The ML Guide to “Healthy” Lunching (aka The Healthiest Lunches You Will Ever See This Fat Guy Eat)

Sorry, but I’m not down with the New Year’s resolutions.  I think salad is an appetizer not a lunch. You will never see me in a gym. And as fat as it makes me feel to look at every single lunch I ate in 2010 in one gigantic photo, I will not be going on a diet to kick off this new year. (And lord knows I need to.) Hell, I’m not even going to pretend that I might try and eat better, or convince myself that pre-paying for that Bally’s membership will actually motivate me to exercise this year. (34 years of experience tells me it’s probably better to save that money for heart surgery.)  That being said, I am well aware that this defiance puts me in the minority (and quite possibly completely alone) here in L.A. so for all of you who are attempting to lose weight this month here is a list of the healthiest lunches I can stand to eat.

Los Angeles - Lemonade

3 item lunch plate from Lemonade (divided into 6 different items). I still remember the first time I stepped into the Lemonade in Venice.  Fresh from NYC I was reminded way too much of the horrible generic Midtown delis that surrounded my office.  Thankfully I was drawn in by the meats stewing away in dutch ovens, and in a fateful instance of reverse engineering I ended up trying their “salads”, which turned out to be delicious.  I know the 2 item lunch is the responsible order, but I just can’t do it.  Its the 6 item plate for me every time.

Mapo Restaurant

Cold Bi Bim Bap. This is like my version of eating a salad for lunch.  Seriously.  Look at all the vegetables!  This is healthy.  Sure there’s a little scoop of sauteed beef, a fried egg, and that red pepper sauce is probably filled with oil- but who’s paying attention to that stuff.  Look at all the vegetables!  In Koreatown Mapo makes a standard version for $6, and Bibigo in Westwood seems particularly concerned with keeping things healthy.  (Did I mention all the vegetables?)

Baja Fresh

Baja Chicken Burrito. As I told Eater last week, I’m eating at Baja Fresh and Panda Express a lot less than I used to these days.  But on those days I feel completely gross there is something comforting and “clean” (feel free to shoot me for using that word) about a Baja Chicken Burrito.  Tortilla, grilled chicken, cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole.  How much healthier can I get!?  What’s that you say?  A baja chicken burrito has 45 grams of fat, and almost 1000 calories?  I’m going to pretend I never heard that.


Sushi From a Truck. If you don’t go for the mayo slathered rolls (I’m looking at you spicy tuna!)  or anything stuffed with tempura, sushi always feels like a healthy option.  And what’s healthier that sushi from a truck?  After all, if you end up getting sick, you can just consider it a non-eating-disorder shortcut to quicker weight loss.  (I kid Fishlips.  There is nothing dirtier about eating sushi from a truck.)

Sunny Blue

Rice Balls at Sunny Blue. Clearly my idea of healthy is completely divorced from those who consider cutting back on carbs a way to diet.  In my mind, rice + fish + vegetables = healthy!  And look at those boiled edamame on the side.  Is there a healthier lunch in Santa Monica than this one?  In my mind, no.


Vietnamese Bun. I still haven’t found a great version of this between Downtown and Santa Monica (this one is from Tiato), but I will continue searching.  Boiled vermicelli noodles, topped with veggies and grilled meats and/or shrimp.  There’s nothing fattening about nuac chom, the fish sauce mixture that gets poured on top, right?  And pay no attention to that fried spring roll in the corner (even though, admittedly, it’s my favorite part.)

Photo courtesy of Noah Galuten/Squid Ink

The Chinese Chicken salad at Tender Greens. I will say this once, and then we will never speak of it again.  I… will… occasionally… eat… (oh god this hurts)… a salad for lunch.  When I’m feeling particularly gross I will eat the Chinese chicken salad at Tender Greens.  This is as healthy as you will ever see me get, people.  And, yes, I do find the fried crunchy things on top mildly redeeming.

So there you have it… the Midtown Lunch guide to starting off 2011 eating healthy!  Eat these lunches and I guarantee you will lose weight not gain as much weight as you would if you ate the stuff I write about the rest of the year.



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