It's common knowledge that just about everyone in Los Angeles is on a restricted diet of some sort - low carb, high carb, paleo, gluten free, vegan, raw vegan, fruitarian, you name it. Perhaps it's the fault of our year-long summer weather; with beach season extending into February, there can be no packing on of the winter pounds. Or perhaps it's that this place attracts dreamers; starry-eyed upstarts searching for their "best life" - whether that's a high-powered career, a glamorous social life, or simply "healing the gut." No matter the reason, we've all caught the fever at one point or another, and it's rare to have a meal out with friends and not encounter a dietary restriction or two.
With demand comes supply, and Los Angeles is in no short supply of restaurants that cater to our dietary quirks. Even LAX is home to a fast-food version of Real Food Daily, one of LA's first and most popular vegan restaurants. The trick is not to find a restaurant that will cater to your latest diet, but to find one that will also provide you with something dazzling and unexpected. Because you, too - you primal, plant-and-meat-eating-goddess, you - deserve to indulge in something delicious and nourishing. So get your athleisure-clad butt over to Honey Hi on the double.
Founded by best friends Kacie Carter and Caitlyn Sullivan, Honey Hi is a celebration of Los Angeles' healthy-eating culture. The inviting little cafe in Echo Park looks like it was plucked directly from your Instagram feed, done up in peachy pink hues with splashes of marble and wood, with pops of color from vibrant orange painted chairs and your table-neighbor's neon "pink drink" smoothie. The menu is awash with terms familiar only to the yoga set; items like "chayawanaprash & grilled stone fruit toast" and "medicinal shroom dandy 'coffee'" can make even the most seasoned cook's brow furrow. Let's not even delve into the drink add-on list - it may conjure memories of that high school vocabulary pop quiz you failed after a month-long absence with mono.
Yoga Jones buzz words aside, Honey Hi's menu is downright friendly. Carter and Sullivan strive for what they call "radical inclusivity," offering options for just about every dietary preference and constraint. Many dishes are inspired by foods the pair make at home for themselves, and with their shared passion for nutrition and eating for wellness, the result is a robust list of healthy, nourishing meals and satisfying snacks. Their kitchen is intrinsically gluten-free, serving a variety of toasts and sandwiches that feature the rarest of birds, gluten-free sourdough bread. The meats and eggs are exclusively organic, and are sourced with sustainability and humane practices in mind. And because this team is cooking for their customers like they cook for themselves, everything is free of refined sugars, GMOs, and harmful vegetable oils - so seriously, even that friend who orders only a glass of water when you go out to lunch can eat here.
When we popped in on a recent weekday morning for brunch, Honey Hi was active but not packed, with plenty of free tables between the groups of predictably hip, well-dressed East-siders. Some were discussing creative businesses over cold brew coffee, others were sharing brightly-colored smoothies with their curious two-year-olds. Forever on a mission to sample as much of a variety as we could, we ordered a cross-section of the menu: a sweet yogurt parfait, a toast, a hearty bowl, and an iced coffee.
The cold brew coffee came first, served with a splash of house-made almond milk. It was strong and robust, as high on the caffeine scale as a good cold brew should be, and smooth in flavor. Next was the cashew yogurt parfait, made with probiotic cashew yogurt from a small business called Blode Küh that you may recognize from local farmers markets. While it's not a dead ringer for yogurt made with cow's milk, some would argue that it's better - the cashew base offers a dense creaminess that is both satisfying and rich. Honey Hi's grain-free granola is packed with nuts and seeds, and is therefore intensely satisfying. Seasonal berries round out the dish with a burst of freshness and bright flavor.
The sweet potato and avocado toast is a fun, flavorful twist on L.A.'s signature breakfast, piled high with lemony mashed avocado, soft and spicy roasted sweet potatoes, tangy pickled onions, and fragrant herbs. That gluten-free sourdough toast is pretty darn satisfying as well; good enough to evoke euphoria in any bread-starved, celiac-afflicted individual.
Finally, the breakfast bowl - a melange of ultra-satisfying-yet-actually-healthy breakfasty foods that is without a doubt the correct way to start your day. It begins with a layer of savory sweet potato hash, topped with a generous helping of crispy Niman Ranch uncured bacon, a bright yellow pastured egg poached in turmeric, and a heap of delicately dressed fresh local greens. A perfect crisp radish is placed like a cherry on the top, alongside creamy avocado and a dusting of herbs and spices. It's the type of thing you want to wake up to every morning, if only you lived just a little closer to Echo Park.
As a food lover in Los Angeles, it can be difficult to find balance amidst an abundance of exquisite, decadent, indulgent cuisine. Fortunately, cleaning up your dietary act no longer means giving up on inventive and exciting food - with places like Honey Hi on the scene, we can have our cake (or grain-free chocolate chip cookie) and eat it too.
1620 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026