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Unique, Offbeat yet still healthy and delicious

Coming in from NYC and staying with a non foodie. I love strange little cafes/hole in the walls with unique dishes but unfortunately everything I've found that fits the description serves greasy spoon fair or generally unhealthy foods and although it sounds yummy (donuts & french dips..oh my!), can't eat that right now. I don't eat red meat and am gluten free but I don't really want to make my friend suffer through vegan cuisine I know she will hate.

Any suggestions for places with unique menus and healthy options? I'm staying in downtown LA and traveling a lot to Venice but could really go anywhere.

PS- I could def splurge on some non healthy places as long as they are worth it ;)

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  1. Gjelina in Venice might work for both of you. Reservations are a must.
    http://www.gjelina.com/

    or Fig in Santa Monica. Creative farm to table cuisine. Many non meat dishes.
    http://figsantamonica.com/

    Or Lemonade for much more casual. Many locations including Venice and Downtown.
    http://www.lemonadela.com/

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    Gjelina
    1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

    Lemonade
    505 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

    Lemonade
    1661 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

    1 Reply
    1. Maybe Axe in Venice.

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      Axe
      1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

      5 Replies
      1. re: mc michael

        Axe is still closed - they're going through pretty much a total redux from fire/smoke damage last year.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          They must be getting somewhat close to opening again as their website said: http://www.axerestaurant.com/news.html

          1. re: Servorg

            I ran into Joanna a few weeks ago and it sounds like they are making progress, But like almost all remodels/retros, they are running a behind. The front is still enclosed with plywood so that tells me the heavy lifting is still going on.

            1. re: mc michael

              Sorry - lots of folks in the neighborhood miss this place as well. The building was already in need of some retro-work as well so I think this is what is delaying Axe's reopening. Prior to the fire, the place was humming like clockwork. Much of the staff were from very reputable restos and seemed to really enjoy working there and together. There's no doubt that they all have moved on - they obviously have to make a living. But who knows - maybe some will return.

        2. For the (not so healthy) splurge I suggest Animal. The same two chef partners also have their new restaurant; Son of a Gun.

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          Animal
          435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

          Son of a Gun
          8370 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

          1 Reply
          1. re: Servorg

            Given your "no red meat" situation then Son of a Gun would be much the better of the two choices.

          2. Pitfire Pizza in Culver City and Downtown do nice gluten free pizzas.
            http://www.pitfirepizza.com/

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            Pitfire Pizza
            108 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

            1. Lazy Ox Canteen or Spice Table (neither are *incredibly* healthy, but not as bad as doughnuts!). Gjelina is great as well. But note - all of these places are unique and have a lot of personality, but I wouldn't call them strange...

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              Gjelina
              1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

              Lazy Ox Canteen
              241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

              The Spice Table
              114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

              1. Hi Jacquelyn,

                Welcome to L.A. :)

                No Red Meat, Healthy and Gluten-Free? Hm... the veteran Hounds have given you some great suggestions above. Another place you might want to consider is:

                * Torihei - Kyoto-style Oden (Stewed Vegetables / Seafood in Homemade Broth) and Yakitori (Roasted Chicken Skewers) Specialist in the South Bay. It's not too far from downtown L.A.

                Chef Masa is a master with Yakitori and Chef Sasaki's Oden dishes are pretty healthy, delicate, and wonderful. :) Pics and one discussion here:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602793

                and here are some more pics from a follow-up visit:

                http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2009/04...

                You might consider Rustic Canyon as well; they have a variety of dishes featuring seasonal, fresh Farmers' Market ingredients (and some great meat-based dishes for your friend as well). :)

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                Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
                1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                Torihei
                1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

                1 Reply
                1. re: exilekiss

                  Rustic Canyon is a great call.

                  as far as Torihei goes, oden is off-limits for someone who is GF, as is anything else that contains soy sauce...and any fried items are most likely out of consideration if the oil has been contaminated with panko or wheat flour. even yakitori simply seasoned just with shio could be problematic if it's cooked on the same grill as items that have been brushed with tare sauce.

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                  Torihei
                  1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

                2. Maybe try Pure Luck? It is vegan, but all my non-vegetarian friends have really enjoyed the food there.

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                  Pure Luck Restaurant
                  707 N Heliotrope Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90029

                  1. Mo-Chica Contemporary Peruvian for ceviche, and the quinnotto. They often have a daily fish special. And good takes on other meaty items.

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                    Mo-Chica
                    3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mlgb

                      Mo-Chica fits the bill of unique, offbeat, healthy and delicious perfectly!

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                      Mo-Chica
                      3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                    2. For great Mexican seafood, definitely try to get to Mariscos Chente. There's one in Palms, near Venice, but I'd say make the drive to the one in Inglewood. Sergio is the chef at that location, and I'd say it is well worth the drive.

                      there's also Monte Alban for Oaxacan in West LA. Tlapazola Grill doesn't add flour to their sauces, or at least they didn't use to... worth asking.

                      I'd say Akasha in Culver City, as it offers options for both of you and focuses on good food.

                      Fish tacos with corn tortillas could work for you. if you don't get em at Mariscos Chente, there's also Tacos Baja Ensenada, and a host of others recommended on these boards.

                      If you happen to be in West Hollywood, I love Ed's Coffee Shop on Robertson for a healthy breakfast/brunch.

                      Unique (ie right near Gold's Gym in Venice and interesting crowd) is the Firehouse.

                      in case you end up in Silver Lake, there's Casbah Cafe that does a great sweet corn salad.

                      couple of other places if you happen to be in the areas-
                      Hugo's in West Hollywood or Studio City - healthy, gluten free options, not mind-blowing or particularly offbeat, but still unique
                      Fritto Misto- Italian, but they have gluten free pastas, if you happen to be up in Santa Monica

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                      Monte Alban
                      11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                      Fritto Misto
                      601 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                      Casbah Cafe
                      3900 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

                      Akasha
                      9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                      Tacos Baja Ensenada
                      385 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640

                      Mariscos Chente
                      10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

                      Ed's Coffee Shop
                      460 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

                      Tlapazola Grill
                      636 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Emme

                        sergio, at the Mariscos Chente in Inglewood (west imperial hwy near yukon) normally takes his days off on tuesdays and wednesdays; i would try to arrange going there when he's doing the cooking.

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                        Mariscos Chente
                        10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

                      2. Thanks for all of the amazing rec's everyone! I can't wait to try them out. I love how there are so many fresh farm to table places here. I've only been to a handful of places but so far I'm really impressed by LAs cuisine (today went to Huckleberry's for lunch, last night Fred 62 for late night food binge, and Alcove for lunch). Will keep updating this post on how things work out, thanks again!!

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                        Fred 62
                        1854 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                        1. Sauce on Hampton is what you are looking for - in Venice, at Rose & Hampton, one block off Main.