Who Knew Following Your Heart Could Be So Tasty and Cozy?

Alyssa Attakamon / Roundup

Since 1970, Follow Your Heart has been a go-to place for vegans, vegetarians, and even self-proclaimed carnivores.

Follow Your Heart is a full-fledged market, restaurant and even art gallery. Located in Canoga Park, it’s been a landmark for Californians for the past 30 years. Not only does it provide a comfy and warm atmosphere, once you enter, you know you’ve never been to a place like this before.

Though I’ve dined here before, I am now dining from a different perspective. I was greeted by a hostess and seated with the rest of my party. Our server was helpful and made sure that our questions were answered.

The menu is quite large and offers a variety of choices and even modifications for items. Choices like a short-stack of pancakes for breakfast, stuffed potatoes with a variety of toppings, or even my pick, the Vegetarian Meatball Sub. It’s described as “Italian Style *Meatballs* Smothered in a Hearty Marinara Sauce, Topped with Roasted Green Bell Peppers and Melted Mozzarella. Served on a Toasted Multi-Grain Sub Roll.”

Once my dish arrived, it sat on a large plate accompanied by sliced carrots and olives on the side.  I, myself, am not a vegan/vegetarian so I was definitely curious about how this would turn out.
The sub looked overwhelming yet I felt comfortable to dig right in. The roll was toasted to perfection! The roasted green peppers and optional melted mozzarella was accompanied by the tasty yet not too heavy marinara sauce. It’s interesting to think that the meatball is entirely meatless however the texture was just right. As far as taste, it had a hint of a smoked barbeque taste blended with a light tofu flavor.

Overall, I was satisfied with my meal. The pricing is appropriate with the portions they serve. I even packed the remainder of my sub sandwich to take home. The staff is friendly and more than happy to answer any question.

Following my lunch, I spoke with restaurant manager Yui Kitajima. She grew in Woodland Hills and frequented Follow Your Heart as a child. “I was actually the baby in the shopping cart. My parents were hippies so we shopped here.”

Kitajima started off as a cashier at 16. Ten years later, she is now running the restaurant section of Follow Your Heart. “We want every customer to feel like they are at home—like the most exceptional service…that spiritual, homey, warm vibe.”

Though she is not a vegan/vegetarian, her favorites are the Tempeh Tacos, Club Sandwich and Nutburger.” She adds, “Definitely the Reuben but you gotta be really hungry to eat that, it’s very intense!”
Kitajima also recommends the Spinach Lasagna to someone who has not tried any vegetarian dishes. It’s real-wheat lasagna with real cheese and marinara sauce and homemade garlic bread. She even recommends this to self-proclaimed “meat-eaters.”

Not only is Follow Your Heart a booming restaurant, it’s also a full-fledged market. Kitajima adds, “I love our gift department. There’s so much jewelry!” The market also offers lactose-free ice cream, organic lollipops, gluten-free baked goods, and much more.

In addition, Follow Your Heart has a 100% solar-powered factory located in Chatsworth which manufactures their own line of vegan products which includes a variety of dressings and sauces and even their trademark items ChickenFreeChicken and Vegenaise,

Not limited to high-quality food products and dining, Follow Your Heart features an art gallery. Artists have an opportunity to have their artwork on display for an entire month in the dining area.

Kitajima sums up the essence that Follow Your Heart stands by. “We want every customer to feel like they are at home—like the most exceptional service…that spiritual, homey, warm vibe.”

If you’re interested in displaying your artwork at Follow Your Heart, contact Donna Zannella at (818) 348-3240.

Follow Your Heart is participating in the upcoming Natural Product Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center March 5 through March 8.

Follow Your Heart is located on 21825 Sherman Way, between Jordan Avenue and Vassar Avenue in Canoga Park.

Laura Lussier, 41, and Solina Tabrizi, 45, at Follow Your Heart, a vegan and vegetarian cafe and market in Canoga Park, Calif. Thursday, Feb 26, 2009. (Courtney Coles / Roundup)

A Vegetarian Meatball Sub from Follow Your Heart, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Canoga Park, Calif. (Courtney Coles / Roundup)

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