• healthy eats at the natural cafe

    July 27th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, the natural cafe

    if you are craving simple, light, nutritious vegan food, the natural cafe is where it’s at. the small restaurant has 9 locations throughout california (santa barbara, moorpark, and simi valley just to name a few)—we recently hit up the westlake village establishment for lunch and were surprisingly pleased with our meal.

    veggie stuffed spud: baked potato topped with steamed vegetables, and tahini-ginger sauce. $7.95

    although the natural cafe serves meat, they have a large vegetarian menu (most of which can be made vegan). we were feeling like a pretty basic meal, so we went with the veggie stuffed spud and “mr. natural”.

    when the food arrived, it was super simple; yet nicely prepared, fresh, and tasty. the veggie spud (pictured above) came with an array of steamed vegetables including broccoli, squash, onions, and carrots. it comes with a choice of butter and cheese (ewwww) or ginger tahini dressing for the vegans. i asked if i could get salsa on mine instead, and the natural cafe was happy to oblige. unfortunately i didn’t get a picture of my side of salsa, because it was the highlight of my meal. so amazing.

    mr. natural: fresh seasonal vegetables steamed, served over short grain brown rice. $7.95

    the mr. natural was just as simple as the potato: seasonal steamed vegetables on a bed of short grain brown rice. for an extra charge, you can add tahini or tofu to this dish…which is probably a good idea, because it could use the flavor boost. again, the vegetables were very fresh and tasty this dish really hit the spot. if you are looking for more adventurous vegan food, the menu also has burritos, tacos, stir frys, and tamales.

    one thing i love, love, LOVE about the natural cafe is their assortment of self-serve condiments. there’s a huge counter full of hot sauces, mustards, braggs, and sprinkle-on-things like nutritional yeast!

    they even have alcohol! if drinking bottled corporate beer is your thing, you are in luck!

    the interior is nice and comfy. you order at the counter, then have your choice between a nice roomy booth, a small table by the window, or a seat on the patio.

    while we really enjoyed our meal, and will no doubt return to the natural cafe…i do have one minor gripe. their website homepage is really fucking dumb. here is how they try to sell you on their meat options:

    “We DO have lots of great veggie options, but let us show you what else we can do! One taste of the chicken enchiladas or the turkey burger with jack cheese will have even the most committed “omnivore” hooked.”

    that doesn’t even make bloody sense! wouldn’t a “committed omnivore” already be hooked on the meat options!? did they mean to say “committed vegetarian”? that would piss me off too. either way, that paragraph SUCKS.

    anyways, the natural cafe is a great place for decent, healthy, vegan options. i wouldn’t suggest making a special trip all the way to westlake village for the food, but they are definitely a good spot if you happen to be in the area.

    the natural cafe
    968-12 westlake blvd
    westlake village, ca 91362

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21 responses to “healthy eats at the natural cafe” RSS icon

  • The one in Santa B. has better beer in the fridge. Chalk the Westlake Village selection up to the more conventional (i.e. bad) beverage tastes of the Conejo Valley.

  • I grew up down the street so Natural Cafe was my local spot. The vegan burgers were amazing until we found out that the buns have honey in them. You can get the burgers in a pita bread but it’s just not the same. I recommend the old town salad with tofu. In the salad you get: brown rice, lettuce, guacamole, tomatoes, and carrots.

  • Oh and they have some good shakes!!!!

  • i’ve been to the one in SB. it’s very similar to nature’s grill in ventura. kinda bland.

    and what the fuck is up with that paragraph?

  • steamed veggies and rice? that sounds lame…

  • These pics were the opposite of food porn.

  • Ha ha ha! I think it’s funny that when QG posts anything that’s healthy, people get mad. I appreciate knowing about this option. We can’t eat pizza and burgers every day!

  • What a fucking stupid thing to say on their website. I’ll check that place out, though, as it’s right off the freeway!

  • If you are driving back to LA from up north, wait the extra hour it will take you to drive to LA for some good vegan eats. This place is BLAND.

  • QG! something you should know and think about : The Natural Cafe chain also owns the Nature’s Grill in Ventura that you reviewed a minute ago. And that place blows. The menus are very similar, some items, or more like 75% of the menu is…. exactly the same. My favorite NatCafe is the one in SB.

  • I lived in SB for 5+ years as an omni and loved this place. I recently visited as a vegan and was extremely disappointed. They don’t have veganaise (even as an option!) so any sandwich/burger you may want is comin’ with dry bread, and like others have mentioned, everything that could be “vegan” on their menu is BLAND. I’m sorry, but I do not want to go out to eat a meal of steamed veggies and rice (I can make my own, from truly local and organic ingredients, much more healthy and eco-friendly than Natural Cafe!).

    Be warned: Their “soy cheese” has casein, but you wouldn’t know it unless you check their big binder of ingredients (the employees don’t have a clue since they’re usually local college girls that don’t know what “vegan” even means…) ugh.

    If you’re vegan, don’t waste your time with this place. If you’re vegetarian or omni, however, it’s a good spot.

  • I would go there based soley on the fact that you can buy a baked potato. What is it with this city and it’s lack of baked potatoes?

  • Now we really need one of these on every corner! Its so frustrating that its so hard to find genuinely healthy PURE food in this city! Everything is macro fatty stupid glop advertised as healthy. It looks just like the one in Santa Barbra on the inside. Definitely keeping this on my radar for healthy meals when out and about! I had no idea they had a bunch of locations! Great find!!!

  • Ew this place brings back awful memories. I first went here quite some time ago…and afterwards I vowed to never eat in a restaurant that serves meat, and I stuck to it.
    I ordered an innocent plate of brown rice with tofu, with my fork I picked up a piece of “tofu” and ALMOST put it in my mouth until I noticed the smell and texture…it was a chunk of CHICKEN. So hopefully this won’t happen to any of you who choose to eat here. But for me personally, this place is disgusting.

  • I LOVE the Natural Cafe. I have lunch at the Westlake one regularly. Their Natural Caesar salad with sauteed tofu is stunning! I keep threatening to go into their kitchen and find out how they cook their tofu because I just can’t make mine taste as good as theirs.

    And for the person who said that their vegan options are bland, I’m sorry but that’s just not true. In addition to the caesar salad (available with a different dressing and no cheese), their stir-fried veggies, tofu and brown rice are wonderfully spicy.

    I’m afraid I can’t offer insight on any other dishes; these two are so good that no matter how much I intend to order something different when I visit, I always end up ordering one of these!

  • It does look healthy, which is good. And I agree about the paragraph that was pointed out in the review, what are they trying to say with that? Maybe whoever wrote it is unclear about what the term “omnivore” actually means.

  • Rabbit food.

  • I mean, seriously, if this is your thing, why go out to eat and pay $8 plus tax and tip? You could probably eat for a week on that if that’s your bag.

  • @greg, i don’t think anyone is making a brown rice and steamed veggie place a destination (unless they are super challenged in the kitchen) but when you are out and about and starving I’d pay $20 to not get vegan poisoned by McVegan fatty cancer crack rock that 99.9% of vegan restaurants serve (though a lot of people think its healthy because its vegan its not). I think the majority of the population is overweight and sick and on drugs. Vegan 1.0 was once a major let down, but now its salvation.

  • Thanks for the tip about the restaurant. I’ll bet they paid good money for that copywriter who obviously didn’t know an omnivore from a vegan. After reading your review, maybe they’ll take a look at changing that particular error.

  • The tahini ginger sauce isn’t vegan is has honey in it. The tahini dressing is however.

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