Los Angeles’ reputation as an endless concrete suburbia is well-earned. But one of our secret weapons has always been our sneakily abundant access to all things nature. Between Malibu and Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park and our miles and miles of beaches, the outdoor culture in LA is strong. But after a few hours of sucking wind while walking up a canyon, you always need something to eat - and finding the right place to fill up is easier said than done. Here are the 16 best places to go after finishing one of LA’s major hikes.
Check out the rest of our Guide To Being A Little Healthier.
For as popular as Runyon Canyon is, the surrounding area leaves a lot to be desired in the way of post-run meals. So give thanks for Food + Lab being right around the corner. Admittedly, this place sounds like it’d be some sort of cheesy health food spot that tries to sell a $20 granola mix you wouldn’t even feed to your birds, but this place is actually great. The casual, unpretentious cafe on Santa Monica Blvd. has a good variety of salads and sandwiches (get the curry chicken), quick service, and a quiet back patio.
NatureWell falls somewhere between a casual sidewalk cafe and a GNC, but you want that after burning 750 calories climbing up rocks. The juice/smoothie bar/convenience store was recently revamped and now also serves acai bowls and poké, as well as organic wraps from the refrigerator. Essentially, anything you want to pick up after a hike is here.
The tiny seafood market on Fairfax might not look like much on the outside, but it’s home to the freshest seafood situation east of the 405. You can either pick up some stuff for an at-home feast later, or do what we do and order everything off their daily chalkboard menu. The selection changes frequently, so don’t get too attached to any one thing, but just know that whatever you get is going to be incredible.
You just spent an hour jogging past people taking selfies, and now all you want is some shawarma and hummus. Zankou might not be the most revered shawarma in LA, but the fast casual chain hits the spot every time. Plus, its new location on Sunset is easy to get to after Runyon. And chicken’s healthy, right?
You’re starving after walking up to the Observatory, but the last thing you want to do is try to find parking again in Los Feliz on a Saturday. Good news - Griffith has its own little order-at-the-window cafe at the bottom of the hill. And while it’s not the best food on the Eastside, Trails is certainly the most convenient after any Griffith outing. You’re going to want the turkey avocado sandwich or vegetarian chili or one of their weirdly excellent muffins (if the blueberry banana is available, get it). Sit on one of the adjacent picnic tables and bask in all the great things you’ve already done for yourself today.
Alcove’s massive front patio can admittedly be a “Let’s talk about my reel” apocalypse, but after a long walk around the Observatory, this is exactly where you want to eat. The large menu has every kind of wrap, salad, or scramble and even though you might have to elbow a few voiceover actors for a table, there’s no denying that patio is the perfect place to regroup.
If the lines and general chaos of Alcove are not your speed today, you’re in luck. Just up the block is Mustard Seed - a casual sidewalk cafe with zero waits and a surprisingly strong menu. Their chopped salad is massive and good for two meals, and their turkey burger won’t make you sad either. They’re only open till 4:30pm every day, but the bonus is they serve breakfast till close.
You just totally killed it on that run, and the last you want to do right now is undo all that fitness. Your move is The Punch Bowl. The tiny little cafe off Vermont is making the only real juices and health shakes you want in the area. Our move is the Power Mint (it tastes like a mint Klondike Bar, but is actually good for you), but frankly most of their shakes are worth ordering. Looking for a real punch to the face? Get the ginger shot with oil of oregano. Wah-BAM.
Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park
So you want to eat healthy after a hike, but also go somewhere cool/interesting/possibly from the future? Head for Destroyer. Located in the middle of a bunch of tech startups in Culver City, this daytime-only, order-at-the-counter spot seems like one of those places created only for Instagram, but then you try the food and realize it tastes even better than it looks. The raw oatmeal (with a frozen disk of crispy vanilla on top) is a must-order.
Cafe Vida is a solid place to pick up pretty much any kind of not-terrible-for-you food after running up and down that big staircase in Culver all morning. The place does become a bit of a mob scene on the weekends, so try to get there as early as you can. The menu is massive, with all the requisite salads and wraps and egg white rice bowls to fulfill your post-workout metabolism fantasies.
LA is littered with customized salad places these days, but not all that long ago it wasn’t. The fearless pioneer who started it all? That’d be Tender Greens, whose original downtown Culver location had lines wrapped around the block for years. The place is now a bonafide chain, but the quality is still there. And so is that tuna nicoise salad we will forever crave.
Tacos after a hike? Choose your best life. The last time we checked, flour tortillas unfortunately still have carbs in them, but if you’re going put some into your body, might as well make them the housemade tortillas at Loqui. Because whether it’s the spicy chicken or shredded pork inside, these tacos are fantastic. If you can’t wrap your mind around eating an entire tortilla, they have a whole bowl section as well.
malibu creek state park
Malibu Farm continues to be one of Malibu’s better lunch/dinner options, but its tiny cafe-sister at the far end of the pier is the even-more-casual version, and perfect after breaking a sweat in the canyons all day. The menu is simple (with everything from a fried egg sandwich to a kale caesar), but everything on it is quite good. Is $19 a lot for a sandwich? Yes. But remember you’re on the tip of a pier in Malibu.
Deep inside the very strange Malibu Country Mart “lifestyle mall” sits this shockingly low-key, order-at-the-counter sandwich shop. John’s has been making no-frills deli sandwiches at dirt cheap prices ($6 - $8) for a while now, and though it has built quite a following, you never have to wait too long to get your food. If you’re in a race to get back to LA, John’s is definitely your eat-in-the-car move.
Malibu has no shortage of seafood joints along PCH, but Malibu Seafood is easily the best one. And after a long day of walking around looking for some waterfall your roommate said they heard about on the internet, you need some fresh shrimp. Lines can get somewhat horrendous on the weekends, but you’re still at the ocean while you wait, so things could be worse.
Ollo hasn’t been around all that long, but this bright, modern restaurant has worked its way into the Malibu healthy dining rotation. Open all day, the menu at Ollo is giant, but the good news is you’re probably going to find exactly what you want. From chia pudding to mediterranean omelettes to vegan ceviche, your post-hike bod will thank you.