There’s something about “take-out” and “healthy” in the same sentence that doesn’t seem to sit well in my stomach. I imagine a McDonald’s marketing scheme in which a meal is advertised as “low-calorie” simply because it’s an incredibly small portion that can be swallowed in three bites.
, however, is exactly as advertised. Not quite a full restaurant, yet not exactly a drive-through, the eatery serves up protein-rich sandwiches, salads, and dinners. It’s easy to miss if you’re driving along Lankershim Boulevard: save for its large black-and-green sign, there are just a couple of tables outside that indicate it’s a place to eat.
This is the case on my first visit - on my way home after an hour-long commute from my full-time job, I spot it just in time to snag parking a few steps from the storefront. It’s been a long day and I’m in the mood for a non-greasy grab-and-go dinner. Like many people, I have a tendency to crave cold and crunchy meals during the hot summer months.
When I walk into the spot for the first time, I’m somewhat taken aback – the stainless steel ordering counter isn’t too far from the front door, and the kitchen takes up about 70 percent of the interior. HealthyCA (pronounced hel-the-ka) is a food factory indeed: though it is open to dine-in patrons, it seems to serve mostly catering, take-out, and delivery customers. It’s well-suited for busy bees who don’t mind ditching the experience of a fancy café atmosphere.
Out of the dozen different salads to choose from, I go with the Mediterranean soy salad (but the ratatouille with baked eggplant, roasted tomatoes, grilled zucchini, walnuts and blue cheese is a tempting second choice). The meal (about $10) includes a side of salad, rice, or fruit; I opt for a quinoa salad.
I head outside to get some fresh air while I wait for my name to be called. The kitchen is just a few blocks from the 134 Freeway and though the site is no Parisian sidewalk, it’s still a prime people-watching location.
Several dance studios are peppered around the NoHo Arts District, and HealthyCA appears to enjoy the health-minded clientele that comes with it. I try hard not eavesdrop as two dancer types discuss the relationship drama among their group of colleagues; after hearing all about the hook-up history of someone named Sammy, I'm thankful to hear my name called out from inside.
As per my usual routine of late – apparently still living the life of a bachelorette allergic to the kitchen – I get home and promptly eat my salad in the comfort of my living room couch and coffee table. The salad is perfectly textured with edamame, celery, cucumbers and corn; the grilled tofu and albacore tuna is my source of protein for the day.
HealthyCA also offers chicken chicken and turkey dishes, along with a variety of fresh cold juices and iced teas.
is located at 4724 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. Business hours are Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
About this column: I'll be your adventure guide through the bustling arts district, Toluca Lake and the rest of North Hollywood, surveying theater, film, books, music, politics, places and people for your daily culture intake.