2012 inspired a new wave of healthy Los Angeles restaurants. A post office morphed into a social house, a blue cow was in a kitchen, and a "living food" academy came to life. Clean Plates, L.A.'s only nutrition handbook and restaurant guide combo, discovered some outstanding spots.
Here are the top eight healthiest and tastiest restaurant openings of 2012, many of which are reviewed in the Clean Plates Los Angeles 2013 guide (full descriptions are below the slideshow):
1. M.B. Post
Manhattan Beach Post accomplished the feat of transforming a post office into a trendy social hub. It may be packed to the gills on a Friday night, but the tight squeeze of communal dining is perfect for sharing M.B.'s small, veggie-centric plates. M.B. Post supports local farmers and aquaculturists and serves a dynamic menu, featuring meats from Meyer's "Never Ever Program" (never containing hormones or antibiotics). This is one P.O. where waiting in line leads to a good time.
Alma's team of "do-gooders" includes a sustainably-minded chef and a Harvard alum leading a local school nutrition program. The menu features 90 percent organic ingredients, many of which are handpicked by a personal forager.
Chef and author Matthew Kenney, the godfather of raw gastronomy, is the creator behind M.A.K.E., Los Angeles' first raw/vegan culinary academy and restaurant. With successful restaurants nationwide, Kenney has proven that "living foods" can be delicious and refined works of art, on par with the renowned omnivorous fine dining establishments of today.
4. Duplex on Third
True to its name, Duplex on Third is a spacious retreat with two floors of lush seating, a library bar and organic, healthy fare. Keep your conscience clean while lounging in opulence.
5. Milo & Olive
We know what you're thinking: sassy cat and loveable dog. Think again, and picture Italiano pizze and farm-fresh produce. From the team behind Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry, Milo & Olive's charming pizzeria designs small plates and pies around carefully selected organic, local produce. Our next pizza craving is Milo & Olive-bound.
6. Blue Cow Kitchen
Blue Cow Kitchen brings the farm to downtown L.A., or shall we say, farms. Eclectic, rustic spins on American classics hit home runs with ingredients from a long list of sustainably-minded farms, ranches and fisheries. Though known for its sandwiches, nearly everything Blue Cow makes is packed with farm-fresh vegetables. The restaurant does a mean cocktail, too (featuring natural sweeteners, of course).
7. The Pikey
Pub fare need not be greasy and fatty. Look no further than The Pikey, a healthy gastropub with a pledge to serve only "organic, local farm produce, and free-range, cruelty-free meat and chicken." A Brit-inspired menu includes options for vegetarians and vegans.
8. Tar & Roses
One of the hottest openings of the year, a menu fit for "Paleos" prevails with lamb belly, bone marrow, and oxtail dumplings, all free of hormones and antibiotics, from Boulder Family Farms. Balanced out with an array of farmers' market veggie plates, everything is cooked over fires of rotating hardwoods.
Story by Laura Mordas-Schenkein