Gone are the days when cooking was all about fat, meat, and more fat. Across the country, restaurants that honor high quality produce are being increasingly well received. However, one does not have to dine at the celebrated Blue Hill Stone Barns to taste great vegetable cooking. Los Angeles, long known for it’s healthy dining, has been way ahead of much of the country in this regard. Here now, are some terrific vegetable focused restaurants in the City of Angels.
For innovative preparations of your favorite vegetables: P.Y.T.
At P.Y.T., one of the newest restaurants from Josef Centeno, vegetables are the star of the show. That isn’t to say meat is missing from the menu. It’s there, but offered as more of side than anything else. What you’re going for at P.Y.T. are dishes like the romanesco and watermelon radish salad, bincho-roasted baby artichokes, and the salt-baked turnip the Goldster couldn’t have described better. The dishes at P.Y.T. are not traditional. They riff on flavors from all over the world, but that’s what makes this Downtown spot a fun place to dine, whether you prefer vegetables or not. 400 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
For rustic vegetable dishes in a hip space: Gjelina
Gjelina has long been a sceney place, where one can see the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce among the crowd. However, unlike other celebrity hotspots, the food at Gjelina remains excellent. The large seasonal menu has an abundance of dishes, but items from the vegetable section should fill up most of the ticket. Dishes like the wood-roasted cauliflower with garlic, chili, and vinegar or the crispy butterball potato with horseradish, pickled red onion, aioli, and dill are easy to overlook, but they are extremely well composed. While you tear through the vegetable dishes, don’t forget to order the mushroom toast. It will make you forget avocado toast even existed. 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
For a tasting menu highlighting local produce: Le Comptoir
Los Angeles is not a town that people think of primarily for "fine dining", but places like Le Comptoir, where Chef Gary Menes serves up a phenomenal vegetable inspired tasting menu, make a good case. Menes, who cooked at places such as Patina, Melisse, and The French Laundry, works with ingredients sourced mostly from the restaurant’s urban garden: Gladys Ave Farm in Long Beach. At night, these ingredients are turned into fantastic dishes like velouté made with lettuce leaves, fried bread crumbs, sheep milk yogurt, and herbs. One can order supplemental meat dishes at Le Comptoir, but you are really there for the vegetables and the exquisite way they’re handled. 3606 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
For deceivingly simple dishes packed full of flavor: Rustic Canyon
Jeremy Fox is not a vegetarian and Rustic Canyon is not a vegetarian restaurant. However, when it comes to vegetable-focused restaurants, there may not be a better place to dine than Rustic Canyon. Fox, who previously worked at restaurant such as Manresa and the now closed Ubuntu is highly regarded by his peers and critics alike. At Rustic Canyon, Fox crafts dishes that are deceivingly simple. At a recent dinner celebrating the launch of his cookbook On Vegetables, Fox served an extraordinary dish called Peas and Pecorino 2.0. The dish was presented simply but each component from the pecorino custard made with diced pain de mie to a puree made from pea shell stock that came together perfectly. The dish was bright, seasonal, and comforting all at once. 1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401