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Mar 15, 2009 01:42 PM

westside produce-driven restaurants?

We'll be in LA next week staying in Century City, escaping the unending dregs of a vile midwestern winter. I'm dying to taste fresh, local produce (that isn't a stored turnip) and hoping for some tips on nearby places (low end, mid end, even higher mid end, any kind of food) that really feature local stuff. We'll have a car, though, with our limited knowledge of LA geography, perhaps we shouldn't try to venture too far away.

Thanks LA chowhounds!

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  1. Well... honestly, you can do it without spending lots of dough at a fancy-pants restaurant -- just go to the Wednesday morning farmers' market in Santa Monica (3rd and Arizona) or the Sunday morning market in Hollywood (one block from Hollywood and Vine).

    If you prefer your produce cooked, though, Josie (on Pico and Cloverfield in Santa Monica) has their weekly market menu on Wednesday night, featuring food bought at the Wednesday morning market. Last I checked it was $35 prix fixe for three courses.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Josie, as Das Ubergeek noted, has a special Wednesday Farmer's Market tasting menu but utilizes the local produce throughout the rest of the week as well. Anisette and Wilshire in Santa Monica both take good advantage of the S.M. Farmer's Market. Craft, in Century City itself, also utilizes the fresh and (sometimes) local.

      1. re: New Trial

        I would also add Fig; the new restaurant in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.

    2. Check out Nook in West LA and Jiraffe in Santa Monica. Both offer simple, seasonal, market-driven menus at a mid-range price. They're both also easily accessible from Century City I've also heard good things about Wilshire in Santa Monica but haven't yet had the chance to try it myself. On the low end, any taqueria or truck worth its salt will be making salsa from fresh veggies and guacamole from the incredible avocados we seem to have year around. I recommend Tacomiendo, which is probably my favorite taqueria in West LA.

      1. Tender Greens in Culver City is all about the produce - big salads and entree plates for around $10 each. The menu says the entrees come with salad and mashed potatoes, but you can sub grilled veggies for the potatoes - what they're grilling varies by season. This is probably my favorite "healthy" meal in all of L.A. - I'm not even a salad fan, but their baby spinach salad is fantastic.

        Tender Greens
        9523 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

        4 Replies
        1. re: Vaya Con Carne

          Second that, their salads are awesome, but expect a long line at lunchtime! Also, lunch is good at the Napa Valley Grille, in Westwood, where my husband's office is. Great soup/salad/1/2 sandwich prices, plus a sustainable/organics menu. Never too crowded.

          1. re: Vaya Con Carne

            When TG first established themselves, I got a strong sense from posters that they'd be a flash in the pan, but they just keep chugging along at full steam. I'm not in this area during the week very often, but we occasionally head over on the weekends, before/after catching a movie. Everyone in our family enjoys different things on their relatively small menu. Our son is nine and our daughter is six and picky as heck, so I give TG high marks for being able to satisfy them.

            1. re: Vaya Con Carne

              i ate at tender greens over the weekend.
              it is true that they serve a nice salad, but imho, it is not such a revelation that i would make it a destination for a visitor.
              there are lines at dinnertime too.
              you stand in line, place your order, and carry your own tray to the table.
              the greens are done well, but maybe my appetite is unusually large, but 2 hours later i was looking for more food. clearly they believe that the salads are entree sized--but that is not the case for me.
              i much prefer 26 beach restaurant.

              1. re: westsidegal

                I never really considered that two-hour window, but I think you're right. We usually head over to Grand Casino Bakery afterwards to p/u some alfajores or facturas. I'm guessing that inadvertently pushes that two-hour window to three or four...

            2. If you're heading over to the general Venice area, check out either Joe's or Axe (ah-chay). Joe's is far more upscale, while Axe is more casual Californian. Both menus are market-driven and tend to source their produce from a small group of local growers. Joe's menu tends to more more narrowly focused, while Axe offers a lot of choices for carnivores, omnivores, and vege/vegans alike.

              Joe's Restaurant
              1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

              1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

              1. You can't do better than Craft right in Century City. Everything is a la carte and I always order quite a few vegetable dishes. Unlike the typical restaurant, I appreciate not being restricted to whatever vegetables the restaurant happens to throw in with the main course. Craft does a great job with local produce and the salads are also delicious. Try the Shishito Peppers -- I'm guessing they are not easily found on your typical Midwestern menu.

                P.S. They just changed the lounge area and outside seating of Craft to a less formal, less expensive menu. However, I'm guessing that if you opt for that part of Craft and ask nicely, they will bring you the regular menu as well and you'll be able to order vegetable dishes from either the regular menu or from the "Craftbar" menu.