Bloom Foods: Local, Mexican, and Vegan

A plant-based Mexican food startup innovates with pistachio mole and amaranth tortillas

The tortilla chips made by L.A.’s Bloom Foods are addictive, and so are their moles. They’re also sustainably produced, which was the number one goal of founder Leo Zagal when he formed the independent Mexican food company a little over two years ago.

Moved by an internship in Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley wine country and a stint working the farmers’ market circuit with local Afghan food maker Bolani, Zagal set out to make plant-based foods inspired by both traditional Mexican recipes and the tenets of L.A.’s evolving local food movement. The result is a small but solid product line of vegan sauces, salsas, and tortillas that don’t skimp on flavor or soulfulness.

Bloom’s standout product is their Estofado, a tomato-based sauce made with cacao, almonds, sesame seeds and maple syrup. Also popular is the Dark Cacao Mole, a sweet and savory rendition of the deep, rich sauce that most Angelenos are familiar with. Zagal, who cooks most of the products himself, is all for eating his moles with rice or chicken, but he also encourages breaking the rules by pouring it on pasta or diced apples.

And while contemporizing the Mexican food experience is a key aspect of Bloom Food’s ethos, ironically, so is re-introducing pre-Hispanic traditions to the cuisine. The ancient protein-rich grain of amaranth, which was as ubiquitous as beans and corn to the Aztecs until the Spanish banned it for religious reasons almost five centuries ago, is a crucial ingredient in Bloom’s tortillas, chips, and pistachio mole—as well as in their mission statement.

“Amaranth is an amazing plant. You can use every part of it—the seeds and the leaves, which act a lot like spinach and can be used to create subtle flavors in green moles,” says Zagal.

It’s also nutrient dense and resilient against the factors of climate change, like drought, making it a natural fit for Bloom Foods’ long term plans, which include collaborating with like-minded businesses to encourage ethical food production in Los Angeles. For now, Zagal wants to keep his business small and avoid compromising quality through mass production. He is currently working on building a collective tortilleria that will supply small batches of non-GMO corn and amaranth tortillas to local customers and businesses.

You can find Bloom Foods at local farmers’ markets Wednesday through Sunday, including Echo Park, Atwater Village and Silver Lake. Their products can also be purchased at Good Eggs.