Los Angeles Food Guide

I was thinking back, trying to remember the first time I went to LA. I think it was for a solo birthday trip a few years ago. I booked a slightly questionable AirBnB two blocks from the beach in Venice and spent my days walking around Abbot Kinney, sitting on the beach, and eating all of the delicious vegan food west of the 405. I’ve been hooked ever since and have been back numerous times to take culinary classes at Pure Food and Wine, attend Create & Cultivate conferences, or just hang out and try to act like a local.

I’ve always known that LA was more or less a mecca for plant-based food. And as the health and wellness scene has only getting bigger and more trendy, so have the cafes and restaurants serving delicious vegan, plant-based and farm to table food.

Juice, Smoothies and Coffee

Moon Juice – Great spot for juice and a superfood latte. I usually start most of my mornings at their Venice location for a matcha latte with Beauty Dust. You can turn any one of their juices into a smoothie by adding banana or avocado.

Pressed Juice – Always a fan favorite. We have one in Seattle so I’m familiar with their juices. They have the largest selection of non-fruit based green juices and of course their delicious almond-date based soft-serve “freeze”.

Kreation – One of my favorite juice spots – they have so many to choose from! It’s like the “salad bar” of juice bars. They have a huge menu so best grab one and step to the side. Their Abbot Kinney location has a full menu and restaurant, however I’ve never actually eaten there. It looks good though, there is something for everyone {including meat eaters} on their menu.

Erewhon Market – Words cannot express how much I love Erewhon. It is the mecca of grocery stores and health food stores – it’s my happy place. The best way I can describe it is that they have a high standard for the kind of food and ingredients that they sell. For example, none of their product has canola oil in it, all of their seafood in their prepared sushi is sustainably sourced, their juices and smoothies are all cold-pressed in house. They even have a list of ingredients {like refined sugar and flour} that are not found in their stores. I genuinely respect what they are trying to do and it shows. Their take-away food is nutritious and delicious and they have a generous assortment of healthy packaged foods. They have a full juice, smoothie and coffee bar and make all of their non-dairy milks in house, even the coconut milk. C

Paramount Coffee Project – Australian based company, they are the brain child of three prominent “coffee guys” in Australia – Jin Ng of Paramount House, Mark Dundon of Seven Seeds and Russell Beard of Reuben Hills. They have two locations in LA – one in downtown and one closer to West Hollywood and serve coffee from a range of national and international roasters. I haven’t been to their LA location, but I have been to their Surry Hills location in Australia once. For a latte. Definitely top 5 lattes I’ve ever had.

Bulletproof Coffee – When in doubt Bulletproof has a shop between Venice and Santa Monica. Their coffee is great and it’s free of toxins and sourced sustainably.

Breakfast, Lunch and/or Dinner

Cafe Gratitude – A long time favorite of mine since 2012 when I attended their Kindred Spirit retreat in Maui. Their story and business model resonates so deeply with me. They support local farmers, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and foster a strong sense of community among their staff and diners. Not to mention, they have some of the best plant-based vegan food around – everything is made in-house and is not short of flavor. I have two of their cookbooks that are probably 10 years old at this point and I still pull recipes from them. My top three recommendations – brunch (don’t miss the “I Am Content” cast-iron chickpea Quiche), the “I Am Whole” macrobiotic bowl and definitely dessert, especially if it’s chocolate or ice cream based.

Plant Food and Wine – One of Matthew Kenney’s many restaurants. I discovered his food when I lived in Manhattan and he still owned Pure Food and Wine which has since closed due to “financial problems”. Both can be described as more elevated vegan restaurants with Pure Food and Wine being completely raw. Plant Food and Wine is not 100% raw, but they are vegan and do have raw dishes on their menu. I’ve always enjoyed Kenney’s food because it takes a traditional approach to plant-food. For example, the chocolate is not simply coconut oil and raw cacao mixed together, rather cacao, cacao butter and coconut sugar that has been melted down and tempered, just like chocolate is traditionally made. Definitely more pricey, but worth it if you want to “treat yourself”.

Butcher’s Daughter – Another one that I first experienced in NYC and still a favorite. Their space on Abbot Kinney reminds me of a greenhouse – I could easily spend a whole day there. I typically get their Spicy Kale Caesar Salad for lunch and their Carbonara with spaghetti squash noodles for dinner. Really hits that comfort food spot.

Botanica – I’ve been here twice for dinner and both times the food was impeccable. They are a true farm-to-table restaurant, not associated with one specific set of dietary guidelines, that use “all-local vegetables, fruits and dairy; a rainbow of grains and legumes; spices and vinegar’s from across the world; lots and lots of California olive oil, coconut oil, organic grapeseed oil and organic local butter; wild Pacific seafood; and occasionally a bit of sustainable raised meat.” I still have yet to try brunch and apparently they have a great patio out back that is perfect on a nice sunny day.

Malibu Farms (Cafe and Restaurant) – I have only been to their cafe on the pier. I stopped their on my way to Ojai for an early breakfast. It wasn’t anything crazy – two eggs, sunny side up, with a bounty of vegetables, and it was perfect. On their about page you can read all about their owner, how they started and exactly where they source from. They another one of California’s true farm-to-table establishments. The best part about Malibu Farms, food aside, is the location. The cafe is at the end of a long pier and feels like it’s in the middle of the ocean, and the restaurant tables look out over the Pacific; talked about an epic sunset view.

Gracia’s Madre – Cafe Gratitude’s Mexican sister restaurant so same standards when it comes to ingredients and quality. It is the best Mexican food that I’ve had. Period. The restaurant was born out of a desire to both: offer organic Mexican food to the communities that they serve as well as honor the mothers who work in the kitchens of Mexico and often live without their husbands and children who work in California. Everything is made in house and is full of flavor. They are 100% plant-based and vegan, but I promise carnivores and omnivores will enjoy it too.

Honey Hi – I discovered this real-food cafe on Instagram and have since been several times. Everything is good – seriously. They value how the food is sourced and prepared rather than what philosophy or dogma it falls into. They make their own gluten-free sourdough and nut-milks, serve only grass-fed and local meats, and don’t use refined sugar, food additives or other ingredients that don’t promote well-being. For breakfast, I typically indulge in a toast, and usually opt for “that grain bowl” {I know – basic} for lunch. Their homemade bone broths are like a hug in a cup on a cold day and their Merman smoothie is refreshing and, deceptively healthy, on a hot summer day.

Beaming Organic Superfood Cafe – My first experience with Beaming Organic was at their La Jolla location. I fell in love with their soups and smoothies. Come to find out they have locations all over California.

Erewhon Market – They have a robust menu of delicious take-away food ranging from sushi to pizza with tons of vegetarian, vegan and paleo options. {See above for more}.

Dessert

Sweet Laurel Bakery – I haven’t actually been to their location in the Palisades, but I have had their cakes. They sell them by the slice in Erewhon and I also have their cookbook. All of their baked goods are all grain-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free and most of them are gluten-free and/or paleo. If you can, try to snag a slice of their seasonal flavor in the fall – it’s a Pumpkin Spice cake that is to die for.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream – My first experience with Van Leewen was in New York. Even though they use raw cane sugar in their ice cream, it doesn’t change the fact that their dairy-free flavors are phenomenal. They have a truck that is usually parked on Abbot Kinney.

Kippy’s Ice Cream – They only have two locations – Venice and Tokyo so don’t miss this one. Native ice cream shop to Santa Monica that is completely dairy-free and refined sugar free. They use raw coconut cream as their ice cream base and sweeten everything with raw, unheated honey. It is some of, if not the best dairy-free and refined-sugar free ice cream that I’ve had. They also have tons of flavors to choose from!

Pressed Juicery – I’m addicted to their Freeze’s and stop by their Abbot Kinney location at least once a trip for one. It’s the definition of guilt-free soft serve – everything is sweetened with dates!

On My Radar

Squirl – lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options and homemade almond milk

Dune – Eastern Mediterranean menu, organic, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients

Destroyer – dying to try their brunch

Gjusta – apparently everyone except me goes to Gjusta. California deli, bakery, and cafe that sources almost all of their produce, meat and seafood from local farmers, ranchers, fishermen and co-ops

Great White – looks like the kind of place where I could spend an afternoon snacking and drinking coffee.

Forage – farm-to-table, locally sourced restaurant in Silver Lake. Something for everyone on the menu.

Ostrich Farm – classic American restaurant using mostly locally sourced ingredients

Little Pine – vegetable forward vegan restaurant

Bondi Harvest – Aussie inspired cafe focused on locally sourced ingredients, seasonal cooking and healthy eating.

Intelligentsia Coffee – I walk by it all the time on Abbot Kinney and there is always a line out the door.


March 29, 2019

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sharon

    August 23, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I love reading and learning from them. Great work!

    • Reply

      sarah_rose

      August 26, 2019

      Thanks Sharon. So happy that you like it!

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