Good food doesn’t save poor ambience at Localita

Vegan lovers and health nuts alike eagerly awaited the August opening of Localita & The Badasserie, the little sister to Hollywood’s beloved deli market, Locali.

Shelved sides · In addition to the homemade soups, breads and gluten-free cookies at Localita & The Badasserie in Downtown’s Fashion District, one can also enjoy an array of health-minded drinks and chips. Given the restaurant’s cramped and uninviting space, one should opt for takeout and delivery. – Rachel Niemoller | Daily Trojan

And yet to call the offshoot “little” is an understatement; this self-proclaimed “world’s smallest quick service restaurant” takes hole-in-the-wall dining to another level, occupying a mere 80 square feet of Downtown’s bustling Fashion District.

The vegan hot spot offers a variety of specialty goodies, including homemade soups, gluten-free cookies, organic chocolate-raspberry energy shots, spirulina-and-banana flax seed bars, among other health-infused snacks. But while the food is solid, the ambiance might make you question a return visit.

Localita’s constantly changing menu is far from pretentious, contrary to what connoisseurs might anticipate in such a trendy, health-crazed city.  What’s presented is not your typical herbivore cuisine: Soul-enriched  sandwich options include the popular Baaadasss breakfast sandwich, The Sir Nasty and the S. Daddy Mack, amid other items named with the eatery’s simple-but-sassy attitude in mind.

The Baaadasss Breakfast Sandwich  is nothing short of its title. This maple-syrup-infused sausage and soy-free cheddar monster, lathered with vegan chipotle sauce and encased in a sprouted multigrain English muffin, provides a unique sensory experience. One bite into this rich and peculiar combo will leave one’s palate intrigued; a second sampling might leave one’s taste buds more puzzled.

The Reuben was voted the best of its kind in Los Angeles, or so claims the artisan sandwich menu. This take on the classic lunch item layers slices of savory, marinated tofu with “cheese” and sauerkraut, all topped with homemade Russian dressing and served on rye bread. Though it might never attract as much attention as its predecessor, this sandwich does come close in comparison.

Another favorite of vegan regulars is The Luigi Lover. The vegan sausage and soy-free mozzarella sandwich, smothered in homemade marinara sauce and served on Localita’s popular English muffin, seems characteristic of the meatball sub one might find at a local pizzeria. Vegan-Italian, anyone?

A word to the wise when ordering:  Don’t ignore the smoothie. This corner of the menu upholds the most intriguing — and not to mention wholesome — reputation among Localita’s ranging possibilities and caters to even the most discerning of taste buds. Choose from their recommended organic concoctions, or better yet, create a custom blend.

Select either The Rebuild (hemp milk, coconut kefir and banana) or The Refresh (apple cider and mixed berries) as a base, and then go crazy with add-ons, such as cacao nibs, matcha powder, sunflower seed butter or maca root. Even if half of these ingredients sound foreign, creating something to fit your liking won’t be difficult.

The Berry Good is entirely worthy of an honorable mention. Its tangy goodness — a product of fresh berries and sweet apple cider, enriched with coconut kefir and matcha green tea powder — truly delivers.

Candy Girl also deserves a spot on the potential prospect list. Though one of the more mellow smoothies, its nutty banana flavor and chocolate coconut undertones make for a guilt-free indulgence — a perfect post-workout sip or afternoon pick-me-up.

If one thing can be said for certain about this little health bar, it’s that it loves to treat its vegan patrons. Take full advantage of the wall of goodies by grabbing a bag of veggie chips, some Texas BBQ Primal beef jerky strips, a stick of black licorice or satisfying that sweet tooth craving with something from the assorted vegan cookie case (but don’t bother with the chocolate chip, which simply can’t measure up to the real thing). For those feeling more well-behaved, spring for a fruit chew, cinnamon-raisin Bobo’s Oat Bar or seaweed Sea Snax. One might opt to pair a snack with a beverage from the wide selection of organic teas, agave-based sodas and naturally flavored waters.

Localita sets itself apart from any other Downtown eatery. It’s the only place around these parts where you can find guilt-free pizza sausage and coconut-kefir and matcha berry smoothies on the same menu.

The ambiance, however, is far from enjoyable. Much of this stems from the Localita’s less-than-ideal Fashion District location, which puts a damper on the dining experience and reduces appreciation for Localita’s tasty offerings. The spot certainly deserves credit for its efforts in providing healthy alternatives to a fast-food-infiltrated neighborhood, but choosing to open a “restaurant” in a hallway next door to a shoeshine booth will never be a good idea. The lack of dining space, the grungy feel and the pungent aroma of the Fashion District is not exactly enticing or worthy enough to inspire a second trip.

That said, don’t completely rule Localita out on your next trek Downtown. Avoid the less-than-appetizing scene by ordering takeout or — better yet — delivery. Localita’s eco-friendly bike service will carry meals to any Downtown  doorstep. Move your meal to the comfort of your apartment or office, and your taste buds will thank you.


Localita & The Badasserie is located on 817 S. Los Angeles St., and is open Monday through Saturday, 8  a.m. to 5  p.m.