Café Gratitude is a sister restaurant to Gracias Madre (one of my other all-time favourite California restaurants), and boasts six locations including San Diego, Newport Beach, Venice, Beverly Hills, and two in the main city of Los Angeles. They craft plant-based cuisine from a menu and environment that supports health and sustainability for both their community and the planet. Not only did I visit the Newport location while in Anaheim for dinner, but I was fortunate enough to go with my mom for breakfast at their Venice location TWICE – by bike along the beach!
All of the dishes at Gratitude are named using a positive adjective such as, “committed”, “glorious”, “lucky”, “humble” – it definitely makes the food feel kinder even before it arrives. It was smile inducing to me how, when you ordered and also when served your dish, the server repeats it back to you by saying “You are Glorious” or “You are Giving”, for example. Clearly this restaurant nourishes everyone with good food and good thoughts, which enhances the experience.
In this post, I will be covering both their breakfast and lunch/dinner menus – both of which are full of delicious dishes that involve a wide range of flavours, no matter how or what you like to eat!
The Gratitude in Newport is designed as a more upscale restaurant than its Venice counterpart, boasting a more formal space although the menus seemed to be the same. There is also a beautiful patio in Newport, whereas in Venice, there are only a handful of tables, and while we were there, it was more of a pseudo patio, surrounded by tent flap-esque walls with windows to keep the wind and rain out.
We drove from Anaheim to Newport for dinner with a few other fantastic people from Toronto who had also travelled to attend Expo West (a trade show that I was in town for as well – there will be a review!). All 5 of us enjoyed each others company as well as the food we shared, and had on our own. It was obviously a unique meal knowing that everything we were ordering was made with organic ingredients and was 100% plant-based.
To drink, my mom ordered a margarita, which she loved (made with organic alcohol, which makes her happy!), and I enjoyed the “Clean” juice, which was lemon, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, maple syrup, and micro-filtered water. It wasn’t as ginger-heavy as I would have liked, but most people aren’t as crazy about that taste as me :). It was refreshing and delicious and a good start!
To start, we all shared a dish perfectly named “Sharing” – a nacho plate with black beans, cashew nacho cheese, pico de gallo, avocado, spicy pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and escabeche. This fully loaded plate was a great way to start the meal, and was enjoyed by all – very quickly so I guess we were all really hungry for real food after a day sampling a huge variety of products on the trade show floor! We also shared the “Eclectic”, which is flash-fried cauliflower, topped with adobo buffalo sauce, and served with celery, and spicy cashew aioli – a similar dish to one we ate at Gracias Madre, which I also loved! This warm plate had a nice spice to it (but not that spicy) that is usually not present in flash-fried cauliflower – definitely a welcome flavour!
For my main course, I had the “Committed”, which is an UNREAL sandwich stacked pretty high with pulled mushrooms, barbecue sauce, creamy coleslaw, and spicy cashew aioli. It is served on a slow-fermented ciabatta made in house, and comes with a choice of sides- I chose to indulge in french fries. I personally like being “committed” but I think a better name for this dish would be “Awesmazing” because of how awesmazing it is! The perfect flavour and texture of the BBQ mushrooms were complemented by the crunchy, creamy coleslaw and rich aioli – I’m not normally a huge fan of coleslaw, but this was something special! Two of the other people we were with also ordered the sandwich, and loved it too! I am going to try to make a similar sandwich at home!
My mom enjoyed the “Dazzling”, a large caesar salad with kale, romaine, wakame, sesame seed gomasio, avocado, brazil nut parmesan, gluten-free croutons, and cashew caesar dressing. She really enjoyed it, and the forkfuls that she shared with me were extremely delicious – definitely a special take on the traditional Caesar salad! My mom was especially thrilled to have fresh greens after all of the trade show food!
Our friend Craig ordered the “Joy” dessert, and although he seemed to really like this bite-sized chocolate and coconut treat, I think one of the reasons he ordered it was just to be able to bring “joy” to the table!
For the last two days of our trip, my mom and I rented bicycles, and, despite the on-and-off rain, pedaled around the city to visit restaurants and food shops. Both mornings, we started our day by cycling from Santa Monica along the boardwalk to Cafe Gratitude’s Venice location for a delicious breakfast. The first time we went, I ordered the breakfast wrap, called “Nurtured”, which contains an awesome chickpea frittata, smoked tomato sauce, escabeche, and cashew mozzarella, with a side of breakfast potatoes. This wrap was REALLY full, and I have to say, frittata is one of my new favourite breakfast wrap ingredients (who needs egg?)! My mom ordered and loved the “Content”, a chickpea quiche with kalamata olives, tomato, red onion, cashew feta, and smoked tomato sauce served in a small cast-iron skillet! It was as light and fluffy as a quiche made with eggs, and had really impressive flavours, plus, we were both really full, in a satisfied way!
To drink, I stuck with water, but my mom had a latte called the “Immortal” that she really loved with chaga mushrooms, cinnamon, shijalit, and a ton of superfoods (that you might not necessarily understand – I didn’t, but look them up online if you are curious)!
The second time we visited, I had the “Bonita”, a breakfast taco plate (served with the tortillas and filling separated so you can build your own tortilla) which consists of black beans, pico de gallo, avocado, cashew nacho cheese, spicy pepitas, corn tortillas, and a choice of sprouted probiotic brown rice, quinoa or a mix (I got the mix – it gives you two different textures which enhances the dish even more!). This classic breakfast dish did not disappoint, since I am a huge fan of tortillas, burritos, and, of course, guacamole.
My mom ordered the “Peaceful”, which is avocado toast, another dish that has been done many ways and might sound boring, but Gratitude really hits the nail on the head with their piled high version! With cherry tomato, delectable coconut avocado cream, gremolata smoked salt, and slow-fermented sourdough toast, it couldn’t be bad! I really loved how smooth the coconut avocado cream was, although I don’t think I would order it given the chance, opting for a more unique dish.
Gratitude was a perfect way to start the last two days of our trip, and I only wish I could have gone back again for another pulled mushroom sandwich! And, I do wish there was a restaurant like this in Toronto, because we desperately need restaurants with commitments to organic ingredients that offer delicious food and great service.
Check out Gratitude if you are in Newport, LA, or San Diego for awesmazing vegan eats for any time of day! You can also follow them on Instagram, drool over what they post, and ask them to open in Toronto!