Big menu and it’s all good at Lotus Café and Juice Bar

I will admit when I saw the size of the menu at Lotus Café, I thought “Oh no, here we go again with a giant menu with no focus or direction.” My son Quinn told me to lighten up and not jump to conclusions so I took his advice and I’m glad I did.
First off, it’s a beautiful space that is inspired by an East Indian temple with bamboo floors and a perfect Lumberyard location in the heart of Encinitas within walking distance to the Self Realization Fellowship, SRF Books & Gifts, and the SRF Temple on Second Street which seems to be the audience they are catering to with their incredibly fresh and predominantly vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options — though they do serve some chicken and fish. My feeling is that is about to change as more and more of the general North County population becomes aware of just how delicious all this healthy food can be when prepared by people who know what they are doing and pay attention to the details.
While healthy eating options abound in Encinitas, Lotus has a special vibe going on. First off, the menu is laid out with icons at the top that identify vegan, vegan option, honey vegan, and gluten free so you know exactly what’s going on. This is good for health food novices such as me. Hey, if I had these people cooking from this menu for me every day, I truly think I could go vegetarian. Sorry vegan folks, no way I’m giving up the glorious pleasures of eggs and dairy. So yeah, very smart way to lay out the menu.
So besides the cool vibe and smart menu, there is a lot of care going into the food at Lotus.
They make their soups from scratch daily which says a lot as it takes some effort, time and love to make a good soup and the two we tried were really good with the butternut squash being truly amazing.
We also sampled the Spiritual Spinach salad with carrots, olives, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, veggie bacon bits and sprouts.
They offer homemade dressings which again, were all home made and included tofu dill, Italian, lemon herb, ranch, tahini, balsamic vinaigrette or Caesar.
Again, the fact that they take the time to make these in-house is impressive. We moved on to a couple of specials including a salmon entrée that was super fresh and perfectly cooked. From what I’ve heard the charbroiled eggplant and red pepper sandwich, the grilled Portobello sandwich and the vegetarian lasagna are standouts as well.
At their insistence we tried the Swami’s carrot shake which was as rich and complex a shake as I’ve ever had with strong hints of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. We also sampled the vegan carrot cake and chocolate cupcake — which gave no indication that they were vegan.
I did not see anything on the menu over $10, which is very impressive given the quality of everything at Lotus Café. Proprietors Carl and Johanna Wright walk the talk when it comes to natural ingredients and living. Both are devoted yogis who moved to Encinitas a couple of years ago from Ashland, Ore. ,to be closer to the SRF and the thriving yoga scene in Encinitas. Carl had opened successful restaurants in the past and as a couple they had run a natural café and nonprofit yoga center in Oregon so this was a well-thought-out venture with some solid experience behind it. They also brought in local restaurant veteran George Theodorakos, who has owned restaurants in Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach. It’s a solid team that is serving a need for this type of high-quality, low-price healthy cuisine.
“Lotus Café is dedicated to serving fresh, natural, healthy food at affordable prices, prepared with love, simplicity, and a joyful heart,” Johanna Wright said. That mix suits Encinitas well and should keep Lotus Café thriving for years to come.
Lotus Café, at 765 S. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas, is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Contact Lotus Café at (760) 479-1977 or visit www.lotuscafeandjuicebar.com.

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