The 13 Healthiest Restaurants in Southern California

by Ron & Lisa Beres on March 4, 2014 · 11 comments

The 13 Healthiest Restaurants in Southern California

As a self-professed flexitarian foodie, I sway on the vegan, raw food and occasionally pescatarian sides. I truly delight in fresh, organic food that’s infused with the most important ingredient…love! I’ve been known to bake a mean vegan cake, brownies or cookies, but beyond that, I take after my mother in the cooking department (let’s just say her Hawaiian husband is a marvelous cook). Hence, I bow to the great, healthy chefs of the world and feel utterly blessed to have so many veggie dining options at our fingertips here in Southern California (that won’t break the bank). I consider it my vegan duty to support them whenever possible (wouldn’t you?). If you reside in CA – or are just visiting – you are going to devour my top 13 picks (aka: my baker’s dozen):

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Native FoodsConvenient locations throughout southern California (and a few other lucky states). Favorites include the Nuevo Native Nachos and the Portobello and Sausage Burger (don’t worry…its meat-free and uses seitan). Don’t miss the Native Fries either when you want a salty indulgence; sans the guilt. Lisa’s tip: Avoid too much soy and try to balance with some leafy greens and salads.

Urban PlatesA ‘lil something for everyone. Crazy good food at crazy good prices! Fresh salads, vegan soups, a GF menu and (some) organic ingredients delivered from local farms (even a little fish, chicken or meat for the carnivores and pescatarians). As their tag line boasts, Farm to plate & won’t break the bank. It’s true – all of the entrees are only $10.00. See our Instagram pic here.

Veggie GrillThis would be my least favorite of the thirteen as there’s a bit too much soy based ingredients for my liking, but figured I’d mention it (esp. if it’ll keep you outta the BK, Mickey D’s or In-N-Out Burger line). It’s super affordable and conveniently located throughout So Cal. Quinoa and kale salads, Bali Bliss Burger and Sweetheart (sweet potato) Fries…oh my!

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Avanti CaféHands down the best (vegan) tacos on planet earth. Located in Costa Mesa, their Mediterranean, gluten-free, garbanzo bean flatbread pizza crust?! Let’s just say…finally, a pizza you can feel good about eating. All ingredients are made fresh daily – including the organic taco shells. They feature flavorfully dynamic food that is handcrafted and prepared from fresh, local and organic produce and food products. Spoons down, the best vegan ice cream evahhh! Bonus: Chefs Mark & Tanya are regular contributors to this site! See our Instagram pic here.

118 DegreesOur first time trying raw food was here and we were instantly hooked! Gone are the days of bland celery and carrot sticks; ignore everything you think you know about raw. This is GOURMET and Chef Jenny knows how to make it look – and taste – spectacular. Nothing cooked over 118 degrees (this is what makes it ‘raw’). The desserts and drinks are a delish + nutrish treat while Ron thinks the kale Surfer Sandwich is totally rad, dude! They offer detox programs (read our journey here) and fun classes with three locations in CA. See our Instagram pic here.

Urth CaféI get the same thing every time I dine here – The Urth Salad and organic latte or iced coffee (and one of their fresh squeezed juice concoctions). Super cute ambiance + patio and a great coffee bar featuring organic coffees & teas with 5 convenient So Cal locations. Lisa’s tip: Have your iPhone handy, celebs love to eat here. See our Instagram pic here.

Café GratitudeWith a name like that – what’s not to love?! I can’t describe it since we haven’t dined here….yet. But, our foodie friends rave about it. High quality food and nice atmosphere with four locations to choose from.

The SpotLiterally, Ron and I ate here every day when we were first dating! I lived a block away and we strolled here along the ocean strand. It’s so quaint inside and the salad, nachos, veggie burger, cornbread and apple (or rhubarb) cobbler are to die for! Most of the menu is fat free and non-dairy. They serve organic whole grains, and legumes and use seasonal organic produce when available. Bonus: They serve and cook with purified water. That’s what we call Healthy Home Dream Team® approved! P.S. If you are in Redondo Beach, don’t miss The Green Temple either!

Gracias MadreCreated by the folks behind Cafe Gratitude, they serve cuisine inspired by the kitchens of Mexico sourced from locally grown organic ingredients (can I get an Arrrriba?)!  We will be dining here this week. Let’s just say – as long as their guacamole is good I’m happy, but you’ll be pleased to know everything on the menu is vegan and 100% organic.  Plus, they have a full bar featuring margaritas (but, of course), cerveza, vino and even tequila and mezcal flights.  Centrally located in West Hollywood, right on Melrose (and another in San Francisco, too). See our Instagram pic here.

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Au LacHoly Vegan Doughnut Holes! Finally, just experienced this phenomenal vegan living foods establishment with a Chinese and Vietnamese infused menu and…whooaa. The rice dishes, salads, vegan sushi and raw, vegan chocolate desserts – were dancing on our palettes! Met the owner/chef who is currently under an oath of silence. We told him we loved the food (no idea what he thought of us – lol)! See our Instagram pic here. Lisa’s tip: On your way home, stop by Sensitive Sweets bakery and stock up on vegan + gluten free desserts!

Crossroads KitchenIf you like a fine dining atmosphere, but still desire healthy cuisine, RUN…don’t WALK to this place. They have a full bar serving farm-to-glass cocktails, dim lighting and white tablecloths. I love this restaurant and can’t gush enough about the vegan artichoke oysters, hearts of palm calamari, spinach + kale salads, and decadent desserts. Plus, it’s conveniently located on Melrose Ave. Lisa’s tip: You may have an Ashton Kutcher sighting here. Our Instagram pic here (sans Ashton).

Real Food DailyWe chose these great peeps to do the food at our book launch party for Just GREEN It! if that tells you how much we love their cuisine. Really, they had us at ‘organic plant-based cuisine’ and serve a quality, authentic, creative, and nutritionally balanced menu. Offering a fine dining atmosphere in three CA locations, they boast organic wines + beer, fresh juices, smoothies and coffee/tea. Plus, a comprehensive (non-dairy) milk alternative menu including: Almond, Coconut, Hemp, Rice, and Soy. Lisa’s tip: You gotta try the Kale ‘n’ Cuke homemade lemonade. See our Instagram pic here.

True FoodThis Dr. Andrew Weil inspired concept restaurant is great for ‘veggie’ peeps an ‘non’ since everyone can find something they like on the menu.  We’ve dined here numerous times and truthfully, have never been as wowed with the food as we are with the bright yellow + green hued ambiance, patio and outdoor fire pits.  The juice bar in our opinion is the best part, but we give them props for supporting the local farms and offering a healthy selection anti-inflammatory vegan, vegetarian + gluten free options with 7 locations throughout the US (two in So Cal).

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. ~Virginia Wolfe

Let us know in the comments below if you have a favorite (on the list or not).  Eat (healthy). Drink. Be Merry.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia March 4, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Thanks so much for this list! You’ve given me six new places to scope out! Cafe Gratitude is AWESOME. I know Jenny (118) and am down in south OC but make a point to find the healthiest, yummiest spots when I’m up in LA for my boys’ auditions. Yay to easy searches ahead! :)

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Ron & Lisa March 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Hi Patricia~
Great – appreciate your feedback. YES…it’s so nice to have a list to print out (or bookmark on the iPhone) and reference when needed! Drop back + let us know how you like the 6 new picks. Such a good sign that soo many healthy restaurants exist and are getting the community support :) Break a leg!

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Kathleen Bloom March 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Cafe Gratitude here in the San Francisco Bay Area for sure!

Love your self professed “flexitarian foodie” – what a great way to express the desire for living healthy beyond a routine.

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Ron & Lisa March 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Oh, that is fantastic Kathleen – thanks for sharing. Ha – YES! Why limit our ‘lables’ – especially when we are all really so diverse. At the end of the day, it’s best to eat what makes YOU feel good and works best for your own body. For me – it’s ‘flexible’ along the healthy spectrum :)

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adrian March 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

Bump Veggie Grill and pin Seabirds on that list!
Seabirds is an amazing vegan restaurant in Costa Mesa at the LAB which is just across the street from both a Native Foods (awesome) and a 118 Degrees (also awesome).

It is our go to place for amazing plant based food.

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Ron & Lisa March 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

Hi Adrian~
We were aware of the Seabirds food truck, but not the restaurant (note to self)! Will definitely put this on the ‘to-eat’ list + appreciate the heads up!! Thanks :)

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Susie March 7, 2014 at 11:25 am

What a great list! I haven’t tried any of them (yet) but hopefully when I get to California I’d like to try Gracias Madre and True Food! Thanks :)

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Ron & Lisa March 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Hi Susie~
Yes, you must try some of these when you visit CA! Just dined at Gracias Madre this week for the first time, in fact. The restaurant is absolutely gorgeous with a lovely outdoor patio – fireplace, white strung lights, candles and heat lamps. The food was good, but some others on the above list are much more flavorful. I think they could increase the spice/seasonings, but I did appreciate that it wasn’t soy or textured protein based – rather, healthy plant based menu items. Au Lac + Crossroads offer much more variety + flavor in my foodie opinion ;)

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James May 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

I’ve tried Crossroads Kitchen and it was amazing. Going to try a few more of your list now on my next trip down there.

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Ron & Lisa Beres May 8, 2014 at 10:48 am

Isn’t Crossroads uhhhh-maaaze?! Yes, you will love the others. Get to Avanti Cafe in Costa Mesa, CA soon as they are closing their doors mid-June (boo hoo)!!

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