Disclosure: This meal was hosted. Also, this meal was delicious, but we'll get to that....
Right up front, I gotta make this clear. Whether you are vegan, raw or otherwise, the only thing you will care about is that SunCafe Organic is irresistibly delicious.
It's an interesting story, too. For five years, a tiny storefront in Studio City was home to this special group. But as its consumer-base grew, so did the need for space. Lo and behold, a large restaurant space down Ventura Boulevard became available and now you can find this remarkable eatery set back behind its own parking lot (valuable real estate on Ventura, I assure you) and a spacious patio holding both traditional tables and more casual couches for lounging..
And so the new space opened with more than triple the capacity of the predecessor, including the multi-level outdoor patio, a brand-new kitchen, an eclectic beer and wine bar, a wonderfully decorated interior and an expanded menu.
Inside, while the original SunCafe seated thirty-eight guests, the new location can accommodate more than one hundred. The building is a 1920s-era ranch-style house, and has been renovated inside and out, with a focus on reclaimed building materials, matching the restaurant’s ethical philosophy. (If you live in the area, you might recall it was Zach's Cafe for many years and quite run down in the end days.) One unique element is what the owners have deemed the “Mad Hatter Table,” a table for eight guests, designed to fit between four columns in the main dining room. The Mad Hatter is kitted out with a huge chandelier and a mismatched set of one-of-a-kind vintage chairs found at architectural salvage stores. It's enticing and I want to have a dinner party around it soon. (And don't think I won't bring my Mad Hatter top hat from Halloween 2012. That thing keeps proving to be useful - I am never getting rid of it.)
The menu is vegetarian. A lot of it vegan friendly, a lot of it raw vegan friendly, with several gluten-free options. The Mac & Cheese, for example, has long been one of SunCafe’s best sellers, served in a cast-iron skillet. Not all the ingredients are shared but the menu at least reveals – quinoa pasta, tomato, cashew cheese sauce. Regardless, it equals any traditional Mac & Cheese dish you might have; bonus points assured if you add some chopped soy chorizo. It's smokey, cheesy, savory and it's easy to see how it's become a fave.
The pizza is also hugely popular - and it should be. My friend tried their Farmer's Market pizza which paired nicely with the garlic bread appetizer. The simple looking pizza is not so simple at all with fresh figs, white sauce, tempeh bacon, arugula, meyer lemon vin and balsamic reduction. The rice crust is gluten free but it's chewy and tastes as much like a regular pizza crust as anything else I've ever had.
And speaking of appetizers, I gotta give a shout out to the nachos. They mean business. With SunChorizo, nacho cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapeño, green onion, cashew sour cream over baked blue corn chips, we were licking our fingers when we were through.
I love a good guacamole. (Hint: this was a great guacamole.)
I'm not even through, though. Because now we gotta talk drinks, guys. Like for reals drinks. SunCafe is holding nothing back -- there are thirty-nine wines available, eighteen of them by the glass. For five of the boutique producers represented, SunCafe is the only restaurant in the Los Angeles area to carry these wines. There are also twelve beers on tap and ten bottled beers, from as close as Torrance and as far away as Belgium. They also feature a selection of clever cocktails based on liqueurs, vermouths, wines and beers -- not to mention a Sangria that is the most refreshing beverage over ice that ever existed.
On top of all the new, SunCafe is definitely kept their famous shakes on the menu. I wasn't going to try one because my stomach was crying out for a break, but how can I adequately review a restaurant and not try something they're quite famous for? And so as I leave you today, after this lengthy (but hopefully worth it) review, let me leave by recommending the Cacao Superfood Shake because it tastes just like chocolate and is actually good for you or the SWEET KALE SHAKE. Oh yes, I drank a KALE SHAKE. Kale happens to be my least favorite food but I got talked into it. In addition to Kale, it also has banana, agave and cashew in it. And frankly, I think it sounds disgusting. But you know what? It's RIDICULOUSLY good.
So I guess if I can drink Kale, I can do anything. And so can we all. Don'tcha think?
- Official website
- Parking: $5 valet, free for takeout, street parking
- Follow them on Twitter
- Like them on Facebook
I should also explain that I next-t0-never eat this way so if you're used to this type of food you probably find it rather precious how excited I am about everything. But the good news is, if this all tasted great to a meat-eating sushi-lover like me, I gotta believe it's just going to rock the world's socks off.
Only thing I have to ask now is... Who's going to go sit on the patio and drink Kale shakes with me next weekend?