The other day, whilst employing google, I stumbled across information regarding a vegan raw cafe in the Detroit metro area, called the Cacao Tree Cafe.
Raw vegan cafe? Like my beloved Chaco Canyon cafe?
YES YES YES!!!
I made plans to go the very next day. Come yesterday, I hopped on my bike and pedaled to an early lunch. Once I got there, I discovered their whole menu was gluten-free (with the exception of a lavash, which had a GF alternative) in addition to all vegan and raw. Despite the fact that I am experimenting with gluten in my diet, it was heartening to know the whole menu was GF– especially since that meant I can take my mom to lunch some time!
Having been open for only eight months, the whole place doesn’t have the same colorful persona that Chaco Canyon has. Previously having been a juice bar, there are stools at a bar facing the kitchen, and row of tables with chairs and benches lining the wall behind you. The seating area is colorful, with a lovely sign on it:
The kitchen (which you can see part of) isn’t quite as colorful, and I believe adding some creativity in the form of color and artwork would make the place extra great.
A few specials are on the menu daily, in addition to the usual– which includes salad, raw tacos and burritos, smoothies, juice, and more. In a refrigerated case in the corner, handmade raw chocolate (!), raw cheesecakes, and to-go/pre-packaged raw dips and salads boast their presence– just begging you to grab a dessert to go with your meal!
I settled on ordering the burrito, and employed the option of serving it on a bed of greens instead of in a wrap (that way I could fit in dessert :D). My salad arrived, with walnut taco meat, cashew sour cream, salsa, and guacamole on a bed of romaine lettuce and sprouts.
The Cashew Sour Cream was surprisingly good– tangy thanks to lemon, with that signature cashew creaminess. Equally creamy and lemony (and delicious) was the Guacamole. It tasted so fresh, and, dare I say, rivaled my dad’s famous guacamole (which everyone raves about when they taste it!). I could have eaten a tub of each of these on their own, but I had to taste the Walnut Taco Meat. Perfect spicing, and crumbles akin to that of the beef variety, made this raw ‘meat’ a rival to the “real deal”. It was a delicious in the mouth when mixed with a piece of lettuce and salsa. Nothing was too spicy or salty, which is a good in my book! Too much black pepper sets my mouth on fire and I’m sensitive to saltiness. But my salad was just perfect, and I polished off the whole plate!
After my meal, I bought a little cup of the Cacao Tree’s raw handmade chocolates (which will soon be famed, no doubt). There were many great choices, including lavender, goji berry, and hemp butter truffles, but I couldn’t resist giving the stevia/xylitol sweetened chocolates a try.
In fact, these weren’t bitter at all– there was a slight crystal crunch in the chocolates, but that may have been the xylitol. They were really delicious, and definitely my kind of chocolate! I can’t wait to return and try the raw cheesecakes, the slices of which looked like a meal in their own right!
Clearly I had no qualms with the food! If I had one complaint, however, it would be the use of throwaway dishes and containers. Luckily the silverware was washable, but the plates were paper and all the desserts and dips were in those pesky plastic tubs. My solutions would be to encourage costumers to bring their own Tupperware containers, and then use compostable paperboard containers for food if costumers had no way to take away the bulk dips, salads, chocolates, and other raw desserts. If the plates were part of a dishware set, and preferable colorful to match the cafe’s theme, I think it would also increase the aesthetic pleasure of the food.
Overall, a great experience at another one of the new “alternative diet” cafes cropping up in America! I walked in with high expectations, and left a pretty satisfied costumer. A full meal at the Cacao Tree Cafe certainly isn’t one of the every day indulgences, as the prices are rather steep (and rightly so, considering the freshness and quality of the ingredients).
Ever been to an ‘alternative diet’ cafe or restaurant? Where was it and what did you eat? Chaco Canyon Cafe in Seattle was my first experience in a vegan cafe, with raw and GF options and will always have a special place in my heart. Now that I live in a big city I’m hoping to find some other gems like Chaco Canyon!