(CBS8) - Finding a restaurant to fit dietary restrictions is difficult. Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar's menu is designed for people who have food limitations featuring substitutions instead of eliminating the ingredient from a dish.
Located in Village Hillcrest, the restaurant's self-serve coffee, sauce bar, seat-yourself, order-at-the-counter made for an overall relaxed atmosphere. Breakfast is served until 2pm, and lunch is served all day.
The extensive menu covers everything from appetizers to sandwiches to entrees to smoothies and desserts. A handy guide at the top of the menu provides a key to the menu, indicating vegan dishes, dishes that can be made vegan, honey vegan dishes and gluten free dishes.
You don't have to look close to see the "GF" or lotus flower indicating a vegan food choice. Many of the dishes also have a lotus flower with a circle, meaning the dish can be prepared either regular or vegan. Their kids menu is even filled with vegan and gluten free options.
Having not eaten a quesadilla in years, I decided to try their Cardiff Quesadillas, substituting tortillas for the chapatti and soy cheese for the jack and cheddar cheese. It was no problem to make the substitutions as the option was listed on the menu. The hostess did give me a tip: it's easier for waitresses to put in all the items to exclude first, and then give the substitutions.
The service time was average but the customer service was great. Soy milk wasn't available at the coffee bar, but when asked, the cook brought out a large cup from the back at no cost or no hassle. The window into the kitchen showed a couple cooks hard at work, preparing dishes from fresh food and being careful not to cross-contaminate plates.
The quesadilla was delicious. Although it was an appetizer, it came with a side salad, guacamole and salsa. It was enough for a small meal, and had I not known what I ordered, I would have thought it was real cheese on the inside.
Some of the other gluten free items on the menu were: huevos rancheros, a large selection of salads, Encinitas veggie grill, veggie stuffed spud, enchiladas, chicken tacos, stir fry, and nachos. All of the smoothies are also gluten free and vegan. Soy shakes and ice cream are also available for non-dairy eaters.
The selection is extensive. Trying the restaurant for the first time with a gluten-free, vegan eater, a vegetarian eater and a normal eater, we were all able to find something delicious to enjoy.
There is also another location in Encinitas on South Coast Highway.
At the Hillcrest location, free 2 hour parking is available right next to the restaurant. Take out is also available from both.
Hillcrest: 9 am – 9:30 pm, 7 days a week
Encinitas: 11 am – 9 pm, 7 days a week
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