I can't stop singing the praises of Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco. I had no idea their raw, vegan meals would be so delicious and gourmet. In fact the meals are so healthy, I leave with an energetic food-high that's like drinking 5 cups of coffee without the edginess.
Originally, I was attracted to Cafe Gratitude for their gluten and dairy free fare. A very nice nutrition client tipped me off, so I put it on my list of places to eat. I just wanted to order like a normal person for once. I wanted a break from asking the server to confirm that there's no flour or butter in my meal. But, the experience was so much more.
Their location on Harrison Street in San Francisco is unassuming. My first visit was with my six year old twins, who immediately remarked, "Mom! Look! There's graffiti on that building!" The cafe looks like a cross between a cozy coffee house, wine bar and a sushi bar. After convincing the twins they'd enjoy eating quinoa with nut milk "cheese," my personal joy began when -- for the first time in years -- I just ordered straight off the menu with no "86s" no "check with the chef" no desperate pleas to ensure the food is not floured. And, that alone made me happy.
I stuffed myself to the gills ordering everything from their "pizza" with a crust made from seeds and drizzled in cashew "cheese" to their "milkshake" with coconut milk, raw cacao, mint. I added kim chee and coconut milk yogurt as side dishes. I ordered chocolate mousse and lemon cream pie for dessert. All desserts use raw agave nectar instead of sugar, so you can even feel good about those.
For a restaurant that doesn't use 90% of the ingredients you normally find in food, the menu is extensive. Actually, I don't even have to qualify that, Cafe Gratitude has an incredibly extensive menu.
And, they do it all without an oven. In fact, raw foodists brag about when they turned off their oven for good in favor of a dehydrator and food processor. (And those are indeed bragging rights!)
All the food is delivered with a friendly attitude. Each dish is named with an inspiring mantra that one could easily adopt, such as "I am Amazing" or "I am Vigorous" or "I am Effervescent." At a minimum, you can't help but find a smile on your face as you browse the selections. My kids really taxed the staff with complaints about their "mac and cheese," but were finally appeased when they got double servings of chocolate mousse. They even asked for thirds.
No wonder people like Woody Harrelson frequent this place. Dr. Mercola just ran an article showing that just one unhealthy meal leads to inflammation and the formation of free radicals in your body. The good news is your next meal can start the healing process. Let Cafe Gratitude serve you your next meal. It will do your body, mind, and spirit a world of good.
If you can't eat every meal at Cafe Gratitude, the owner, Terces Engelhart, wrote a cook book to help you make their favorite recipes at home. For many dishes you'll also need a dehydrator, juicer, food processor, and nut milk bags, but don't let that intimidate you since there are plenty of recipes your kitchen is already equipped to make. The cookbook is popular and frequently sold out -- I tried to get the cookbook three times before finally succeeding.
I currently eat at least 50% of my diet raw, but thanks to Cafe Gratitude I plan to increase that percentage. Enjoy your meal there - it's alive and you'll feel that way too!
Visit one of their restaurants in San Francisco, San Rafael, or Berkeley. If you don't live in this area, put it on your list of places to visit during your stay. It's hard to find this type of meal outside California. Cafe Gratitude is expanding to Sacramento. Please urge them to open a location on the San Francisco peninsula next!