Gone are the days where a good-for-you meal meant sacrificing in the flavor and satisfaction department. In the last decade, vegetables (read: generally diet-friendly) have become not an afterthought but the star of the show, and leave it to California—with its easy access to unreal produce—to be leading the charge. The new wave of healthy-ish fare manages to feel decadent without all the dairy, sugar, and butter stuff. Below, we’ve selected six restaurants that’ll fill you up without sidelining your fitness goals.
How much do we love Sqirl? Let us count the ways. This place is a destination restaurant for a reason. The kitchen serves up breakfast and lunch meals that transform ingredients like kale and cauliflower into heaven on a plate. People love Sqirl’s sorrel pesto rice bowl, and the daily specials are always worth a try. And even though this post is meant to inspire healthier living, you cannot come here without getting the ricotta brioche toast, served with a mountain of ricotta cheese and a lake of jam.
720 N Virgil Ave #4, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Botanica Restaurant and Market
Try and find a restaurant that feels more like the physical embodiment of new Californian cuisine. Botanica’s space (exposed beams, concrete floor, plants abounding) is as clean as what’s coming out of the kitchen. The Silver Lake Boulevard restaurant skews heavily towards fruits and veg, but meat makes a cameo or two in dishes like chicken congee and grilled lamb kabobs. The menu changes seasonally and there’s a marketplace to peruse on your way out, in the instance you wish to boldly attempt to recreate what you’ve just devoured at home.
1620 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Echo Parks’s Honey Hi is a well-lit space that’s as adorable as its name. The menu, dreamed up by a nutritionist, isn’t messing around though. Every dish is free of any pesky gluten or refined sugars. The flavor comes elsewhere, in clever inventions like chili cashew crema and togarashi spiced almonds. And if you’re still on the hot broth train while the weather’s still chilly, they’ve got that, too.
1620 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Kismet is one of our favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, healthy or otherwise. Chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson create absolute wonders in the kitchen (and the natural wine list ain’t bad, either). On the food menu, you’ll find Mediterranean meets California fare. Translation? A Persian cucumber salad you’ll wish you ordered two of, spiced carrots that transcend their earthly beginnings, and a labneh made in-house that’s out of this world.
4648 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
If you’re running around town and you don’t have time for a proper sit-down meal, Tocaya Organic will set you straight. The fast casual chain touts itself as a modern organic Mexican restaurant and offers their healthy take on tacos, salads, burritos, and bowls. They’ve even got vegan and gluten-free options, in the instance that you require it.
8720 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
All hail one of L.A.’s original healthy outposts. M Cafe was touting the benefits of macrobiotic food long before Goop came onto the scene–they’re been churning out inventive, nutritious meals for well over a decade. M Cafe is for the real die hards. Their menu explores the possibilities of vegan fare with dishes like yellow coconut curry udon noodles, a club sandwich made with tempeh bacon, and handful of untraditional grab-and-go sushi options.
7119 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Photo courtesy of Daria Shetsova