Rating (out of 4 stars): **
I had wanted to try Better Life Cuisine for a while. It’s touted on Yelp as being one of the more affordable raw food restaurants in LA. This is somewhat true. It’s certainly more affordable than Juliano’s Planet Raw, and the portions are more plentiful than other raw restaurants I’ve been to. That being said, it’s still not cheap. My meal came out to around $15 with tax. I ordered one entrée, the Raw Lasagna, which also came with a side salad of my choice (I choose the Thai Noodle Salad). It was plenty of food—I came in hungry and left quite full.
The restaurant is on a peaceful, quiet strip of Broadway in Santa Monica, right down the street from Planet Raw. The building is almost unmarked, which can be confusing. I passed it and came back. It was late afternoon/early evening, and the place was completely empty. I instantly got a very serene, pretention-free vibe. There was only one women both manning the register and preparing the food. I got the sense that this was not a usual thing—I came in at a slow time. The menu is somewhat confusing. It’s not totally clear what some of the dishes are made from; I had to ask. The server/cook was very friendly, and seemed pleased to indulge my curiosities regarding the ingredients.
The service was very quick (albeit, I was the only customer). The salad was refreshing with a spicy bite, and the dressing had some unexpected notes of citrus. I felt extremely mixed about the lasagna. The portion size was very plentiful, the presentation was pleasing, and it was very flavorful (plenty of garlic). Though, I had an issue with the quality of the tomatoes used. They were okay, but pretty unripe and flavorless on their own. Raw food relies heavily on the quality and freshness of the ingredients, especially the produce. Tomatoes aside, the consistency of the cashew mozzarella was very rich, and the flavor of the herbed ricotta was exceptional, recalling bruschetta from a traditional Italian restaurant.
The cinnamon roll was calling out to me, but unfortunately, I was too full. I decided to save it for next time.
Food: Pretty good—but not a stand-out. Limited entrée selection, and limited creativity.
Value: Too pricey in relation to the quality of the food. More reasonable than places like Planet Raw, but I would rather pay a little more for better overall quality.
Ambience: Quiet and calming. Informal.
Verdict: I would like to go back and try a couple of other items on the menu (namely the cinnamon roll), but this is not a place I would be a friend for dinner. It is definitely worth trying once, but this won’t be a standby for me—I would much rather dine at Café Gratitude or Euphoria Loves RAWvolution.
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Ocean and Vine, Loews Santa Monica Hotel, Santa Monica
A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE Its undeniable the postcard view from this must-visit restaurant is a major draw card for hotel guests and locals alike. Sunset, surf and sand aside, its whats inside Ocean and Vine that truly makes dining here so special. Arrive early to cozy up on the plush donut-shaped lounge that encircles a roaring fire pit-but not without a signature raspberry mojito in hand.
FRESH, FABULOUS FARE Service here is impeccable, as are the meals that boast farmers market-fresh ingredients-and fabulous flavors that linger long after dinner is over. Start your culinary journey with the roasted garlic chipotle hummus with herb and Parmesan encrusted flat bread; followed by the tender roasted eggplant with Israeli couscous and tofu, a dish prepared especially for vegans. Sides of broccoli rabe with roasted garlic and risotto, asparagus tips and shaved Parmesan is a vegetarian favorite. Feast on fresh berries for dessert before retreating back to where it all began: fireside overlooking the lights of Santa Monicas famous pier.
TIP Ocean and Vine is the perfect spot for a romance-infused double date, or to celebrate special events with the entire family.
1700 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, 90401.
Phone (310) 576-3180 santamonicaloewshotel.com