On the busy, restaurant-laden 17th Street that borders the ever beautifully sunny cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, is Cafe Gratitude’s new location. Simply going by “Gratitude.” Although I’ve never been to their first location(s), I had heard great things. And my experience was great from the get-go. I walked past their spacious outdoor patio into the open doorway to be seated promptly. It’s full-service here, so I was given a menu to look over before my server arrived.
Happy to say that service was great! My waitress was happy to recommend some of her favorites in detail. The menu items couldn’t be named with more positivity than what they decided on. My selections: the “Feliz,” the “Happy,” and the “Dazzling.” Feeling warm and fuzzy yet? Well hang on – they also suggest you order starting with “I am…” No one makes you, of course. But the whole vibe here is aligned with the whole positive encouragement routine. It’s nice. Sunny, bright smiles all around.
First came my “Refreshed” sparkling basil lemonade. Refreshing as could be! With a fresh basil leaf to nibble on and a thick paper straw (down with plastic!).
Shortly after came the Feliz – a portobello and black bean tostada with coleslaw, avocado, “queso” fresco (cashew based), and plenty of coconut bacon. It struck a great balance between salty, savory and creamy. And the coconut bacon? Perfectly thin and crunchy crisps. The mushrooms were cooked well, the slaw was true to the spirit of mexican cuisine – but that coconut bacon. I could go on and on.
Then the Dazzling – a seven kale (yes, seven) salad. The “sexy seven” they call it. Served with a cashew based caesar (cashew use is very prominent here), avocado, croutons, and your option of adding on coconut bacon. I shamelessly doubled up on the coconut bacon because this stuff is amazing. It’s worth nothing that the bill will add up quickly here. It is fairly expensive. The trade off is that you can truly taste the quality and freshness of the ingredients. Which they are happy to tell you are all locally sourced and organic. I could taste it in the salad. It was one of the best kale salads I’ve ever had, leaf for leaf.
Then, the Happy – a mediterranean falafel wrap, and a unique one at that. The falafel are walnut and sunflower seed based, the (raw, dehydrated) wrap from sun dried tomato, the hummus from zucchini and cilantro. And the olive hemp seed tabbouleh on the side just completes it. It’s a healthy, fresh, and unique combination of flavors. The portions may not be huge, but they know what they’re doing here.
Finally, one of their desserts from a rotating menu – the key lime pie. Simply amazing. The best I’ve had, vegan or not. Perfect light and fluffy texture with creamy cashew frosting.
I’m not covering any of their bar menu either, but it is quite extensive! They also have a $6 small plate and cocktail happy hour on weekdays.
Gratitude made a great impression. From the atmosphere, environment, and food, I felt like I was somewhere where people genuinely care. If you’re looking for a vegan spot that piles on the portions for your buck, this might not be the place. But if you want a fine-dining experience with excellent service and great flavor, look no further.
Gratitude in Newport Beach gets 9/10 hi-fives.