May 25, 2019 | 69° F

Eating locally in LA includes more than comfort-zone picks

Photo by Almier McCoy |

Within moments of arriving in Los Angeles, I felt like I was home. Between the year-round warm weather, beachy scenery, friendly faces and the abundance fresh food options, the west coast fit me like a glove. Although I stayed in a tourist hot spot — approximately 5 minutes away from the Hollywood walk of fame — I decided to explore as more of a local and less like a tourist. 

With the help of my iPhone and my friend from home who has been living in California for two years who acted like my tour guide, we randomly picked places that looked interesting. As an avid food lover,  I was especially eager to try out casual restaurants in L.A. that specialize in that signature SoCal freshness.

The first stop on our spontaneous foodie list was Joe’s Café, located in the Granada Hills neighborhood. Joe’s Cafe offers homemade, gourmet brunch, which made stopping here the perfect start to our day. They have a wide range of food options and drinks fit for any foodie. 

As a food lover, I am always open-minded when it comes to new food experiences. Although I try and mix the selection up from the typical foods like pancakes and French toast, while at Joe’s Café, I decided to start off safe.

This meant ordering short stack pancakes garnished with confectioner’s sugar, blueberries and strawberries, complemented with a bubbly mimosa — a quintessential brunch. 

One of the great things about the Los Angeles food scene is that the majority of restaurants realize that many people conform to different restricting diets. 

Being someone who is lactose intolerant, it is always challenging choosing a meal that consists of dairy free ingredients, but being in Los Angeles this was made easy and simple. There were also plenty of delicious options for vegans and vegetarians, too. 

Located in West Hollywood, Kitchen 24 resembles a 1950s diner with a modern spin and all-pink decor.

Here, I decided to try a non-traditional American breakfast that consisted of a crispy tortilla, avocado, "chicken" sausage and black beans all put together in a skillet. Because of its savory flavor, an unsuspecting customer would never know the dish was vegan, as the plant-based chicken sausage tasted like the real thing.

Whether you are visiting a new place or have just moved there, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of playing it safe with things that remind you of home or even breaking your diet habits in order to adapt to your surroundings. 

Even though I did step out of my food comfort zone, the best part about this excursion was that my regular eating habits were not abandoned in order to adjust to the place I was in. 

Los Angeles is known for its fresh, healthy food, so of course this made it easy for me to stay on track. Although I was only visiting, I was fortunate enough to make another friend in Los Angeles along the way who also loved food just as much as I do. 

Having been in California all of his life, Amir gave me the coolest spots to visit that no tourist could be seen. I am someone who likes to blend in as much as possible, so when he invited me out to this restaurant Taste on Melrose Avenue, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in the laid-back, care-free Los Angeles lifestyle.

My trip to Los Angeles was short lived, but I can say I made the most of my time. There are many ways to spend a vacation, most enjoy their getaway by doing traditional activities like sightseeing popular attractions. For me I was better off taking the more non-traditional route, which meant having little to no planning and just going with the flow. 

Almier McCoy

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