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I was recently in California and had a great time. To start off the trip, on the plane with me was Alexis Bledel, the beautiful star of Gilmore Girls! After going up to her and admitting that I was a fan, we briefly chatted about healthy eating. She told me that although she is not a vegetarian, she often gives up meat when she wants to “feel lighter.” And why not? In Los Angeles, I learned, you can be vegetarian nearly anywhere. So even though I packed my bag with all the necessary travel foods and tools—Green Vibrancepackets, my normal supplements, a portable blender, chia seeds, and buckwheat Go Raw granola—it turns out I didn’t need any of it. Practically everywhere I went had a vegan, gluten- free option. Here are some of the places I checked out.
Baja Fresh Salad
Veggie Grill, 2533 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA
Aw man, I fell in love with this place. I went there at least three times during my trip. The first time I went, I had the baja fresh salad with quinoa and avocado. The second time, I had a Portabella veggie burger, no bun, and the last time I had the tempeh bowl. The food was fast, delicious, and served with West Coast smiles. And best of all, it was inexpensive! I hope they expand to New York—the city could certainly use an affordable vegan, gluten-free fast food joint!
Hillstone Restaurant, 202 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
Although this place is not vegetarian or gluten-free, they quickly accommodated to my eating habits. Their veggie burger—which is made with brown rice—can be made gluten-free and vegan. And with the Santa Monica pier close by, what more can you ask for?
“I am Liberated” kelp noodles with grated nut cheese
Café Gratitude, 639 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
As a New Yorker, going to Café Gratitude was quite the experience. I was greeted by our server with an airy, “Hello sweeties,” before taking a look at the menu. As I looked down, there were dishes with the titles “I am guapa (beautiful),” and “I am Liberated.” As I ordered my meal, the waitress repeated it back to me “You are liberated” “You are beautiful.” While the Brooklynite in me may have wanted to gag a little, my vegan persuasion ate it right up, and I left the restaurant feeling refreshed and bubbly. It definitely had a different environment–the person sitting next to us (who happens to be a health coach named Steve Factor) even offered us a bite of his food! What I liked most about the place were its desserts—many of which were made with coconuts and dates, not agave, which is high in fructose and not nearly as healthful as many health restaurants would have you believe!
Delightful Crepes Café, 1190 N. Studebaker Rd, Long Beach, CA
As my boyfriend and I came back from a day in Los Angeles (we stayed with his family, who lives in Seal Beach) we stopped by a 7-11 to pick up some gum. I wanted something sweet, but was sure I wouldn’t be able to find anything other than maybe a piece of fruit or some tea. We saw the Café right next to the 7-11 and thought, “who knows, maybe they’ll have something.” Turns out they did. They told me they could make every crepe gluten and dairy-free. Sure enough, I tried a berry-crepe with fruit and it was delicious. I had it with a fresh pot of Rooibos tea. What a sweet surprise.
LA, thanks for showing me a great time, great food, and some Vitamin D-filled sunshine!