The decision to start a magazine and a restaurant that are based on one another speaks volumes about Botanica and its owners, food writers Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer, and also about the state of restaurants in L.A. right now. This is an intellectual pursuit as well as an aspirational one. The storefront space is a market that sells wine and coffee and a few beautifully chosen baskets of seasonal produce; behind that lies a long bar and banquette seating, and there's a garden patio out back with more seating and vases spilling unruly arrangements of flowers. Most of the food comes in wide, heavy bowls, herbs and lettuces and pops of brightly colored garnish draped around the inner curve of the tableware, messy but somehow composed and perfect. The natural beauty of produce is king here, rarely manipulated more than just enough to emphasize its best qualities. You could go to Botanica simply to be the type of person who goes there, who eats gorgeous plates of food that look as though they were lifted from the pages of a fabulous food magazine, in a room that might be featured in the pages of a fabulous design magazine. Botanica is a restaurant, but it is also a lifestyle.

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