When I mentioned that I wished I could find a place like Mango's back at home, I was reminded of Loving Cafe in Pleasant Ridge. I'll let you know right now that I will be putting Loving Cafe into the rotation, I liked it that much, but it's no Mango's.
I'd been wanting to try Loving Cafe for some time and finally went for a late lunch on Saturday. We got there around 2 and the place was packed; we actually claimed the last available table inside. We sat in the front window, which was nice, although in back there is a larger dining room and a television. When I saw that all those tables were full, I didn't bother looking at what was on television, but evidently the programming is Supreme Master Ching Hai's satellite television channel. Kinda cool, kinda weird. I think I'd want to watch some before I comment further.
Before I get to the food, I'll admit that there were a few things I knew about Loving Cafe since I first heard of it this spring that made me hesitant to go there. I'd heard that they have information on going vegan and might be a little preachy. I'd also heard that they rely on fake meats. However, since I first made my own seitan, I have a better understanding of what goes into all those fake meats and it doesn't bother me. I can now understand how to turn a plant (grains, or flour, or gluten) into something you can call a veggie dog or soysage.
I'm glad we finally went. I had a really good experience there. The food was incredible, and as Alex sits next to me watching me upload these photos, he's already talking about how he wants that sandwich again. I mentioned they were really crowded when we came in, but once things settled down a friendly worker came over to make sure we were enjoying the food and see if we had any questions.
We got a summer roll and a spring roll as starters and they were both really good. We wanted to try one of each, and the summer roll was fresh and our favorite. It had rice noodles, carrots, avocado, and lettuces and came with an almond hoisin dipping sauce. The spring roll is baked and contains shredded veggies and veggie ham and comes with sweet and sour sauce. It was okay, and pretty good considering it was our least favorite.
This is the American panini. Alex ordered this sandwich; as much as I like panini, I'm not such a big fan of really vinegary things like pickles, mustard, or banana peppers. This sandwich has all that, plus cole slaw, tofurkey, vegan cheeze, and vegenaise. Yum, yum, yum. The sandwich came with a few organic corn chips on the side.
The American panini is on the regular menu, but they also have a small chalkboard with daily specials. I chose the barbecue hot wing wrap. The wrap was small, inexpensive ($4) and very filling. Like the sauces that came with the rolls, the barbecue sauce was incredible and was served on the side. The wheat tortilla wrapped up veggie chick'n, tender baby lettuces, and tomatoes. I couldn't get enough of this.
After this pleasantly surprising experience, I'm eager to go back and try something a little more daring. Loving Cafe is entirely vegan, and they also boast a few raw dishes, including a raw pizza and I've heard they sometimes offer raw pasta dishes as a special. The dessert case looked incredible, and their smoothie selection was pretty impressive as well. On the down side, my table was a little dirty and there was a little bickering behind the food counter. I think they were a little overwhelmed having such a crowd for a late lunch. None of that took away from the food, and I can't wait to go back.