The sprawling, antiseptic city of scaffolding that is Playa Vista is getting more signs of life today at its centerpiece mixed-use development, Runway, which since March has been home only to a Cinemark movie theater.

Whole Foods Market's 35,000-square-foot Playa Vista store began serving customers this morning with a full-service restaurant and bar, a coffee shop with nitro cold brew and pour-overs, a juice bar (where you can also get macaron ice cream sandwiches) and a team member who has been dubbed the store's Poke Master. Oh, there are some groceries too.

Playa Vista is the Austin-based company's first store to open in Los Angeles County since the Tarzana outpost opened in 2011 — and its lengthy list of amenities, each of which is available at one or more Whole Foods throughout the area, is ambitious in that this is the only store to offer them all.

Most exciting (for people who like to eat full sit-down meals in grocery stores, anyway) is the Astro Pub, a restaurant flanking the prepared-foods section with table service, its own menu of pizzas and skillet meals, 24 beer taps and — for the first time at a Whole Foods in-store bar in L.A. — a wall of liquor including spirits like Fair, a fair-trade organic quinoa vodka. They'll also be making a house michelada out of Angel City Brewing's pilsner and a tomato-lime Diablo ice pop crafted by Silver Lake's Diablo Tacos. 

Michelada and a house cocktail at the Astro Pub; Credit: Sarah Bennett

Michelada and a house cocktail at the Astro Pub; Credit: Sarah Bennett

Just outside the Astro Pub is an Intelligentsia-worthy espresso machine and coffee shop where Chemex filters await pour-over orders and Stumptown cold brew is available on a nitrogen tap. In the seafood section, recent Hawaiian transplant Mike Elsbury (a sign on the wall identifies him as the Poke Master) will craft custom poke bowls out of sushi-grade fish and seasonal fruits. 

Though each department isn't much larger than at other Whole Foods Markets, Playa Vista is by far the chain's swankiest L.A. location. You can stop in for a Sambazon-sponsored acai bowl (or a shot of Macallan 18-year), consult the iPad installed in the supplement department for personalized vitamin recommendations or, hell, don't even bother coming to the store at all. An in-house fleet of Instacart shoppers can buy everything for you and drop off your groceries within the hour.  

Whole Foods Playa Vista, 12746 Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista; (310) 826-9900

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LA Weekly