Café Gratitude

All goodness, all the time at LA’s vegan mainstay

By Jen Jones Donatelli

If the old adage “You are what you eat” is in fact true, then the place to be doing all of your eating has to be Café Gratitude. With aptly named dishes like “Dazzling,” “Vivacious,” and “Warm-Hearted,” the menu of plant-based, all-organic fare at this oasis of goodness is conceived from the ground up to help you manifest your best self. And following the lead of an executive chef who’s also an ordained Zen Buddhist monk, Gratitude’s “advocates” are all about making this happen for everyone who walks in the door.

The experience begins with an advocate asking you the “Question of the Day,” designed to spark conversation and reflection. After that, it’s time to peruse the inviting menu—which showcases a healthy helping of vegan and raw options, alongside a slew of bevvies from wellness shots to elixirs to smoothies. The act of ordering becomes as much a declaration as a decision, as you’re urged to state your selection affirmation—for instance, “I am Awesome,” which will not only feel great to say, but also score you a delicious eggplant Parmesan panini. Win-win.

What better way to start your day than with some Gratitude for breakfast? “Nurtured” sounds like a smart approach, a breakfast wrap consisting of a chickpea frittata, smoked tomato sauce, escabeche cashew mozzarella, and breakfast potatoes. Or maybe you need something more “Powerful,” with house-made granola of puffed quinoa and macambo granola, Incan berries, fresh fruit, and coconut yogurt? And nothing flips the script on a weekday breakfast like getting “Festive”—chilaquiles with roasted tomatillo sauce, black mole, tempeh chorizo, cashew queso fresco, and sautéed kale. If clarity is what you’re after, the “Vivid” bowl, packing crispy quinoa cashew granola, coconut, forest berries, banana, ginger syrup, and your choice of additions to top it off, is all yours.
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Dinner brings a similar opportunity to recalibrate your outlook. Perhaps you’re feeling “Liberated” and want to nosh on the restaurant’s popular raw pesto kelp noodles. Or maybe you crave that feeling of being “Whole,” which will come to you in the form of a macrobiotic mashup of veggies, greens, and more served over probiotic brown rice or quinoa. You can also make it a “Magical” day and sink your teeth into a double patty black-bean burger dressed with cashew-macademia cheddar and chipotle ketchup.

Over its seven years in SoCal, and amid expansion to multiple locations, Café Gratitude has become a hotspot amongst forward-thinking foodies, but what some may not know is that the concept was rooted in a board game created by founders Matthew and Terces Engelhart. Dubbed “The Abounding River,” the game centers on the principles of abundance, and the café was initially created as a place for people to gather and explore its ideas.

After all, at Café Gratitude, everyone’s a winner.


8 AM–10 PM daily

price range

$12 (Grateful bowl) to $16 (Bountiful entrée)