When I’m in L.A., the epicenter of healthy eating, I crave heaping plates of chopped salads and veggies, fresh sushi, and soups. They are prepared in such a satisfying, wholly delicious way that my cravings for New York pizza and bagels disappear. Sure, my absolute favorite salad in L.A., the Chinese chicken salad at Joan’s on Third, isn’t exactly healthy with its handfuls of wontons and rice sticks. Still, when it comes to nourishing your body with good eats, the City of Angels is a sure bet.
In L.A., you’re never the odd man out if you have very specific eating preferences or needs. The number of people diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) have skyrocketed, as has the number of people who keep to raw, vegan, macrobiotic, organic, paleo, and other diets.
Whether your idea of healthy is sweet potato fries with a turkey burger, or a raw kale salad with avocado and chia seeds, you’ll find something worth writing home about at any of these restaurants in L.A.:
This Zen-like space on Abbot Kinney in Venice serves some of the best sashimi, brown-rice sushi and steamed vegetables with oil-free sauces. Desserts are all dairy, sugar, and gluten-free — like a creamy chocolate mousse with almond and granola and rice ice cream.
Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
If I could start every day on the patio at this beautiful, storied hotel eating the egg-white frittata with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and goat cheese, I think I would. Expect the highest quality, best-tasting ingredients in everything they offer — most of which are sourced from local farms.
Their menu of “Big Salads,” soups, and grilled meats is big on flavor (think Thai shrimp and chipotle BBQ chicken), but also on conscience. Most of the produce comes from nearby Scarborough Farms, meat is raised humanely, and when possible, everything is organic. Right now they have five locations in L.A. — in Culver City, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Hollywood, and West Hollywood — with two more due this year.
M Café de Chaya
The food here is “contemporary macrobiotic.” You won’t find refined sugar, red meat, poultry, eggs, or dairy on the menu, but even the most passionate carnivores will love the California Club with tempeh “bacon” or the (seitan) BBQ sandwich.
While you’ll find classic comfort food like blueberry pancakes and roast turkey sandwiches at this adorable eatery, the pancakes are made from organic brown rice and sandwiches come on five-grain bread. Salads are hearty, like warm steak and Brazilian chicken. Fresh-squeezed vegetable juices and smoothies round out the menu. And their three locations — in Pacific Palisades, Culver City and El Segundo — make it convenient to eat well.
This menu, served poolside at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, is one of my favorites in all of L.A. Broken down by sections, there are “Indulgent” and “Comfort” options, but the “Antioxidant” and “Energy Booster” selections are as delicious as they are good for you. Try their “Young Hollywood” salad, seared California swordfish, or veggie soy protein burger.
You’ll feel good just walking in the door here thanks to the kind, bubbly staff, but you’ll feel even better knowing that all their food offerings are 100 percent organic and vegan. Try the live cashew crepe with fresh fruit, or live kelp noodles with almond thai dressing at either of their locations in Larchmont or Venice.
Family owned and operated, this small joint in West Hollywood focuses on veggie-based dishes and proteins like turkey, tofu, and beef. The salmon salad — with arugula, corn, lentils, carrots, and parmesan — sticks out as a must-try meal, especially at lunchtime.
For a quick meal, this all-vegetarian chain (they have 10 locations across L.A.) delivers tasty, filling eats. The protein sources include “chickin’,” tempeh, and veggie-steak. You can get any of the delicious burgers (like portobello or crispy “crab”) on a wheat bun or on a bed of steamed kale.
Don’t forget about juice bars!
Beverly Hills Juice was way ahead of the juicing craze, and has been cold-pressing juices since 1975. Any of their vegetable, coconut, ginger, or fruit juices can be turned into a “Banana Manna” shake, made with bananas and either almond, cacao, or sunflower. It’s worth the price of a ticket to L.A. in my opinion. Pressed Juicery has several locations serving raw, cold-pressed juice, too, including my favorites — Greens 1, 2, 3, and 4. And, next door to the nourishing Kreation Kafe in Santa Monic, you’ll find Kreation Juice, with three levels of cleanse or solo juices for a quick boost.
What’s your favorite place to eat healthy in L.A. or around the world? Share your advice with our travel community by leaving a comment below: