As Brittany Littleton was born and raised in a Mexican household being accepted as a Vegan wasn’t always easy, family members would make remarks such as, ‘but you’re Mexican you can’t be vegan and eat our food,’ but she knew that wasn’t true. She wanted to show that she could create Mexican street food recipes with zero cruelty.
“I’ve always been into ‘veganizing’ cultural recipes, I love showing people, yes you can, you can still have all the traditional foods [plant based] with just as much the same flavor or even more,” Littleton said.
Sugar Taco first opened its eco-friendly doors last May in the heart of Los Angeles on Melrose Ave. As you walk up to the bright blue wall, you see the movie-style like sign that displays their name, inside you see all the bright colors throughout the restaurant inspired by Littleton’s mother’s favorite decor of Día De Los Muertos. Dark blue wallpaper filled with sugar skulls, cacti, and plant-like designs, along with bright color chairs with matching mantas on the cushions and the Sugar Skull logo.
Along with Día De Los Muertos inspiring the decor, it also inspired the name of the restaurant. Littleton and co-found, Nicole went back and forth on names, meshing words together that they liked and they when Sugar Taco came up, it seemed to fit the theme of their business, not just because of the tacos on the menu, but the fact they also have a delicious dessert menu.
As Littleton never expected to open a restaurant, her co-founder, Nicole, convinced her otherwise. Nicole had helped other restaurants become slightly vegan, but never the full menu and she wanted to change that. She told Littleton that they should open a restaurant with a full plant-based menu, women-owned, their way, and without answering to anyone else.
Sugar Taco didn’t just want their menu to be eco-friendly, but they wanted everything that was in the restaurant to be the same, almost everything customers see when they walk in is secondhand or is reusable — chairs were thrifted, Littleton’s mother recovered the cushion fabric, the tables and shelves were made from wood that Littleton found thrown on the street and friends turned into the beautiful tables seen today.
“The whole restaurant is eco-friendly and that’s important. There’s already so much junk in the world, we don’t need anymore,” Littleton said.
Sugar Taco is not only a female-founded and ran business, but its investors are women too. Sugar Taco believes this gives women a chance to have an opportunity to invest or have their opinion in business.
“We wanted to take micro invests from women that we look up to and respect and build this company that was fully based on being inclusive of women and providing women with more opportunity. We want people to know that because it’s possible, not just for our company, it’s great that we’re doing it, but you can do it, too,” Littleton said.
Before deciding to only take female investors, the company met with multiple men who heavily invest in big companies, but they felt like they weren’t being taken seriously and wanted to change that. When Littleton co-founded this company, she was a struggling, single mother and was living in a small apartment living paycheck to paycheck.
“Because we took micro-investments and banded together as a team of women we were able to accomplish something that I couldn’t have done on my own. I think there is a powerful message there — being founded by women, being run by women, and showing how we support women,” Littleton said.
With the love for children and animals, Sugar Taco wanted to make sure that kids and pets felt welcome with open arms to come to the restaurant. That’s why they created a large, beautiful patio and made sure it was ‘kid-friendly and dog friendlier.’
I was lucky enough that Littleton was able to pick out my menu items for me, she knew exactly what I needed to try to truly understand what the Mexican vegan street style of Sugar Taco was.
On my menu: nachos, a burrito, a quesadilla and a taco plate with horchata and passionate fruit Agua Fresca.
Passionfruit Agua Fresca and Horchata
I’m a huge fan when it comes to Horchata, theirs was sweet and delicious. My colleague had the Passionfruit Agua Fresca and he loved the fruity and sweetness of it. I loved how each “to go” drink comes in the gorgeous glass bottles with the logo on it, and with eco-friendly reminder: “together we can save our oceans. Say adiós to plastic with Sugar Taco” and their cute sugar skull logo.
This is a perfect sharing plate, or you can even choose ‘half order’ and not share. The tortilla chips are topped with black beans, their home-made quest, pico de Gallo, and a plant protein of your choice, I was given carne asada — it was amazing. Every bite has a great flavor, I love the juices of the veggies, the ‘meat’ and the guac ties it all together.
You couldn’t tell the difference between a traditional classic Mexican burrito and this one, it tastes just as great. It was light, fluffy, and flavorful. I loved how seasonal veggies brought the juices mixed with the ‘meat,’ beans and rice — I loved the pineapple inside of it.
This was one of Brittany’s top choices and I know now why, the tortilla was soft, warm, and flakey. I can usually tell the difference between non-vegan and vegan cheese since it’s ‘cashew’ cheese, but Sugar Taco knows what they’re doing when it comes to making their vegan cheese. I couldn’t tell the difference and the slices were huge, not to mention the salsa was the perfect add on.
This was my absolute favorite. The taco plate comes with 10 tacos — the perfect plate to share with a friend. Each taco comes with corn tortillas with the plant protein and toppings of your choice. On my plate was filled with carne asada, pollo, al pastor, carnitas, and el Pescado. I’m usually not a fan of corn tortillas, I usually pick flour over corn, but I have to say Sugar Taco knows what they’re doing when it comes to their corn tortillas, they didn’t break, they were light, fresh and delicious. My favorite taco was the el Pescado, this was another top choice from Brittany, this was the best ‘fish’ taco I’ve ever had, the ‘fish’ was soft with a crunch on the outside, it was also spicy due to the home-made sauce that was on top of it — which makes it out of this world.
Not is only Sugar Taco eco-friendly, vegan, and delicious, but they also give back to charities and within the first six months of opening they’ve already won multiple awards — they’re a certified green business. They won the 2019 SEED Award for the Best Sustainable Business, they were against many well-established businesses before hitting their first anniversary. The restaurant participates with ‘8 Billion Trees’ and are responsible for planting over 3,000 trees each month, assisting in the reduction of our carbon footprint. The program is done through menu promotions each month. Sugar Taco participates with Food For Life Global. A vegan meal is provided to a child in need for each meal that is purchased off our Kids Menu. They also donate 100% of the proceeds of items ordered off our Dog Menu to a different animal rescue each month. The restaurant is dog friendly and the plant-based dog menu changes monthly. Sugar Taco has teamed up with Food Cycle LA, a food recovery program. They tend to have very little unused food except for catering jobs and leftovers are offered to employees and/or donated to Food Cycle. The restaurant uses Imperfect Produce (a company that buys produce which would otherwise be discarded) and arranges all food orders so there is a minimal number of deliveries.
“[When it comes eating plant based] I would encourage people to come here and try a meal. I think people have this idea when it comes to eating plant-based it’s all or nothing, everything single decision in our lives affects everything and all of it helps— every time you eat a plant-based meal you’re still helping the environment, you’re sparing an animals life, most important thing to get across to people is that every little effort matter. Our food choices where we chose to dine, those decisions matter, and I hope that they’ll make the decision and come here and eat,” Littleton said.
Next time you want to enjoy some great drinks or any kind of Mexican street food you desi