Grading the Parking Lots of Whole Foods: Playa Vista and Montana Avenue

Is this heaven?

Whole Foods’ stock may be in the clearance bin, but their presence in Los Angeles is on the upswing. They just opened a Playa Vista store, are putting the finishing touches on a DTLA outpost, and recently announced that one of their first 365 stores, a more affordable version of the WF experience, is opening in a former Ralphs in Silver Lake.

We all know the old jokes of “Whole Paycheck,” but aside from dealing with the inflated prices of the Texas chain, there are parking conundrums that usually go hand-in-hand with the organic grocer. To make it easier for you Kombucha Heads, we’re assigning grades to each WF parking lot or garage in L.A., as well as including tips for getting in and out as fast as possible. Read our rankings of the Westwood and West L.A. stores here, Santa Monica (mid-city) and Brentwood here, Santa Monica (downtown) and Venice here, and check out more reviews every Thursday.

Our seventh and eighth stores:

Santa Monica (Montana Avenue): Like its downtown Santa Monica sister, the Montana Avenue store is a boutique Whole Foods, with narrow aisles and a small salad bar. Nevertheless, it’s in the middle of a busy shopping district and surrounded by one of SoCal’s toniest residential neighborhoods. Luckily, many locals are smart enough to enter the store by foot. There’s a small parking lot off of 15th Street and on a recent night it was mostly deserted (as was the store). There’s an hour of free parking, which is decent, and there are parking attendants at busy times. But say it’s a crazy weekend and the lot is full? The local residential streets have two-hour parking (no permit needed!). Shhh, don’t tell anyone about this store.
Parking Grade: A- 

muralPlaya Vista: This 35,000 square foot store just opened up in the mammoth Silicon Beach development known as Runway Playa Vista. The parking entrance is off of Jefferson Boulevard, but it’s kind of easy to miss since the Playa Vista development looks like a big wall from the street (the pedestrian-friendliness factor is quite lacking). Once you enter the citadel, there’s a mammoth garage; on a recent weekday it was very lightly utilized and quite easy to find a spot. OK, so the entrance is where? We struggled a bit to actually find where to go, but once we located the escalator, we ascended to Whole Foods nirvana. This store is niiiiice, and there’s a large outdoor area where yuppies were hanging out amid a firepit and giant murals. Since no one except techies can afford to live in Playa Vista, expect the parking situation to remain easy for the forseeable future.
Parking Grade: B-