Eating local and organic can be a challenge for new eco-foodies — especially when traveling. If you're planning to visit California this summer, I recommend stopping by Cafe Gratitude, where delicious green eats are affordable, too.
When I first heard that the Bay Area's famed raw-friendly restaurant planned to open up a spot in L.A., I vowed to be first in line to dine at the place — and have stopped by a half dozen times since it opened its doors in March. Though known as a raw restaurant, Cafe Gratitude does also offer dishes with cooked brown rice and quinoa — making the casual spot a good choice whether you crave an all-raw meal or desire a warm rice bowl. For a refreshing but rich starter, try the creamy Thai Coconut Soup — often available as the live soup of the day. KCET's The Public Kitchen has the recipe, if you'd like to try blending it yourself at home.
My favorite meal so far? The "I am fulfilled" salad (above), a big garden salad with greens, tomatoes, shaved carrots and beets, and tomatoes — topped with fresh sprouts, creamy avocado and deliciously savory teriyaki almonds. The salad's listed under the starter section, but the filling dish can make for a light lunch!
I also love the "I am Whole" bowl — which I describe as Californian bibimbap. Get your sea veggies, kim chee, leafy greens, and sprouts all in one bowl — warmed by your choice of quinoa or local brown rice and flavored with with tahini-garlic sauce and teriyaki almonds.
Mediterranean food lovers can go for the "I am Complete" raw mediterranean plate (top photo), which comes with a delicious almond hummus, tangy olive tapenade, and cool mint tzaziki sauce — all fresh and tasty live versions of the traditional bites. I did find the live falafels a bit too dry and nutty for my liking, but enjoyed the rest of the dish.
Prefer to drink your veggies? Cafe Gratitude offers not just one, but two green juices — the all-veggie "I am Healthy" (below) for the sugar-avoidant and the beet-and-apple sweeted "I am Worthy." Plus, you can get liquid elixirs ranging from wheatgrass shots to rich cacao-hazelnut. Sip them at the bar for a quick pick me up — or get the drinks to go.
Cafe Gratitude is one restaurant where organic is de rigeur. In contast to the ever-growing number of restaurants that hedge by saying they buy organic "whenever possible," Cafe Gratitude's bold green menu announces that its ingredients are organic, period — conventional produce simply won't be served at this casual eatery. The restaurant also sources its food as locally as possible and avoids plastic packaging both at the front and back of the restaurant, making the spot a hot spot for eco-foodies.
Next time I stop by, I'll finally try dessert!