Veggie Grill, a rapidly-expanding, vegetarian- and vegan-friendly concept based in Santa Monica, Calif., announced the opening of its 18th location in Encino.

The Veggie GrillThe Veggie GrillThe West Coast fast-casual chain serves 100 percent plant-based soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches and desserts, along with a selection of specialty organic teas. All menu items are also free of animal fat, dairy, eggs, cholesterol, trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup. Veggie Grill swaps meat products for soy-, wheat- and pea-based proteins. Veggie Grill puts a new twist on familiar classics, including the Santa Fe crispy "chicken" sandwich with tofu, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado and spicy mayo on whole wheat tortillas. Another popular menu item is kale salad with corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts and ginger-papaya vinaigrette.

The spacious, 3,000 square-foot restaurant features modern d├ęcor, catering to office workers out for a quick, healthy meal as well as younger customers looking for meat-free takeout options. Veggie Grill also offers customizable catering options for office luncheons and other off-premise events.

Greg Dollarhyde, CEO, says the emerging chain has seen early success as demand for meatless meals grows around the country, and especially in California and the West Coast. It was even voted "Best American Restaurant" by the Los Angeles Times.