I couldn’t agree more that “you are what you eat”. We are here in this world to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, so why not be healthy, feel good, and live life to the fullest? If you eat good, then you feel good; simple as that.
Being “healthy” is more than just a choice… it’s a lifestyle. It isn’t easy, and it requires lots of dedication and hard work. But I’m excited to say that living healthy just got a lot easier and more enjoyable.
ATTENTION VEGANS OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES: The Springs is the place you have been waiting for! A lot of vegan food restaurants try and pretend to be something else. The food at The Springs LA maximizes the ingredients on hand to bring them to their fullest potential. Step right up! For straight up organic, raw and vegan food that’s overall delicious, in a super cute, modern chic restaurant, head on in to The Springs on Mateo.
About The Springs
At The Springs, they believe that health and pleasure can and should be one and the same. They acknowledge that true happiness stems from a deep sense of integrity with our bodies, with each other, and with the earth. To honor this sentiment, they provide 100% organic raw vegan cuisine, joyous libations, holistic wellness treatments, integrated yoga and movement programming, sustainable practices, and most importantly, an open space for community gathering.
Transforming Dreams Into a Reality
The co-owners of The Springs, Kimberly Helms and Jared Stein, came to downtown LA thanks to New York’s Broadway. They both have a theatrical background, and the couple, who are life and business partners, worked on the stage musical of Green Day’s American Idiot. A touring version of the show stopped at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2012, and the two were hooked on the city, and made plans to move there.
They were driving in the neighborhood south of Sixth Street when Stein stopped in front of the warehouse at 608 Mateo St. and exclaimed, “That’s it!” He envisioned a combination restaurant and yoga center all in one because nothing like that was yet in existence.
Growing up, his father has been part owner of a Jewish deli, Corky and Lenny’s, which was outside Cleveland for more than 20 years. Although he was familiar with his father’s work, Stein knew he wanted to serve a different kind of cuisine.
Stein admitting to having a lot of stomach issues with whatever he ate growing up. His interest in eating healthy started when he was at summer camp and realized the raw and healthy food actually made his stomach all better. From that day on… opening up a place that focused on wellness and nutrition was always in the back of his mind.
Located in the Downtown LA Arts District
The Art District occupies the eastern side of DTLA. The area is built up of formerly abandoned industrial buildings, and it has become a thriving mecca for young professionals in creative industries, including L.A.’s huge TV and film industry. The city community planning boundaries are Alameda Street on the west, First Street on the north, the LA River to the east, and Violet Street on the south.
Today, inside the former paper distribution warehouse that’s now The Springs on Mateo Street, customers can take a yoga class, have colon hydrotherapy or a hot-stone reflexology session, and enjoy a raw vegan meal prepared by its executive chef, Michael Falso.
This is perfect. There is no better, more fitting location for this establishment than downtown LA’s art district. The crowd residing in the district is young, hip, and VERY into living healthy. It’s surprising to me that there has not yet been a place like this that has it “all in one”.
Parking in downtown can be a challenge, which is why The Springs has a private lot to park in. Take advantage of it!
Inside or Outside?
The Springs is uniquely one of a kind. When you walk in, you feel like you are going into this top-secret hangout that makes you feel like you’re part of something really awesome.
What I thought to be really cool was that it’s not JUST a restaurant. It has a bunch of really cool things all combined into one great adventure. There’s a yoga area where all the great yoga classes are held daily. There’s also a little shopping area off to one side. The place is very clean, spacious, and makes you feel good about your health from the moment you walk in. The building has a huge open space that is able to hold different events from night to night. and you can also get a membership here for unlimited yoga, infrared sauna treatment, and 10% off some services, foods and juices.
The Wellness Center offers massage, reiki, acupuncture, colon hydrotherapy and infrared sauna. The idea is to offer services that support the body and break down the barriers around preventative health. Stepping inside, you get an immediate sense that the space will be more intimate and spa-like. There is a lounge space directly outside the treatment area.
When getting to the restaurant, you can see people doing work from their laptops in the bar area. This is a place that is suitable to go to alone or with friends. I know that personally when I need to get away for a bit and focus on “me” time, The Springs would be the perfect kind of place to do that.
The décor is modern and simple with loads of different colors. Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Rudolph designed everything about the place. The 13,800-square-foot space is filled with ecofriendly furniture crafted from materials like recycled wood and pressed paper pulp, reclaimed white oak floors and repurposed CMA blocks for planters that add to the natural aesthetic without departing from the location’s industrial surroundings. You get the vibe that they want it to feel like you’re stepping through a space in the Arts District, not that the space was randomly plopped down.
The service at The Springs is pretty good. I saw some reviews saying that the staff was cold and unfriendly. However, I have been there plenty of times and that is not the case. I felt very much that the staff was friendly, outgoing, attentive, and informative. They seemed to know what it takes to run a smooth business.
What’s on The Spring’s Menu?
Taking a peak into the menu is really a vegan’s dream. Everything that the world enjoys with chemicals and fat, you get to have here but ALL NATURAL. Doesn’t sound like it can get any better… and yet… it does!
The Springs offers a pretty diverse health menu with a few different sections. Here’s a breakdown of their most popular dishes.
Falafel Salad – romaine, mixed greens, tahini dressing, harissa, falafel, quinoa tabouli, zatar crackers
Sweet Miso Salad – massaged kale, mixed greens, miso dressing, sea palm, cucumber, cilantro, green onions, orange segments, avocado, sesame seeds
The Springs Salad – mixed greens, pistachio-lemon vinaigrette, peppered macadamia chevre, apples, grapes, maple walnuts
Tea Leaf Salad – green tea leaves, kale, romaine, chili-lime vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds, sesame cashews, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, sprouts
Nacho Salad – romaine hearts, nacho cheese sauce, taco crumble, pico de gallo, cashew sour cream, guacamole, pickled jalapenos, tortilla crisps
Seaweed Caesar Salad – romaine, kale, seaweed caesar dressing, avocado, capers, nori, sprouts, pumpkin seeds, pine nut parmesan
Herb Salad – mixed greens, kale, lemon vinaigrette, pine nut parmesan, hemp seeds, dulse, herbs, avocado
Reuben Collard Wrap – collards, marinated mushrooms, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, dill pickles
Chips and Guac – guacamole, pico de gallo, corn tortilla chips, house-made sriracha
Hummus and Falafel – almond-zucchini hummus, harissa, tahini, zatar flatbread
Spicy “Tuna” Roll – nori, spicy “tuna” pate, cucumber, greens, avocado, chipotle mayo
Banh Mi Collard Wrap – lemongrass-brazil nut pâté, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, house-made sriracha
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait – coconut yogurt, buckwheat granola, seasonal fruit
Strawberry Geranium Bars – almond-oat pastry, strawberry-date filing
Lemon Bars – almond crust, lemon coconut curd
Chia Seed Pudding – almond milk, chia seeds, coconut nectar, cinnamon, vanilla
Chocolate Chip Cookie – cashew-almond flour, coconut sugar, vanilla powder, cashew, cacao, maple syrup
What’s The Fuss About?
There are a few dishes that I’ve had the pleasure of exploring during my multiple visits. Although I enjoyed pretty much every single thing that came to my table, I do have some all-time favorites.
The Tea Leaf Salad – Green tea leaves, kale, romaine, chili-lime vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds, sesame, cashews, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, sprouts and avocado. Sounds amazing, right? Well, it tastes just as good (if not better) than it sounds! The flavors were so strong! A large size is great to share between 2 people. Make sure that you squeeze the lime and mix it as well as you can. This is definitely recommended to order here.
Hummus and Falafel – In a way I kind of felt like ‘what was this doing on the menu’, but once I thought about it, it made sense to me. Inside was almond-zucchini hummus, harissa, tahini, and it was served with zatar flatbread. The hummus was amazing! I have not tasted hummus like that since my last trip to the Middle East. The falafel was good too, but nothing compared to the hummus.
Green Curry – I did like this dish, but I have to say it was a bit strange. Zucchini noodles, avocado, Thai chili, scallion, red bell pepper, curried cashews, Thai basil, cilantro, and lime. Something I was confused by was that they made their zucchinis look like noodles here…which was why I was a little bit nervous when I took the first bite. The cold sauce really tasted like curry, and even had a little kick from the Thai chili, but I didn’t like the texture of the “noodles” even though I’m a huge fan of zucchini.
Gianduja Tart – This was so good! After having the green curry, I was a little nervous about the dessert. Thank g-d it wasn’t weird. It was actually super delicious! Coconut shortbread, gianduja ganache, candied hazelnuts, flaked 24-karat edible gold (wait what?!) and vegan coffee ice cream. I thought they did an absolutely amazing job…so much so that I felt like I was eating sweet cake and ice-cream from a non-vegan restaurant! I’d DEFINITELY order this again!
The Juice Bar
The juice bar is 100% organic cold pressed juices, made to order smoothies, grab and go salads, snacks and raw vegan ice cream!
Oh and best part – if you return your juice bottle, you get 50 cents back.
fireside – apple, ginger, lemon, thyme
north star – apple, celery, spinach, kale, romaine, parsley, lemon
evergreen – cucumber, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, parsley, dandelion
forager – apple, fennel, cucumber, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, lemon, lime
lantern – pineapple, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno
firefly – apple, turmeric, ginger
bug bite – strawberry, apple, blood orange, lemon
full moon – apple, beet, celery, dill, lemon
skinny dip – orange, grapefruit, blood orange, lemon, lime
rucksack – carrot, coconut, lemongrass, ginger, lime
They also offer different kinds of milk, smoothies, and alcohol. Make sure not to miss out on this!
Wrapping It All Up
Whenever I find myself spending time at The Springs, I’m never able to stay that long. If don’t finish eating, I wrap it up and take it home. (After all, who lets any amount of food go to waste?)
I do have to say that the vision of “The Springs” is really something that every community should have. It’s great to have a fancier raw vegan option in town.
If I could eat here every day I would! To me, this is one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Its unbelievable what the chef can do with raw food. The flavors are complex, elegant, and delicious! The fact that it’s “raw” is a nice addition to the menu. I don’t know exactly, but somehow they have been able to create absolutely delicious dishes that just happen to be raw. I have had friends who walk in, look around, and think it’s one of the new hipster, tiny plates places. I love to see how wrong they are. I do not know how to overcome that except by word-of-mouth. This is a restaurant that I simply cannot get enough of.
Wokcano LA is another great restaurant in the downtown area that, while not exclusively vegan, does offer some delicious vegan dinner alternatives.