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The Healthy Lunch Guide

PHOTO: Holly Liss

If you’re in Los Angeles, the reality is you’re a light power walk away from some lunch spot that offers healthy food. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it also doesn’t mean all those places are good. For every healthy spot you’re thankful to have in vicinity, there are two bland, overpriced hacks just trying to take your money. So put down that $19 algae shake that’s actually all sugar, and go to a place where you can get real nutrients. We’ve rounded up the best very places for a good healthy lunch, organized geographically - so you’re never too far away from an actually compelling In-N-Out alternative.

Check out the rest of our Guide To Being A Little Healthier.

The WestSide

1

Destroyer

Culver City
3578 Hayden Ave
8.6
MAP

When you just can’t look at another kale salad, Destroyer is the answer. This daytime spot in Culver City is putting out some of the most interesting food in the city right now, with the added bonus that a lot of it is actually pretty good for you. The salads here aren’t just salads - they’re treasure hunts with things like crispy bits of chicken skin hidden under what looks like a plain plate of lettuce.

2
8.4
MAP

Could we really write this guide and not include Sugarfish? Sushi might not involve a whole lot of vitamin intake, but it sure is healthier than that burrito you were considering. With locations quite literally all over town, always-consistent quality, and unbeatable prices, Sugarfish is one of our go-to lunches. If you’re in a hurry, call ahead for takeout.

3

Tocaya Organica

Venice
1715 Pacific Avenue
7.3
MAP

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of grain bowls and salads on offer for lunch in Venice, and if you want a Mexican version of either (that won’t be smothered in sour cream), Tocaya should be your stop. The produce is mostly organic, many of the dishes can be made vegan, and there are taco and burrito options for when you’re not feeling quite so healthy. There’s another location in West Hollywood as well.

4

Erven

Santa Monica
514-516 Santa Monica Blvd
7.6
MAP

Vegan spot Erven is a serious table service operation at night, but during the day it’s a grab- and-go spot with a small menu of sandwiches and salads you can eat there or take back to your desk. The menu ranges from very good-for-you (kale salads, quinoa tabbouleh) to probably less so (beer-battered tofu sandwiches).

Photo: Jakob Layman
5

Bondi Harvest

Santa Monica
1814 Berkeley St
7.9
MAP

Just so you know, to get out of Bondi Harvest with a healthy lunch, you’re going to have to ignore some enticing things on the menu. But once you’ve managed that, there are options like a lentil beet burger, a rainbow bowl, and a cauliflower “rice” bowl. Adding some Australian-style bacon on the side just means you’re living the paleo life right.

6

Plenty of fast-casual options only offer the illusion of being good for you - that Chipotle burrito bowl isn’t really doing you any favors. But Flower Child in Santa Monica won’t make you regret your life choices. From the vegan options to the mix-and-match veggie and grain plates, most of the menu is both healthy and pretty hearty.

7

Gjusta

Venice
320 Sunset Ave
8.7
MAP

A healthy lunch at Venice’s cool kids clubhouse also involves ignoring things like the porchetta melt and giant slices of pizza. But these people know how to make a salad. The menu changes daily, but expect options like roasted cauliflower with za’atar, something involving squash, and always a lettuce option.

8

Malibu Farm Cafe

Malibu
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy

Unless you’re living your best life, lunch at Malibu Farm (at the end of Malibu Pier), probably isn’t a daily thing, but on a day off, or when you have visitors in town, it doesn’t get much better. There are salads, sandwiches, and plates with a Scandinavian influence, meaning while your vacationing friends can go all out on a burger, you can keep things healthier with a grilled salmon plate.

9

In theory, The Butcher’s Daughter sounds kind of insufferable (the Instagram-friendly design, the ability to make pretty much anything vegan, the many people drinking rosé at 11am on a Wednesday), but in a surprise twist, the food here is actually kind of great. There’s everything from salads to a “meatball” hero, and it’s the kind of place that’s just as perfect for a business lunch with a picky vegan as it is for lunch with girlfriends on a day off.

Photo: Jakob Layman
LA

Guide:

The Healthy-ish Hit List

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10

Da Kikokiko

Playa Vista
12746 W Jefferson Boulevard

At this point, you could probably set your alarm around your next local poké shop opening, but Da Kikokiko rises above the rest for several reasons. For one, its Playa Vista location is ideal for all the techies looking for a healthy break and secondly, the poké itself is actually great. They have their own signature bowls, but our move is to build-your-own (with hamachi and seaweed noodle salad base). The place is well-run and efficient, and that shaved ice situation is not to be missed - just don’t think about the calories at that point.

Photo: Bethany Nauert
11
8.2
MAP

Located in the back of a convenience store in Playa Del Rey, ASAP Phorage is one of our favorite secret spots in the city. We realize pho isn’t the healthiest thing you could put into your body at 1pm, but you could also do a lot worse.

Central LA

12

FOOD Lab

West Hollywood
7253 Santa Monica Blvd.
7.3
MAP

Considering how well Food Lab fits into its Weho neighborhood and accommodates exactly what most people need from a healthy lunch spot, this small cafe feels very underrated. It’s quick (you order at the register), tasty (get the curried chicken sandwich), and not some lifeless corporate chain using trucked-in frozen ingredients. If you have a second, that little back patio is the perfect spot to regroup.

13

Erewhon is definitely not a restaurant. It’s an extremely high-end grocery store on Beverly Blvd (and now Venice) that is always one person wearing sunglasses indoors away from being completely intolerable. And while regular grocery shopping there is reserved for only Oprah and maybe Elon Musk, your move is to the salad and hot bar. It’s our favorite in town, and you can make a mean salad and still hover around the $12 mark. At the hot bar, it’s all about the kung pao chicken.

14

Hedley's

West Hollywood
640 N Robertson Blvd

Probably due to its lack of size and cache compared to its more famous neighbors (SUR and Gracias Madre), Hedley’s tends to get glossed over. But this casual cafe right in the heart of West Hollywood is a very solid option for a quick sit-down lunch. Prices (even for the main dishes) hover around $16 and the staff is actually friendly. “Get the crispy kale salad,” said no one ever. Except us, right now.

Photo: Jakob Layman
15

Fresh Corn Grill

West Hollywood
8714 Santa Monica Blvd
7.0
MAP

Located on Santa Monica Blvd. in the heart of Weho, Fresh Corn Grill seems like one of those dime-a-dozen, order-at-the-counter healthy food spots you see all over LA. And to some extent, it is. Except for the fact that the food is actually pretty good. And with everything from cajun shrimp pizza to meatloaf, you won’t have to gag down a sad bowl of wet kale either. Lines can get long during peak hours, so call ahead and take advantage of their efficient to-go operation.

16

sweetgreen

Hollywood
6115 W Sunset Blvd

A build-your-own-salad spot that’s actually good, this East Coast chain has invaded LA in a big way and despite some local competition, sweetgreen has easily found its way into Hollywood’s lunch rotation. And that’s because it’s quick, affordable, and that Rad Thai salad is all we ever need in life. Its prime Columbia Square location doesn’t hurt either.

17

Your boss is an aggressive vegan and barking once again about where to take a new client for lunch. Send them Crossroads, a Weho institution and one of the only real sit-down vegan spots in the city that’s ultimately worth the price. The feel inside is quiet and classy - much closer to steakhouse vibe than a lunch spot that serves fresh-pressed carrot orange ginger juice. And while Crossroads doesn’t shy away from the fake meat situation, their meatball sub actually tastes like a legitimate sandwich.

18

Hugo's Restaurant

West Hollywood
8401 Santa Monica Blvd
7.5
MAP

Hugo’s is a West Hollywood mainstay, and one of the original healthy restaurants in LA - they’ve been around since the ’70s. But despite whatever nightmarish vision a “healthy cafe in Weho” conjures in your mind, Hugo’s is surprisingly unpretentious and easy to get in and out of for a weekday lunch. There’s no scene or gross in-crowd, just your everyday neighborhood spot (frequented by actual locals) that also happens to serve healthy food.

19

Baroo

East Hollywood
5706 Santa Monica Blvd
8.8
MAP

Baroo is easily one of the most unique restaurants in Los Angeles. But for however overwhelming an experimental, Korean-ish fermentation cafe sounds on your lunch hour, Baroo works because it’s delicious, affordable, and way more accessible than you’d ever think. Located in an East Hollywood strip mall, our move at this bright neighborhood spot is always the Ragu-style handmade pasta and the kimchi fried rice, but you frankly can’t go wrong with anything.

20

Backyard Bowls

Beverly Grove
8303 Beverly Blvd.
7.7
MAP

This acai bowl spot on Beverly Blvd should be an all-out nightmare (and when lines are out the door, it is). But on a weekday at 12:30pm, you’ll be hard pressed to find a healthier quick lunch option. If you’re looking for something hefty, the peanut butter-based Power Bowl is your move, and the kiwi-topped Dragon Bowl isn’t just the one you see on Instagram all the time, it’s also really good.

21
7.7
MAP

It’s entirely possible that the famous-on-Instagram people hanging out around these parts don’t eat anything except green juice and Alfred coffee, but that just means more Croft Alley for us. Hidden behind the action of Melrose Place, this little daytime spot has both the expected (a kale salad) and the unexpected (a coconut brown rice risotto, housemade yogurt with chlorophyll). We still don’t really know what chlorophyll is, but it’s a green liquid, so we’re guessing it’s good for you.

22

Beefsteak

Beverly Grove
7661 Melrose Ave

Located right in the Melrose shopping district, there’s nothing about this order-at-the-counter spot that’s going to particularly jump out at you. And that’s why we feel the need to tell you about it. The menu seems pretty straightforward, sticking mainly to salads and wraps, but the actual items themselves are not. Our go-to is the Ktown bowl - kimchi, broccolini, toasted seaweed, and a whole bunch of other things that make its $13 price a steal. Try the beet jerky too.

The Valley

23

SunCafe Organic

Studio City
10820 Ventura Blvd
7.6
MAP

Over on that awkward stretch of Ventura largely dominated by families trying to find the entrance to Universal Studios, SunCafe is known for having some of the best organic food in the area and one thing you don’t often see at places like this: a solid beer list. Your boss has been talking down to you all week because he’s going through a nasty divorce and sometimes you need a beer with that salad.

24

HealthyCA

North Hollywood
4724 Lankershim Blvd

Right on the border of Toluca Lake and NoHo, this dime-sized spot is nothing more than a counter and a few tables out front on the sidewalk, but you don’t come to HealthyCA to lounge around all day. You come here to get what’s probably the best salad situation in the Valley (the HealthyCA salad can’t be beat) and to eat in your car in blissful solitude.

Photo: Brant Cox

The Eastside/DTLA

25

Honey Hi

Echo Park
1620 W Sunset Blvd

Honey Hi is new to Echo Park, and from afar, doesn’t seem too different than all the other healthy cafes that open every week in this city. It’s bright and airy, they serve gluten-free cookies, and just about everything comes in a bowl. But the difference is everything in those bowls is actually pretty good, and the space itself is surprisingly low-key. From the jade rice miso bowl to the Moroccan stew to the Thai green curry, Honey Hi is that rare combination of being healthy and also not boring.

Photo: Brandon Barnhart
26

The Springs

608 Mateo St
MAP

The Springs is probably the most typical healthy restaurant of all of the spots on this list. The restaurant is part of a huge space in the Arts District that’s also home to a yoga studio and a “wellness center” where you can do things like fire cupping or gravity colon hydrotherapy. Despite all the new age woo-woo, the all-day menu is worth checking out, especially for vegans. The kelp carbonara is a crowd favorite (despite possessing no common ingredients with actual carbonara), but we’re a lot more into the spicy forbidden rice. And you can end the whole thing with a celebrity-endorsed life-changing colonic.

27

Forage

Silver Lake
3823 W. Sunset Blvd.
7.6
MAP

This Silver Lake cafe takes the whole farm-to-table thing to near-embarrassing heights (they’ll tell you the exact farm your food came from), but it’s saved by the fact that it’s delicious. It’s also very affordable and lines are never too long during the day. Oh, and that mac and cheese? Quietly some of the best in the city. Shhhhhhhh.

28

Sqirl

Silver Lake
720 N. Virgil Ave.
8.9
MAP

Sqirl hardly needs an introduction. The Silver Lake cafe is an all-out mob scene seven days a week and has pretty much come to define eating in Los Angeles right now. Here’s the good news - it’s all worth it. Sure, we aren’t running any calorie counts on that brioche toast and jam, but throughout a large portion of the menu, Sqirl delivers quality, nutritious food that’s better than just about anything else. You’re probably getting the the Sorrel pesto bowl, but everything else is just as worthy of an order.

29

Kitchen Mouse

Highland Park
5904 N Figueroa St

Your 13-year-old little cousin is going to love Kitchen Mouse. From that name to the cutesy interior, this Highland Park spot might be adorable, but it’s also full of tasty healthy food that’s mostly gluten-free and vegan. The lunch move here is one of the bowls, but they also do breakfast until 3pm, meaning chilaquiles are in your future.

Photo: Jakob Layman
30

Good Girl Dinette’s been serving diner-inspired Vietnamese classics in Highland Park since way before the area became your new soulmate in neighborhood form. For a not-entirely-bad-for-you lunch option, the rice noodle salads are excellent, especially when you get the seared beef with lemongrass chili oil on the side.

31

By Chloe

Silver Lake
2520 Glendale Blvd

By Chloe is famous (in NYC, where it’s from) for its vegan burgers that do a pretty good job of imitating the meat-filled originals. But if you’re trying to be healthy, that’s probably not the direction you should go in here. Which is fine, because they also have some pretty tasty salads and a rotating selection of vegetable sides. If you choose to add some vegan mac and cheese to the mix, we will not judge.

32

Madcapra

DTLA
317 S Broadway
8.6
MAP

We are fully aware that falafel is deep fried carbs wrapped in even more carbs, but at Madcapra you can actually be pretty healthy. There are vegetables in everything here - from the salads and sides to the beet-flavored soda. The menu options are color-coded according to the main vegetables involved, and we tend to go for the green one in salad form when we’re trying to be responsible (and the sandwich when we’re not).

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