On my way home to New Zealand from my recent trip to Europe I stopped off in California for five days. My request to my friend/LA native – “I’ve eaten too many croissants + macarons in Paris, please take me to healthy places to eat”. That, and California does have an incredibly innovative healthy foodie scene which I've been excited to delve into. We spent our five days eating our way around SoCal, and the food was seriously impressive - many spots are so inventive and committed with their approach, it's practically like its own cuisine here.
True Food Kitchen
A beautiful wide airy space, decorated with an earthy palate - the room's fresh and relaxing to dine in. The basis of the menu at True Food kitchen is in line with the principals of an anti-inflammatory diet; that is selecting foods that avoid or counter inflammation within the body e.g. plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables, omega-3 packed fish, spices and even dark chocolate (it has its place - in moderation). I loved their food – it was the kind of menu where it was very difficult to select just one item to order, it was all so appealing. I got the wild caught albacore tataki as a starter, followed by the teriyaki quinoa bowl.
We dined at their Newport restaurant, but they also have locations in San Diego, Santa Monica and El Segundo.
The best breakfast ever. Banzai Bowls do the most delicious acai and pitaya bowls, topped with fresh fruit, crunchy granola, shredded coconut and a variety of other toppings to cater to whatever your heart desires. They’re colourful, beautiful to look at, and so fresh and tasty - literally summer in breakfast form. The shop had a chilled beachy vibe and the line to get a bowl was long, but worth the wait. We got an acai and pitaya bowl - we both prefer acai, but couldn't resist the hot pink colour of pitaya.
We ate at their Huntington location, but they also have spots in Costa Mesa, Laguna beach, Newport beach and San Clemente.
Whole Foods Market
The Rolls-Royce/crème de la crème of health food supermarkets. When you visit a Whole Foods put some time aside - the place is seriously huge. The one I visited had practicarly every health product imaginable. If you're wanting to completely restock your kitchen Whole Foods, has you covered. If you're paleo, vegan, an omnivore, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, macrobiotc, raw, refined-sugar free or whatever else, Whole Foods will cater. You could easily lose an hour or two wandering the aisles, emerging later after dining at one of their internal restaurants/takeaway bars/juice bar and with a trolley full of groceries. I got a salad from one of their build-your-own salad bars for lunch one day and it was really good.
Whole Foods Markets are located all over - in SoCal there's quite a few e.g Beverley Hills, Newport beach, Pasadena, El Segundo and Brentwood. Most will slightly vary as to what's available, so check out their website for more information on specific stores.
Simliar to Whole Foods Market (and just as great), Erewhon is a health supermarket with three locations in SoCal, including LA, Calabasas and Venice. They stock an incredible selection of their own organic cold-pressed juices and nut milks, in literally every colour of the rainbow. Their cafe and salad bars are beautiful too - on offer are mountains of roasted vegetables, vibrant colourful salads and homemade soups available to take away. The best kind of fast food.
Le Pain Quotidien
I loved this place so much we ate there twice. The vibe was rustic, and the menu seasonal, whole and delicious. They use the freshest produce and ingredients in their meals, bake their own sourdough bread from scratch, and really know how to celebrate the simple pleasures of food. As a special mention, their hot chocolates were out-of-this world good. Not the healthiest option for breakfast, but totally irresistible - they give you a mug of steaming frothy milk and a small jug of melted chocolate to pour in and mix into a luxuriously rich hot chocolate. I also loved their chia pudding with raspberry puree, and soft-boiled eggs with freshly baked bread.
Le Pain Quotidien is a world-wide chain with locations all over. We dined at their Claremont restaurant, but they also have spots in Newport, Downtown LA and Larchmont.
Quirky and super cool, Moon Juice offers what can only be described as the most intriguing range of organic juices and nut milks. If you’re a juice fan you’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop – the flavours are bold and interesting, and the descriptions are mystical sounding. I got a baby blue coloured protein milk (I was so perplexed at the time as to what made it blue – turns out it was a blue variety of spriulina).
They have locations in Venice beach, Melrose Place and Silver Lake.
Another hot spot in Venice, we dined at the widely popular Cafe Gratitude. Their menu is entirely plant-based and organic, and they're really big on sustainable environmentally friendly practices to source their ingredients. The naming of the menu items was cute - each item was called a word that could be used as an affirmation (e.g. the whole (macrobiotic bowl), the happy (falafel wrap), the liberated (pesto kelp noodles)). I had their whole bowl and love tonic, a hibiscus flower iced tea.
They also have locations in LA, Newport beach and San Diego.