You’ve made the same New Year’s Resolution since Y2K, but this time is different. You’ve changed, the world has changed, and we’re speaking it into existence - you will eat healthier this year (and also stop driving with open mugs in the car).
And while LA has no shortage of great salads, just because you’re trying to eat a little healthier doesn’t mean you need to become Spike from the The Land Before Time. There are plenty of places in the city to find warm, filling meals that are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and whichever the fat is the “good kind.” From Mexican seafood spots to a place serving “lacto-fermented hot sauce,” here’s where to go when you want to eat healthy, but can’t handle another salad.
If you were somehow able to build a machine that could distill every photo on Instagram with the hashtag #wellness, then combine it with a dash of tasty gluten-free food and a pinch of medicinal mushrooms, you’d get Honey Hi (also you’d be, like, really smart). The menu at this sunny neighborhood cafe is varied and large, and was designed by the head chef and co-founder, a practicing holistic nutritionist. Which, yes, does mean that you’ll occasionally encounter ingredients like collagen protein and lacto-fermented hot sauce, but it also means that everything - from the jade rice miso bowl to the Thai green curry - is incredibly well-balanced, flavorful, and nourishing.
Unlike many of the so-called “poke spots” that have taken over every beach-adjacent corner of LA, you won’t find any shredded carrots, watermelon, or beds of zucchini noodles in the bowls at Ali’i Fish Company. Instead, this El Segundo restaurant serves poke exactly the way you’d have it in Hawai’i - that means sashimi-grade fish (they ship theirs in from the Aloha State), diced thick, then marinated with a signature soy sauce blend and served on a bed of rice. They also serve hot food, but who are we kidding? Get a poke bowl.
We are fully aware that falafel is deep-fried carbs wrapped in even more carbs, but at Kismet Falafel you can actually be pretty healthy. There are vegetables in everything here - from the sides to the beet sumac soda. As far as the sandwiches go, there are only three, but know that whether you opt for the cauliflower-and-fennel-stuffed Kismet or the Classic, with tomatoes and tahini, you’re eating fresh ingredients that taste great.
Botanica is peak Silver Lake - there’s a social-media-friendly patio, the drinks are herb-infused, and everyone looks like Father John Misty. The menu also skews pretty healthy, and there’s a teeny market attached in case you want to try (and fail) to reproduce some of their dishes in your own home. You might want to, because Botanica does serve good food, especially during the day. Get anything that involves their focaccia and bacon.
Just because you’re trying to eat healthier, doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to Goop vitamins and bone broth. At Mh Zh, not only are their Israeli/Mediterranean dishes some of the most flavorful in the city, but they’re also pretty nutritious. The menu at this Silver Lake restaurant changes seasonally, but you can always expect a variety of vegetable-focused plates like grilled beets with roasted hazelnuts, and bright green peas in a bed of fluffy stracciatella cheese.
With their entirely plant-based menu and a pledge to donate profits to animal rights organizations, Little Pine is the perfect spot for vegetarians, flexitarians, and anyone who has ever watched a Netflix documentary on factory farming. But there are no condescending lectures or PETA pamphlets at this Silver Lake restaurant, just a very solid mix of very healthy food. Make sure you start with an order of the broccoli arancini - they’re dense, beefy (well, not beefy) risotto cakes, and are ideal to eat while discussing topics like cow methane and how 45% of the Earth’s total land is covered by livestock.
Located in a part of Culver filled with very cool people who work in very creative offices, Destroyer is a daytime cafe unlike any other. This order-at-the-counter spot feels like you’re eating breakfast in the future, where menus are projected onto walls and raw oatmeal comes topped with a disk of dehydrated vanilla. Seemingly simple dishes like a hen egg with crispy potatoes or chicken confit with grits are turned into works of abstract sci-fi art. It’s a strange place, but the food is fantastic, and that certainly beats bagged kale at your desk.
This Mexican seafood spot on the southern tip of the neighborhood is definitely a bit more expensive than other restaurants in Inglewood, but that’s the price you pay for some of the freshest seafood in the city. You can’t go wrong with any of the ceviches or aguachiles, but the marlin tacos (OK, allow yourself one) and whole snook need to hit the table, or you can’t actually tell your friends you came here.
If the current sushi scene in LA was first-century Europe, then Sugarfish would be the Roman Empire. With locations from Marina del Rey to Pasadena, this casual, prix-fixe chain has quite literally taken over the city. And for a good reason - no one else can match their high-quality fish, ruthlessly consistent operation, and unbeatable prices. For just $33 ($27 at lunch), you’ll get eight courses of incredible sushi, including sashimi and two handrolls, which is one of the best deals in the city, right up there with having a washer/dryer in-unit and the secret parking lot behind House of Pies.
No matter how much you like a spring mix salad (or pretend to, anyway), sometimes you need something heartier, and preferably more pizza-shaped. Head to Sage Organic Vegan Bistro. As you can probably tell from the name, everything at this Echo Park restaurant is plant-based, including a creamy sun-dried tomato pizza with cashew alfredo, and cauliflower buffalo wings that taste better than the real thing. Plus, the space is huge and great for groups, and their beer selection is one of the best in the city. So ditch that sad bag of spring mix (which, for the record, isn’t even seasonal), and get to Sage.
Vietnamese food isn’t the first thing you expect to find at the same place where you pick up your laundry detergent and Solo cups, but that’s just part of the beauty of ASAP Phorage. Located in the back of a convenience store in Playa del Rey, this tiny counter seems like the kind of place your instincts tell you to avoid, but in reality, they serve some of our favorite pho on the Westside. The crowd is a mix of barefoot surfers, teenagers who peaced out of school early, and you, holding on to the remnants of your New Year’s clean-eating resolution.
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 that doesn’t involve lettuce. If you’re looking for something hefty, the peanut butter-based Power Bowl is a great option, and the kiwi-topped Dragon Bowl isn’t just the one you see on Instagram all the time, it’s also really good.
Over on that awkward stretch of Ventura largely dominated by tourists trying to find the entrance to Universal Studios, SunCafe has developed a cult following thanks to very good organic food - and even better smoothies. We tend to go for the spicy quesadilla, jackfruit tacos, and mint shamrock shake, but at a place as good as SunCafe, you can’t really go wrong with anything, no matter if you’re a vegan or not.