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.
New to the Healthy-ish Hit List (as of 3/13): Commerson, Hero Shop, Kismet, Honey Hi.
Check out the rest of our Guide To Being A Little Healthier.
The corner of Wilshire & La Brea is better known for its hellish traffic situation than great restaurants, but Commerson is here to change that. Stick to the seafood at this spot and you’ll feel like you made your healthy eating move for the day. There’s everything from poké to butternut squash agnolotti here, but our pick is the scallops with cauliflower, artichokes, and truffle. The good news is you can’t go wrong here.
Ok so a fatty brisket banh mi probably doesn’t count as a healthy lunch, but if you turn your attention to the coconut rice bowls here, a healthy midday meal can be had. Bowls from this tiny downtown spot come with house made pickles, jalapeño, onion, vinaigrette, a runny slow cooked egg, and your choice of protein. The responsible move is definitely the sweet and sour chicken or the soy ginger tofu, but there is always that fatty brisket too.
The best kind of healthy restaurants are the ones where you don’t realize you’re being healthy. At Kismet, the Middle Eastern-inspired menu might be heavy on vegetables, but you can easily get to the end of a meal here and not even notice that you haven't had any meat. We like Kismet best during the day when the Scandinavian sauna-type room feels bright and light. Our go-to order is a plate of broccoli toast (with a side of phenomenal flaky bread) and maybe an iced Turkish coffee.
A nutritionist is one of the owners of Honey Hi in Echo Park, but don’t hold that against this basic, but cute daytime spot. The food here is interesting, tasty, and just happens to be good for you. There’s everything from quinoa bowls and smoothies to a gluten-free breakfast sandwich and a Moroccan lamb & beef stew. Even the chocolate chip cookies seem like they’re probably doing you good. At least that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves.
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.
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 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.