Cafe Gratitude is the new vegetarian/vegan restaurant on the block, occupying the space on Southwest Blvd that Lulu’s Noodle Shop vacated when it moved around the corner. There are several Cafe Gratitude eateries in California, but this is the first one to open not in the Golden state. It took local owners Natalie and Mike George several years to convince the California owners that Kansas City could support this type of restaurant, but their perseverance has already paid off. The restaurant has been packed since it opened.
We started with the I AM HONORING nachos, made with spicy sunflower “bean “pâté, guacamole, salsa fresca, nacho cheese and homemade crackers. Instead of the typical horizontal layering, these crackers sit upright and diners make their own nachos, combining ingredients as desired.
For our main dishes, we shared the I AM WHOLE, a bowl of sea vegetables, kale, carrots, house-made kim chee and sprouts, with a choice of quinoa or local brown rice with tahini-garlic sauce and teriyaki almonds. We chose quinoa for this dish and brown rice for the I AM HUMBLE –Indian curried lentils over brown rice or quinoa, with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes, drizzled with a spicy mint chutney.
We enjoyed them both. They were fresh and flavorful and the ingredients complemented each other well.
On another visit I tried the I AM PURE, Ginger-tahini kale salad with avocado, sea palm, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, basil and green onions, topped with sunflower sprouts & teriyaki almonds, and the I AM MAGICAL, a homemade veggie burger on sprouted wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion and spicy cashew mustard sauce. I thought the kale salad was light and flavorful, and though I enjoyed the veggie burger, it was not my favorite in town by a long shot.
Other appealing options include the I AM TRANSFORMED , two seasonal corn tacos with brown rice, black beans, guacamole, salsa fresca and cashew nacho cheese, and I AM FORTIFIED: Sautéed seasonal vegetables & kale, brown rice or quinoa, topped with a choice of sesame ginger, garlic-tahini, or Thai almond sauce.
They also have a “Community Bowl”, explained on the menu as follows: “Our community supported grain bowl–Shredded kale with quinoa and black beans and garlic-tahini sauce.Payment is by donation. No one is turned away. Suggested value is $ 7. Feed yourself and someone in need $ 14. ”