Healthy food is important. We need it to live well and to live long - no one’s denying that. But in this era (and city) of oversaturated health food consciousness, we’ve clearly reached a breaking point. Most of it is overpriced, disgusting, and in the end, probably not even that good for you. Quick hint: You’re only going to eat healthy if you actually enjoy doing it.
We aren’t going to tell you how to live your life, but choking down some sort of bacteria water in a concrete-walled juice den will be a phase in your life you undoubtedly look back on with regret. Just find those welcoming places where you can eat like a reasonable human being, hang out with friends or coworkers, not spend a fortune, and actually enjoy being healthy. Without a mention of the word "cleanse" anywhere. Here are some of our favorite LA spots to accomplish just that.
Poke is exciting because it’s sort of like froyo except that it’s raw fish and won’t kill you nearly as quickly. The poke craze has hit full-on party mode in LA and quality spots are popping up everywhere. But Sweetfin is leader of the pack. Though they have their “signature bowls”, your move is to build-your-own and walk out feeling healthy and accomplished. Just be mindful of that Creamy Togarashi sauce. Even while draped on fresh fish, mayo has calories.
We absolutely love eating fruits because they’re not vegetables. And when it comes to the acai bowl behemoths over at Backyard Bowls, you’re basically getting as much fruit as the human body can handle in one sitting. $11 might seem like a lot for a bowl of pureed berries, but fear not. These things are gigantic and amazing and will keep you full well until dinner. Also, everyone inside looks like they’re at a Quiksilver cosplay convention and we appreciate that.
With a name better-suited for one of those humiliating LAX kiosks where you buy a $17 dried-out turkey club because it’s the closest thing to your gate and you hate yourself, Fresh Corn Grill could easily have slipped into LA’s infinite health food abyss. But they’ve survived (and thrived) off of good food, a beautiful space, and a wide-ranging menu with anything from pastas to tacos. Also, hidden parking in the back.
No real introduction needed here, Sqirl has quickly become one of the most popular breakfast/lunch spots in the entire city. And we completely condone the fanfare. No, we won't be doing any nutritional tests on that Brioche Toast anytime soon but the fact remains this is some of the most reinvigorating food in the city. Portions are big, it tastes great, and if you're able to snag a table, there's no better way to spend a lazy Saturday morning.
The thing about Hugo’s is that it’s delightful and despite being a full-fledged “health” restaurant, it’s avoided all the nauseating pretension that accompanies that. Opening at 7:30am, Hugo’s is simply your everyday neighborhood spot that also happens to serve healthy food. If you are of the gluten-free variety, this is your El Dorado.
It wasn’t all that long ago people were still wondering where all the build-your-own-salad places in LA were. That’s a no-brainer right? Yes. Well, say hello to Sweetgreen, the East Coast salad cult fave whose LA invasion is in full force. Bringing local ingredients, reasonable prices, and flat-out excellent salads to our health-conscious mouths, Sweetgreen is a welcome addition to a market that will frankly never be too crowded.
Generally speaking, we prefer to order our chicken without quotation marks around it, but in the case of Sage Vegan, we make the exception. Because time and time again, Sage has proven to be some of the best meatless food in the city with a cool space you don’t feel ashamed to be in. Hot tip: Their take-out operation is excellent, if you’re running late to your Bachelor viewing party.
At the end of the day, the crippling fear Americans have of calories is probably a good thing. But it’s also misplaced. Real calories are good. Weird, processed, 50%-fat-free bullsh*t calories are bad. Sorry mom. And at Forage, you’re going to eat calories. But you’re also going to know (down to the exact farm) where they came from and how good they are for you. Forage is real food, from real sources, and your body will really thank you.
Located on that stretch of Ventura by Universal Studios where not much of anything happens, SunCafe has developed an almost rabid cult following of people seeking fantastic, organic food and one thing you don’t often see at places like this: a solid beer list. Is this perhaps slightly counter-intuitive? No, get over yourself. Anytime there’s good food, great beer, and a casual space, we are there.
From the guys who brought us Silverlake’s always excellent Bowery Bungalow, comes their more fast-casual Lebanese concept - Urban Garden. Think shawarma and falafel that are both healthy and authentic, making it one of our favorite midweek drop-in dinner spots in the area. Order all of their spicy hummus too. Whatever you don’t eat, we will.
What is now a bonafide SoCal mini-chain, Lemonade has expanded quickly due to a strong concept and a quality of food that continues to be high. It’s dubbed a “marketplace” probably because cafeteria is not nearly as sexy, but it’s definitely a cafeteria. And that’s not a problem for us. At Lemonade, it’s all about grabbing a tray and getting wild. With nearly endless food combinations of equal deliciousness, it’s no wonder the crowds keep coming back.
Nothing about a trendy marketplace on 3rd St. full of girls (and guys) in yoga pants bitching about how their ClassPass app is glitching ever sounds appealing. And yet, every time Joan’s On Third manages to reel us back in with good food and a great sidewalk patio. And while Joan’s menu will always be health-conscious, some major splurge items remain. Short rib sandwich? WE WON’T TELL IF YOU DON’T.