As much as we love our sophisticated brunches and post-work happy hours, we recognize our unfair neglect of a mealtime staple: the casual work lunch. It's certainly less sexy and exciting than its shift-dress-and-Manolo-clad cousin, The Power Lunch, but no less important. For those days when you're not hunched over your desk and shoveling food in your mouth while simultaneously hiding this deviant behavior (i.e. eating and not working) from your boss, The Casual Lunch is for that rare occasion when you decide to take your full hour break, get out of the office, and eat something that hasn't been lazily reheated in a oft-broken microwave. Of course, these casual lunches should be affordable, quick-enough, and provide both healthy and indulgent options (because who wants a salmon salad when your boss just yelled at you? Bring on the donuts, please). These 3 spots all fit the bill, and are lovely spots to duck into for a little peace and comfort during a stressful workday.
1. Paper or Plastik Cafe: Mid-Wilshire
A favorite amongst locals in the Pico-Robertson/Mid-Wilshire area, Paper or Plastik Café is both a spacious and cozy coffee shop to stop in for your to-go brew, a tasty breakfast, a daily workspace, or a casual mid-day lunch. With choices like a Mint Chocolate Mocha and breakfast-until-2pm, it's ideal for those times when you need a healthy bite or something a bit more indulgent, like a maple donut. Definitely check out their Shakshuka, which is spicy, creamy, and really comforting, or their Sunomono Cucumber and Avocado Toast, a light take on the classic with a seaweed salad and shaved vegetables.
2. TLT Food : Westwood & Pasadena
What began as The Lime Truck is now (and has been for the last few years) a Westwood (and now Pasadena!) lunch staple. The fast-casual, chef-driven destination offers an eclectic menu that will satisfy your daily whims, from Lamb Sliders to cold noodle dishes. Favorites include the Ultimate Taco, with pulled pork carnitas, guacamole, and pickled red onion in a substantive corn tortilla.
3. Pitchoun Bakery : Downtown LA
Downtown is rife with power lunch spots and takeout joints alike, but casual cafés and bakeries are an oft-underrated (and under-utilized) resource for the city's dedicated DTLA workers. Pitchoun, a French, family-owned, and artisanal boulangerie, is the perfect locale for your daily meal break. The cozy-yet-modern bakery serves an array of your necessary lunchtime fare: tasty salads, substantial sandwiches, and lighter tartines. It's also stocked with coffee drinks for your morning caffeine boost and a whole slew of baked goods for that 3pm sugar crash. The Monaco Salad is healthy enough for those looking for a light lunch, but with prosciutto and mozzarella, is certainly satisfying enough to get you through a particularly rough day.