This might be Southern California, birthplace of the kale salad, but sometimes it feels like every new place that opens is another opportunity for a carb and/or grease fest. Which is more than fine with us, but this is still Southern California - sometimes we do actually want to eat a kale salad. So it’s nice when a relatively healthy place opens up, the sort of place where you can leave feeling better about your life choices, but also don't have to inflict those life choices on anyone else. We call these places healthy-ish.
If you want to check out a new restaurant, but would rather be eating a salad than a burger, try one of these spots. You probably won’t lose any weight, but you won’t gain much either. Essentially, you can be as healthy (and as stereotypically Californian) as you want.
Fish is healthy, right? Right. Don’t ask us to do a calorie count on the cheese-doused Shrimp Cazuela dish here, but generally speaking, this new Baja-style seafood spot in Hollywood will get you in and out and feeling good about your health. Our move for a quick lunch would be the Tropical Coconut Ceviche - shrimp, mangos, green apple, oranges, onions, and cucumbers all served in a half a coconut. $17 might seem like a lot, but it’ll definitely fill you up.
P.Y.T.400 S Main Street
When even the cocktails have vegetables, you know you’re doing something right for your health. P.Y.T is a vegetable-focused spot downtown that isn’t preachy about the fact that it’s mostly vegetarian. There’s always a meat dish on offer, but even the most dedicated carnivores should find something to like on the rest of the menu, which is way more inventive than your average vegetarian food. Go for the ricotta cavatelli with mushroom dashi, or the honeynut squash with snap pea pesto.
If you’re sick of chia puddings and acai bowls, another way to attempt health at breakfast time is with the raw oatmeal at Destroyer. Don’t let bad experiences with your hippie great aunt’s homemade version put you off - this one is creamy and delicious and has some sort of crunchy vanilla disk thing on top that is very satisfying to crack. This spot in Culver City has the usual daytime staples like eggs and salads and soups, but done in unusual ways, usually with the main ingredient hidden at the bottom of the plate. All of which is definitely healthier than the breakfast burrito you were planning on having this morning.
You’re probably at Kali because your boss requested some place “high-end, but not too expensive” for lunch or you have a sexy date tonight and don’t want to screw it up. The bare-bones Melrose spot doesn’t bill itself as a “healthy” restaurant, but it doesn’t have to. You could certainly consume fewer calories at your local moon juice bar, but considering how delicious the charred avocado, the beet tartar, and the black barley “risotto” tastes, we’ll happily turn a blind eye.
At first glance, Beefsteak seems like any other healthy, order-at-the-counter place you go to once because you’re lost and hungry and proceed to entirely erase from your memory afterwards. But this plant-based joint (but it’s called Beefsteak, how fun is that?) is actually good. The menu is pretty straightforward, sticking mainly to salads and wraps, but the actual items themselves are not. Our go-to is the Ktown bowl - kimchi, broccolini, toasted seaweed, and whole bunch of other things that make its $13 price a steal.
There are plenty of ways to be unhealthy at Bondi Harvest, but if you just play a game where you pretend those things aren’t even on the menu, you can get out of here feeling pretty good about yourself. There’s a lentil beet burger, a couple of grain bowls, and winter squash pancakes. All of which would taste even better with a side of Australian-style bacon. Just saying.
The Butcher’s Daughter might have started as a New Yorker’s stereotype of Los Angeles, but now that this East Coast daytime spot is open on Abbot Kinney, it’s clear just how much they got right. There are plenty of juices, salads, wellness lattes, and non-dairy ingredients pretending to be dairy, but even those less inclined to be healthy will find something to eat here. The breakfast burrito and pizzas are both worth trying.
Erven has taken the place of serious vegan spot Real Food Daily in Santa Monica, and continues the healthy theme. They’re "plant-based," and do counter-service salads and sandwiches for lunch and have a sharing plates thing going on for dinner. The made-to order-sandwiches are a big step up from any of the scary tourist-focused chain options on the Promenade.
The original By Chloe in New York gets a lot of attention for being the kind of vegan place that even non-vegans can get down with. So obviously the disproportionately high vegan population in Silver Lake got pretty excited when By Chloe opened in the 365 by Whole Foods. We're not going to lie - if you're a carnivore, you're unlikely to mistake their tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut burger patties for the real thing. So while meat eaters should probably just go for the salads and veggies here, vegans and vegetarians who miss the act of burger eating have plenty to like about this place.