Fond Farewells

As the sun recedes and daylight begins to fade for the final time this year, it’s natural to reflect back on 2015, for all the good and bad that’s come to pass. Although there’s little sense in dwelling on the downfalls and defeats of 2015, I can’t help but at least pay homage to some of the sad losses seen by the bay area dining scene. We’ve lost a few gems in the vegan restaurant community, as is to be expected with such difficult professional endeavors. Before moving on to more celebratory subjects, I want to pay my final respects to a few of those fallen in the line of food service.

Source – Best known for their burgers and classic American menu, Source filled a need for cruelty-free comfort food in the SoMa area. Pizzas were also outstanding, topped with everything from buffalo “chicken” to beefy taco fixings and every veggie in between. Not one red sauce joint in town has come close to replicating those fearless flavor combinations so far.

Nature’s Express – Billed as a natural alternative to fast food, the service may have been prompt, but the bill of fare far surpassed the greasy standards of any mainstream establishment. Affordable, healthy wraps, sandwiches, and salads made it a breeze to grab a good meal on the go.

Herbivore Divisadero – Succeeded by two remaining outposts, one in San Francisco proper and one across the bay in Berkeley, the fact that there’s still a chance to enjoy the classic lentil loaf and gigantic salads makes this loss a little bit easier to swallow. It’s just a shame to see the family shrink, making their solid offerings even slightly less accessible.

Cafe Gratitude – The last remaining Northern California location of this beloved old-school vegan institution is the most recent departure on this list. Having closed their doors a mere day ago, the juicers may very well still be warm, the smell of freshly pressed kale still lingering in the air. Even in the short amount of time we had together, Cafe Gratitude effortlessly captured my heart with its colorful bowls of “I Am Terrific” pad Thai, made with kelp noodles and raw almond sauce. That dish is one that I will miss above all the rest, that makes all other cravings pale in comparison.

It is with a heavy heart that we must bid these businesses adieu, but hope for a brighter, and even more delicious New Year shines brightly on the horizon. Many new openings promise to invigorate the industry with a wide array of fresh vegan options in the months to come.

12 thoughts on “Fond Farewells

  1. That was really nice of you to post the farewells. Running a business is hard work…and quite often…thankless. I’m sure they appreciated your acknowledgment.

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  2. The restaurant business is a tough one indeed. How kind and very gracious of you to take a moment and remember the fallen. But I should not be surprised that you have taken your time to do something kind for someone else. It is one of the hallmarks of your site – kindness to others, a generosity of spirit I rarely see, especially in the blogosphere. In my time blogging I have “met” lots of people. Some are truly wonderful, while others, well, not so much. It is, I discovered, much to my dismay, a dog eat dog world out there. It has, however, been a pleasure to meet you. Your discerning eye, your grace, kindness, wit, and intelligence are a joy. It is a complete pleasure to know you, and i count myself fortunate to have made your acquaintance. I wish you the utmost success in the coming year. Fondly, ABC

    1. This is genuinely one of, if not the most, kindest and most thoughtful comments of all 2015. I’m so touched by your words! Honestly, it’s for moments like this that I continue blogging, and I’m so grateful that you’re still out there reading, through the good and bad. The blogosphere sure has morphed quite a bit over the years, and I feel lucky to have connected with like-minded people. Thank you so much for everything. I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings for you and your blog as well! :)

  3. Such a sweet post and wish I could have made it to more of these places before they closed the doors. I have such great memories of our first trip to Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley. Hoping for more beginnings in 2016!

  4. Encuentro is Oakland is amazing creative comfort food. The food is vegan and mostly gluten free and organic, there’s even biodynamic vegan wines. There are a couple dairy options for vegetarians if they want cheese on something. Anyways check it out – super delicious!

  5. Cafe Gratitude Berkeley was always on my must-go list when I was in the Bay Area (even though I have 3 Cafe Gratitudes in LA and one in San Diego when I venture down there); the cozy atmosphere with reading couches was so sweet.

  6. So sorry to hear that one of your favorite vegan restaurants had to close their doors. We can only dream about lovely top notch vegan restaurants. We have a few but nothing compared to this one, I guess! xxx

  7. That sucks! I moved here to San Diego a few months ago and didn’t ‘know Herbivore Divisidero closed! I went there ALL the time! Stupid gentrification….ugh….

  8. Thanks for sharing such a nice post.. The pictures are looking amazing. The vegan food is generally organic and gluten free in nature.

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