Last week I ventured to California and spent seven whole days in one of the most magical places, in my opinion. The best part of it all was that the whole week I was there I was with people that a year or two ago I had no idea who they were. All of them I met through Instagram or my blog and we had connected over health, food and wellness. Isn’t that magical how the internet can work magic like that?
I left on a Sunday and came back the following with a whole new perspective on how much I appreciate where I currently live (Chicago), how much I love meeting new people and realizing my passion for what I do and spreading the love for small businesses /products/companies.
I booked this trip back in December on a whim. There wasn’t even enough money in my bank account for a round trip ticket so I bought a one way and knew I’d figure out the trip back in due time. It goes to show, all you really need is a ticket TO your destination and the rest will fall into place.
While the trip was somewhat centered around Expo West – a natural and organic food convention in Anaheim, CA – I knew I wanted to explore as much of LA beforehand which I’m so happy I did considering most of my friends who went to Expo ended up in Newport Beach and went to the same 2-3 restaurants. I love exploring and knew this was the perfect time to do it.
Because there’s just too much to say about my week in one post, I’m splitting it up between this and a post solely dedicated to Expo West which I’ll write later in the week, chatting about how it went and my favorite products from it.
For the first half of my trip, I traveled with my go-to travel companion and blogging best friend, May, and we stayed with our friend Connie. She is the most real, down to earth, fun and energetic person I’ve met through blogging and am so glad we’ve formed a friendship through this crazy world of social media.
Within 5 hours of being in LA, we drove straight to grab Alfred Coffee and followed it up with a hot power yoga class at one of my favorite studios in the country – Y7 Studio.
Y7 is a New York based hot yoga studio that sets themes all of their classes to hip hop music but the best part of it is that each flow begins with soft, calming music and then once the actual sequence begins, your instructor will blast anything from Biggie to Drake. It’s such an experience. Candlelight, super hot and just all around bliss.
After yoga, we ventured to one of the top spots I was most looking forward to: Gracias Madre. For those who are familiar with Café Gratitude (a hot restaurant in California that’s all plant-based), Gracias Madre is a sister-restaurant of Café G. All mexican-inspired, vegan and filled with hearty plant-y goodness. And a ton of black beans.
As most of you know, If I could survive off of one meal for the rest of my existence, it would be tacos. Therefore, I knew I’d probably love GM. However, I was so so so under impressed. Maybe it was because May, Con and I split three meals and I had been starving from yoga so it just wasn’t enough but it just wasn’t that great. Each meal primarily consisted of black beans too which are super hard on my stomach, therefore I was like uhhh what do I eat WITHOUT beans!? Help!
I will say though that they’re fried cauliflower is sent from heaven. I could have eaten a bucket of it.
Going off of the Gracias Madre theme, the following day (and I went back Thursday night too) we went to Café Gratitude in the LA Arts District and it was as dreamy as I remembered it to be when I went two years ago.
Best part about traveling with your best friends who are foodies? You can always order for each other and split dishes. May ordered their portobello bbq sandwich (called the “I Am Committed) on ciabatta and I ordered the “I Am Glorious” which was a tempeh caesar wrap with coconut “bacon”, brazil nut “parmesan” and a caesar dressing made from cashews. Entirely vegan and dairy-free. Basically think a veganized BLT in wrap form.
So good, I died and went to heaven with one bite.
Another gem at Café Gratitude I absolutely had to try was their vegan and gluten-free cinnamon roll the size of my face.
No joke. I can’t tell you the last time I had a cinnamon roll just because I never trust the ingredients and how they make you feel but this one was just a miracle. Is it just me or does anyone else only enjoy the cinnamon rolls for the gooey center? I literally ate the center and gave the “crust” to Connie and May. Let’s be real with each other, what’s the point of a cinnamon roll if it’s not gooey all the way around!?
P.s. Don’t buy this unless you want to drop $8 on a cinnamon roll. But also, if you don’t want to spend that money… do it anyway.
Day 2 of LA consisted of two of my favorite things: Honey Hi and Blue Bottle Coffee. Both were located in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA and little hole in the walls.
I’ve known about Blue Bottle for the past two years and first tried it at the Soho House in Chicago. Unfortunately they no longer sell it in ANYWHERE in Chicago (from what I know) but they make the dreamiest brewed coffee I’ve ever tasted. May, Connie and I went there and grabbed lattes right after devouring in the tastiest avocado toasts, a chocolate chip cookie, coconut milk matcha lattes (not sweetened!) and a turmeric egg salad bowl.
The best part about 90% of the coffee shops and little cafes in LA is that all of their matcha lattes are UNSWEETENED. And also made with ceremonial grade and/or organic matcha tea, so you know it’s pretty high quality stuff and also tastes delicious.
I was the only one to order a bowl since I’m a firm believer in trying something off of a menu you can’t or normally wouldn’t make at home and to me, avocado toast can be made anywhere by anyone. But the “breakfast bowl” I ordered was so complex. A turmeric pasture-raised poached egg? Sweet potato hash? Bacon from a local farm? Yes please.
The one thing about LA is that it is primarily plant-based and vegan if you’re looking to eat healthy. As you guys might know, I’ve been eating primarily pale0 (lots of meat, dairy-free and grain/gluten-free) since January and have been really enjoying it. Therefore the whole vegan thing doesn’t make me feel my best always. May loves her meat just as much as me so mid-week we were SO ready to go to a simple café and enjoy some good sandwiches. Enter: Joan’s on Third.
Classic I ended up getting a veggie one filled with hummus and we split a bowl of roasted red peppers BUT I ordered a side of two huge turkey meatballs. You guys… the meatballs at Joan’s were BLISSFUL. Aside from tacos, I’m a huge meatball fanatic and especially when they’re turkey. Ah! So much yum.
Oh and if you didn’t see it on my Instagram or Snapchat at the time – Will Ferrell, aka Buddy the Elf, walked behind me when we were sitting outside and then I selfied with him sitting behind me while I waited in line for the bathroom. Yup.
When someone asked me recently what one of my favorite restaurants was in LA, I immediately said The Springs in downtown LA. It was a large space filled with a juice bar, a mini boutique, a wellness space, and yoga studio far in the back. It was extremely bright (as you can see), filled with greenery, somewhat reminded me of an Urban Outfitters and had the best. food. ever.
I ordered kelp noodles with a carrot pad thai sauce that literally blew my mind. Kelp noodles are basically noodles made out of seaweed that take on whatever flavor they’re paired with but have a light flavor since they’re pretty much just seaweed and water. They have a crunchy taste and I absolutely love seeing them on restaurant menus.
If you stop here anytime soon, get their golden milk too! It’s a homemade turmeric milk made with almonds and honey but is barely sweet. May ordered it and I am so mad at myself I didn’t order it too.
Next up for favorite meal in LA and one of the best spots was Bondi Harvest. I was dying to go here all week after Christina mentioned it to me and despite the 45 minute Uber there… I was ALL ABOUT IT.
May and I split their salmon tartine with citrus, dill, pickled fennel, radish and hardboiled egg and then we each ordered bowls filled with fermented veggies, seaweed, avocado, cabbage and cauliflower rice. May’s had a chimichurri sauce and mine had a soft boiled egg and turmeric quinoa.
It’s like I was eating a rainbow for lunch.
A random little adventure May and I took was treating ourselves to this juice flight from Juice Served Here, a California-based juice shop serving housemade juices, nut milks and they even sell vegan lattes (a blend of cold brew + their homemade “cream party” nut milk made of coconut cream).
I’m not a huge juice person, actually not a juice person whatsoever, but it was a fun experience. The flight was a mini serving of 10 of their top juices, including our favorite: Field of Greens. Most people aren’t brave enough to down a whole green juice (no fruit) but I think it is so refreshing.
Last but not least, I’m rounding out this post with three more favorites from the trip that if you go to L.A. you MUST go to.
- By Chloe in Silver Lake next to the Whole Foods’ 365 Supermarket.
What I recommend to get: Kale Caesar Salad with brazil nut parmesan cheese (aka cheese made from nuts), homemade croutons, avocado and mushrooms with a housemade vegan caesar dressing and the Guac Burger with a black bean-sweet potato-quinoa patty and their out of this world chipotle aioli.
What you absolutely MUST get: the air baked sweet potato fries with their beet ketchup. But get your own. Don’t share. Trust me on this one!
Before I went, someone messaged me on Instagram and told me that once I ate at an Erewhon, I’d think that Whole Foods would look like Denny’s. Yep, that was a pretty accurate statement.
Erewhon is an organic, upgraded version of Whole Foods filled with all organic produce, homemade nut milks, every kombucha you could think of and a prepared foods section that will blow your mind. The first day I went, I ordered an almond milk latte with homemade nut milk that was maybe $7 and 90% ice… sooo don’t waste your money on that. However their breakfast bar is PHENOMENAL. They don’t use canola oil but they do use organic eggs, every veggie imaginable and even have pre-made tartines and paleo bread. It’s insane.
This. place. While everyone and their mother raves about Pressed Juicery’s freeze in California, Yoga-urt is the REAL DEAL froyo. It’s a small shop located in Glendale, outside of LA, where they use almonds and cashews to create a creamy, dairy-free frozen “yogurt”. When I went with Connie and May, we went TWO nights in a row because it was that good. My favorite flavors were the green tea, peanut butter, strawberry and tart. Basically half of the menu.
The toppings were the best part: mulberries, cacao nibs, and turmeric ginger granola. Alongside fresh fruit and they also make a homemade chocolate shell with cacao and coconut oil. Insanity. It’s so thick, so creamy and worth every freaking penny.
Along with all of the food, matcha, espresso, snapchats and Will Ferrell appearances pictured above, I also had the saw Conan O’Brien at breakfast in Brentwood, did wheel pose on a hike overlooking downtown LA and even hosted a SoulCycle class (which I can’t wait to talk about in an upcoming post).
I hope you guys enjoyed this little (joke) blog post + let me know what your favorite spots in California/the LA area are cause you know I’ll be back real soon 🙂