This review is a little late, considering this restaurant has been open for quite a while and I’ve gone several times, but to be honest the food is so good I always forgot to take pictures of my dishes until recently. I’ve been to Cafe Gratitude many times before, starting when they had only one location in Larchmont, but now that they’ve opened the Venice location which is pretty close to my home, I go there quite a bit more often. Gratitude is an interesting concept combining 100% organic delicious plant-based foods with a whole lot of positive vibes. Every dish on the menu is named with a positive affirmation, like “I am awesome” or “I am rejuvenated ” and the wait staff always provides you with a “question of the day.” (The last question we got was “what do you believe in?” — answer….aliens.)
Although the positive affirmations-vibe of the place seemed a little excessive at first, everyone on staff seems to be really happy there, no matter how crowded it gets. Plus, the food is absurdly good, the atmosphere is really pleasant, and the restaurant is really clean. This is definitely not your average vegan hippie shack. The Venice location is right in the middle of the revival happening on Rose, with all sorts of trendy restaurants and shops popping up up and down the street that used to be famous exclusively for vagrants and crack-heads. The area is really nice now and pretty fun to walk around, and the underground lot under Gratitude’s building takes care of the once terrifying parking issues. There’s also a really nice outdoor seating area that is dog-friendly.
A few more observations of the place before we get into the food in detail:
- I can’t emphasize enough how friendly the staff is. Everyone working there seems to believe in Gratitude’s mission and seems genuinely happy to be working there, which really does go a long way.
- Every time I’ve gone there, it’s been pretty busy, which I guess is to be expected with all the health-nuts living in Venice and Santa Monica, but it’s still really great to see how popular plant-based food can become.
- The portions are HUGE, even the appetizer salads, which is awesome. I can’t stand going to restaurants that serve you vegetarian meals, especially salads, the size of a soap dish and expect you to be satisfied. You get a lot of bang for your buck at Gratitude.
- They make their own hot sauce, and it’s delicious. You can actually buy it by the bottle if you so choose, which I have done on several occasions.
- Their menu changes seasonally, so even if you see the same menu item on there in Summer vs. Winter for example, some of the elements of that dish will be different. I think it’s a really cool touch and something that other restaurants should take note of. We all know it’s best to eat food in season, and it also makes each of your meals there unique.
The last time we were there, the wife and I ordered these dishes:
I AM LOCAL Winter greens with roasted beets, maple toasted walnuts, diced apple and red onion tossed in a fig balsamic vinaigrette, served with cashew mozzarella and fresh oregano crostini
I AM ECSTATIC Brussel sprouts roasted with a maple miso glaze
I AM FORTIFIED Sautéed seasonal vegetables & kale, brown rice or quinoa, topped with your choice of sauce: sesame-ginger, garlic-tahini, red pepper harissa
I AM WHOLE Macrobiotic bowl with sea vegetables, stewed adzuki beans, raw kale, carrots , house-made red cabbage kim chee and sea whip and black sesame seed gomasio with your choice of quinoa or local brown rice, tahini-garlic sauce and teriyaki almonds
Tons of food and we were more than satisfied with everything. Check out the photos of the dishes in the gallery below. If you live in Los Angeles, check out one of their two locations, and even if you’re not a vegan, I can guarantee you’ll walk away full and feeling happy.