Top Organic Restaurants in Los Angeles

Beets and farro salad at LYFE Kitchen | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

Los Angeles loves its organics: organic baby clothing, organic sheets, and most of all, organic food. Lots of restaurants dabble in organics, but some of them stand out for their efforts. Whatever your reason for choosing organic—fewer unwanted chemicals in your system, an opposition to GMOs, sensitivity to the environment—these restaurants will hook you up with some tasty organic grub and in some cases, something delicious and organic in your glass as well. Organic gimlet anyone?

AKASHA



Akasha Richmond prefers organic flours and sweeteners, and all of the signature cocktails at her restaurant are made with organic spirits. The “Akasha,” for instance, is made with Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka. The dining room is beautiful, urban but unpolished. Copper tables have a rich patina. Leather chairs are comfortably worn and handsome, like a beloved saddle. Mobile like light fixtures look like outsized cocoons. The menu is California-Mediterranean. So you can get a turkey burger flecked with jalapeno and red pepper; a flatbread pizza topped with fig, prosciutto and Shaft bleu cheese; or maybe tri-colored quinoa with market vegetables. And if you simply want coffee or a snack, stop into the café, where a display of cupcakes, tarts and brownies beckons.

Savory tart at Elf Café | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

Elf Cafe



This tiny, dinner-only spot gives vegetarian restaurants a good name. The food is soulful and satisfying. Take the crisp, golden, straight outta the oven, savory tart bulging with your choice of yummy fillings: perhaps roasted tomatoes, caramelized onion and sheep feta, or crimini mushrooms and braised leeks. It comes with a perfect green salad with a bright vinaigrette. Several dishes give a nod to the Middle East, including a Moroccan vegetable tagine on a bed of quinoa. With its Bohemian chic interior, dim lighting and sexy music, Elf Café is ideal for a date. And with approval of a long-awaited liquor license (beer and wine only), it’s gotten even better.

Farmers market grain bowl at FEED | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

This new Venice eatery is a health food restaurant, but one with big style and gloss. At its heart is a looker of a bar. Here you can score a cabbage beet juice blend after your spinning class. In the evening, there’s a short but smart list of organic cocktails courtesy of Marcos Tello and Garrett McKechnie of Tello Demarest Liquid Assets. The refreshing Celery Root Collins sweetened with organic agave nectar is perfect for a warm night. To eat, there are bowls of grains topped with your choice of veggies and sauces. Add a protein from the rotisserie if you like: maybe grass-fed beef or basil-marinated chicken. Be sure to try the sweet and smoky homemade chili sauce. There’s a bottle on every table.

Spicy fries at Local | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

Local



At this laid back spot, you can tuck into a crisp, whole wheat Belgian waffle topped with chunky homemade fruit compote or indulge in dangerously good spicy fries served with spicy ranch dressing. (Order them extra crispy.) The seating is on an airy covered patio, where three oversized paintings of bucolic scenes, complete with lazy cows, impart a welcome sense of calm on Sunset Boulevard. If you’re in a hurry, you can hit the salad bar for sesame kale, or tomatoes with feta. Until recently, the lunch and dinner menus were nearly identical. But dinner is getting an overhaul. The kitchen is seeing what customers want: homemade sausages, Cuban sandwiches, fish and chips. The most popular offerings will make the cut.

Beets and farro salad at LYFE Kitchen | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

This new addition to Culver City is packing ‘em in. The lure: colorful, affordably priced eats that are low in calories and sodium, served in a modern but comfortable dining room. There’s a wall of microgreens—alas, no sampling—as well as planters filled with herbs. Clearly this is a look the team behind LYFE hopes to replicate, a lot. (This is the second LYFE. The first is in Palo Alto.) You order at the counter and a server brings you your dish. Salads, including a beet and farro entry to which you can add your choice of protein, along with wraps, sandwiches and flatbreads, make up the bulk of the menu. The compact wine list includes several offerings made with organic grapes.

Holy Trinity Pizza at Mohawk Bend | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

Mohawk Bend



Mohawk Bend doesn’t look like what you might think of an organic-type restaurant. It’s hip, but not hippie. Housed in a vintage vaudeville theater, it’s a dramatic space. But the restaurant’s most notable feature is its beer. There are a whopping 70 offerings on tap, two more in casks, and beer paraphernalia everywhere you look. “Put a Little Weekend in Your Week,” reads one sign. We’ll raise our glass to that, perhaps paired with a pizza. The kitchen uses organic flour and organic tomatoes for their pies. They come out of the oven nice and chewy with a blistered crust. Offerings range from the classic Holy Trinity, with a choice of standard mozzarella or vegan cheese, to a vegan banh mi pizza with Sriracha aioli.

BBQ tofu steak at Sage | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

Sage Plant Based Bistro - Echo Park



When you walk into this casual café, you immediately feel better. Maybe it’s the tiered basket of nubby beets, ginger and apples on the counter, or the tall glasses of green liquid that many of the patrons are sipping. Among the most popular dishes is the “bowl of soul,” a mélange of quinoa and black beans with roasted sweet potato, sautéed kale and a gluten free mac and cheese ball. And keep an eye out for the barbecue tofu steak special topped with crunchy threads of corn tortilla. For dessert, there is organic, vegan Kind Kreme ice cream in flavors like coconut tamarind or, for more traditional types, honey vanilla. Sage also has a kids’ menu. Look for a second location in Culver City in summer 2013.

Lettuce tacos | Photo courtesy of SunCafe Organic, Facebook

SunCafe Organic



Kale is the celebrity at this sweet cafe. It is star of the popular “sweet kale shake,” along with banana, cashew and agave. And it is a popular side with the pizzas and burgers, all of which are vegetarian and available raw. The pizzas, for instance, can be had on either whole wheat flatbread or raw “SunCrust,” a combination of nuts and seeds. But not everything contains kale. Lettuce tacos, listed as a starter, make an ample lunch. Four cool, crunchy, Romaine ‘tacos’ arranged prettily on a plate are topped with faux chorizo—yes, the real stuff is better, but this good-for-you version is tasty—and cashew cheese, along with pico de gallo, ripe avocado, a drizzle of basil ranch dressing and bits of crunchy pecan.

Baby carrots at Tar & Roses | Photo by Leslee Komaiko

Tar & Roses



If carrots could be anything, they would want to land in Andrew Kirschner’s kitchen. At Tar & Roses, they are charred to almost burnt, soft and sweet and caramelized, and topped with a dollop of lush crème fraiche touched with chermoula. Like the carrots, the “pho” paccio on the menu packs big flavor. Think of it as pho without the broth: paper-thin rounds of meltingly tender beef finished with sambal, Thai basil, cilantro and red jalapeno. We like sitting at the bar in the cool, but not too cool, restaurant. There is also a charming patio with a retractable roof. If Kirschner’s food inspires you to cook more at home, you can score tins of pimenton ahumado or tomato jam in the small marketplace up front.