The robin’s-egg blue walls of Stacey’s Cafe Delish provide a calming backdrop to the delicious chaos of cheese and crisp, flattened bread that compose the grilled paninis. Stuffed with the likes of eggplant, salmon, and scrambled eggs, the paninis represent the creative café fixings that are served up in the sunny, coffee-scented restaurant. Breakfasts of asparagus omelets or apple-juice smoothies are followed by a plethora of hot sandwiches and cool salads, which are kosher and can be prepared vegan or gluten free if desired.
SunCafe puts a healthy spin on traditional foods, creating each of its dishes from scratch with organic, plant-based, and dairy-free ingredients. The restaurant has collected numerous awards and extensive press acclaim for its raw and vegan specialties, the most popular of which include kale shakes, supreme pizza, and gluten-free cookie-dough pie. To help others become comfortable with preparing raw and plant-based food, SunCafe offers themed classes every week that share recipes and cooking methods.
Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
M Café de Chaya culls fresh, nutrient-dense veggies and fish to assemble a macrobiotic menu that eschews the meddling of refined sugars, eggs, diary, red meat, and poultry. Entree salads such as the M Chopped lead the leafy charge with mixed greens, chickpeas, herb-baked tofu, umeboshi-pickled radishes, and tempeh “bacon” ($11.45). Amid a battalion of sandwiches and wraps, the Big Macro burger smuggles a whole-grain-rice-and-veggie patty into bellies inside a house-baked whole-wheat bun ($9.95). Sushi rolls ($2.25–$2.75 à la carte) round out the menu with tofu, tuna, shrimp, or salmon clad in brown rice harvested from California’s Koda Farms by quail paid a humane living wage.
Founded in a Laguna Beach art colony, Z Pizza has spent 25 years honing in on the perfect doughy disc, building prototypes with 100% organic wheat crusts and creative toppings. Dough-slingers hand toss each crust, be it regular, whole wheat or gluten-free, before fire-baking it to a signature crunch. Sauces such as chipotle pesto, thai peanut, or organic tomato coat the dough before a cascade of more than 40 toppings such as additive-free sausage, truffle oil, or free-range pepper shakers spill over the colorful surface. Vegan-friendly meals are also available, whereas gluten-free options include a rice, tapioca, and potato-flour personal pizza.
On opening day in 1993, a crowd of 100 clamored for a table at Real Food Daily. Founder Ann Gentry was shocked—she hadn’t spent a penny on advertising. But the overwhelming response shouldn’t have been all that surprising, since Ann had spent the past four years gaining a following through home delivery of her gourmet vegan cuisine––when she wasn’t busy working as Danny Devito's personal chef, that is. Ann's meat-free fare struck a chord with the opening-day crowd, which merely foreshadowed the hordes that would descend upon Real Food Daily across the next 20 years. Today, she and her staff still craft healthy meals by making almost all of the food in-house without refined sugars, white flours, preservatives, or microwaves—the kitchens don’t even have them. 90% of ingredients––including fresh veggies, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits––hail from local, organic-certified farms, adding homegrown flavor to dishes such as kung pao tempeh, seitan tacos, and black-bean burgers. Today, Ann's eats can be found at three Real Food Daily locations, and the chef regularly brings some of her innovative dishes to The Today Show, The Talk, Vegetarian Times, and VegNews.
Beyond creating taste-good, feel-good food, Ann’s practices also lend themselves to sustainability. The West Hollywood location sports recycled-teak wood on table- and countertops, and the staff at all three of her certified green eateries compost kitchen scraps and package food in to-go containers, which are designed to biodegrade like a witch in the rain.