Thanks for the Memories
In 2005, when I first dragged my dad through Cafe Gratitude’s beaded curtain and a girl named Steve sat us between a life coach and a man playing with diabolo sticks, he was unable to contain his distaste for all “hippie vegans.” As he tossed the complimentary copy of the Cafe’s signature board game on the floor and erected a barrier of napkins between us and our tablemates, he hissed in a hushed tone, “Never again, Laura.” Several hours later, when our first dishes arrived (all of them apparently made entirely from kelp and spirulina), he took a bite of his enchilada (read: cracker sandwich) and said, “Holy shit, this isn’t half bad.” Like with every person I ever introduced to Cafe Gratitude, I received a call from my dad several days later letting me know that he was dreaming of the “I Am Lovely” and the “I Am Energized.” He didn’t know what was in the food, but his best guess was that it was a new, more expensive and more addictive form of cocaine.
When Cafe Gratitude started shuttering locations in February, many of us, including my dad, wondered where we’d get our next bump of wheatgrass or fix of raw cheesecake. Lucky for us, San Francisco is a city that prides itself on organic fresh eats, and I was able to find options that are as healthy and delicious as Gratitude – and I didn’t even have to join an (ALLEGED) cult. Hooray!
Alive! sells super-healthy and super-healthy-tasting raw food at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Using collard greens in place of a tortilla, its wraps come stuffed with veggies and homemade nut cheeses (lolz). The owner and chef Leland Jung is more than willing to sample up the goods so you know what you’re getting into. Best part, you don’t have to answer any questions about your dreams or aspirations when you order. Score!
A checklist of reasons to trek out to Judahlicious in the Outer Sunset: Fresh juices made with kale and beets? Check. Smoothies created with house-made almond milk and dates? Check. A dish that features zucchini noodles and hemp pesto? Check. Plus, you’re almost at Ocean Beach so you might as well go run in the waves like the free spirit that you are, right? Hippie!
Hands down the weirdest restaurant on my list, Peña Pachamama specializes in traditional Bolivian food and raw food creations. Okay, sure! Try the pizza made with sunflower-hemp crust or the living lasagna, filled with macadamia nut cheese. For dessert, don’t miss the chocolate taco, made with avocado and coconut. Trust.
Smoothies made with living cashew milk and sweetened with raw agave nectar? I think Source qualifies as a worthy successor! Plus, its food is ridiculously delicious. Source’s pastry chef Jenny Bradley is an alum of Cafe Gratitude so you know she knows what’s up with a Vitamix. Her creamy, raw cheesecakes will blow your mind one more time, and the whole place has this really great ’90s hippie vibe – think, bubbling water fountain and multiple colors projected on the wall. Highly recommended.
If you’re looking for lessons on gluten-free and raw desserts, Sidesaddle Kitchen’s charming proprietress Laura Miller regularly hosts classes at places like Workshop and Pot + Pantry. With her serious skills (and possible sorcery?), she’ll teach you how to transform soaked cashews and organic agave into mind-blowing truffles, pies, and cakes that’ll impress even the orneriest omnivore. That is, if the treats even survive the car ride home.
If you’re looking for liquids, the old green juice standbys of Sidewalk Juice – get the Kale Colada, and call ahead (415-932-6221) to have a fresh glass waiting for you! – and Plant Cafe – get the Green Infusion and stay close to a bathroom! – are perfect for providing viscous nutrition.
Or, there are a whole new slew of juiceries in town. Is “juiceries” a word? Well, it is now because there are about a billion popping up all over. They’re the new cupcakeries, but less annoying.
Sow, a weekend pop-up at Pause Wine Bar on Market, features fresh fruit and veggie juices in interesting and fun combinations. Yes, a juice combination can be interesting and fun, just try a flight featuring stone fruits with a backer of Tartine bread. [Read more about Sow on TBI here.]
Juice To You used to be strictly delivery but it now has a brick-and-mortar on Union Street that specializes in tastier-than-they-look concoctions. Pineapple Pear Chia is my new jam. Also, it kinda tastes like jam.
Corazon Juicebar celebrates the heart-healthy lifestyle with mix-your-own juices. Carrot-Mango-Ginger? Don’t mind if I do!
If you’re looking to get serious about cleansing (Gratitude used to offer its own version of this starvation, I mean, nutritious diet!), check out Classic Reset Cleanse by Ritual Cleanse at The Detox Market.
And so, although it’s with a heavy heart that I delivered the news of the closing of Cafe Gratitude to my father, I’m fortified knowing that there are still plenty of places he can get his raw-on. Now go make my dad proud and get some green juice. Just don’t forget to tip one out for all the white girls with dreads who are currently eating a slice of cashew-based key lime pie at the Cafe Gratitude in the sky.