The first thing you'll notice when you walk into Juliano's, as I like to call it, is the low lighting, the sleek gray interior, and the potent aroma of a couple hundred fresh hibiscus. Since raw philosophy dictates that nothing be heated above 120 degrees, the restaurant doesn't smell like the food it serves. I like that someone clearly realized this and thought of a way to create a pleasant scent for the restaurant that wouldn't detract from the food--incense, for example, is too strong to contend with the flavors of a meal. At the same time, the flowers, as well several candles, add warmth to what would otherwise be a cold space.
There aren't a lot of good tables at Juliano's (or a lot of tables, period), so try to arrive early to get a quiet corner table. The menu is a trip--Juliano is very in-your-face about his opinions on food, and you might find yourself chuckling at the description of sprouted buckwheat crisps baked in the sun for ten hours on a rock in Palm Springs. That's a joke, right? Honestly, I'm not sure. Read the menu and you'll understand. It contains so much information that you'll probably want to hold onto it and keep reading after you've placed your order. Here's a preview from the online menu:
NO MAD COW, SALMONELLEA, E. COLI OR DESTROY THE RAINFOREST FOR GRAZE LANDS BACON WESTERN CHEESEBURGER $24.94
Mushroom nut burger w/ macadamia cheese on a sprouted buckwheat bun w/ pickles, tomatoes, onion, guacamole, homemade heirloom ketchup, mustard & French fries.
Thai spring rolls
So what is raw cuisine? According to Juliano himself, "Raw is cuisine in its real form: organic, from the earth, and uncooked. For food to be considered raw it can be chopped, blended, pureed, juiced, dehydrated, or combined into infinite flavor combinations, but whatever the end result, all raw recipes are vegan (no meat, fish eggs or dairy) and living."
What do you mean, living? Once you pull a plant out of the ground, isn't it dead? Well, I'll leave that up to you, but according to Juliano, living means uncooked, and uncooked means not heated above 120 degrees.
Appetizer sampler plate
Juliano's isn't cheap--high quality, fresh organic ingredients aren't cheap, after all. A smoothie is $10, but it's not bulked up or watered down with crushed ice, either. It also contains an unbelievable number of ingredients, which, surprisingly, aren't excessive and work together very well.
Ras, blue, straw & other blood cleansing berries blended w/ love honey, Mac Milk & cream of sapote, peach, nectarine, persimmon, cherimoya, apricot, cherry, melon & mango.
My favorite dish at Juliano's is Harem in the Raw, a platter of hummus, falafel, and other related goodies.
HAREM IN THE RAW $24.94
In a purple shell you'll find hummus, heavy mint, heat, caramelized & fresh onions, cucumber, lots of ginger dressing, tomato, parsley, falafel balls, avocado, black olives, eggplant & Buckwheaties.
It's easy to be skeptical of Juliano's cuisine--it's totally different from what we're used to eating. But if you're open to a unique experience and don't hate vegetables, you'll probably be pleasantly amazed at the creativity of each dish, the newness of the flavors to your palette, and the range and intensity of flavor in each bite.
Even the bathroom has ambience
Santa Monica, CA 90401