Nic Adler knows how to stage a good time. The Los Angeles native and son of a music producer and actress, Adler was primed to dive into the essential areas of the entertainment industry, establishing his palate for good food and a knack for orchestrating high-vibe atmospheres. His resumé includes managing LA’s premier music venue, the Roxy, acting as the culinary director for a number of major Southern California music and food festivals, and veganizing In-N-Out with his own rapidly expanding fast-casual concept, Monty’s Good Burger. He’s not often in the spotlight, but Adler has worked behind the scenes for over a decade to make vegan options a dominant presence in Southern California. 


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Food and music make magic
Adler grew up as an adventurous eater and developed an appreciation for food at a young age. He recounted several childhood food memories with his father, but the one that stands out is eating taquitos along LA’s historic Olvera Street after a visit to the Children’s Museum. He credits these restaurant outings in LA and around the world for his love of “all types of cuisines.” As a respected producer, his father also passed along his passion for music. Adler noted, “Growing up around music and food, certain songs and dishes bring back specific memories. Personally, they both give me a similar feeling that lives somewhere between my heart and my stomach and together, they make me really happy. When paired together, you get a really magical moment.”


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Festival life
Adler has infused this magic into every festival under his name, including Coachella, Stagecoach, Arroyo Seco Weekend, and Eat Drink Vegan. His career as a culinary director began ten years ago with the inception of the Vegan Beer and Food Festival which has evolved from a small hodgepodge of vendors in a parking lot to the prestigious Eat Drink Vegan—the world’s premier plant-based food and drink festival now held at the Rose Bowl Stadium. Around the same time, Adler shared his ideas about enhancing the culinary offerings at Coachella with the event’s director. This conversation led to his current position as culinary director, and he was tasked with the responsibility to make those enhancements happen. Plant-based patrons have him to thank for the glorious number of vegan options at this iconic annual concert in the desert. 

Having a full decade of successful events under his belt, we asked Adler what makes for an ideal festival experience. For him, it’s not the stunt food, selfie walls, or convenient water and charging stations (although his festivals offer all of these). Adler explained,

“An ideal festival experience is synonymous with discovery. Whether it’s finding one new song you’re going to listen to on repeat for two weeks straight or that dish you will order repeatedly throughout the festival—experiencing something new and sharing that with your friends and people you love is the ultimate festival experience.”


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The vegan experience
Adler has been vegan for twenty-four years—well before he helped to make it cool and accessible. He recalled, “In 1994, a friend of mine who was vegetarian pushed me to give it a try…ultimately, all I ate was cheese. After that, another friend of mine was diagnosed with gout and was told to start living a plant-based lifestyle. To support him, I decided to become plant-based as well.” He hasn’t looked back. Instead, he’s gone on to veganize the foods he loved growing up. 

His first foray into the restaurant business began in the ‘90s when he owned multiple restaurants including Creek Alley, a Jamican sports bar. He had the idea of opening his own plant-based concept but ultimately decided to wait—the world wasn’t quite ready for high-end vegan cuisine. It wasn’t until 2018 that he plunged again into the restaurant world and opened Monty’s Good Burger, a colorful Koreatown hole-in-the-wall that mimics the In-N-Out menu with plant-based options. From the classic Double with secret sauce to strawberry milkshakes, Monty’s has quickly gained a loyal following of vegans and omnivores alike. The chain now has three locations in Koreatown, Riverside, and Echo Park. Adler’s regular order consists of a Double, sub house sauce for ranch, and extra pickles. 

In 2019, Adler made his ‘90s dream come true when he opened Nic’s on Beverly—a chic sit-down on LA’s posh Beverly Blvd. in West Hollywood. The cuisine represents the highlights of the LA dining scene—from Chinese salad to chicharon—served alongside high-vibe cocktails and an impressive vegan wine list. The legendary vegan beverage director Jason Eisner mans the bar, and guests are served on a gorgeous outdoor patio secluded from the hustle of city life. Adler’s favorite dish is the Chinois on Beverly Salad made with wontons, pickled ginger, napa cabbage, and cashews dressed with a yuzu sesame vinaigrette. “This dish reminds me of when I was a kid, growing up in LA, and going to Chin Chin on Sunset after playing basketball with my friends,” Adler explained.


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Eat it all
Adler’s idea of a good time varies between the fast-casual fun of Monty’s and the relaxing, luxurious experience of Nic’s on Beverly. He noted, “My ideal dining experience is a combination of both Monty’s and Nic’s on Beverly. Sometimes, after a fun night out with your friends, you’re in the mood to sit on a bench with a hot burger in one hand and a strawberry shake in the other. Other times, I want to sit down for a couple of hours over a beautiful meal and share a bottle of wine with my wife. Both concepts represent the two styles of dining that I love and do most often.”

Whether we’re in the mood for a burger and fries or a seasonal corn agrodolce, we’re thankful to Adler for making the vegan versions of these possible. 


Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.

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