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Raw Power

Raw-food enthusiasts are no longer a tiny fringe group of smelly hippies who chart the Mayan calendar and swear by the rhythm method. The raw-food movement is a growing trend, spreading like wildfire to the conscious, the healthy and the vain alike. Raw food pulses with life force that makes for a fine last meal. A few faves . . .

My first thought was that the best raw food in town is at Juliano’s Raw. He did it first, and he does it well, though I could never cozy up to the exposed midriff and errant pubes hovering over my lunch while it was prepared in the open kitchen, where cropped tops and tanks abound. But the Maca iced coffee is probably the sweetest elixir I’ve ever swallowed; a mere sip sends my throat into convulsions of ecstasy and launches me into an agave-sweetened, cacao-sprinkled high like no other dessert beverage in town. Last year, Juliano revamped the menu and slashed prices, while maintaining the integrity of his rock-solid recipes and his eclectic menu options. But the tabletops are crowded, the feng shui’s all wrong, and the menu is riddled with typos.

Euphoria Loves RAWvolution offers (sometimes) a rockin’ good durian chocolate parfait — thick and creamy, with that stinky durian back end that reminds you of the tastiest armpit you’ve ever licked. Start with the fresh hemp tabbouleh, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine meal. Still, the menu leans heavily on the dehydrated; plus, the pizza bores; the onion bread’s greasy; and the staff tends toward the socially inept and sometimes just plain rude.

Silver Lake’s Cru has a yummy garlicky “Deep Green” kale salad when I’m in the mood for something clean, leafy and light. But if it’s sweet I crave, Cacaolatier’s raw chocolate truffles are the city’s most masterful feat of conscious confectioneering, infused with tonic herbs and almond paste, molded into familiar fancy truffle shapes and cradled in fanned paper cups. They’re available by special order only, so track down Sarah at Erewhon’s Tonic Bar, where, if you’re lucky, she’ll have a sample behind the counter to share with you.

If you really want the best in raw (un)cooking and you’re one step ahead of the apocalypse, head east on the 10 to the 15 north, to the 40 east; get off at NM 25 (toward the Plaza), take a right on Cordova and pull into the parking lot at Body, Santa Fe’s natural café for yoga students and local organic-food lovers. The collard-green burrito is perfection, the raw pizza is mind-blowing, the hemp cookie — crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside — is confirmation that the 17-hour drive was worth it.

Juliano’s Raw: 609 Broadway, Santa Monica, (310) 587-1552.

Euphoria Loves Rawvolution Café: 2301 Main St., ?Santa Monica, (310) 392-9501.

Cru: 1521 Griffith Park Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 667-1551.

EREWHON NATURAL FOODS: 7660-B Beverly Blvd., L.A., ?(323) 937-0777.

Body: 333 W. Cordova Rd., Santa Fe, N.M., (505) 986-0362.


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