Whole30: Eating in LA

Back in January, I embarked on my first Whole30 journey. Although I had to make a few major tweaks to my diet (no Stevia to sweeten my coffee, Italian meals without pasta or bread), it was not impossible. I found the 30 days to be rewarding - my mood improved, my workouts became more productive, my energy levels were the highest they'd ever been and my skin cleared up.

So...After a summer of indulgence and lots of travel, I decided to embark on my 2nd round of Whole30. I'm now 8 days in after getting started on September 1st and am feeling pretty good. My energy levels are high and I have a new-found optimism. For those of you who are considering trying it out, I wanted to share some tips/tricks that have worked for me. And, since going out to eat is probably the most daunting part of the experience, I want to share some restaurants that are Whole30-friendly. As the next 22 days begin to play out, I'll continue to update with restaurants that have menus/wait staff that are easy to navigate! 

Tips & Tricks:

  • Carry snacks with you at all times - RX Bars (Coconut Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Blueberry, Chocolate Sea Salt), nuts, fruit, veggies
  • It may be tough to go to a bar during Whole30, but you can do it! Try to have fun by ordering a seltzer with lime!
  • Stock up on GT's Kombucha and LaCroix
  • Smoothie bowls are your friend - if you get sick of eating the same type of meal over and over again, I recommend opting for a smoothie bowl for weekend brunch or weekday breakfast. My favorite ingredients: frozen blueberries, frozen banana, medjool dates, unsweetened coconut flakes, unsweetened almond butter, spinach. I'll post a recipe soon :) 

Local LA Restaurants:

  • Hugo's: This spot is known for its healthy food, so making requests to the waitstaff to "please cook my omelet in olive oil" are not seen as outlandish. I've typically gotten egg dishes and burgers when eating here during Whole30.
  • Mustard Seed Cafe/Joey's: Whether you're in Los Feliz or West Hollywood, these diner-like restaurants have great options for Whole30. I recommend coming here for brunch so you can have a dish with eggs. They're also open to a request for cooking your meal in olive oil.
  • Taste on Melrose: To start, I got a side order of grilled asparagus and for my main course I ordered a salad with Salmon on top. It was really delicious. Make sure to order a side of olive oil and vinegar because their dressings are not Whole30 compliant.

Fast-Casual/Chains:

  • Sweetgreen: This spot is not specific to LA, so hopefully if you're in another city you can check out a Sweetgreen. I recommend the Guacamole Greens (without tortilla chips). I've read conflicting reviews about the lime-cilantro jalapeno dressing being Whole30-compliant. So, if you're nervous can always request to just toss a salad with olive oil.
  • Cava: This spot was mentioned on a Whole30 Forum so decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised that almost every topping I wanted was compliant.
  • True Food Kitchen: This spot has delicious salads and bowls. They're very gluten-free friendly and are used to receiving requests for dietary restrictions. 
  • Bareburger: High-quality burgers and ability to customize, what's not to like? Be careful with their ketchup and mustard as these are not compliant.
Please note that the LaCroix & RX Bar pictures above are not mine.

Where to eat in LA (Part II)?

I'm back with a new list of spots to wine & dine in LA. Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to eat at a lot of the spots that were on my short list and I've since updated my previous post with spots I'm excited to try here.

Below, I'm sharing restaurants across all different price points because there are times when it's worth it to splurge, and other times when it feels good to eat food for cheap. 

Bargain Eats:

  • Din Tai Fung: I had been hearing about this restaurant for months and it did not disappoint. I was expecting an extremely long wait, however, after a movie night with one of my friends (shout out Blake!), we ran...literally ran...throughout Century City to get our name on the list. The restaurant seats it's last guests at 9:30pm but we begged and pleaded and were eventually told to grab a seat at the bar (Shout out to the 2 hostesses who helped us out - y'all are the real MVPs). Because it was my first time eating at Din Tai Fung, we went HAM and ended up getting: Pork XiaoLongBao, Sautéed String Beans with Garlic (HOLY MOLY), Shanghai Rice Cakes with Chicken, Pork Buns, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings. It's also very reasonably priced, as long as you don't have eyes bigger than your stomachs :) 
  • Hi-Ho Cheeseburger: I had dinner here following a day at the beach in Santa Monica and was so surprised that I'd never heard of this spot before. They had incredible cheeseburgers (opt for the HiHo, not the Classic) and hand-cut fries. OM NOM NOM. 

In-Betweeners:

  • KazuNori: I've been a loyal Sugarfishian for years, but hadn't ever eaten at KazuNori because there are no locations super close to me and I was expecting a $$$ meal. I was pleasantly surprised to pay only $19 for 5 hand-rolls. My favorites were the lobster, blue crab, and salmon. The location in Westwood is bar seating, so be prepared to wait for a little while. Luckily not as long of a wait as Sugarfish though ;-).
  • Father's Office: Their famous burger was not what I was expecting, but it did exceed my expectations. But, be warned that you'll be paying $17! So that you're not disappointed, note that the burger is held together by a baguette-like roll. The toppings are really something else (maytag blue cheese, applewood bacon, caramelized onions, arugula). My mouth is watering as I'm typing this.
  • Gratitude: This relatively new Beverly Hills restaurant is brought to you by the same people who own Gracias Madre and Cafe Gratitude. It's plant-based, but even if you're not used to eating vegan, I'd recommend trying it out. And warning, be prepared to say words of encouragement whenever you order (ex. you will state "I am LOVE" - the name of a beverage on the menu - when you tell your waiter/waitress you would like to order the "Love"). Favorites: Lucky (Salad), Liberated (Pesto Kelp Noodles), Cool (Mint Chip "Milk"shake). OM NOM NOM.

Bank-Breakers:

  • Republique: This restaurant was on my short list for the past two years, both as a brunch and dinner spot. I ended up making a reservation here for my business school graduation dinner (and saw 6 other classmates and their families - a special occasion spot for sure!) and my whole family was blown away. A GORGEOUS restaurant with incredible food and service, but astronomical prices. Some of our favorite items were: potato & leek beignets, gioia burrata toast, bread with normandy butter (they fly this butter in from France.. no wonder it's $8), Mary's organic roasted chicken (a massive portion that could easily be shared by 3+ people). Come hungry and leave a little poorer. 

Comment below with some of your go-to items at these restaurants! 

What LA restaurants am I excited to try?

Below are a list of restaurants that I am dying to try. I'll be updating this section every month:

  • Uovo: This Santa Monica spot was started by the co-founder of Sugarfish and has been getting great reviews since it opened last summer. I'm salivating just looking at the menu! I really want to try the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, Ravioli di Carne, Tonnarelli Carbonara, Tagliatelle al Ragu. 
  • majordomo: I love David Chang's momofuku restaurants in NYC so I cannot wait to try this one.
  • Here's Looking At You: This restaurant has been showing up on every list of top restaurants in LA so I want to see what all the buzz is about!
  • Punta Cabras: I don't go to Santa Monica to eat often because I'm based in West Hollywood, but I may need to make the trek out for a day of wining and dining. There's a dinner-only menu and an all-day taqueria. Yum!
  • Electric Karma: One of the things I miss most about NYC is good Indian food. Well, it seems I may have just discovered LA's best so I am dying to try it out. Apparently there are Bollywood movies projected on the wall as you dine and the option to sit on pillows in the patio. OMGee. 
  • Journeymen: This is a spot from the chef and general manager of Gjusto and Gjelina, so you know the food is bound to be good. I was recommended to try everything with duck and the beets but to beware of the black kale salad. (Thanks for the reco, Chris!)

Let me know if you've been to any of them, and what you recommend ordering! 

Where to spend #SelfCareSunday?

Where to spend #SelfCareSunday?

  • Massage: The Now which has locations all over LA. Their decor (picture above and on the left) is #goals!!!
  • Manicure: Color Camp for fun gel manicures in West Hollywood. The gel starts at $40 and you then pay for any nail art you want. I've never opted for the Super Gel, but some customers swear by it and it starts at $50.
  • Haircut/Blow Out: Blow Me Away Organic Salon & Head Spa (this is my go to salon in West Hollywood and just had a wonderful cut & balayage by Ally); Helmet (also in West Hollywood, but a bit pricier)
  • Meditation: Unplug Meditation in West Hollywood or Santa Monica (I really enjoyed Hypnotic Deep Relaxation with John Sahakian on Sunday nights in WeHo). Also check out Unplug's app.
  • Workouts: Some of my favorite studios are Y7 Studio (heated, hip-hop yoga that has the awesome light pictured above), Flywheel Sports (I love Phil's Method 60 on Sunday afternoon in WeHo) and Body By Simone. But I also love hiking at Runyon Canyon (the above picture of me is from Runyon). I recently hiked Wisdom Tree, which was a challenge (very steep climb) & had snakes..... EEK!

The quote on the above right was posted by @shopbando on Instagram. It's a quote from Bando's founder, Jen Gotch.

Where to eat in LA?

As an LA Local, I'm sharing some of my favorite spots to eat/drink. Whether you're visiting, or living in La La Land, enjoy and please comment below if you have any recommendations/questions!

Where to eat?

Breakfast:

  • King's Road Cafe: Everything I've ordered here has been amazing, but my new favorite is the Chorizo Omelet (thank you to my good friend, Abby, for recommending it!)
  • Malibu Farm Pier Cafe
  • The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker (thanks for the reco Jaimie!)

Lunch:

  • Sqirl: Be prepared to wait in line for at least 30 minutes. But, I promise you the wait is WORTH IT! I recommend the Ricotta Toast (with rainbow jam) and the Sorrel Pesto Rice (add avocado).
  • Fresh Corn Grill: I always order the Fresh Corn Grilled Salad with either chicken or tofu, but have had some of their other menu items which are also delicious. Their chocolate chip cookies are also amazing and so gooey.

Dinner:

  • Pizzeria Mozza: You can't come here and not order a pizza! But, also try to save room for dessert because the Butterscotch Budino is to die for (thank you, Louise, for the reco!)
  • Jon + Vinny's: Marinara Braised Meatballs (these were recommended to me by multiple people and they did not disappoint), you also must order a pizza
  • Momed: Some of my favorites include Grandma's Chicken Soup, either of the Tajines, Modern Greek Salad (I love it with Chicken)
  • Taste on Melrose: I recommend the Cast Iron Roasted Chicken Breast, the "Kobe" Beef Meatballs Pasta and the Chopped Sabrosa Salad with Chicken
  • Petty Cash Taqueria: Guacamole (duh!), Rainbow Cauliflower Nachos, Al Pastor Tacos, Baja Fish Tacos
  • Sugarfish: You must get the Trust Me, trust me. My favorite thing to eat is the Salmon Sushi (those toasted sesame seeds though...)
  • Night + Market: Som Tum/Papaya Salad (spicy, but so delicious), Panang en neua (very rich so I recommend sharing with someone), Pad See Ew