Granola gets a bad rap. Its long association with hippies and health-food zealots deserves part of the blame, but its lack of flavor and innovation probably has more to do with why so many consider the breakfast food a bore. However, this is L.A., the land of transformation, where even kale and quinoa can become highly sought-after glamour foods. The same goes for granola, which has been re-imagined by restaurants and local artisans all over the city, with results that are scrumptious enough to revolutionize your breakfast bowl this year.
Here are five of our favorite L.A. granola makers:
This small local company makes just one type of granola. The recipe has been fine-tuned over the years, and the end product is a nutty, fruity mix of breakfast bliss. Every small batch is hand-mixed, making for consistent flavor and even distribution of the almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and pistachios that accent the blend. Slow roasting gives the granola a nice toasty flavor that’s spiced up with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. They also don’t skimp on the dried cherries and Turkish apricots.
Little Branch Olive Oil Granola can be purchased on the company’s website.
The granola at the Brentwood Country Mart’s Farmshop is the kind that addictions are made of. The sweet, crunchy stuff is mixed with seasonal dried fruit (the cherries are the best) and served with Strauss Family Creamery full-fat yogurt, creating a truly decadent treat when you order it at the restaurant. There’s enough for two people in one serving, but you might find it impossible to share. Thankfully, bags of it are sold in the adjoining marketplace, where you can also get it layered in a yogurt and jam parfait.
Farmshop, 225 26th St., suite 25, Santa Monica, 310-566-2400
Granola Mama’s Handmade
Wendy Osmundson makes globally inspired granola in her Silver Lake kitchen. Her flavor cues come from as far away as Bombay, which has its own blend—cashews, dried mangoes, fresh ginger, coconut oil, and cardamom—and Paris, which takes its granola form with organic dark chocolate and tart, freeze-dried raspberries. We’re partial to the sweet and spicy Oaxaca blend, too, which includes dried chiles.
Granola Mama’s Handmade blends can be purchased via the company’s website, Good Eggs, and the Altadena Farmers Market.
Auntie Em’s Kitchen
The Eagle Rock eatery is famous for owner Terry Wahl’s luscious cupcakes, but we go for the granola. Hearty and sweet, it’s a simple combination of oats and slivered almonds coated in enough honey to create big, sticky clusters. Shredded coconut and a touch of vanilla are also part of the mix. In house, it’s served with fruit and yogurt, but you can do it up however you want in your own kitchen because they also sell it to go.
Auntie Em’s granola can be purchased in the restaurant’s marketplace, 4616 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-255-0800, or online at Good Eggs.
Seasonally inspired, Nutmeg Granola’s tempting blends are baked at a low temperature for an even, golden-brown cook. It doesn’t turn out gooey (though we have no problem with gooey), but rather toasty and wholesome. The Rose Petal Cardamom variety is a nod to the company’s Pasadena roots and includes organic rose petals for a lightly floral finish that’s tempered by almonds, black pepper, and clarified butter. If you love clusters, they make those, too—the steel-cut oats, nuts, and seeds are held together with coconut oil and honey.
Nutmeg Granola can be purchased at Good Eggs.