treated like a steak: it’s grilled beautifully and topped with a mushroom-and-black-pepper cream sauce, only to be topped with charred lemon and spinach.

Cabbage baked in embers at Charcoal Venice

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Chef Josiah Citrin’s Venice restaurant is all about the open fire, with large family plates that showcase techniques with vegetables and meats. The surprise hit here is the cabbage, which is actually baked in the coals’ heat and served with a side of yogurt, sumac, and lemon.

Wood-fired vegetables at Michael’s Pizzeria in Long Beach

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Any restaurant claiming to fully utilize a wood-fired oven to turn out pizza should be roasting meats and vegetables in its flames, too. At Michael’s, the kitchen goes above and beyond to draw the best from the wood, smoke, and heat that turns vegetables into cast-iron skillet-charred gems.

Charred cauliflower at Tesse

The charred cauliflower salad from Tesse
Tesse
Mona Holmes

It’s challenging to get excited about cauliflower, but chef Raphael Francois utilizes his wood-burning stove to lightly char the main ingredient, then he carefully adds harissa, cucumber, almonds, and pomegranate for a beautiful and salad that rocks notes that skew smoky with a touch of heat.

The charred cauliflower salad from Tesse
Tesse
Mona Holmes

Fire-roasted sweet peppers at Soulmate

Dining on Soulmate’s lush West Hollywood patio is a must, but it’s also an ideal spot to try a dish like the fire-roasted sweet peppers. The kitchen doesn’t overdo it with the flames, which lets the flavor of the peppers, snap peas, and green onion come through —but there’s still a bit of wonderful char along with lime and a touch of cilantro.

Embered beet from Angler LA

The beet at Angler takes inspiration from a much more arduous preparation from sister restaurant Saison, where chef Joshua Skenes hung the large red root vegetable above a wood-fired stove to imbue it with heavy smoke flavor. Here in LA, the smoke is less intense, though it still lingers after the beet has been roasted to a dry, prune-like consistency and then rehydrated for a final, savory-sweet fruit snack texture.

Roasted cauliflower at A.O.C.

Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C. in Brentwood and West Hollywood
Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C.
Shimon and Tammar Photography

Classic restaurant dishes are often discovered during the staff’s shared meals outside of peak business hours, and A.O.C.’s roasted cauliflower is one of them. Available at both the West Third and Brentwood locations, the cauliflower is roasted whole over a fire with aromatics like curry, cumin and coriander seeds, and a splash of red wine vinegar. It’s even showcased in chef Suzanne Goin’s A.O.C. Cookbook

Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C. in Brentwood and West Hollywood
Roasted curried cauliflower from A.O.C.
Shimon and Tammar Photography

Grilled mixed vegetables at Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill

A beloved mainstay for Los Angeles, Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill opened in 1948, serving traditional Greek fare with an adjacent market. Staff will delicately throw peppers, onions, tomatoes, and squash on the grill with an easy amount of seasoning. It’s an effortless dish that’s been around for centuries, so take advantage of having this classic Greek combination right here in LA.

Grelhas or grilled vegetables at Woodspoon

Grilled squash, plantain, black beans, farofa, and rice from Woodspoon in Downtown Los Angeles
Grilled squash, plantain, black beans, farofa, and rice from Woodspoon
Mona Holmes

Brazilians utilize the hell out of a grelha, or grill. This traditional metal grate with parallel bars can cook anything over an open flame, and at DTLA’s Woodspoon, chef and owner Natalia Pereira serves a hearty vegetable grelha on wood-iron with rice, dazzling black beans, plantains, collard greens, farofa, and salsa.

Grilled squash, plantain, black beans, farofa, and rice from Woodspoon in Downtown Los Angeles
Grilled squash, plantain, black beans, farofa, and rice from Woodspoon
Mona Holmes

Oyster mushroom kebab at Bavel

Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’s Downtown Middle Eastern oasis still dazzles, even with its most simple dishes. Case in point: Bavel’s oyster mushroom kebab, which is even featured in the 2021 cookbook “Bavel.” This meaty vegetable is skewered, doused with grapeseed oil, and seasoned with pepper, salt, and sumac before it’s thrown over a charcoal fire. As a final touch, it’s topped with herbs, Meyer lemon, cilantro, and avocado puree.

Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose

Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose
Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose
Mona Holmes

Husband-and-wife owners Ryan and Diana Lamon lead Poppy & Rose, Downtown’s cozy daytime spot. In addition to soulful takes like biscuits and gravy, the kitchen makes a grilled vegetable sandwich with marinated zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and herbed yogurt on ciabatta.

Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose
Grilled vegetable sandwich at Poppy + Rose
Mona Holmes

Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant 

Japanese eggplant from Piccalilli in Culver City
Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant 
Courtesy of Piccalilli

When the plate arrives with Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant, it’s quite a sight. The eggplant is completely charred and smoky, with layers of Fresno chile. The black bean sauce and sesame help tamper down the heat, but only a bit.

Japanese eggplant from Piccalilli in Culver City
Piccalilli’s Japanese eggplant 
Courtesy of Piccalilli

Oven wood-fired squash from Fig

Oven wood-fired squash from Fig restaurant in Santa Monica
Oven wood-fired squash from Fig
Courtesy of Fig

Chef Jason Prendergast has a thing about securing 75 percent of Fig’s ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The result is a fresh menu that’s ideal for warm weather, especially the slightly smoky grilled squash from Flora Bella Farm with salsa verde, crispy shallots, and a summer pepper squash giardiniera pickled vegetables. 

Oven wood-fired squash from Fig restaurant in Santa Monica
Oven wood-fired squash from Fig
Courtesy of Fig

Eggplant steak au poivre from Butcher’s Daughter

Butcher’s Daughter does plant-based food all day long in Venice. They prepare dishes where vegetables shine like the eggplant steak au poivre. The eggplant is treated like a steak: it’s grilled beautifully and topped with a mushroom-and-black-pepper cream sauce, only to be topped with charred lemon and spinach.

Cabbage baked in embers at Charcoal Venice

Chef Josiah Citrin’s Venice restaurant is all about the open fire, with large family plates that showcase techniques with vegetables and meats. The surprise hit here is the cabbage, which is actually baked in the coals’ heat and served with a side of yogurt, sumac, and lemon.

Wood-fired vegetables at Michael’s Pizzeria in Long Beach

Any restaurant claiming to fully utilize a wood-fired oven to turn out pizza should be roasting meats and vegetables in its flames, too. At Michael’s, the kitchen goes above and beyond to draw the best from the wood, smoke, and heat that turns vegetables into cast-iron skillet-charred gems.

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