It's probably obvious by now we really enjoy brunch foods. But while our favorite decadent treats like pancakes, waffles, fried eggs, and bacon are a lot of fun for our taste buds, they’re probably less fun for the rest of our bodies. So when we can find a way to sneak in some healthy brunch that tastes just as good as the naughty stuff, we’re happy campers.
We recently found just that - healthy brunch food that also happens to be delicious - just off the 101 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles. Open in its somewhat unlikely location for over ten years, Tribal Café is a charming little health food oasis. Good health, a supportive community, and creative collaboration are at the core of what makes Tribal so special; philosophies upheld by the restaurant’s lively founder, Josh Jose. Josh’s enthusiasm for health food is contagious; just a few minutes discussing vegetables with him will have you feeling excited about eating cabbage, kale, and beets. It’s no wonder the restaurant has formed its own little neighborhood tribe - it feels like there's an ever-present group of friendly creative-types meeting here over green juices to discuss their latest ventures and what’s going on in their community.
In his efforts to bring “healthy food to the masses,” Josh hopes not just to provide healthful alternatives to underserved communities through the food served in his cafe, but also aims to educate his customers so that they can make good nutrition choices in their daily lives. In fact, he recently taught some of his customers how to make green smoothies at home, so they could save a few bucks while still enjoying the nutritional benefits offered by the concoctions. Josh joked with us that teaching your customers to make their own version of your product may not be the most sound business practice, but it's clear that it's that sort of commitment and enthusiasm that has strengthened Tribal Café's customer loyalty.
The menu at Tribal is sprawling (literally), covering an entire wall with options ranging from açaí bowls, juices, and smoothies to paninis, salads, and grain bowls, with tempting options for vegans and meat-eaters alike. As difficult as it was to narrow down our options on our recent visit, we opted for smoothies, the Filipino Adobo Breakfast Bowl, and the Mushroom Veggie Burger.
The green smoothies at Tribal are what you could call super-charged - there are so many veggies packed into each one, it’s difficult to keep track. Each smoothie starts with a base of leafy greens, mixed veggies, and fruits, then is customized with added ingredients. The added ingredients in our “Super Alkaline” smoothie were ginger, avocado, strawberry, and pineapple. This was refreshing and energizing - and filling enough to be a meal in itself!
Next up was the Filipino Adobo Breakfast Bowl, a Tribal Café favorite. This beautiful bowl was packed with garlic brown rice, sweet potatoes, peanuts, pickled carrots, cilantro, apples, and breakfast potatoes, and was topped with a perfectly poached egg. The avocado is optional, but was a really delightful addition (but really, when is avocado not a delightful addition?). To add a little bit more zip, the bowl was also served with adobo sauce and salsa roja. We loved how hearty and satisfying this bowl was; it was like everything you’d want in your breakfast bowl, and then a little something extra.
Finally, there was the Mushroom Veggie Burger special, stacked high with cheese and a rainbow of veggies. We loved the flavorful homemade patty, made with grilled mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and millet. This dish felt the most like an indulgence out of the group, but with all the fresh, whole food ingredients, it also felt like a responsible one.
Apart from its delicious, healthy fare, what is most impressive about Tribal is the warm sense of community that surrounds it. Josh and his staff are kind and welcoming, eager to sit down and chat with you about food, health, and creativity. At Tribal, you will find not just food that nourishes your body, but an atmosphere of kindness and generosity that will nourish your spirit.
1651 West Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026