I'll be blatantly honest: I'm a carnivore. While I have cut down my meat consumption considerably (after a brief stint as a vegetarian), I love a good carne asada burrito and an In n Out cheeseburger.
So, when a friend suggested we eat lunch at Cafe Gratitude - a new vegan restaurant in the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego - I was pretty hesitant. Regardless, I decided to go for it. If it sucked, I figured I would grab a snack at work later.
Well, this carnivore was proven wrong - vegan food can actually be good...and extremely filling!!
Cafe Gratitude is located on the corner of Kettner and Fir - floor to ceiling windows engraved with positive adjectives line the restaurant's bright exterior. The interior is designed to be clean and relaxing.
Each dish on the menu is named for a positive life affirmation (i.e. "Bountiful," "Humble," etc.) and you order by saying "I Am Humble" and so on. While a bit new age and as silly as I felt ordering, I did appreciate the self-affirmation.
I began my meal with a Turmeric Latte, which was a bit too spicy and pepper-y for my tasty, but overall had a great flavor and beautiful color.
We split two seasonal dishes: "Yo Soy Feliz" and "Fabulous." Yo Soy Feliz was Cafe Gratitude's take on a ceviche tostada - a crispy tortilla, black bean puree, coconut ceviche, mexican coleslaw, roasted tomatillo sauce, cashew queso fresca, pepitas and avocados. Fabulous was a raw lasagna (translations: all veggies were raw and uncooked) - squash blossoms, heirloom tomatoes, spinach, cilantro pumpkin seed pesto, fresh corn, summer squash noodles, cashew queso fresco, raw cacao mole.
I was obsessed with "Yo Soy Feliz," to say the least and have been back quite a few times to try other dishes on the menu and get my "feel good" vibes.
Needless to say, this is a nice break for a meat-eater and a reminder that not all vegan food sucks.
What: Cafe Gratitude
When: 8 AM - 10 PM, daily
Where: 1980 Kettner Blvd. San Diego, CA 92101 (Cafe Gratitude also has locations in Los Angeles, Venice, Newport & Beverly Hills)
My Picks: Mucho, Resolved, Glowing, Charismatic