Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where To Eat: Lemonade

This is no ordinary cafeteria.  I was first introduced to this cool take on cafeteria food a few years ago at their Venice location.  I was overjoyed when they opened their South Bay restaurant in Manhattan Beach just a few months ago.  They describe themselves as "Southern California comfort food in a fast-casual cafeteria setting."  The food is healthy, always seasonal, and unexpected.  They serve up traditional ingredients in simple ways that reflect global, health conscious palates.  The restaurant itself appeals to the "on the go" lifestyle that many of us juggle every day.  Here are the details:

Info: 451 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5777;

Setting: Very casual, situated within the Metlox Center in Manhattan Beach.  Restaurant is clean and bright with indoor and outdoor seating.

Service: Self service.  Everyone behind the counter knows a lot about the food, how it's prepared and what's in it.

Kids menu: There are lots of choices for everyone!

Dinner prices: Marketplace salads - $4.25 a portion; Land & Sea entrees - $5.50-$6.50; Sandwiches - $9; Pot roast and Braises entrees - $10-$11; Soups - $4.50; Market tossed salads - $7; Desserts - $1-$5

What I ordered: I always stick to the prepared salads and veggies in the Marketplace, but there are also hot items that are vegan and vegetarian (I should really try the vegan chili one of these days).  There are also made to order sandwiches that look pretty tasty.

I love that all of the items are labeled with icons to indicate ingredients (vegan, vegetarian, fish, etc.).  I never have to guess about the whether something is vegan.  Remember that everything is seasonal so the menu is always subject to change (always gets me excited about the possibility of something new to try!).  During this particular visit, I ordered 3 portions split in half because it all tastes so good:

  • Kale, mushrooms, kumquat vinaigrette
  • Cauliflower, golden raisins, almonds, curry
  • Beets, pickled onion, hazelnut vinaigrette
  • Avocado, cherry tomato, pine nuts, lime
  • Well roasted heirloom carrots, mixed herbs, basil
  • Spaghetti squash, farro
I also love:
  • Red quinoa, cherry tomato, basil, sundried tomato dressing
  • Snap peas, edamame, sesame
  • Sweet potatoes, white snow peach, ancho chili

What place would be called Lemonade without a mouth watering assortment of lemonades?!  They do not disappoint - Cucumber Mint and Watermelon Rosemary are my favorites, but they also have Old Fashioned, Blood Orange, Blueberry Mint, Ginger Guava, and Limeade to choose from.

There is also a bakery case at the end of the line before the cashier, offering macaroons, cupcakes and other beautiful looking sweet treats.  Sadly though, none of them are vegan.

They also have locations in Venice, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, downtown LA, Pasadena and a new one opening in Westlake.  USC, MOCA and LAX are also lucky enough to have one on site.

Please check them out and let me know what you think!