It’s easy for any question like this to trigger a major eye roll, but, believe it or not, there really are people who ask these kinds of questions in LA.
This city is notorious for obsessing over dietary restrictions. Whether you’re paleo, keto, or raw foods only, a restaurant near you has got you covered. Go to your neighborhood Cafe Gratitude or Sage Bistro, and you’re sure to find your go-to for overpriced vegan meals.
I’m a vegan myself, so finding cheap food can be a challenge to say the least. Instead of your average plant-based branded place, is there anything else for us diet-cautious foodies?
Fear not, my friends. There are plenty of hole-in-the-walls around LA that are perfect for any food-lover, regardless of how strict his/her gluten intake is. I’m sharing my best secrets with you on where to go when you only have $5 to spend on dinner or want to impress the snobbiest of your gluten-free, dairy-free, no carb pescatarian friends.
The first (and best) place to look for prime options like these is the ethnic neighborhoods of LA. I’m sure you’ve been to Koreatown or Chinatown, but you’d be surprised how many other there are around the cities. One of my favorites of these kinds of areas is LIttle Ethiopia.
If you haven’t had Ethiopian, you’re really missing out. Perfect for sharing, Ethiopian meals are served in a large plate with sponge-y bread (a traditional grain called injera) as the base. On the base, there are small sections of variously spiced lentils, collard greens, beets, and slow cooked cabbage (just to name a few). It’s like a buffet on a platter! The best part is that no silverware is required. The restaurant will give you a basket of injera, which you use to pick up whatever Ethiopian delight (or delights) you choose! I can say from firsthand experience that you can’t get enough of this delectable cuisine. Some of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants on the strip are Messob, Rosalind and Lalibela.
Sponge-y bread not your thing? Let’s talk about Thai. Night + Market Song is one of the prime examples of stellar Thai street food in Los Angeles. This particular restaurant is not located in an ethnic-specific neighborhood, yet the restaurant is owned by Los Angeles-native Kris Yenbamroong, who grew up around a family-owned Thai restaurant. Curries, sticky rice and their famous bar snacks are some highlights on the menu. Not to mention delicious noodle dishes and spicy salads with Yenbamroong’s spin. Many people would not call Night + Market diet restrictive friendly, but don’t listen! It has plenty of vegan and gluten free options! With a colorful atmosphere and community feel, this is a perfect place to bring your friends (of all diets), where everyone will be happy and full.
If you’re in the mood for good Mexican food, look no further than Olvera Street. This historic marketplace is filled with different booths and street vendors surrounded in beautiful greenery and colorful goods. Some of the best Mexican food in Los Angeles can be found here. A few favorites are La Luz del Dia, a Michoacan Mexican restaurant that is filled with beautiful tiling, grand windows, and the smell of fresh (and vegan) tortillas; and, Chiguacle Sabor Ancestral de Mexico, a southern Mexican restaurant with health-conscious options (including Non-GMO, cactus infused tortillas) and a plethora of vegan/vegetarian dishes. From your day off to your lunch break, the combination of delicious homemade Mexican cuisine with a stunning backdrop is quite a lovely experience.
Los Angeles is a very diet-friendly place with a multitude of restaurants for any food-restrictive person. But, you don’t have to eat tempeh every time you go out. There are many places that aren’t necessarily known for their diet-specific dishes that have options for any foodie. You have to look a bit harder for those gems, but, trust me, it’s worth it. Happy eating!