Within the first three hours of my first trip to Los Angeles, three stereotypes were confirmed: LA is huge (I drove for hours and hours with no end to the strip malls and freeways in sight). Everyone drives. And there’s a ton of pollution (it was tough to see mountains merely a mile away through the thick haze).
But in no other city could I have found the breezy Getty Museum, free to the public, complete with a cactus garden perched on a cliff overlooking the valley. Or a band of frenzied Hare Krishnas spinning down the Venice Beach boardwalk. And more than once I turned a corner to find a mural plastered against the side of a strip mall. And yes, the sunsets were brilliant.
Since I didn’t spend enough time in one neighborhood to really know anything about Los Angeles (I’ll leave that to a local), here’s the skinny on one specific place where I took a deep breath and ate a good meal. Real Food Daily, in Santa Monica.
Everything on the menu at Real Food Daily is made from a handful of organic, vegan ingredients—greens, grains, beans, veggies and meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh and seitan—all garnished with one of 10 tangy sauces. Call ahead to hear a recording of the night’s specials, or design your own dish. The night that I visited, it seemed like everyone was a regular, sitting down to dinner with yoga mats slung over the backs of their chairs, chatting leisurely with the waitstaff. Next door, the Real Food Daily Bakery serves up drinks and vegan baked goodies. Yum!