Wild Living Foods: Raw and vegan for the masses
There are no signs telling you that you’re about to eat at a raw or vegan restaurant when you walk into Wild Living Foods on the corner of 8th street and Main Street in DTLA. In fact, you won’t read the words raw or vegan anywhere in the cafe. Co-owners and married couple Lizbeth Sanchez and Richard Torres recognized the way that vegan-only type restaurants sometimes feel unapproachable to the non-vegan, so they created an alternative, more accessible restaurant where anyone with any diet will find something hearty and nourishing.
Neon signs guide passersby in with a large red arrow pointing the way to where you’re greeted by a friendly host at a cafe counter. There’s a sign above explaining in creative terms that everything you find on the menu or on the marketplace shelves is organic, plant-based, and was never cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The far left of the space is a marketplace offering pre-made meals, raw products, and beverages. The large middle island houses a juice bar on one side and a salad bar on the other. This is all in addition to the extensive cafe menu that you can order at the counter. Richard was quick to point out that there isn’t another all-vegetarian salad bar in the city. Wild Living Foods prides itself on offering flexible dietary options to fit any combination of preferences or needs.
Not many people will disagree with the benefits of eating a more plant-based diet, but it’s often difficult to find food that will make them WANT to opt-in to that diet more frequently. Wild Living Foods is the place to convince the skeptic.
The Rainbow Wrap is stuffed with a savory almond pate, vegetables, and a chipotle dressing wrapped in a sun-dried tomato and coconut wrap. The Basil Pesto Pasta is made with kelp noodles that have an al-dente quality to them and a creamy, subtle sauce. Every dish is approachable and simple yet presented with a slight flair, a drizzle of a raspberry sauce or spicy mayonnaise that elevates the presentation above typical cafe food. It’s another symbol of the attention to detail that the owners and chef bring to every area of the cafe.
Richard and Liz saw the need for a shop like theirs for years since they moved Downtown in 2007, and they think now is the right time for Wild Living Foods. “Ninety percent of our clientele are people who aren’t vegan or on a raw diet, it’s people that want to be more connected to their food and have a solid meal. We really want to be an easy, approachable option for everyone.”
Written by Kort Havens | Photography by Kort Havens