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Jul 6, 2009 05:52 PM

Your favorite "South Beach Diet" dining options in L.A. - all price ranges

With some knowledge, it's pretty easy to figure out which restaurant fare conforms best to certain diets. I have no lack of knowledge in this department.

What I do wonder, though, is those of you who've done plenty of South Beach Diet-ing... which establishments in L.A. were your very favorite for taste and the range of menu options that lent themselves easily to the diet? (In any price range from cheapo on up.) Especially on the Westside.

For anyone unfamiliar with it, South Beach leans heavy on lean fish and meats and fresh nonstarchy veggies. It favors olive and canola oils, albeit sparingly, and avoids 'the white stuff' and full-fat cheeses and fruits, for the starter phases at least.

I did browse through the South Beach Diet Dining Guide, which has a section on chains and also a small section on L.A. restaurants.

I want to avoid the places with, for instance, anemic salads that aren't really palatable unless loaded with dressing. I'd prefer some really terrific greens and tasty veggies in that department, to which dressing or any other addition is just an enhancement to an already-great plate, or for some could be unnecessary.

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  1. for salads, go to 26 beach. my favorite of their many inventive salads is their tuscan salad. i order a couple side orders of grilled tofu to provide protein.

    for seafood, mariscos chente. get any of their cocktails. also, their pescado zarandeado works. do NOT even think about eating the chips, though. i alway request that if i'm dining alone, that they not even put the chips on the table. forget the hot shrimp dishes here, though, as they are made with butter/margarine and are served with white rice.

    for fine dining, cafe del rey. they have several fish options that fit the bill.

    for izzkaya, musha in santa monica offers tons of fish/tofu and salad options (but they only have white rice). their 'blowtorched' saba is one of my favorites (can't remember the 'real' name) not only because i like the taste, but because the portion size is big enough to actually provide some satisfaction.

    for thai, go to ayara and order their THAI GARDEN stir firied dish. they will serve you brown rice if you so request.

    for persian food get the skewered poultry or fish at SHAMSHIRI grill. they, too, will substitute brown rice for a small additional charge.

    for sushi, k-zo in culver city will make your sushi with brown rice if you so request it. also, as with most sushi bars, they serve sashimi and will serve you a bowl of brown rice on the side.

    for shirazi salad and ash soup, go to attari sandwich shop in westwood. (the address is on westwood blvd, but the entrance is on wilkins).

    simply wholesome on slauson has a lot of good options.

    1. - the grilled vegetable salad at The Ivy. add grilled chicken or shrimp. my sources tell me you can also find a strikingly similar yet much less pricey incarnation at Fresh Corn Grill in Westwood.
      - Hugo's & A Votre Sante are also great for lean protein- and veggie- heavy dishes.

      4 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        if you get the tostada at a votre sante, have them omit the tahini (never understood how it fit anyway) and have them bring you salsa instead and you'll be south beach ok.

        1. re: westsidegal

          Thank you! (And down the road, in some controlled manner, I will try the nondiet breakfast at Dinah's.)

          1. re: Cinnamon

            speaking of breakfast, try the oatmeal frittata at Hugo's. it's made from egg whites with a blend of steel-cut oats, kamut & rye flakes folded into them. order it with extra cottage cheese instead of applesauce.

            the "protein scramble" is another great option.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              if we're talking breakfast:

              go to dinah's and order their chile relleno omlette made with egg whites only, easy on the cheese, whole wheat dry toast.

              also, there are a number of great 'legal' breakfast dishes served at the cafe at my gym, the spectrum club near howard hughes promenade 6833 Park Terrace Los Angeles, CA 90045-1539.
              they will validate parking for you.

      2. yakitori may be a good option

        nanbankan in WLA is awesome even if you're not on diet but you'll get meats and the veggies you're looking for - grilled to perfection

        you need to be careful with vegan places as they use wheat gluten a lot.

        With that noted, leaf cuisine would be decent too (I go to the one in Culver City)

        i agree with Shamshiri grill but only caveat is that persian food is so rice-heavy.

        2 Replies
        1. re: travelingmansoul

          a comment about leaf cuisine:

          they only prepare RAW food. not everyone's digestive system can handle raw collard greens, falafal made with groundup dried uncooked garbanzos, etc. as much as I wanted to like this place, the food is hard to stomach (LITERALLY).

          1. re: travelingmansoul

            I love Nanbankan and agree it would be great for this. Love Shamshiri also.

            I've been to Leaf and can appreciate it, although in general I find a lot of vegan cuisine a little carb-heavier than I'd prefer and some places go a little heavy on the tahini, avocado etc. (which I love, as I love raw foods in general, but).

            Thanks WestsideGal on the note here, as that is a really important point. I've been blessed with a stomach of steel (if not a metabolism like quicksilver). But I'd agree, anybody with an even moderately delicate stomach should tread carefully with Leaf.

            Last night we tried M Cafe Chaya in Culver City and I got one of their salads, which was pretty good and on the massive side. They have an interesting collection of things on the menu, nicely prepared (still some care needed to keep in line with a diet plan).

            I think this place is worth a stop when you want something kind of informal and different, and want to sit on the patio. I won't make it a regular go-to spot, personally, but once in awhile, sure.

          2. believe it or not the grilled vegetable salad at CPK has a very low glycemic index. I had gestational diabetes and i was essentially on a strict version of the south beach diet. I get the salad with chicken added and get a whole wheat vegetarian pizza with japanese eggplant salad (which is essentially the same thing as the salad but on a pizza...shhh, i was trying to trick myself). this always kept my blood sugar very low. i'm not a huge fan of chains but this always did the trick and the salad is great.

            4 Replies
              1. re: trolley

                since eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, normally any eggplant dish that you didn't prepare yourself is suspect. restaurant eggplant dishes often are acceptable in terms of glycemic index, but they are rarely acceptable in terms of caloric density.

                fwiw, if you are going to get a whole wheat crust pizza, antica pizzaria offers a whole wheat crust that is a real pizza crust, (albeit VERY thin) as opposed to the crust at cpk which is sweet and imho doesn't resemble a real pizza crust. ( it's much more like a rolled out version of the frozen sweet honey-wheat bread dough that you can buy at the grocery store).

                1. re: westsidegal

                  Thx. At moment, I am working on completely avoiding breads, but later on, once in awhile, a good thin-crust pizza would be great. We love the pizza, pasta, risotto and salads at Antica Pizzeria, though it's usually my husband getting the first three. (The owner seems very passionate about his work, lol, if you've ever heard him when he wants something just right.)

                  1. re: Cinnamon

                    i'm a big fan of the pizza at antica pizzeria. the thinness of the crust helps with the carb control.

              2. They have some yummy South Beach pancakes at Joni's Coffee for breakfast. I don't quite remember how they are made though.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Yes Please

                  the problem with them is "what to put on top?"
                  maple syrup is out.

                  adding any form of simple suger defeats the purpose of the diet.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      cinnamon is starting on phase one of the south beach diet.
                      no bananas.
                      fructose is a simple carbohydrate.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          I expect to be bananas very shortly!

                    2. re: Yes Please

                      Egg whites, oatmeal, cottage cheese. That's not for phase 1, but lots of other stuff looks amenable to it, so I will definitely try this, thanks!

                      PS: For 'what to put on top' I'm not proud, in that while dieting I actually will use artificial-sweetener 'maple' syrup. I'll be picky elsewhere. :)

                      1. re: Cinnamon

                        You're welcome! They have lots of other "more healthy than not" options there too! I'm sure you saw it on the menu. And I know this is not a help at all... but they do have sugar free syrup!

                        1. re: Yes Please

                          I will put the sugar-free syrup on an omelet!

                        2. re: Cinnamon

                          those pancakes look like the perfect Phase 2'll have to go back in a couple of weeks! ;)

                        3. re: Yes Please

                          Yes Please, thank you so much for mentioning Joni's Coffee's "South Beach pancakes." (And thanks everyone for your replies on this thread.)

                          I tried said pancakes the other day and they were wonderful. Suitable for Phase 2 of South Beach. They also have the no-sugar syrup there. The place has a good atmosphere and the staff seems really nice. (Parking can be a little pinchy, and they close at something like 4pm.)

                          I will be here regularly now! I think tomorrow I may have to try the chile relleno egg white omelette that westsidegal mentioned is at Dinah's.

                          Joni's mentions their South Beach pancakes have oatmeal, cottage cheese and egg whites. I found a recipe at with the same and tried it tonight, and it tastes very much like the ones at Joni's - quite acceptable - even the husband liked them although he had goat butter on his.

                          1. re: Cinnamon

                            Second Hugo's.

                            Some other ideas:
                            Newsroom Cafe
                            Eat Well
                            Greenleaf Chop Shop
                            Jack Sprat's Grille
                            Ocean Ave Seafood
                            Nate'n'Al's - eggs (whites), salads, plates, etc.
                            Babalu - grilled veggie salad with shrimp
                            Fritto Misto - sub veggies for noodles in pasta dishes
                            Cafe Dana
                            Cafe Montana or 17th St. Cafe
                            Ed's Coffee Shop
                            The Palm
                            Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
                            King's Fish House
                            Sisley - chopped salad with chicken and grilled eggplant, and the grilled veggie app

                            1. re: Cinnamon

                              I'm so glad you liked them! Hope the diet's going well! I'll try to think of some other places too!