lotus cafe and juice bar / hillcrest – san diego, ca

Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar is a local restaurant with two locations in Hillcrest and Encinitas. They serve fresh, healthy, natural food and have a lot of dietary options for people who have gluten restrictions, are vegetarian or vegan. Many items can be made vegan and there are a few meaty dishes for those who prefer a bit more protein with their meal.

[Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar Menu]

[Menu Key – The menu is marked with various symbols indicating what the different options are. ]

When I found out I was being invited here and looked at the menu, I decided that I would bring Stacey along with me on this outing as she’s the closest to a vegetarian friend that I have, without actually being vegetarian. What can I say? The girl really likes her salads but can’t bear to give up bacon (bacon smells really good, you must admit).

[Hummus & Pita Bread – spread made of ground garbanzo, sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon & garlic, served with wedges of whole wheat pita bread]

We started off with an appetizer of hummus after we spent an obscenely long amount of time trying to figure out exactly what we wanted. The hummus comes in a big scoop. It’s very solid so not as creamy as other hummus that I’ve had, but the flavor of garlic and lemon shines through and gives this a nice texture and flavor. It comes with a mess of carrots and sprouts along with whole wheat pita bread for spreading and eating.

[Lotus Caesar Salad – Mixed organic greens with tomato, avocado, croutons, Parmesan cheese and vegetarian Caesar dressing]

We also shared this very large Lotus Caesar Salad between the two of us (half salad is also available). This comes with a vegetarian Caesar dressing on the side. The Caesar still has all of the flavor and kick of a regular Caesar so you’re not missing out when you get this. The tomatoes were so fresh and bright and the Parmesan shavings added a nice salty flavor to the salad. Half of a perfectly ripe avocado is placed on top for you to devour (which we did). So refreshing and crisp – the addition of the avocado here really made this shine for me.

[Stuffed Veggie Quesadilla – Whole wheat chapati stuffed with sauteed veggies and cheese, topped with guacamole, salsa and sour cream]

Stacey was between two items for quite some time but finally decided on this Stuffed Veggie Quesadilla. This one can be made vegan, if you so desire. It’s stuffed with with sauteed veggies – including big chunks of broccoli (something we both found really weird at first but it tasted so good that we decided it was a brilliant idea). The veggies are still a bit crisp with a little bite for extra texture. Covered in delicious cheese and topped with a spot of guacamole and sour cream, this is a very delicious and healthy version of a quesadilla.

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kona coffee company / hillcrest – san diego, ca

I’ve had kind of a love and hate relationship with coffee the past few months. I like to have coffee, but for awhile, I was unable to have it at all. It really tended to tie my stomach up in knots and drinking a cup of coffee made my stomach unhappy for a whole day. I laid off the stuff for awhile until I started taking probotics on a regular basis to help ease my stomach woes. I’m happy to say and coffee and I are friends again.

It was fortuitous then that I was invited to come to Kona Coffee Company in Hillcrest to try out what they had to offer. I was still a little wary of coffee at this point, but I had slowly started to partake of the fragrant beverage again and was hoping my stomach would be amieable enough for the ride. Jake and T were with me for this particular adventure. Jake isn’t a fan of coffee really and neither are most teenagers (T included). But I was hoping there would be enough here for them as well and happily there was.

We had a small snafu in the beginning as the manager gave me a blank look when I told her why we were there. But, after everything got cleared up, we were well taken care of. I let the manager make us whatever she wanted us to try.

[Outside of Kona Coffee Company from across the street]

The Kona Coffee Company in Hillcrest is one of the few shops in town that will offer you a 100% Kona coffee (french pressed for you, no less). They also offer 35% Kona blend at a lower price. I started off the day with the blend.

[35% Kona Coffee Blend]

I kept it simple and added milk and Splenda to my coffee. I’m not good at describing coffee flavors, but this had a bold and somewhat rich flavor. It wasn’t too bitter tasting with just one package of Splenda in this large mix of coffee which I liked.

[Hawaiian Mocha – espresso, milk, Ghirardelli chocolate, banana, coconut flavor, ground cinnamon and topped with whipped cream, coconut flakes and a sprinkle of cinnamon]

I’ve never had a mocha quite like this one – this one goes beyond just a dash of chocolate in your coffee drink! This is filled with intense flavors, giving the mocha a very tropical taste and feeling with the coconut and banana flavors in the mix. It’s also quite sweet – the mix of flavors and chocolate made this a rich, chocolately drink – enough to make you forget that it even has any espresso in the mix. The cinnamon rounds out the flavor nicely giving it a nice heat and spice that I really enjoyed. Jake and T also enjoyed this one, so it was winner for the coffee and non-coffee drinkers alike.

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