The beautiful and fit flock to Mother's Market and Kitchen in Costa Mesa, but the health food emporium that makes others look like AM PM Mini Marts has an unpretentious feel, with the Birkenstock crowd gathering there as well.
In addition to a terrific market with more kinds of rice cakes, tofu, vitamins and bean sprouts than Jack LaLanne could crave, Mother's has a small but super restaurant that serves fresh, delicious food to a loyal group of regulars and the uninitiated in a sky-lit room ringed with pastel nature murals.
Omelets and multigrain pancakes, soups, creative salads, veggie pita pockets, thick, meatless chili and a popular steamed vegetable and brown rice platter with peppery mushroom sauce contribute to a large, moderately priced menu. Everything can be ordered to go.
For die-hard health foodies, there are such exotics as textured soy protein marinated in a rich red barbecue sauce, sides of brown rice, baked potato or yam. Of course, soy milk "cheese" can be substituted for the fattier real thing in various dishes.