Established for just a month, vegan restaurant El Avocado is already firmly planted in La Jolla Village.
“There’s a need for healthy fast-casual food with good ingredients that are prepared mindfully: It makes a difference,” said Shanti Claydon, co-owner and chef of the new plant-based, ground-level eatery at 1025 Prospect St., Suite 130.
“My lease on a vegan restaurant in Escondido was up around the time of COVID anyway and one of my friends, Danielle La Salle, who is Jewish, wanted to be my business partner. He saw the need for kosher and vegan restaurants. Our goal is to franchise these (El Avocados).”
Vegan refers to food free of all animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, or eggs.
Billing herself as the “queen of green cuisine,” Claydon talked about her conversion to vegetarianism.
“Do you know where this meat came from?” was the question a co-worker asked Claydon once that initially set her on a meatless culinary path. “We have this picture you see on labels of happy animals on farms. That’s how it used to be. But it’s not like that anymore. When I realized the way it really was (factory produced), I decided I didn’t want to contribute. You vote with your money. It’s the only way you make a difference.”
Claydon started selling vegan soups at farmers markets, before being invited to do vegan-style cooking for families. “Eventually, I got a restaurant up in Escondido, all-vegan,” she noted, adding she also owned a catering business.
El Avocado’s chef-driven menu, currently serving 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays for lunch and dinner features a healthy assortment of wraps, soups, salads, toasts, and sandwiches.
And don’t forget dessert.
“We get pastries from a local vegan bakery and we have the best croissants you’ll ever have, vegan or non-vegan,” said Claydon. “Our number one sandwich is a Philly cheesesteak made with seitan (wheat gluten mimicking meat). My whole thing is about whole food and good, minimally processed ingredients, like cheese made from coconut.”
There’s even a vegan gelato served all day on El Avocado’s menu.
Best of all, everything is made from scratch. “We’re doing everything here, all the soups, the sauces. It’s part of what makes it good,” said Claydon.
On being a chef and restaurant co-owner, Clayton mused, “I’m really excited. It’s a hard business. You’ve got to really love what you do to do this business and stay in it. It’s just what I love: And that’s it. We just want to feed people – and nourish them. There’s a difference. We do both. When you eat here you leave feeling good.”
Of the origin of the restaurant’s name, Claydon said, “The avocado represents the California-fresh cuisine that we do, plus it’s a mesh of us (owners). He’s (La Salle’s) from Mexico. I’m Southern California born and raised. It’s a good little mix of both our backgrounds.”
Thus far, El Avocado has been well received by La Jollans as well as Claydon’s previous clients from North County. And she’s got a good idea why.
“We just really believe in putting all our good energy and our love into our food,” the restaurateur said adding, “It shows. That’s why people come back. They can taste the difference.”
Where: 1025 Prospect St.
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Closed Mondays.