6 Places to Eat Sustainably on a Budget in LA

Affordable and nutritious food at Everytable
Affordable and nutritious food at Everytable | © Everytable
Dominic Bertolami

Freelance writer

Eating sustainably in Los Angeles doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.

Whether you’re looking for locally sourced produce or trying to minimize your plastic usage, conscious dining in LA can be simple and inexpensive. From special offers on organic dishes to innovative twists on farm-to-table dining, these are the best places to eat sustainably on a budget in Los Angeles.

1. Sustainabowl

Restaurant, Fusion, Asian

Focused on creating a variety of acai and poke bowls using sustainably sourced ingredients, this eco-friendly lunch spot takes going green a step further. Bowls, cups and cutlery are made from compostable materials, and the wooden tables are created from naturally felled trees. The menu boasts a roster of fish-forward, vegan and acai bowls, and for under $10 you can spoon the Thai jackfruit vegan bowl, which is brimming with curried jackfruit, passion fruit, papaya, and orange on top of white rice.

2. Everytable

Market, American

© Everytable

This Los Angeles-based initiative believes “healthy food is a human right.” Their mission is to help those who don’t have access to affordable, nutritious food, foregoing sticker shock for prices that align with the average income of the neighborhood it feeds. For example, a dish in Santa Monica may cost $8, but the same meal in Compton is only $5. The menu is divided into salads, bowls and soups, including options like Jamaican jerk chicken, spaghetti squash and meatballs, and citrus pecan salads. The budget-friendly choices change with the season and what is available at local farmers markets.

3. Forage

Restaurant, American

Forage is a simple, stripped-down market cafe with locally sourced dishes. The farm-to-table offerings change often, ranging from organic, free-range roasted chicken to salmon belly tacos. On the budget side of things are light sandwiches, salads, and hearty sides, including mac n’ cheese and soups. Choose the build-your-own-plate option to help you stay within budget while sampling a variety of best-selling items. Insider tip: Diners can swap homegrown fruits and vegetables for restaurant credit by making an appointment to meet with the chef on Sundays.

4. Cafe Gratitude

Restaurant, Vegan, Gluten-free

Specializing in plant-based cuisine, this all-organic restaurant offers both raw and cooked dishes. Highlights include a tatsoi and mizuna salad and the community bowl, a local favorite: a bowl overflowing with kale, quinoa and black beans covered with a garlic tahini dressing. It’s only $5 if you take it to go. Plus, you don’t have to worry about using plastic: the to-go containers and cutlery are made from recycled and compostable materials. Happy hour is on Monday and Wednesday to Friday from 3pm to 6pm, and features a menu where everything is $8 and under.

5. Four Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, American

This sustainable cafe gets its name from the fact that the menu changes four times a year: once every season. With locally sourced ingredients, this non-GMO restaurant offers an extensive array of vegetable-forward dishes at a reasonable price. Choose from sandwiches, like the tempeh reuben with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and vegan dressing on rye bread, the heirloom caprese with fresh mozzarella and basil aioli on ciabatta bread, or the grilled chicken with peach jam, sharp cheddar, fresh basil and aioli on wheat bread. As you eat in the simply adorned digs, sip a local cider or craft beer, which is a dollar off during happy from 3pm to 6pm Monday through Friday.

6. Tocaya Organica

Restaurant, Mexican

Modern Mexican cuisine is the focus at this Venice restaurant as well as sustainability. There’s no plastic here as paper straws and cutlery are made from recycled wood. All the ingredients are sustainably sourced and organic, and the kitchen promises only to use meat and fish that is fresh and free of hormones and antibiotics. The Venice Beach bowl (roasted cauliflower, sweet potato bravas, lentils, pickled onions, garlic and cumin) is a favorite, or try the Cali taco (avocado, onions and salsa), then add the chef’s recommendation on top: achiote chicken and queso manchego. For those with dietary restrictions, any taco shell can be substituted for butter lettuce shells. And make sure not to miss out on Taco Tuesday, when all tacos are two for one.

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