A Roundup of Leading Raw Food Restaurants
Raw food (also known as "live" food) is uncooked and un-processed fare that includes a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. In order to qualify as raw, food cannot be warmed more than 115°F, and while animal products like eggs, meat and dairy can be included in a raw food diet, it's usually considered unsafe. Most eateries remain strictly vegan (or at least vegetarian) and organic. And the food they serve is some of the most inventive—and decadent—around. Here's a rundown of some of the top raw/live food restaurants around the country:
The Present Moment Café
(St. Augustine, Florida)
This small eatery is situated in West King, a progressive area of St. Augustine, Florida. Opened in 2006 by Yvette and Nathan Schindler (Yvette is also executive chef), the menu offers edibles like kale and avocado salad, pine nut chili and walnut paté-filled burritos, zucchini pasta with pesto and sun-cured tomatoes and mango samosas served on baby spinach. And Present Moment goes all out on desserts. Made in-house, desserts include ice cream in flavors ranging from cashew vanilla to blueberry, and specialty sweets like warm pecan-apple cobbler and chocolate marble torte with rum-poached bananas. They also have an extensive juice bar and vegan milkshake menu.
The Alchemy Juice Bar Café
Named after the philosophy of trying to change common metals into gold, The Alchemy Juice Bar Café labors to turn everyday ingredients into healthy and tasty raw food. Located near Trinity College, Alchemy offers both cooked and raw/live fare like a create-your-own salad bowl with extensive ingredients that include daikon (a type of Oriental radish) and Flax Crax—gourmet raw crackers prepared at low temperatures to preserve enzymes and nutrients. The bistro also offers healing teas and medicinal brews, as well as organic live juices.
Chaco Canyon Organic Café
Located in the University District of Seattle, Chaco Canyon is Washington State's first certified organic vegetarian restaurant. The Southwestern-motif eatery offers breakfast (served all day), lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and a daily raw foods menu. Raw entrées include green coconut curry vegetables, a nacho plate with flax chips and mango pico de gallo salsa, a gluten- and soy-free cilantro pesto pizza with herbed macadamia cheese and sun-dried tomato sauce and a range of raw bowls like ginger sesame. Chaco Canyon also offers raw desserts like a coconut and raw cacao fudge brownie and raspberry tart with hazelnut-date crust.
Beets Living Foods Café
Historically, beets have been used as a source for sucrose, providing an alternative to sugarcane. In Austin, Beets is a hip raw food café located on 5th Street Commons. The open, minimalist space offers take-out and dine-in eating six days a week. At the helm is owner and chef Sylvia Heisey. The salad menu is extensive (tangy fermented cabbage kraut, kale with hemp seeds and all the fixins and a spicy sprouted lentil salad topped with raw apple cider vinegar) and the beverage offerings include everything from a "choco-a-la-na-na" smoothie with chocolate, dates and almond milk to goji lemonade. Beets also offers classes on topics such as "Raw Basics" and "Decadent Desserts."
Go Raw Café & Juice Bar
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
Sin City is better known for all-night prime rib buffets than live food restaurants, but the folks at Go Raw Café & Juice Bar are looking to change that. They've opened two locations—one on the Westside and one on the Eastside—featuring organic, raw and vegan cuisine. Both sites offer inspired menu items like a purple cabbage-filled burrito with greens, veggie sushi filled with almond cheese and a myriad of vegetables, portabella mushrooms wrapped in collard greens and a selection of veggie and fruit juices (beet, ginger, parsley, etc.), smoothies and shots of wheatgrass, aloe and goji.
Oasis Living Cuisine
Opened in 2002, Oasis Living Cuisine is located about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia. The small bistro doubles as a raw, vegan and vegetarian restaurant (offering wraps, pizza and salads) as well as a storefront for products they manufacture in-house like Brazil Nut Crisps, Buckwheat Grahams, Falafel Crisps and Kale Chips. But it's Oasis" bakery case and specialty desserts that garner the most attention. Check out their raw organic vegan tarts in six flavors like lemon, white chocolate and key lime as well as a line of raw truffles, chocolate bars and specialty items like a Chocolate Buddha and a Mayan Moon God chocolate emblem, which they only make when the moon is full. Many items are available online.
(New York City, New York)
Candle 79 is a two-story, vegetarian fine dining eatery situated in Manhattan on the Upper East Side. It features an organic wine and sake bar as well as local, seasonal, organic, vegan and raw food cuisine. Open seven days a week (brunch on Saturday and Sunday), the sister restaurant to Candle Café (just five blocks away) has been rated Zagat's #1 Vegetarian Restaurant—twice. Raw and live food menu items include heirloom tomato-zucchini lasagna with cashew cheese, wild mushrooms and basil-pine nut pesto, avocado-tomato tartare with wild mushroom ceviche and a live peach parfait topped with ginger ice cream.
KARA POUND is a freelance writer living in Florida.