Restaurant Review: Cafe Gratitude

Posted on March 7, 2012

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President’s Day weekend found D & I in Santa Cruz, CA. What a great city! We enjoyed being in an urban locale with an active downtown core. Santa Cruz is highly walkable – lots of people were out and about on foot, bike, skateboard, etc.

Even more pleasant was the focus on unprocessed, organic and generally healthy food – organic markets (& not just Wholefoods but they do have two!) on every other corner; weekly farmer’s market featuring local, organic fare; and vegetarian/vegan/raw friendly restaurants. Santa Cruz is the heart of organic farming and that mindset is clearly manifested throughout the city. Even the local hospital has an organic farm!

As we were walking downtown, we turned the corner and saw it: Cafe Gratitude! I was giddy! We hadn’t done research on restaurants so it was a complete surprise. Both D & I have been wanting to try the cafe in Los Angeles but hadn’t gotten around to it. We took full advantage while in Santa Cruz and ate there twice.

Cafe Gratitude is a mix of cooked and raw vegan fare serving all organic ingredients. D ordered a cooked vegan entree while I ordered raw.

On the first day, we shared a serving of  I Am Thriving, the cooked soup of the day, which was sweet potato with some other wonderful ingredients that I cannot remember but it was delicious! We also had the flax crackers.

D went with the I Am Extraordinary – a hearty extraordinarily good burger. Served on a wheat bun with romaine, avocado, tomatoes, spicy chipotle aioli and maple coconut bacon this was one of the yummiest vegan burgers I’ve tasted.

Sorry you can't see the filling 😦

I ordered the I Am Hearty – a raw vegan pizza. This dish hit the spot! The pizza came with a sun-dried tomato marinara, pesto, olive tapenade, Brazil nut parmesan, cashew ricotta cheese on an onion sunflower crust. #nom One of the reasons I’m drawn to living food is because of the flavors that you can create without cooking. My tastebuds were dancing!

Me being a dutiful food blogger 🙂

We were stuffed at the end of the meal so no dessert.

The second visit was rushed as we were sneaking in the meal while on our way to the airport. We went straight for the entrees and again, no dessert.

D ordered the I Am Warm-Hearted – grilled polenta topped with a spinach & mushroom ragu, cashew ricotta and Brazil nut parmesan. D doesn’t even like polenta but went out on a limb and was richly rewarded. This is also a dish I need to recreate at home.

 I tried the I Am Elated – a live enchilada filled with sprouted seeds and topped with spicy mole, cashew sour cream with a side of spicy Mexican coleslaw. The enchilada was a little salt and the coleslaw needed to be saucier. I ate it but spent most of my time stealing bites from D’s polenta dish.

This restaurant is well-worth checking out. The prices are reasonable for organic, freshly produced meals and the staff was welcoming.

I am looking forward to visiting the Los Angeles location but will find it difficult to try new dishes instead of going back for the ones we’ve already tried.

Have you tried any new restaurants, vegan or otherwise, lately?

– Kareen, RD

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Posted in: high raw, raw, vegan