May 12, 2010

LA Eats

Yesterday, my plane safely landed back at SFO after a whirlwind trip to the City of Angels. I had just enjoyed five days of endless giggles, girl time, and plenty of champagne toasts – we were celebrating the upcoming marriage of one of our own angels- and usually after a run like this, my body is not only tired, but craving some low sodium, home-cooked meals.

Travel anywhere can mean a lot of low sodium scrounging. Without access to your own pantry, it is hard to know where you will find your next filling meal. And since I tend to air on the side of caution, I generally stick to snacking on fruit and any other sodium safe nibbles I can find. A few days of this low sodium food scavenger hunt and my tummy is rumbling and I start to see mirages of salt free french fries and shabu shabu.

But on this particular trip, I ate well. Really well. And returned to my kitchen feeling full and enthused. Apparently LA’s dining culture is as accommodating as San Francisco’s. I never received resistance to my complicated orders, and instead, was greeted over and over again with attentive waiters and adventurous kitchens, willing to create meals that were low sodium and equally satisfying in taste and look.

So for those of you traveling to the southern end of this beautiful state, here are three spots that get the Sodium Girl seal of approval. Surf’s up and chow on.


Set in a beautiful downtown setting, shadowed by the CAA building and overlooking a well-manicured, green lawn (reminiscent of YBCA park), Piknic is one of three lunch spots popular with local professionals. Usually, I assume I am out of luck at these types of restaurants, where most of the food is prepared and the menu is limited. But Piknic really stepped it up with a beautiful chopped salad (see picture above). Since I had to leave off the cheese, bacon, dressing, and turkey (all high in sodium), they added extra cucumber and avocado to round out the dish. With some freshly chopped herbs and a few sprays of lemon juice, this usually dull choice came alive.

R+D Kitchen

First of all, adorable space and great ambiance. The menu is short, but all the food is freshly prepared, which means, as a special diet eater, you are in good hands. Since I hadn’t called ahead, many of the meats and veggies had already been seasoned or boiled in salt water. But the waitress and kitchen were more than willing to work with my needs and put together a beautiful salad with freshly seared Ahi tuna and steamed broccoli. Although I didn’t go for it, they also had freshly cut french fries that they were willing to make sodium free. I still regret not having them, but I guess it’s good to leave something to be desired. I will be back.

Pane E Vino

This Italian restaurant is literally filled with lingering notes of stewed tomatoes and long-cooked ragù. Even if you never took a bite of a single ingredient, you would leave satisfied from olfactory experience alone. But thankfully, they have a few fish dishes on the menu that they can happily prepare for you without sodium. The kitchen went beyond expectation and created an unsalted butter, tomato, and wine sauce for my cod and flanked the dish with freshly steamed squash, to help soak up the juices. I literally asked for a spoon in order to drink every last drizzle of sauce. Impressive and addictive.

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