For most of the last seven years I ate the same lunch nearly every day- a hummus and cheese sandwich with a couple of slices of tomato, maybe a little lettuce on a good day. Throw in some baby carrots or some pretzels, a piece of fruit, and I was ready to go. I still like to pack my lunch to take to work, partly for budgetary reasons, partly because the thought of eating out everyday makes me feel unhealthy. Now that life is a little more hectic, it’s harder to be sure that there’s bread in the house or clean tupperware or fruit and so I’ve had to make do exploring the eateries of the new neighborhoods I’m discovering. Although my job is technically located right around the border of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, I have to head over to Westwood nearly every day for meetings with collaborators at UCLA. Today I found myself in Westwood around lunch time and fortuitously decided to pop in to Native Foods, a cute vegetarian cafe I had walked by the other day as I was exploring my new environs.
At about $8-10 for lunch, Native Foods certainly doesn’t fit my post-doc budget (it’s one thing to spend that if you’re sitting and relaxing, another if you’re just grabbing food to gobble back at your desk). But wow, I think I could eat there everyday and rarely get bored of the selection, all the while feeling terrifically virtuous for eating such seemingly health-conscious and delicious food. This review is, of course, based on a single, solitary lunch, but looking at the plates that passed by me as I waited for my take-out, I spotted any number of dishes I’d happily eat. My “Iron Yam” salad was a super tasty combination of steamed yam, tofu, caramelized onions, and steamed veggies on a bed of mixed greens, with a scrumptious balsamic vinaigrette on the side. I would definitely order it again and recommend it to others, but then again there were so many things on the menu that looked great, that it may be a while before I try the Iron Yam again. My only complaint? Since Native Foods is not only vegetarian but vegan, there’s no genuine cheese to be found. I’m always a little suspicious of the non-dairy cheeses, but in this case, I’m almost willing to give it a try.
Check out the menu for yourself on the Native Foods website, which also includes lots of info on the company and their four locations around Southern California.
Native Foods, Westwood Village: 1110 1/2 Gayley Ave; Los Angeles, CA 90025; (310) 209-1055