Cafe Gratitude, the restaurant beloved by Los Angeles’ hip health-conscious types, opened its third location in the booming Downtown Arts District this weekend. And the affirmations were flowing (as were the crowds of trendy artists, architects, and hipster types).
Co-owner Ryland Engelhart said choosing downtown for the next organic vegan restaurant was a no-brainer, and was influenced by LA’s “young community who wants to take care of themselves, the planet, and have a life of service”—and where this demographic’s dining out more often.
To that end, the dinner menu at South Santa Fe Avenue includes some new, experimental, and exclusive items you won’t find at the Larchmont or Venice locations [update: Cafe Gratitude will be making these available at all locations], and it’s giving executive chef Dreux Ellis a forum for some culinary play.
The “[I am] Abundant” artisanal antipasto plate is a cashew and macadamia nut cheese board with white truffle, pistachio, and applewood smoked salt flavors. And the “Bountiful” gluten-free quinoa pasta, which is sautéed with braised cauliflower, curly kale, and a cashew cream sauce, shines on Chef Ellis’s dinner menu. Both have that signature wholesome Gratitude feel, but take things a step up the sophistication ladder.
“We wanted to give vegans a special date night experience,” said Ellis, wearing his LOVE v-neck t-shirt, a nod to the Be Love Farm where Cafe Gratitude grows most of their ingredients. There’s also a three-course tasting menu and wine pairings from Jason Eisner, beverage director at sister restaurant Gracias Madre, and killer desserts, like Brazil nut chocolate ganache truffles.
Given the Arts District architecture, this location has a more industrial feel, but it hums with good vibes. “Cafe Gratitude is about bringing the light,” says Engelhart. And a yummy array of dishes, of course. —Kara Griffin
Cafe Gratitude Arts District, 300 South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90012, 213-929-5580, www.cafegratitude.com
(Photos: Cafe Gratitude DTLA, artisanal antipasto plate, Einkorn flat bread)