What I love so much about Los Angeles is the accommodating food choices that fit my healthy lifestyle. It’s never a question as to whether or not a coffee shop has dairy milk alternatives or treats with non-refined sugar. It’s so easy to find fresh, good-for-you food, which is what I am all about (of course, with the occasional indulgent treat!). My friend and I had crafted a list of coffee shops and restaurants ahead of time, and we were able to successfully visit a lot of the places we were excited about. Of course, there are so many more I want to visit, which just means another trip to LA in my future! Here are some of the highlights of my food adventures…
After our long flight, we definitely needed some caffeine and a snack before our bike ride along Hermosa/Manhattan Beach. We Yelped to find the closest cute coffee spot, and lucked out with The Source Cafe. I went with their vegan chocolate chip cookie (almond butter, stevia, all that good stuff), and my friend went with the cacao flax brownie. She also got the Cacao Almond Butter Cup smoothie which is almond milk, raw almond butter, raw cacao, fig, date, stevia, himalayan salt with added cold brew, while I sipped on an almond milk iced latte. This was our post-airplane meal before we rode bikes along the beach – the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!
Dinner our first night was at KazuNori, “The Original Hand Roll Bar”. It’s the same restaurant company as the iconic LA sushi restaurant, SUGARFISH, and there is no doubt that the quality is nothing the but best. Although casual, KazuNori still sports a dimly lit and modern ambiance. You walk in, and the only seating is a rectangular bar where you seat yourself (though, it seems there is usually line). We waited about 15 minutes or so until two seats became available. You then choose your hand rolls, and the chef prepares one roll at a time for each customer, and drops yours in front of you when it’s ready. You have plenty of time to savor your hand roll before your next roll is prepared and delivered. The seaweed was fresh and crunchy, and the rice was warm and cooked perfectly. I honestly don’t know if I could eat another hand roll anywhere else that would even come close to these. It was hard to snap a good photo with the lighting, but I tried my best to get some photo evidence.
If I lived in California, I would have lunch at Lemonade all the time! They have an incredible fresh food bar, and the prices are so beyond reasonable. The food is healthy and fresh, and the decor is bright and cheery.
Gracias Madre was another must on my list. I had been stalking it on Instagram long before I had a trip to LA planned, and I was so excited about it!
Yes, the decor is amazing. But. the. food. This is probably THE best Mexican food I have ever had, and guess what? It’s vegan and organic! I actually didn’t know this when I saved this place after seeing post after post on Instagram. I just knew it was cute and the food looked delicious. See for yourself:
We ordered a few things to share, pictured above from left to right: BOWL UNO: romaine, brown rice, black beans, tempeh chorizo, guacamole, pico de gallo, cashew crema, TOTOPOS CON CHILE: tortilla chips, salsa de arbol, cashew crema, lime, and a QUESADILLA a la CARTA, which we chose the butternut squash with caramelized onion. This meal was after our Hollyridge Trail hike, so it definitely hit the spot!
Another stop on my list was Alfred Coffee (a blogger essential). After lunch at Gracias Madre we walked around some boutiques in WeHo and made a stop at Alfred in the Alley for some Nitro Cold Brew – it’s so delicious, I didn’t even need to add almond milk!
We roamed some more, and eventually ended up at Alfred in the Alley on Melrose. We didn’t need more coffee, but we headed inside and to the back, where Compartes Chocolatier has a little shop. The packaging alone on these chocolate bars is creative and eye-catching, but the flavors and the bars themselves are beautiful.
Although some of the packages were more fun and photo worthy, I ended up going with the Dark Chocolate Granola flavor, as it seemed like a winning combo for me. I haven’t opened it yet, but here’s a peek from their site (and you MUST check out this page to view the other bars – they show each of them unwrapped and there are so many I want to try!).
The friend I was traveling with has a friend who lives in LA who graciously offered to take us to dinner one night. He had heard great things about “Broken Spanish” in DTLA, so we decided to go there. The server was very animated and asked if he could order for us. His suggestions sounded great, so we gave him free reign (though, it was definitely too much food).
So much food that I can barely remember my favorites. but I’m pretty sure they were the Chile Relleno and the Spinach and Sunchoke Tamale, along with the octopus dish.
We were able to hit up some great coffee shops while in town, but from the ones that we were able to visit, the interior of LAMILL Coffee Boutique was my favorite, not to mention that their espresso and almond milk were on point. How amazing is the decor? It’s chic and glam without being super feminine. It was such an interesting interior, as this main seating area has a vintage feel, while the front area and counter were much more modern and minimalistic. I loved it and wish we could have stayed longer, but we had lots to see and do!
Like…breakfast at eggslut! Not many words needed for the below. I’ll just tell you what I ordered. The FAIRFAX: soft scrambled eggs and chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo in a warm brioche bun. He was totally not judging.
We found the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Truck while waiting for our turn to get into the Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad, and they had vegan options made with cashews and coconut! I got a scoop of vegan Pistachio and a scoop of vegan Banana Nut with candied walnuts. It was huge and I couldn’t even finish it, but the Banana Nut flavor was my favorite of the two. Apparently, they have a truck in NY also, so I will definitely be on the look out.
Another stop along our coffee tour was H Coffee House LA, Which I believe is part of “Home” Restaurant, directly next door. I got the lavender latte with almond milk, which was the perfect amount of lavender without being overpowering or overly sweet. I paired it with their Chicken Sausage Scramble, which was a spicy chicken sausage with caramelized onion, tomato, jalapeño and green onion on wheat toast.
When in Cali, a pokè bowl with fresh seafood was a must! The only thing that made this delicious (and huge) pokè bowl from Mainland Pokè better, was that Kevin Connelly was standing directly in front of our car as we parked. He was parallel parked in front of us and had to wait for traffic to stop before he could get to his drivers side door. We locked eyes and it was fab.
I opted for half kale half brown rice as my base, salmon and ahi as my protein, and basically every topping option that they had. I chose the spicy shoyu as my sauce, as well as the wasabi cream on the side.
Another bucket list item was a milky bun from Afters. I found them on Instagram before my trip, and shortly after actually stumbled upon an article on the founders. There are several locations, but we were headed to Pasadena on this specific day, so we decided to head to that location. Their Pasadena spot is a really unique location in an old gas station. It’s a little hut with picnic benches outside for seating, rather than a standard storefront.
The milky bun is a deliciously warm donut-like bun, but a bit lighter than a normal donut. It’s sliced open with your choice of ice cream and a topping. I chose to get my milky bun glazed (definitely the way to go) with Cookie Butter ice cream and “Afters” flakes, which are caramel coated cornflakes.
My LA foodie adventures were definitely a success! Tons of eats and treats, and I already have a growing list for my next trip! Do you have any LA restaurant recommendations?