Chef Roberto Martin opens Santa Monica’s newest plant-based restaurant.
When Chef Roberto Martin began his training at the Culinary Institute of America, if you had told him that one day he’d be at the helm of a vegan cafe and bar—he might not have believed you. His formerly omniverous self should not fear: This plant-based indoor/outdoor location with a full bar, stellar organic wine list, vibrant happy hour, and hip design (with reclaimed materials) is an eatery any chef would be proud to captain.
Let’s talk about the food. Chef Martin has brilliantly created a selection of menu items that offer familiar flavor combinations but with creative combinations. Many of the recipes were inspired by some of Chef Martin’s family dishes, such as the ceviche nachos (with hearts of palm and chipotle aioli) and guajillo jackfruit tacos (they have just enough kick and the jackfruit has a naturally satisfying shredded taco filling texture). The American spring rolls are a dish Chef Martin refers to as his vegan double double because of the combination of the lettuce, tomato, pickle, caramelized onion, house-made thousands island and hemp seed for crunch. Chef Martin is particularly proud of the sake braised daikon scallops—yes, made with daikon.
Chef Martin committed to a plant-based diet in his own life while working as a private chef for talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. This led to two best-selling cookbooks: Vegan Cooking for Carnivores and Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking as well as tv appearances and now eLOVate.
eLOVate is between Joan’s on Third and Starbucks, facing Olympic and Tongva park. There is free parking under the mixed use building (the entrance is on Ocean Ave). Finding it for the first time takes some attention—my GPS took me to Starbucks—but it is well worth the search.
eLOVate Vegan Kitchen & Juicery
1705 Ocean Ave #111, Santa Monica, CA 90401