As much as we’re fans of raw and vegan dining, many restaurants in this category don’t move beyond “I’m-only-eating-this-’cause-it’s-good-for-me” food.
But at 118 Degrees, a recently opened upscale-casual cafe in Tarzana, chef Jenny Ross is elevating raw and vegan cuisine from ho-hum to awesome. The combination of impeccably sourced seasonal ingredients (primarily organic and local, and never heated above 118°F to preserve their natural enzymes), culinary craft and stunning presentation makes the global-by-way-of-California cuisine something even non-vegans will savor.
At breakfast, you’ll find fruit-forward selections like a juicy pineapple sandwich with strawberries, avocado and custard-like vanilla “cream” stuffed between slices of fresh pineapple ($9). At lunch and dinner, the satisfying lasagna ($15)—layers of dehydrated zucchini “noodles,” housemade macadamia ricotta and sun-dried tomato marinara—rivals conventional versions in taste and texture. The fantastic “fried” avocado tacos ($12) incorporate sliced avocado rolled in flaxseed batter, dehydrated until crisp and then stuffed into flax tortillas along with tahini cheese and tomatillo salsa.
Our favorite dish, the beautiful marinated kale salad ($8.50), is seriously the best version of this ubiquitous dish we’ve encountered in our kale-loving city. Chopped kale is massaged with avocado and garlic dulse dressing until silken, then tossed with crunchy walnuts and savory olives.
In addition to being an awesome chef, Ross is a holistic nutritionist; the restaurant’s co-owner Sharyn Wynters (a former actress who played Cat Girl in the “Batman” TV series) is a naturopath. Both credit raw vegan food with resolving their individual health issues, and they collaborate on 118 Degrees’ healing meal plans, which range from a one-day wellness program to weekly personal chef services and can be delivered anywhere in Los Angeles.
In other words, as you feast on the “I’m-only-eating-this-’cause-it’s-delicious” food, don’t forget that it’s also really good for you.
18636 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana