Restaurant: On Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, in what used to be Atwater Grill, is a casual, eat-over-the-counter restaurant with a little for everyone. Vegans? Check. Vegetarians? Check. Carnivores? Check. Pescatarians? Soon. Dune, which is just a crosswalk away from Proof Bakery, offers a new spot for lunch and dinner.
Concept: Scott Zwiezen, who was the chef at Elf Cafe and who owns Dune, said the idea for Dune was for the food to speak for itself. Gone is the baggage and stereotype that comes with the labels "raw" and "vegetarian," which can intimidate people from trying a restaurant. With the lamb and soon-to-arrive fish on the menu, Zwiezen hopes to attract people who would otherwise shy from an all-vegetarian menu. Dune soft-opened on Jan. 18.
Which dishes represent the restaurant and why: The falafel sandwich. The deep-fried balls of chopped chickpea are held together without flour, which will please the anti-gluten crowd — as long as they order it without pita. Unfortunately, ordering it without the pita also means you'll miss out on the cooked-to-order pita bread.
Who's at the next table: Scruffy-bearded men and clean-shaven office-attired men stood in line. There was a baby-wearing mom, as well as a few people who looked as if they'd just gotten back from the gym or yoga. Despite its newly opened status, a lot of return customers stood in line. Most sounded like regulars who live or work in the area.
Appropriate for: A casual, filling lunch that's easy on the conscience. At the time of soft-opening, there were still no stools for countertops and no tables in the restaurant. Existing outside seating was available for diners wanting some sun and to people watch.
Service: Diners queue at the cashier's counter and step aside to wait for their meal. Three self-serve bowls of pickles are on the counter to the side of the room. Service can be a bit harried because of the kinks that come with a new opening, but the staff is friendly and informative.
Backstory: Yes, the restaurant's name was inspired by Frank Herbert's magnum opus.