Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar + Ganesh = Variety for Vegans

A couple weeks ago, I went to Dolly’s to get my brows threaded (plug for Dolly’s – they’re great. My brows always look amazing when I leave, and it’s far less painful than it seems it should be). Courtney and I decided to meet up for dinner, so once my brows were back to human form, I walked down to Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, a very vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurant that also serves fresh and pure juices and smoothies (love). I checked out the menu online when I was at work, and I was really excited to try it because there were so many choices, and as anyone who doesn’t eat meat knows, when you’ve eliminated that from your diet, you’ve eliminated most of the food on most of the menus at most of the places you’ll go with most of your friends.

Meet Ganesh, the Hindu diety, who obviously blessed this place with superior food, even though I was not blessed with superior photo-taking skills when snapping this shot.

Lotus is peaceful and homey, with friendly employees standing at the counter who greet you immediately as you walk in. You order there and then seat yourself. I had already perused the menu and decided what I wanted before I got there, but it was no easy task given the sheer amount of dishes available. I would describe the menu as a Mexican-Asian-American fusion of sorts. There are tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, all alongside burgers, potatoes, salads, and stir fries. An eclectic mix, only further enlightened by the Indian lean in decor, which helps you get your spiritual on as you eat. Everything is connected, however, by fresh ingredients, a healthful overtone, and vegan alternatives on almost everything (if it didn’t start vegan already). Really, check out the menu. I can’t wait to try more dishes!

I got the Nirvana Burrito, which has sauteed veggies, pinto beans and organic rice wrapped in a whole wheat chapati topped with ranchero sauce, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. I decided to have it vegan, so they substituted out the cheese for soy cheese and nixed the sour cream. The burrito came with a small salad, and I decided on the tahini dressing on the side.

I was not disappointed. My burrito was not only delicious, but it was entirely satisfying without being too much. Raised in San Diego, I grew up on burritos-that-shall-not-be-specified-on-this-particular-blog, which while quite yummy also gave you what people in these parts lovingly refer to as a burrito baby. Basically, you need to be done with your day’s activities when you decide to eat one of the beastly burritos offered at any of the [Name]-erto’s or other fine hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints around town because you will be so lethargic when you are finished, you won’t want to do anything anyway. (Read: 24 hour places because you’re probably eating the food at 2am). Not at Lotus! Here, you can still live a happy, active life when you are finished eating. Tell me that’s not a plus!

The veggies inside the burrito were only lightly sauteed, which was nice, making them not too greasy and leaving that bit of crunch and nutrition you lose when cooking all the way down. I was served what I can only assume was some kind of vegan sour cream on the side of my burrito, but it was entirely flavorless, so that went fairly untouched. The ranchero sauce was mildly spicy and smooth, and the soy cheese inside helped meld all the flavors. Also, the tahini dressing is really tasty! Courtney got a cobb salad, which she said was very good (and it was big :)) and a strawberry banana smoothie, which I tried. It was perfectly tart, letting me know how fresh and clean it was rather than bogged down with ice cream or loads of yogurt.

Lotus is located at 3955 5th Avenue in Hillcrest. It’s in the same center as the movie theater, and you can park underground there for two hours and get validated at the restaurant. Orders can be called in and picked up, or you can eat there, where there is a self-serving station for water, tea, utensils, etc., which I absolutely love. Lotus is open seven days a week from 9am to 9:30pm, and I am completely sold on the place. I’ll definitely be back.

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