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Enlightenment in a Bowl? Thrive Café

ThriveCafeI don’t always eat vegetarian at restaurants, but when I do, I’d prefer that it be honest with me. Typical vegetarian fare can be shifty— quinoa tucked slyly into a soy-based “meatloaf” and chickpeas lurking in a faux “chicken burger” patty. Delicious as these dishes can be, I find myself craving veggies and grains in their natural form. So after checking out their menu online, I was eager to try Thrive Café in Seattle’s Roosevelt District.

Although they do serve something called the “Bella Burger”, Thrive Café goes way beyond imitating meat-based foods.  They combine grains, vegetables, and sauces into colorful concoctions with names like “Awaken” and “Flourish”. All of their dishes are gluten-free and dairy-free.

The first dish I tried was the popular Buddha bowl. Mushrooms, kale chips, marinated kale, organic cucumbers, and bella burger crumbles. The green stuff is a garlic cilantro sauce (yummier than it looks!), and the white dollop is onion cashew cream.

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Although I badly craved another Buddha bowl on my second visit, I tried “Juggernaut”, because, well, who can resist a name like that?

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Hubby had the Thai Bowl:

Thai_1024x576Along with being very tasty, these dishes left me feeling full (but not stuffed) and energized. I wasn’t hungry again for hours. All hallmarks of a great meal. One tiny caveat —if you’re sensitive to salt, you may want to ask them to go easy on the sesame ginger sauce (or substitute fresh ginger, which is a menu option).  Both the Buddha Bowl and Juggernaut contain this sauce, and when I got down to the bottom of the bowl where the sauce was more concentrated, it became quite salty. Asking for less sauce and mixing it around a little would have solved that issue I’m sure.

Thrive Café also specializes in smoothies. I don’t typically drink a lot of smoothies, because I don’t find them satisfying as a meal (I have a strong need to chew), and they’re usually too heavy to have alongside food. As though attempting to convert me, the staff at Thrive brought around two smoothie samples, and I have to admit, they were surprisingly light. I ordered the “coconutty” on our second visit. The. Best. Ever.

Thrive Café is tiny, with only a few tables, but we were able to snag one both times we visited. There is a small bookstore in the back with a selection of cookbooks and other literature, most of them touting raw food and vegan diets. Customers place orders and pick up at the counter, and food served in compostable bowls (with lids available if needed). If you’re in a hurry, shoot them a text with your take-out order, and they’ll have it ready when you arrive.

Thrive Café is very Seattle and is in no way trying to be something it’s not. Kind of like its menu.

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