If you grew up in Los Angeles than you know how much easier it is to access healthy foods, although we aren't without our own food deserts. Our proximity to fresh produce is not to be taken for granted. If you’ve ever found yourself at an airport outside of L.A. searching for a green juice or a mixed green salad, than you know how spoiled we are living here. It’s been a long time joke that our city is health crazed - remember the health food restaurant scene in Annie Hall - but L.A. has long embraced that lifestyle, becoming home to wild cleanses, sprouted beans, cold pressed juices, and some of the best vegan food in the world. Over the years I have embraced all that our city has to offer and having recently switched to more of a plant-based diet, I stay on the search for restaurants that serve delicious and substantial raw, vegan, and vegetarian food. Love it even more when the cost is not insane. A healthier lifestyle has meant that I feel better, look better, and most importantly have the energy to accomplish the things I need to.
Wild Living Foods is a blessing to Downtown Los Angeles. Although parking is a nightmare unless you have cash to burn, I know I'm going to frequent WLF, if even to run in to grab one of their organic cold-pressed juices with names like Cayenne West, A Tribe Called Red, and ASAP Yams. Although I I found the Yams name to be sus initially, I sat down with one of the owners, a WOC, and she explained that one of the goals of the space was to make food approachable and accessible to brown and black communities, who so often feel excluded when it comes to healthy restaurants in Los Angeles. With names inspired by major players in rap, she hopes it'll motivate more people to reach for a juice instead of less healthier options. I must add that the ASAP Yams, made yams, carrots, fuji apples, green apples, cinnamon and nutmeg is one of the best juices I've had in L.A., and served in an eco-conscious glass bottle.
Richard Torres and Lizbeth Sanchez, also owners of The Holy Grail, have long been involved with the hip hop community and they've seen their passion project come to life with Wild Living Foods. Interestingly while at the restaurant I ran into a rapper’s manager, a well-known artist, and a Project Runway alumni which lead me to believe this is quickly becoming the spot for creatives working and living in Downtown. With lots of natural light streaming from the windows, ample seating, and a casual vibe, this is a great place to link for a meeting, a quick bite to eat, or to take a reprieve from your daily grind. Whatever your purpose, it'll be served here. And the food is good.
WLF is a fully organic, plant-based living foods restaurant. Aside from the quinoa, no dish is prepared over 118º, keeping vital nutrients and enzymes in tact. This means every dish consumed is nutrient dense; instead of catching the itis, you’re going to feel great after your meal. You won’t want to take a nap, but rather, feel energized for the rest of your day. You will feel replenished and nourished, quite possibly even questioning why you’ve been eating junk your whole life.
At Wild Living Foods they have signature salads, quinoa bowls, and a build-your-own station, but on my first visit, I chose to order straight from their kitchen menu. The Spicy Tuna Roll is a revelation! Made with almond tuna, tomato, mustard, barbecue kale chips, spicy chipotle mayo, avocado, red cabbage and romain lettuce, this roll is unlike anything I’ve ever had and I wish I could eat it every day. When you go to WLF, this should be the first thing you order. It is fresh and delicious, made to order, with a major crunch in each bite. You’re going to think you’ve lost your girl NJ when I say this, but I love kelp noodles, and I have for a long time. For this reason, I could not pass up the Rad Thai, made with marinated kelp noodles and seasoned vegetables, tossed in a creamy turmeric sesame sauce, tipped with orange lime zest and teriyaki dressing. This was an actual dream in a bowl, packed with bright flavors and ingredients. The noodles were delightfully bouncy and the cream sauce in which they were tossed had me moaning at the table. One thing to keep in mind when you order dishes like the ones described above, don’t assume it'll taste like the original that inspired them. It's fine, they’re brilliant in their own way.
I wouldn’t be living my best life if I didn't order the Wild Living Food’s version of Avocado Toast, made with crushed avocado, brazil nut cheese and tomato, on spouted almond toast. Cannot believe I am going to utter these words, but although I loved the flavor of this dish, there was too much avocado, and it over-powered the other ingredients. I still very much enjoyed it though, don’t get it twisted. I'd never tried sprouted almond toast, so that was fun. Rounding out the rest of the meal was the Pablo Burger made with a homemade burger patty with freshly made cashew cheese, mustard, ketchup, stacked with lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickles, served on onion bread. Had I only ordered this, I am not sure if it would be filling enough for an entree, but despite it's unfamiliar appearance, all of the flavors worked together nicely, especially the notes of homemade ketchup coming through. The onion bread felt more like two thin discs, which made it hard to hold together, but it didn't compromise the flavor, only it's design.
Let’s talk about Lettuce Eat Tacos, made with cashew cheese, pumpkinseed chorizo, marinated kale, avocado, walnut taco crumble, chipotle kale chips, red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, topped with sour cream, pepita and hemp oil, served on a romaine lettuce leaf. I love tacos of all kinds, including ones wrapped in lettuce and these beauties were a bounty of fresh ingredients perfectly matched up. I absolutely love food that is crunchy, the sensation always takes it up a level for me, and each bite satisfied that urge. I could've used a bit more salt in the mix but that aside, these lettuce-wrapped tacos would be ideal for lunch or dinner, especially if you're transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle, but don't want to feel hungry after.
Everything at Wild Living Foods is made from scratch – they have an industrial juicer, blender, and hydrater to name a few. The tiles lining the floor are hand-poured and sourced from Nicaragua. The food is organic and non-gmo, with better price points because you order at counter, and the cost of a hostess and server is removed. Open from 8am - 11pm, this is one of the few places you can enjoy raw and vegan throughout the day. The culinary team is led by Executive Chef Belinda Wei, Chef de Cuisine Alex Gomez, and sous chef Abel Gomez, with Santino Rice as the man behind the beverage program. With the philosophy of "Food is Spirit" and "Food is Medicine", I can get behind a restaurant who aims to improve the well-being of their customer through their thoughtfully crafted menu.
Wild Living Foods | 760 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90014