Sustainable City Guide: Where to Eat and Shop in Los Angeles
- by Alden Wicker
- Mar 11, 2014
I can finally say I’ve been to Los Angeles. After spending five days in the city of stars (and starf***ers), I’ve drawn a few conclusions:
1. People in Los Angeles are obsessed with either health food, Mexican food, or in some cases, both together. People with food allergies (faux and real) love it here.
2. People are fake? That’s what I heard over and over again, except when people vehemently disagreed. All I know is I got more than a few hugs and by people I had met 30 seconds earlier, plus invitations to stuff.
3. Car required. As a New Yorker, I treasure my public transportation and quick cab rides. But in L.A., everything is so sprawling, you end up having to coordinate constantly to figure out who is sober and where they are going to get to the next party.
4. It feels like the 90s. Maybe this was just us, but between the faded bungalows, music, fashion and music on the radio, I felt like I was in a long throwback scene from Mulholland Drive.
Obviously, five days isn’t enough to give a comprehensive review of all things green, especially when it comes to such a sprawling metropolis crawling with health-obsessed people and money. But my group of ladies–which includes two nutrition nerds, one zero-waste blogger and me–did our best to hit up the must-eat restaurants and do a bit of shopping.
Hopefully, I’ll be going back and can add more items to the list. (In the mean time, check out my Yelp bookmarks to see all the places on our to-try list.)
Café Gratitude – Central L.A.
We were so in love with this vegan, organic, healthful place that we went twice to the Los Angeles location during our short trip: once for a late lunch, and once for a very early breakfast. The menu is so stuffed with enticing juices, elaborate tea concoctions, smoothies, healthful versions of brunch favorites, gluten-free pastas, salads, macrobiotic mains, organic beers, mixed drinks, wines, vegetable sides, and slightly sweet desserts, that you’ll want to come back a few times yourself to try everything.
Between all of us plus friends, we tried a whole smorgasbord of items, but my favorites turned out to be the coconut yogurt, the buckwheat-flax pancakes with cashew whipped cream, the chia seed porridge, and the kombucha-champagne cocktail. As we ate at lunch on the back patio, a stream of Beautiful People flowed in and out.
Cafe Gratitude has locations in Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Venice and Los Angeles, so make sure to clarify what you are talking about when you meet up with friends, which we learned the hard way.
Primrose Organics Salon – Los Feliz
Located in Los Feliz, Primrose is a full-service organic salon. But don’t let the name fool you, this salon has some badass attitude. All the furniture, including the vanities, are vintage are used, creating a old-Hollywood-meets-motorcycle-garage effect. You can get just a regular trim, of course, but Primrose also does funky colors and edgy haircuts and buzzes for women and men. I popped by for a bang trim, and even though I was only getting a $10 service, they treated me perfectly.
New High Mart – Los Feliz
I would love to show you a picture of this place, but there are rules if you want to shop here. No cell phone usage. No food. Oh, and if you take a picture, a worried Japanese woman will pop out and demand you erase your pictures. They aren’t exactly welcoming–you kind of feel like you’re being offensive by talking.
If you can abide by all these rules, though, you’ll be charmed by the items you find inside, like organic and hemp clothing, candles, Japanese cooking utensils, Birkenstocks, hand-crafted leather goods, incense and other minimalist home objects, accessories and clothing. It’s a little on the crunchy side, but you can see the passion and quality in everything they curate in this small space. I have a feeling they could give a shit about this review, because they hate the internet. But stop by and see if something strikes your fancy.
Squaresville Vintage – Los Feliz
This bi-level shop is packed with gems that–despite being very vintage–still seemed fresh and relevant. We snagged cropped and long sweaters, knit and see-through dresses, and a boho-chic maxi dress. Upstairs there was a selection of menswear, including jackets and boots. The store is just large enough to provide something for people with all different tastes in clothing, while not being overwhelmed. Plus, it has a dope soundtrack. Burial was playing while we were there.
The Punchbowl – Los Feliz
Los Angeles has too many juice bars to count (just look at Well+Good’s map) but this one deserves a mention. The Punchbowl is run by a former One Lucky Duck staffer, serving hyper-healthy juices in glass bottles, shakes, and green shakes in a small café. The staff is chill and friendly, and there’s plenty of room to pull up a seat at a sun-soaked table and relax.
Green Line Beauty
You could do hours of research on non-toxic beauty products … or you could just stop by this amazing beauty boutique. The owner, Stacey, is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. We were there for hours, talking, testing, oohing, aahing, getting makeovers and recommendations for our particular skin problems, and peppering her with questions. It’s clear Stacey has high standards–half the products we mentioned are just not clean enough or effective enough for her sparkling boutique. No wonder celebrities love this place. Really, anything you need–mascara, foundation, powders, cleansers, tonics, creams, lipsticks–it’s all here.
Everyone, including myself, has been begging Stacey to open an outpost in New York. But with the rent being so much higher here, you’ll just have to settle for going online. Stacey will answer any questions you have via email.
Gracias Madre – West Hollywood
You can’t leave LA without trying the Mexican (any California native will tell you New York City’s Mexican is a poor approximation). If you like your Mexican organic, head to Gracias Madre, Café Gratitude’s sister restaurant, for reinterpretations of tacos, tortillas and margaritas, vegan style. The outdoor space is huge and comfortable, graced with leafy trees, a fireplace, heat lamps during the chillier months, and outdoor couches can sink into to nurse your food baby.
Gjelina – Venice
Get yourself a table to chow down on locally-sourced charcuterie and cheese (marinated beet burrata, chicken and duck liver paté), vegetable dishes (wood-roasted cauliflower, king oyster mushrooms), and salads (dandelion, tuscan kale). Or, if you’ve been out drinking and need a sustainable snack, grab a slice of their inspired pizzas (lamb sausage, and take it out to the softly lit garden. Whatever you get, you’ll be murmuring, “Jesus, this is good,” while you try to stuff it all in your face at once.
The Standard – Downtown LA
Ready to get your party on? Then head to The Standard (if you’re not already staying there) for some cocktails by the pool, a beer in the beer garden, or a bootyshake on the dance floor to the DJ. The scene there is more interesting than “beautiful” people. Though I will say this: the drunk level at the Standard LA is a bit higher than Le Bain at The Standard in NYC. After night falls, join one of the mini parties going on in the covered waterbeds by the pool to partake in some shenanigans.
Another note: if you want to go out past 2 a.m., then get yourself invited to a warehouse party somewhere in downtown LA. for some solid electronic music. Unless, of course, you have an early morning yoga/juice date the next day.