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.
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.
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.