Next time you're in Santa Cruz, CA wanting to satisfy your hippie hunger, travel less than half a mile to Dharma's Natural Organic Vegetarian restaurant in Capitola and indulge – healthfully – in everything from Tempeh Reuben sandwiches to Organic Beer.
After a day of ziplining the Redwood Canopy Tour in nearby Mount Hermon, Evan and I wanted to keep the tree-hugging mentality going with some good-for-you grub. So I did a quick Google search and up popped highly rated Dharma's since 1981, completely Vegetarian & 95% Vegan – naturally I had to check it out.
- cornucopia of veggies, mildly spicy, light 'n creamy, huge Indian Curry Plate with Tofu, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Tortillas, Fruit Chutney & Raita
- like-mom-used-to-make Elbow Macaroni & Cheese with Cheddar, Parmesan & Side Salad
- smooth 'n fruity Organic Amber Ale (Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, CA) 5.4% ABV
Don't let Dharma's suburbia strip mall exterior fool you because inside is a tranquil jungle sanctuary complete with water fountain, soothing music (minus the order # announcements of course), and food that nourishes your soul. And the portions here are GINORMOUS, so don't be scared when you see the price tag because you'll be able to split your meal and have leftovers (in compostable take-home boxes) for two.
Desperate for some veggies, Ev and I split the Indian Curry Plate ($12.95) – it was so big, we could barely get past the halfway mark. It's packed with fluffy Tofu Triangles, Steamed Zucchini, Roasted Cauliflower, Carrot Rounds, Red Pepper Chunks, Chopped Red & Green Cabbage, Steamed Broccoli, Green Onions & Cashews. The curry sauce is delicate, mild, and has a nice buttery flavor without being heavy. It also comes with Nutty Brown Rice, two pieces of Whole Wheat Tortilla, creamy Raita, and tangy Apple Cranberry Chutney.
Since we were being good with veggies, we decided to balance out our yin with some yang – Macaroni & Cheese ($7.25). I know what you're thinking. $7 for Mac n Cheese? While it may not be the best I've ever had, the size of the plate and the fact that it comes with a rather large Side Salad with Crumbled Feta, Sliced Tomatoes & lovely lite Vinaigrette definitely make it worth it. The Mac n Cheese itself is very homestyle with Elbow Macaroni, a creamy Cheddar & Parmesan mixture, and a hint of Chili Bread Crumb Seasoning.
We also treated ourselves to an Organic Amber Ale from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing ($4.60). It's smooth, refreshing, and the caramel malt flavor with hints of blackberry gives a sweet end to your meal. (For more tasty pint reviews check out YourNextPint.com)
Other Lunch/Dinner (til 9pm) items include Gourmet Thin Crust Pizzas (some Gluten Free), Vegetarian Chili Dogs & Burgers, "Mexican Naturals", Pastas, Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches like the Facon-Bacon BLT ($6.95). For Dessert they have a few Vegan Chocolate Cake items, Soy Delicious ice cream, and an Ollalieberry Lemon Cheesecake that's Raw, Vegan & Gluten Free. Breakfast items like Tofu Scrambles, Multi-grain or Dairyless Cornmeal Pancakes, and Biscuits & Gravy are served from 8am - Noon. And I was delighted to see in their long Beverage list that they sell Ginger Soother ($2.25-.95) – even Ginger Chews! – from the Ginger People.
Whether you're surfing in Santa Cruz, soaking up the sun, or just cruising on through, recharge your body with some healthy, vegetarian cuisine from Dharma's – your tummy will thank you.