The line from the counter inside the corner eatery led back to Figueroa Street as people continued gathering on the sidewalk, either alone or in pairs.
What was everyone waiting for?
To place an order at Kitchen Mouse Café, which specializes in fresh, savory and mostly vegan breakfasts and lunches, serving dishes that appeal to the eye, the stomach and our better consciousness of healthy eating.
Immediately upon entering, the Highland Park restaurant feels cozy and homey, making me feel comfortable about being there by myself. I quickly grabbed a menu and perused the many options, finding it somewhat difficult to choose. I eventually stumbled onto the Avocado TLT (tempeh, lettuce and tomato) ($12) and thought I’d give it a try.
The food came out quickly, orders carried by waitresses and waiters wearing aprons and welcoming smiles. The meal, displayed on a white and yellow oval-shaped plate, was comprised of maple tempeh bacon, avocado covered in olive oil and herbs, yellow cherry tomatoes, and Dijon aioli on millet toast. All this was accompanied by a house salad dressed in a tangy vinaigrette.
I approached the salad first. For a pile of greens, it was certainly tasteful, as well as impressively tasty. The next items on the dish were avocado, tempeh bacon and bread. The meal surprised me, as the sweet and soft tempeh bacon was also paired with a strong Dijon aioli, which tasted as if there were a bit of horseradish added to it, allowing for the dish to express unexpectedly bold flavors. The salad was a nice addition to help calm the dish and balance my taste buds. The plate was small yet efficient, not leaving me feeling overfilled. Indeed, the food not only satisfies appetites, but catches the eye by the way the dish is arranged, something which tells diners it has been freshly prepared. The food is served on different colored plates of various sizes, making one feel as though they are at home in their own kitchens.
Owner and chef Erica Daking, worked in a small restaurant outside of Rome after culinary school, then turned to private cheffing when she moved back to Los Angeles, according to a review appearing in the the Los Angeles Weekly.
The café was founded by Daking in 2014 and continues to live on as one of the spots that locals find worth waiting for on the sidewalk. According to a recent Los Angeles Magazine article, Daking had originally opened TOPO, a small building attached to Kitchen Mouse, which specializes in prepackaged plant-based food.
She then pursued her dream of opening the Kitchen Mouse Café. She offers sage advice to those in pursuit of jump-starting their careers, noting, “Do what you know and what you love. Follow your own instincts and judgment and find your own way,” according to another publication, VoyageLA.
Daking is passionate about what she serves and is confident in her food. She pays little mind to what others may think and only creates what she finds savory. This is what sets her apart from others —focusing on herself, not them. She is proud of herself because she turned her creative visions into a reality, and that is her key to success; following what makes the most sense to oneself.
The Kitchen Mouse menu prices range from $5.50 to $15, serving portion sizes to fill an empty stomach to perfection without wasting food. The café also has a wide variety of food options, covering breakfast basics with such favorites as Snickerdoodle Pancakes ($6-$13), Psychedelic Daalipop ($12), and Jo’s Breakfast Sandwich ($12).
The cafe’s walls are painted white, pale green and pink, making the small room feel spacious and calming. The walls and ceilings are filled with greenery and mismatched paintings of mice, flowers and rainbows. It screams trendy, as were the people enjoying their food the day I was there, dressed in mismatched patterns and bright, eye-catching colors. The area may be small but it feels open as it is naturally lit with the exception of a strand of fairy lights.
The space conveniently has an area for kids to play while the adults eat. A decorated curved archway leads satisfied customers toward their attached TOPO (mouse in Italian). Not only does this attachment sell prepared food, but the shop also contains quirky knickknacks that match the vibe of the restaurant. First attracted to the colors of the store, customers soon find it is filled with colorful glass containers, rugs, patches, pins and many more unique trinkets.
Much more than just a breakfast or lunch spot, Kitchen Mouse Cafe is an experience, a happening, one not to be missed, as all those people standing on the sidewalk waiting to get inside seemed to know.
Kitchen Mouse Cafe
5904 Figueroa St., Highland Park
(323) 259-9555 | kitchenmousela.com
Major Cards Accepted
(Breakfast and Lunch are served from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.)