The Kansas City food scene got even better last week with the opening of the all-vegan, all-organic Café Gratitude! The chain been around since 2004 in California, and we’re very lucky they’ve branched out to Kansas City. We headed down to the Crossroads Art District Friday night for the monthly First Fridays event to take in the art and music and, of course, the tastes of Café Gratitude.
Café Gratitude is tucked away on Southwest Boulevard near Broadway. If you didn’t know it was there, you could easily miss it; not that it seems to be an issue–the place was packed! Inside, the restaurant is filled with exposed brick, colorful murals and lots of messages of self-affirmation, generosity and positivity. Just check out their mission statement:
Café Gratitude is our expression of a world of plenty. Our food and people are a celebration of our aliveness. We select the finest organic ingredients to honor the earth and ourselves, as we are one and the same. We support local farmers, sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly products. Our food is prepared with love. We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful every day, and experiencing being provided for. Have fun and enjoy being nourished.
If you take a gander at their moderately-priced menu, you will also see that they don’t offer a mere Ceasar salad, Pad Thai or macrobiotic bowl. Instead, you’ll find an “I am Dazzling,” an “I am Terrific” and an “I am Whole.” It might get a few eye rolls here and there, but I think it all makes for a fun and inviting environment.
Before I get to our meal, there’s one more thing about the menu I want to share: the I am Grateful. How cool is this!?
Erik had the I am Extraordinary, a BLT made with a cashew aioli and crispy chipotle-maple coconut bacon and served on a sprouted Ezekiel bun. The coconut bacon offered up a unique flavor and spin on the BLT that he loved. And then there was the side salad–he couldn’t stop raving about how awesome the salad was! He’s a huge fan of ginger ale, so we tried their house ginger ale aka I am Effervescent, too. The fresh ginger was strong, but I really liked it…maybe even more than he did! The small was more than enough for us to split and still have some leftover at the end of the meal.
If forced to whittle down my list of favorite meals to just one, there’s a very good chance that tamales would be the last one standing. So I immediately honed in on the I am Trusting, a zucchini and mushroom tamale meal. While firmer than the ones I make at home, with the melt-in-your-mouth dough and a toothy bite, the tamale could only have been better had they given me two. The Mexican slaw salad was rather lackluster, but I really enjoyed the gigantic helping of flavorsome black beans. The add-on of smoky cashew cheese was excellent atop the tamale and mixed in with the beans as well. Just a word of caution, the spicy salsa verde that comes with the meal is nose-running hot (which I loved), so if that’s not up your alley, you may want to see if they can sub it for a milder sauce.
The best part of the meal was reserved for last: a raw strawberry chocolate shortcake. I’m sure it has a cute name, too, but we didn’t see a printed dessert menu. This was the first “real” raw dessert for both of us and we were blown away. Every last thing about it was absolutely fabulous! And you can bet that I will be working to replicate it at home.
The food was mouthwatering and the staff was beyond friendly–we had a great experience. I love seeing places like this thriving in our city, and I’m excited to introduce it to friends. One last thing I like about places like this? They naturally foster community. We had a nice conversation with our neighbors, who introduced me to the KC Raw Foods Union—I’m looking forward to getting to know others in the group and learning more about raw cuisine (are any of you members?).
In the spirit of Café Gratitude, I have to ask: What are you grateful for?