Kitchen Mouse Cafe serves up some of the best vegan and gluten-free dishes this side of the Pacific Ocean.
Kitchen Mouse Cafe, in the Highland Park neighborhood of LA, could easily be your favorite home away from home. The sunlight beams through the large front windows and provides such emotional warmth that all you’ll want to do is cozy up and never leave. Trust me, I’ve tried.
The story of how Kitchen Mouse came to be is just as wonderfully charming as their health-conscious homemade food. Back in 2012, Kitchen Mouse was a small catering business being run out of owner Erica Daking’s home kitchen, focusing mostly on private events and cooking for her friends. Soon, people started talking about Erica’s “modern spin of gluten-free, vegan food that not only invited the health conscious to enjoy, but everyone else too. Her plant-based, farmer’s market food drew such a crowd that it grew out of her house and into something much bigger.” Lucky for us! Come next May, Kitchen Mouse will celebrate their two-year anniversary at the Highland Park location. “I love the environment and the people. We’ve created a home base for our customers and our team that we all really enjoy,” says Erika, and all I can do is nod in agreement. As I look around the cafe, I see an artist listening to music and drawing in her sketchbook, two friends are catching up over coffee and breakfast tacos, and through the window I see a gal reading a book as her puppy sits at her feet. The smell of delicious food and strong coffee whirl through the air as the staff buzzes through the cafe, cracking jokes with patrons and belly laughing back to the kitchen. It really is home, I think to myself. I lean back in my chair and am overwhelmed with gratitude that restaurants like Kitchen Mouse still exist.
How would you describe Kitchen Mouse to someone who hasn’t been yet?
We are a cozy and bright neighborhood cafe that serves what we call “everyday” food. Our entire menu is vegan and gluten-free with the exception of eggs, which can be added to any dish.
How long has Kitchen Mouse been in Highland Park? And how did it come into fruition?
We opened on May 17th, 2014. It took us 1 1/2 years to build out, which was exhausting. The cafe began as an accessory to our catering kitchen we so desperately needed and took on a life of its own.
When did you know you wanted your own restaurant?
I didn’t. In fact I was pretty sure I didn’t want to own a restaurant. I knew what a huge commitment it would be and that leaving town or taking time off (let alone a day!) would become an impossibility. And that’s exactly what happened! But I wouldn’t trade it. It’s been a wild ride with its ups and downs but we are adjusting. I had a baby two weeks after the cafe opened so it’s been a huge learning curve.
What is the philosophy behind Kitchen Mouse?
To make really good food that’s good for you and serve it in a way that feels special.
Favorite item on the menu??
I rotate. I love our pancakes and the Tempeh Reuben. The Gomasio Rice Cakes are an extra-special dish, too.
Most popular item on the menu??
The Pancakes and the Breakfast Tacos. The Chilaquiles follow closely behind.
What do you love most about having a cafe in the Highland Park neighborhood?
It’s so exciting here. This neighborhood is changing so rapidly and new businesses are opening every day. Highland Park has the full package with its architecture and history, a REAL downtown with a train running through it, a movie theater, and a sense of neighborhood that gets stronger all the time.
How often does the menu change?
We haven’t changed the menu, we just add to it slowly as we go.
What’s next for Kitchen Mouse? Any big plans on the horizon you can share with us?
We just expanded our dining room and next is our kitchen! We also just rented the space next door to us so we can expand our offerings for catering and the cafe, and eventually our hours. We are going to put in a retail storefront with foods to go and a “grocery store.”
Thank you for sharing, Erica! We’ll see you soon! Southern California friends, check out Kitchen Mouse next time you’re in the neighborhood!
Have a look at their full menu on their website and follow them on Instagram.
+Where else should we visit? Any great restaurant recommendations out there? Be sure to include the city in the comments too. Thanks!
Follow Joanna on Instagram.