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Cafe Gratitude’s Whole Bowl Gets to the Root of Plant-Based Living

Written By: Jordan Nishkian
Photographed By: Victoria Wall Harris Best Vegan Restaurant

Foodies, rejoice! Cafe Gratitude is serving up a staple menu item that carnivores, herbivores and omnivores can all agree on. The Whole Bowl is Cafe Gratitude’s take on a macrobiotic bowl, which, according to Executive Chef Dreux Ellis, has been on the menu “since day one.”  “It’s been the number-one seller on our menu for 12 years!” Chef Ellis says. “It’s crazy popular.” Best Vegan Restaurant

A macrobiotic bowl, otherwise known as a Buddha bowl, is a convenient and tasty way to enjoy a macrobiotic diet, which stems from the Buddhist principle of yin and yang balance. “Traditionally, a macrobiotic bowl has a grain, a legume, a pickled item and usually a root vegetable as well,” Chef Ellis explains. “And then a sea vegetable—in our case it’s sea palm. Then we brighten it up with our Tahini dressing.” The root vegetable gets switched out seasonally, typically with a butternut squash for winter and garnet yams for the summer. “We tried other things, but those seem to be the crowd favorites, so I usually keep that switch-out,” explains Chef Ellis.

Cafe Gratitude named this dish the “Whole Bowl” because it “contains all of the nutritional elements that one would need to get through the day.” Full of protein, carbs and good fats, the Whole Bowl has “all the elements of a complete meal,” which Chef Ellis believes is the reason why people gravitate towards it so much. Best Vegan Restaurant

The bowl is a gorgeous mix of deliciously good-for-you flavors. When it first comes out of the scratch kitchen, you instantly smell the intoxicating, earthy aroma of the adzuki beans and a garlicky bite from their house-made tahini sauce. Once on the table, you’re greeted by an amazing collage of color. The rich greens of the sauteed kale and strands of tender sea palm are only accented by the bright, warm jewel tones of the kimchee and the butternut squash.

Served with a choice of quinoa, brown rice or both, each bite of the Whole Bowl offers a new mix of flavors and textures. The smooth, creamy butternut squash mixed with the slight chew of the grains comes alive with the acidic tang of the kimchee. The rich and delectable tahini acts as a binding agent for all the elements of the dish. Bright and herbaceous, the tahini absolutely blossoms when mixed with the flavors of the bowl, particularly with the beans, butternut squash and sea palm, which offers a lovely, reminiscent taste of the ocean. The Whole Bowl is topped with almonds and sprouts, which brings a fantastic crunch to the softer elements of the bowl.

The Whole Bowl is an incredible representation of the food Cafe Gratitude serves. “I love food that is fresh enough to have been cooked in a home kitchen,” shares Chef Ellis. “We’re a scratch kitchen and we make everything on-site, but it’s not fancy food. It’s well-done, handmade food.”

Whether you’re a die-hard vegan or you’re looking for a healthier meal, Cafe Gratitude has a beautiful, plant-based menu that could impress even the biggest of meat-eaters. But Chef Ellis, a vegan chef, encourages a plant-based lifestyle for a number of reasons. “Personally, the benefits of a plant-based diet are a compassionate lifestyle first of all, and the health benefits are very clear—the reduction of heart disease and other degenerative diseases—and often the unspoken benefit of a plant-based diet is that it’s so delicious,” he explains. “There’s this perception out there that it’s a limited way of eating and it’s actually a rich and vibrant lifestyle.”

Not only is there dedication to creating delicious food, but there is also a clear commitment to their community. “I love the fact that we are creating food that supports a number of things. It supports regenerative agriculture, animal welfare and a general sense of giving back as opposed to taking away,” Chef Ellis says. “That’s always been our primary operational mission since the beginning and it still is today.”

Whole Bowl Ingredients: Best Vegan Restaurant

Butternut Squash
Adzuki Beans
Sea Vegetables
Sauteed Kale
Garlic Tahini
Choice of Brown Rice, Quinoa or Both

Cafe Gratitude
300 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013