A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Cafe Gratitude: Vegan Friendly

LITTLE ITALY.  Cafe Gratitude is open, and if you haven’t yet eaten there, you are missing out.  It is a 100% organic, plant-based restaurant that has some of the most delicious vegan food I have ever eaten.  Really.  Upon finishing my first meal there, I immediately purchased the restaurant’s cookbook.

The restaurant boasts a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and an impressive array of specialty drinks.  Everything is named after an affirmation.  For example, “I am Fortified” is a delicious veggie bowl.

I’m a huge fan of Cafe Gratitude’s breakfast menu.  The “I am Open-Hearted” is two buckwheat flax pancakes served with maple syrup.  You can also add fresh fruit or cashew whipped cream.  In a breakfast world that is often dominated by omelets and cream sauces, these pancakes are like a breath of fresh air.  They are light and fluffy but won’t sit in your stomach like a ton of bricks.  I only wish I could have them for breakfast every day.


[caption id="attachment_3168" align="alignnone" width="640"]I am Open-Hearted: Gluten-Free Pancakes I am Open-Hearted: Gluten-Free Pancakes[/caption]


If you are not in the mood for pancakes, there is always the “I am Bonita” breakfast taco plate.  The plate has a base of sprouted probiotic brown rice or quinoa (or a mix if you want!) and is topped with black beans, salsa fresca, avocado, cashew nacho cheese, and toasted pumpkin seeds.  It is served with a side of four corn tortillas.  This is a filling and delicious option.  I’m usually stuffed by taco number three but find myself eating the fourth taco because it tastes so good!


[caption id="attachment_3166" align="alignnone" width="640"]I am Bonita: Vegan Breakfast Taco Plate I am Bonita: Vegan Breakfast Taco Plate[/caption]


When you’re ready to move on to a lunch or dinner entree, I recommend starting with the “I am Whole” macrobiotic bowl.  It is the first thing I ever ordered off the menu and remains my “go to” option.  Sprouted probiotic rice or quinoa is topped with braised garnet yams, adzuki beans, sea vegetables, seasonal sauteed greens, house made kim chee, black sesame seed gomasio, garlic-tahini sauce, teriyaki almonds, and sunflower sprouts.  All of the flavors and textures work together to create an irresistible bowl.   I especially love the crunch and taste of the teriyaki almonds!


[caption id="attachment_3172" align="alignnone" width="640"]I am Whole: Macrobiotic Bowl I am Whole: Macrobiotic Bowl[/caption]


One of my new favorites is the “I am Liberated” kelp noodle entree.  Heirloom cherry tomatoes, local black and green olives, wild arugula, basil hempseed pesto, cashew ricotta, and brazil nut parmesan coat marinated kelp noodles.  This is a light and fresh entree.  And the hempseed pesto, cashew ricotta, and brazil nut parmesan ensure that there is plenty of flavor.


[caption id="attachment_3178" align="alignnone" width="640"]I Am Liberated: Kelp Noodles with Peso I Am Liberated: Kelp Noodles with Peso[/caption]


I would be remiss, if I didn’t talk about the desserts at Cafe Gratitude.  Every time I am in the restaurant, I have to get up from the table to ogle their dessert case.  Below is the vegan and raw “I am Irresistible” chocolate coconut cream pie.  Not only does the pie look like a piece of art, it tastes exquisite.  Rich and smooth with a strong chocolate taste.  It’s the kind of dessert that makes you close your eyes while you’re eating it!


[caption id="attachment_3176" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan and Raw Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie Vegan and Raw Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie[/caption]


I also love the drinks at Cafe Gratitude.  It’s so much more than boring coffee and tea.  My favorite is the “I am Vibrant” Matcha Tea Latte (it is usually made with honey but you can ask for it to be left out or made with a vegan sweetener!).  The matcha tea makes this drink a bright, vibrant green.  It’s sure to take the chill out of any cold day.


[caption id="attachment_3170" align="alignnone" width="640"]I am Vibrant: Matcha Tea Latte I am Vibrant: Matcha Tea Latte[/caption]


My husband’s new favorite drinnk is the “I am Opulent” sparking water with essential oils.  Grapefruit, lemon, peppermint, ginger, and cinnamon oils are all added to sparkling water to create a drink that has a fun, subtle flavor.


[caption id="attachment_3171" align="alignnone" width="640"]I am Opulent: Sparkling Water with Essential Oils I am Opulent: Sparkling Water with Essential Oils[/caption]


The inside of Cafe Gratitude is beautiful.   Whether you decide to sit at the counter, at a booth inside, or at a table on the outside patio, you will enjoy bright spaces with lots of light.


[caption id="attachment_3175" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cafe Gratitude Bar Area Cafe Gratitude Bar Area[/caption]


Cafe Gratitude also has a whole area dedicated to “to go” orders.  It makes placing and picking up orders efficient.  It is also the place where you can examine the dessert offerings or peruse the store’s cookbook.  I hope you have a chance to enjoy this special restaurant soon!


[caption id="attachment_3174" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cafe Gratitude "To-Go" Station Cafe Gratitude “To-Go” Station[/caption]


1980 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 736-5077


  • Laura says:

    The “I am Warm Hearted” polenta dish is the best!

    • emily says:

      I love the “I am Warm Hearted” as well!! It is difficult for me to pick a favorite since I’ve always loved everything I’ve tried there!

  • Cynthia says:

    The Reuben sandwich was horrible. It tasted like horseradish and I couldn’t finish it. Native Foods makes a much better one.

    Expensive too.