Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cafe Gratitude, Venice, CA

Oh Cafe Gratitude, amidst the controversy and closings of your restaurants, I still seek you out whenever I'm in California. I was recently made aware of the news that long-time vegetarian owners, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, founders of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre, have decided not only to start eating meat, but also to start killing animals on the same farm they use to supply produce to their restaurants. I was not aware of this when I went to dine at Cafe Gratitude in LA though so this may affect my desire to eat there going forward.

Putting that aside for now, let's talk about my most recent experience. I sought out Cafe Gratitude in LA because all of their restaurants closed in northern California, so now I'll have to visit them in southern Cali instead. There are apparently a few different partners in the southern Cali venture so ownership is a little different than it was up north.

Upon arrival at the Venice location on this Saturday morning, it was pretty busy. I was immediately amazed by how beautiful this restaurant was. Unlike the former northern California locations, this restaurant was bright and modern with white wooden floors, high ceilings, exposed ductwork, and light wood tables. It was very inviting!

I started with a Complete pressed juice made with kale, apple, celery, cucumber, lemon, and ginger and I added cayenne. It was incredibly fresh, healthy, and great tasting.

For my meal, I ordered the "I am Nourished," which was delightful! The gluten-free French toast, was dense, but delicious! The tempeh chorizo was spectacular. And the sauteed kale added a delicious veggie to the meal that I slathered in their housemade hot sauce. Also, the coconut bacon and cashew cream was great on the French toast. It was all very filling. I definitely felt nourished!

My friend ordered the "I am Bonita," and I loved his meal as well. This consisted of sprouted probiotic brown rice and black beans with pico de gallo, avocado, cashew nacho cheese, spicy pepitas, and corn tortillas. So good.

As I was leaving, I decided to get lunch to go. I ordered the "I am Liberated," a kelp noodle dish made with cherry tomatoes, basil hempseed pesto, marinara, kalamata olives, arugula, cashew ricotta, and brazil nut parmesan. I ate this four hours later on the plane and it was as good as the server described. Because they used kelp noodles, it kept the dish light even with the heavy delicious pesto and parmesan. Such a perfect combination.

Don't leave without checking out their amazing dessert section, but be aware they use honey in some of the desserts. I also took an Almond Butter Cup to go. It was amazing!

I feel so conflicted. I had a great experience at this restaurant -- great food and service, but now I know about the owners and their quest to kill animals at their farm. I don't know what to say about that. We'll all have to decide on our own whether to keep supporting them or not. The fact is that their almost-vegan restaurants have great food and are staffed with great people. Their prices are high, but their ingredients are very high quality.

Cafe Gratitude
512 Rose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA90291
(424) 231-8000

Cafe Gratitude Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. As a fellow DC vegan I really appreciate your blog! I've been to cafe gratitude a couple times, and agree it's disappointing the owners are no longer vegan. But many (most?) of your restaurant reviews are of non-veg restaurants that probably, unlike these folks, source animal products from industrial factory farms. I also go to plenty of non-veg restaurants and hope it helps build demand for vegan options, and have no plans to avoid cafe gratitude in the future despite this change.