To go along with my favorite brunch spots post, I decided write a post dedicated to my favorite lunch restaurants. I don’t cherish lunch as much as I should, because many of my lunches consist of a plain rice cake with peanut butter and apple. Making a lunch to eat at school is a pain if you have allergies. While a peanut butter rice cake is delicious, it does not satisfy me like I believe a turkey sandwich would. So, when I am able to eat lunch at restaurants or even cook lunch at home, I cherish it so much more.
My first restaurant recommendation is Marmalade Cafe, home to my all time favorite meal: a vegan burger. Marmalade has locations in Calabasas, Malibu, Westlake Village, El Segundo, the Grove, and in Sherman Oaks. Without fail, every time I go to Marmalade (which is a lot), I get a vegan burger in a lettuce wrap with a side of pickles and french fries. I have eaten a lot of veggie burgers, but this specific one is my favorite. They make the patties fresh, and you can visibly see all the ingredients inside. I have taken multiple gluten and dairy eating friends to Marmalade, and this burger has become one of their favorite meals as well. On the off chance that I don’t get the vegan burger, my second go to meal at Marmalade is their white bean and kale soup. It is incredibly flavorful and a great meal option if you are not very hungry. Without doubt, I recommend that everyone go to Marmalade, whether you have allergies or not.
My second recommendation is Veggie Grill. I get one of two things at Veggie Grill: their quinoa power salad with grilled tofu or tempeh, or their vegan beyond burger. Veggie Grill has locations in Woodland Hills, Encino, Westlake Village, Santa Monica, El Segundo, and Los Angeles. Veggie grill is unique in that all of the items on their menu are meat, dairy, egg, and any other animal product free. They are a completely vegan restaurant and cater towards “gluten friendly” people. Their Vegan Beyond Burger is made with a Beyond Burger from Beyond meat. The Beyond Burger is the world’s first plant-based burger that really looks, tastes, and cooks like ground beef. The patty is gluten, soy, and GMO free. It is really delicious. It comes with vegan cheese, tomato and Veggie Grill’s famous house sauce. I get it in a lettuce wrap and add pickles. I often get it without the vegan cheese, but that is not because I cannot eat it. The satisfaction I get from sinking my teeth into this juicy burger, the house sauce all over my face, is a really good feeling. The quinoa power salad is also a delicious alternative to the burger. I usually get the salad after I work out. It is the only salad that I have ever eaten that does not need dressing because it is THAT good. The kale in the salad is marinated, adding another element to the salad. I’m not going to lie, writing this is making me crave Veggie Grill If I hadn’t just eaten lunch, I would order it now!
My third recommendation is Baja Fresh. Coincidently, Baja Fresh is what I just ate for lunch! Baja fresh has a ton of locations. They are located in Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Northridge, Simi Valley, Sherman Oaks, and Santa Monica, to name a few. Baja Fresh serves very affordable and quickly prepared Mexican food. I found myself craving it today and gave into the temptation of veggie fajitas. When I eat from Baja Fresh I get veggie fajitas with no sour cream, black beans (no cheese on the beans), and corn tortillas. I also tell them that I have a severe allergy to dairy so no butter on the veggies. This meal isn’t big enough for me to finish in one sitting, which is great because I know I will have a pre-prepared snack or even dinner ready for me when I get hungry.
My fourth recommendation is Hugos. I spoke about Hugo's in my brunch post. But, to reiterate, there are Hugos located in Agoura, Valley Village, and West Hollywood. Hugos has SO many options for people with dietary restrictions. In fact, every single meal option is labeled with allergens. I’ve only been once, and I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, which was really good, however, my Dad’s Asian Stir Fry was my favorite favorite. It is very tangy, and I can appreciate a good stir fry considering how often I make them for myself at home. Next time I go to Hugos, I want to try their Artichoke Dip and I’d like to create my own plate with veggies, brown rice and veggie patty for protein. I will keep you guys updated on that creation next time I go.
My fifth and final recommendation comes from a close friend whose dad is vegan. He recommended Follow your Heart, located in Canoga Park. After my friend gave me this recommendation I immediately looked it up in disbelief that I had never heard of it before. While the menu is not very large, the few options do look appealing. When I go in the near future I plan on getting a gluten free / vegan cheese veggie pizza with veggies and/or a tamale plate. My friend's father's favorite dish is either the Enchiladas Corizone or any of the sandwiches. His excitement for me to try their gluten free bread makes me even more excited to go as soon as I can to try it.
Those are all of my favorite lunch spots for now. I am sure that that list will continue to grow as I venture outside of my valley bubble. Leave a comment below if you agree with my recommendations and if you have any other recommendations that I should check out! Be sure to expect a dinner recommendations post coming soon. :)
While my allergies are not ideal, having allergies and living in Los Angeles is. Los Angeles is a very up-and-coming city and very accommodating to dietary restrictions. Here are my favorite allergy-accommodating restaurants, and my favorite meals at them as well.
First, Blu Jam. Blu Jam is this delicious brunch spot. They have restaurants in Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Studio City, and deeper in the city. Not only is the food delicious, but their menu has all allergens labeled. They have a plethora of gluten free, vegan, and gluten free and vegan meal options. My current favorite meal at Blu Jam is the Scrambled Tofu Rancheros. It is absolutely delicious! The meal consists of piece of grilled tofu on a crunchy tortilla with grilled peppers and potatoes. Their potatoes and homemade ketchup that comes on the side may be my favorite potatoes and ketchup ever.
The second recommendation I have is Le Pain Quotidien. Le Pain (for short) is a really delicious place to grab a quick bite or sit down for a more lengthy meal. My two favorite meals are their Avocado Toast and their Zucchini Pad Thai. I would say that Le Pain is known for their avocado toast, and for good reason. I substitute in gluten free bread, and it is deliciously crispy when toasted. There are spices on top of the avocado, I believe salt, pepper, and even a hint of garlic powder, giving it more layers of flavor. The Zucchini Pad Thai is a new addition to the Le Pain near me. It is tossed in a sauce that I swear tastes like goat cheese, but is in reality completely dairy free. It is really tasty if eaten alongside a piece of gluten free bread.
My third recommendation is Sunlife. Sunlife is located in Calabasas and Malibu. While a little more expensive, sunlife has great acai bowls and various smoothies, perfect for when you are not very hungry, but hungry enough to enjoy a sweet breakfast. I personally always order the Hawaiian bowl. It consists of a blended acai mixture topped with strawberries, bananas, hemp hearts, and gluten free granola. It is the perfect thing to satisfy a sweet craving in the morning or early afternoon. They also have a variety of gluten free/vegan prepackaged foods, but, I have never tried one. I stick to my hawaiian bowl and occasional Kombucha.
My fourth recommendation is Hugos. There are Hugos located in Agoura, Valley Village, and West Hollywood. Hugos has SO many options for people with dietary restrictions. In fact, every single meal option is labeled with allergens. This way, everyone knows what ingredients are being put into their foods, and for people with allergies, this is extremely helpful when choosing what to eat. Their gluten free / vegan cinnamon swirl french toast and blueberry pancakes taste so deliciously sweet you won’t even be able to tell that they are gluten and dairy free.
The fifth and final recommendation comes from a peer of mine. He suggests The Waffle, located on Sunset Blvd. Again, I have never personally been to The Waffle, but my friends recommendation prompted me to look further into what The Waffle offers to people with food allergies. What I found was that, The Waffle, while not extremely accommodating to vegan and gluten free requests, does absolutely cater towards a vegetarian and gluten free audience. They have more gluten free accommodations than vegan, however, do have vegan waffles. If I do go to the Waffle in the future, I would try and see if they could make me a batch of vegan and gluten free waffles. They have both separate and hopefully could make a batch meeting both restrictions.
I hope that this helped give all of you allergy stricken people more brunch spots, as well as people who can eat all of the food on the spectrum more places to try out. These five restaurants do not disappoint, and I would love to hear your feedback on what you get and how it is when/if you go. A favorite lunch spot article is coming soon! :)
My name is Gabriella. Join me on my health and wellness journey as I discover foods that not only please my taste buds but my stomach as well!