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Govinda’s Vegetarian Buffet ~ Culver City/Santa Monica


3764 Watseka Ave. (@ Venice Blvd.) ~ 310-836-1269 ~ Culver City (TACO Map)

305 Rose Ave. ( @ 2nd St.) ~ 310-836-1269 ~ Santa Monica (TACO Map)

I know I've been all up in the Hare Krishna's salad lately, but Govinda's is a treasure for vegetarians and healthy eaters. Located inside of the Krishna temples of Culver City and Santa Monica, the Govinda's (the Govindases? Govindi?) are tiny diners that resemble hostels. Both feature cheap, all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffets with a slight Indian twist as well as an occasional eavesdropped exsistential conversation.

For $6 in Culver and around $9 at Radha Govinda's near the shore (higher rents), you get a salad bar of fresh, colorful variety with sunflower seeds, peppers, and tofu, among many other choices and different light dressings. Then there is usually a pasta course with a hearty sauce low on oil. Last time I was there it was a corkscrew pasta in a peppery creamy white sauce that had me back three times. Next comes the small section that usually has three to four Indian influenced curries, daal, and one or two side snacks. The curry tinged broths are intricately spiced, pleasing my picky tastes for Indian with flavors familiar and creative. The crunchy, lightly-fried red-peppers I had at the Santa Monica localation were some of the best things I've ever tasted.


The food at Govinda's is simple but savory, and mostly organic. You can taste cleanliness in every bite, it's a meal that makes you feel good, even when you gorge yourself. The curries are a little soupy from time to time, but are still better than a majority of the Indian I've experienced in L.A. They are never overstated. It is definitely not Indian, however, just influenced by the subcontinent. Certain specials repeat, like the nutloaf on Saturday nights that is fantastic. A full menu of sandwiches and pizzas is also posted at the Culver City location.

There is usually one dish on hand that is creative and inventive without being overly pretentious or calling attention to itself as you may find in some of LA's other temples of vegetarian cuisine. Culver is by far the better deal, as you can feast for a mere $6. Next time you fill up on too much pastor at the taco truck, cleanse yourself with a trip to Govinda's vegetarian buffet for your next meal.


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