Review: Cafe Gratitude offers wide variety of quality vegan dishes


Photo credit: Allegra Carney

The açaí bowl, margarita pizza and curry bowl are pictured at Gratitude Cafe. One of my favorites on the menu was the pizza as it replicated a traditional pizza, while adding new flavors and expanding my tastebuds. The cafe offers a wide range of vegan cuisine, such as an entirely plant-based cheese made from cashews.

By Allegra Carney, Staff Reporter

Mushrooms disguised as a burger, a pizza made with cauliflower and nachos layered with cashew cheese are all foods that you can find at Cafe Gratitude,  a Los Angeles-based vegan restaurant. 

The cafe offers an entire menu of dishes prepared without animal products. Head Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis opened the cafe’s first location in Venice in 2004, which was originally named Gratitude Cafe. The cafe offers an affordable and sustainable vegan experience for all to enjoy.

I was skeptical when planning my first visit to the cafe, as I had never tried a meal that was completely plant-based and full of animal substitutes that are not featured in my daily diet. I was worried that the menu would be filled with tofu and coconut, as they are common meat and dairy substitutes. However, as soon as I walked into the restaurant I was met, with the smell of comforting spices such as cinnamon and curry, which awakened my tastebuds and made me excited for the meal to come.

As I looked at the menu I was surprised to see the wide variety of dishes they had to offer. From salads and bowls to classic brunch items and pizza, the menu was filled with options for every type of eater. I was happy to find they serve traditional dishes such as a margarita, pizza, rice bowls and pastas.

Another aspect of the experience that stood out to me was how all of the dishes on the menu were titled with inspirational names, such as the açaí bowl named “I am Vivid” and the smashed avocado toast called “I am Peaceful.” This unique aspect of the restaurant creates a more relaxed, calm and supportive environment for diners. In addition, these positive affirmations promote healthy relationships between the dinner and their food. When I went to order my salad and said “I am Confident,” I smiled. It was nice to speak an affirmation when ordering.

All together, my family and I ordered the margarita pizza, Indian curry bowl, açaí bowl, nachos and truffled macadamia cheese plate.

We first enjoyed the cheese plate, which was a great way to start the meal because it was light and surprisingly delicious. I never expected “fake cheese” to taste so real and flavorful. It was plated with crackers and had an extremely soft texture that tasted very realistic. The dairy was substituted with a cashew alternative, which tasted amazing. We were then served the nachos, which were definitely a highlight and, again, included the cashew cheese alternative. They tasted delicious, and I didn’t feel like anything was missing.

Next, we were served our entrees, which included the açaí bowl, Indian curry bowl and a margarita pizza. The açaí bowl was amazing, but that was a safe choice considering açaí bowls are filled with fresh fruit and already plant-based. It came with a variety of fruits, such as blueberries and bananas, and a selection of different toppings to add to the bowl, which allowed me to customize the meal to my unique flavor pallet.

I then bit into the Indian curry bowl, which was delectable. All the aspects of the bowl, such as the beans, rice and yams, blended together perfectly. It definitely lived up to my hopes. I later learned that the bowls the restaurant offers are their most popular dish, and I can definitely attest to this statement. 

After the bowl, we dug into margarita pizza, which was probably the most surprising dish we had. It didn’t feel like it was missing anything despite it being dairy and gluten free. It was an enjoyable and appetizing alternative for non dairy eaters, and I would order it in the future. The gluten free crust was soft on the inside and crispy on the out with the most perfect texture. Overall, the texture of the pizza was the same as any other pizza I have had.

Upon asking what the main meat and dairy substitutes they used in their dishes, our server informed us that they use mushrooms in most of their dishes as a meat substitute opposed to the most common meat alternative, tofu, which is seen at a lot of plant-based restaurants. The waiter mentioned that by not using tofu, it allows a wider range of customers to dine at the restaurant because mushrooms are a soy-free alternative. And, instead of traditional dairy products, Cafe Gratitude uses cashews to substitute the common dairy alternative, coconut, which, to me, has a very distinct taste that I am not a fan of, so this was refreshing to experience.

We dined at the cafe on a Wednesday night, so the restaurant was around 60% full. This is relatively busy for a restaurant on a weeknight, and it made me curious if the restaurant is always at a high capacity. The service was excellent, and as soon we were seated, our server came over to help us. After we ordered our first dish, it was at our table within ten minutes. 

Overall I was very surprised about how much I enjoyed the restaurant and would definitely go back, which is something I thought I would never say after eating at an entirely vegan restaurant. I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything on the menu appealing, but they had a great range of items so every kind of eater can kind something they like. At Cafe Gratitude, I realized that it doesn’t take a regular vegan eater to eat plant-based, and that with an open mind, it is just as enjoyable as any other meal would be. 

  • Food
  • Atmosphere
  • Service
  • Enjoyment
  • Efficeincy
  • Price


Gratitude Cafe is a vegan experience like no other that I have tried before. Their dishes are very reasonably priced and they offer a wide variety of delicious plant based food. Their substitutes for animal products don’t taste fake or feel any different than the regular product would, they simply offer healthier and more sustainable alternatives.