Lila: Fresh New Downtown Hotspot

Written by Molly Russo

Lila opened on Main Street in the fall of 2016, and we are just finally able to say we've been there.  (Let's be serious, Realtors can be a little busy during "season"!)  But now that the crowds have thinned, the waits have shortened, and the emails have slowed to 100 a day instead of 300, we had time this week to spend the lunch hour at a leisurely pace at this fresh, healthy, and delicious Lila.  

So What's the Vibe?

This restaurant has a cool, comfortable, rustic vibe from the moment you walk through the door.  Its clean and modern look of wood, metal, and glass is punctuated by fresh greenery on the front table and wide-matte shots of bright fruits and veggies on the wall.  Lila, which (in case you hadn't heard) is pronounced "lee-lah", is a dream come true to anyone with food allergies.  The menu is built on a foundation of farm-fresh vegetables, presented exquisitely and prepared to perfection, and is almost entirely gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly.  


Sorry, did you say Vegan???

Let's carify: VEGAN-INSPIRED.  This is not a vegan-only restaurant, but it is one that offers endless options for those on restrictive diets. And as someone with food allergies, I must say I've never been more excited looking over a menu and not having to skip straight to salads that don't have croutons.  My table mates were Allison, a dedicated and longtime vegetarian, and our colleague who eats a normal diet.  While obviously guided by vegan/vegetarian cuisine with a side of meat, as opposed to the opposite, this menu reads like a page of Bon Appetit, and leaves even the "normal"-eating omnivore with mouth-watering options.  There were full on vegetarian/vegan dishes, such as beet salad, veggie burger, and stir fry, and there was also a section of the menu with eggs, meat, chicken, and seafood that can be added to any meal.  After much discussion and internal debate, we ended up with:

  • The Macro Bowl - ordered by the vegetarian
  • The Bean Tostadas - ordered by the gluten-free, dairy-free
  • The Greek Salad plus shrimp - ordered by the person without dietary restrictions

But... would we go back?

We all agreed at the end of this meal that Lila was a hotspot worth revisiting.  The flavors were interesting, the dishes were well-seasoned, and we all left feeling good--not stuffed to the gills or over-indulgent.

The menu is amazing; the food is incredible and succulent and creative.  We found the prices a bit high for lunch (all of our lunches were $12 or more per plate), but expected given the farm-to-table nature of Lila.  We also thought the service was a little slow; after all was said and done, our appetizer-less lunch took over an hour.  Again, this is probably thanks to the fact that everything is freshly prepared at the time you order it.  Overall, however, this is a new lunch place we would be happy to frequent again.

Lila. 1576 Main Street, Downtown Sarasota.  941.296.1042