It seems like forever-ago that I made my up to Berkeley to visit with P’s family & check out the vegan dining scene! I’ve been holding off on writing my post about our lunch at Café Gratitude until P sent me the photos he took. Ever the talented artist, he is much more skilled with the lens than I, so most of these photos were shot by him, but I threw a few of mine in here, too.
After reading about it several times in VegNews & Vegansaurus, Café Gratitude has definitely been on my bucket list. Although it’s been met with mixed reviews, I’ve always wanted to see for myself. Somehow it managed to fall of my radar when planning for this trip, so I was super excited when we happened upon it while strolling down Shattuck Street in search of a lunch spot!
P’s brother pointed it out to me & asked if I’d ever heard of it! Of course I had! He said he’d walked past it several times when he worked in Berkeley & always felt a bit “intimidated.” That’s not the first time I’d heard that in regards to place. Many people have said they found it too hippy-dippy, cultish, stuffy, or outright weird, & I can see why, as it certainly has a “vibe” about it! Everybody was hungry &, when seeing my enthusiasm about checking it out, had an open mind about giving it a go!
Upon entering there was a cute little “gift shop” with t-shirts, cookbooks, products, prepared foods & more. There were many things I wanted to take home with me, but refrained! There was a darlingt-shirt I wish I had purchased, but lucky for me they have an online store!
The restaurant itself was spacious, the decor was modest & simple, with brick walls adorned with inspirational murals & thoughtful mantras throughout.
Café Gratitude serves a menu of 100% organic, 100% vegan, local fare, & the food is free of refined sugar, flour, & additives. Over 45% of their produce comes from “Be Love Farm,” & the compost from the café is returned to the farm to nourish the next meal. Their extensive menu is comprised of soups & salads, raw specialties, cooked specialties, organic beer & wine, fresh juices & smoothies, & desserts.
All the menu items are named as positive affirmations. I’ve read a lot of reviews & many patrons can’t quite get past that cheese factor, but I thought was sweet. For instance you may order “I Am Vibrant” & when the waiter puts the plate in front of you, he will say “You Are Vibrant.” Alright, yes, a little cheesy-peasy, but I’ll take it! Who doesn’t want to hear that? I found myself struggling more over my affirmation, than the food itself!
We all shared “I Am Grounded” as a starter & these babies went fast! The cashew nacho “cheese” was amazing & super spicy! Definitely something I’d like to try to re-create in the Vitamix!
I finally settled on “I Am Elated,” first of all because I was “elated” to be there, & secondly because it was from their raw specialty menu. I have been intrigued with raw food ever since my unforgettable meal at Pure Food & Wine. They set the “raw food” bar very, very high! This was good, but I have to say, I’m not sure anything will top PF&W! The filling was hearty & the mole spicy & flavorful, but my favorite part of this dish was the coleslaw! I’m not usually a coleslaw fan, but this was so yummy, with tons of heat, zest & flavor!
P’s Dad ordered “I Am Extraordinary” which was one of the items I was debating on. I love veggie burgers, sammies, etc! He said it was really good, & thought the “maple coconut bacon” was interesting, but I believe he meant interesting in a good way! This was his first ever vegan meal & he seemed to really enjoy it, which made me very happy! I love introducing newcomers to the exciting world of delicious vegan cuisine!
P’s sister-in-law shared “I Am Hearty,” another item that I thought looked amazing. She really loved it, said it had tons of flavor, & couldn’t believe it was totally raw. That’s the thing – when raw food when is done well, it is amazing!
P & his Mom both ordered “I Am Transformed,” as I suggested, knowing that they’d love it. I got to try a few bites of the taco & it rocked! Of course, it was smothered in that same spicy cheese sauce that accompanied the potatoes, so you couldn’t go wrong. I think I might have to order this on my next visit!
I was too full for dessert, & now I am regretting not trying a bite of this tiramisu – my absolute favorite dessert that I’ve tried to make vegan & failed. The kids devoured it, so I am guessing it was a good as it looks? Next time for sure!
For all it’s peace, love & “cheesiness” (the kinda cheesy I my peace-loving side can get into! I mean really, to be reminded “You Are Loved,” it’s wonderful!) the food was tasty & thoughtfully prepared, the atmosphere was warm & a great time was had by all!
I really appreciate the practices that the original location was founded on: Love, Acceptance, Generosity, Worth, Gratitude, Creation, & Responsibility. Café Gratitude is intended to be a place where people can gather peacefully & eat healthfully. As they continue to grow in location & popularity, I hope their message doesn’t lose it’s sincerity. This is a place where everyone should feel welcome, not intimidated or shunned!
Quarry Girl has enthusiastically reviewed their latest Los Angeles restaurant & sung it’s praises! I will definitely have to make a trip up that way to check it out, as it is a much easier trek than Berkeley! Next time I’m in the bay, I’ve got my gracious heart set on going to their Organic Mexican Food restaurant, Gracias Madre, in San Francisco’s Mission District.