powerplant2webIf you are a Mid-City foody, you’ve likely sat down at Powerplant Superfood Cafe, a mostly vegan restaurant on Pico Boulevard just east of Fairfax. It’s a small space with a big menu, and owner/operator Cynthia Moore just celebrated the shop’s fifth birthday — no small feat in the topsy-turvy Los Angeles restaurant scene.

The Neighborhood News talked with Cynthia over vegan Thai curry with roasted pepitas and cashews, plus watermelon gazpacho and kimchi avocado hummus — just a small sampling of all the goodies made fresh daily at the cafe.

TNN: You made it five years. How does that feel, and what has changed since Day 1?

CM: It’s been such a joy. The agenda has always been to feed people beautiful, real food. Primarily plant-based — from the plant, rather than something that’s pretending to be meat or is fried or double-fried.

The mission has evolved to: “Let’s feed this community.” When people kind of pass by and pop in and say, “What do you do? It smells good in here!” we invite them in. We give samples out — maple ginger lemonade, the watermelon gazpacho, our hand-churned vegan ice cream. They usually ask, “This is vegan?” And I say, “It happens to be vegan, but you don’t have to put a label on it.”

TNN: There’s something about the word “vegan” that turns some people away.

CM: Sometimes people shudder at that word, but all it means is that there’s no meat in your food. You don’t need a steak at every meal. We make homemade, healthy comfort food.

TNN: Has the food changed since you first opened?

CM: Yes. We didn’t have specials when we first opened. Now we offer a new specials menu every season, and some things even change week to week.

TNN: Are you the chef?

CM:  No, I’m just a person with a palette. My kitchen staff and I work together and taste what we come up with. So I'll say, “Hey guys, I wanna try this.” So it’s my concept and their execution. We make a good team.

TNN: What was your previous restaurant experience?

CM:  I co-owned a successful restaurant, in Atlanta, Georgia. Although it was in the 1990s  it’s still there, but I’m no longer a part of it. It’s called the Flying Biscuit Cafe. We specialized in biscuits, and we described it all as “happy, hearty, healthy food.” There was no beef or pork — it was like Powerplant but roll it back 25 years. Nobody knew what gluten-free was. Nobody was talking about vegan dining. But we served as much organic food as possible. But then I got an acting job out here and I said, “I gotta go.” I had two business partners [at the Flying Biscuit], and one of those partners and I decided to try it again in L.A. with this spot. But now, it’s just me, seven days a week, running the show. I’ve got a great staff, and a manager, Ricardo, who is amazing.

TNN: So when you’re hungry, what are you eating?

CM: The grilled polenta bowl is one of my favorites. It’s two wedges of grilled polenta, slow-roasted veggies, a roasted red-pepper aioli and pesto dressing on top of a tangle of arugula underneath. This is usually a top seller for the week. Our brand-new vegan breakfast sandwich is as well. We make a sage and fennel tempeh sausage, top it with tomato, avocado, a homemade Russian dressing, plus “eggs” made by local company Follow Your Heart. All on a very good — and gluten-free — brioche bun. We get our baked goods from a local baker in Culver City.

Almost always people order off the specials menu. Sometimes the Power Mac Veggie Burger is the best seller of the day, though. It’s built like a Big Mac, but it’s a double decker nut-based patty, plus lettuce, tomato, avocado, grilled mushrooms, and pesto made of cilantro and walnuts.

TNN: This is a place where customers CAN choose real cheese, correct?

CM: The three burgers on the main menu were designed to have real cheese. So we still offer that option. We didn’t have vegan cheese originally, but people wanted it, so we started carrying it. There are still some other holdovers, too. We still have real eggs, and wild-caught smoked salmon. But when I started creating the specials sheet, I made it entirely vegan. And these are our most popular dishes.

TNN: You also offer many other dairy alternatives.

CM: Right. We have oat milk, we make our own almond milk. We have coconut milk and hemp milk, vegan butter and vegan cheese. We make our own vegan ice cream.

TNN: And it seems that once people get in the door, your work speaks for itself.

CM:   I don’t have a strong enough passion for the restaurant business, so if the work didn’t matter, I wouldn’t be here. It really touches me when people come in and say, “Sister, you are feeding the community.” I want to be a positive force in the neighborhood.

Powerplant Superfood Cafe. 5671 W. Pico Blvd.,

(323) 965-2233

Hours: M-Sat. 9 am to 7 pm, Sun. 9 am to 4 pm.




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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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