By GINA GOLDBERG
Miami has slowly been catching up in the health craze restaurant business. Having dined at numerous vegan restaurants in New York City and Los Angeles, I was pleasantly surprised to find one as good as Choices Café in Miami.
Its original location on 379 SW 15th Road was indeed delicious however the slow service and very limited space turned me off from returning. Choice’s new location on the Upper East Side of Miami had my taste buds asking for more by the end of this scrumptious meal.
Upon entering, my dining companion and I were delighted to see the transition from their initial location with more space and an option for outdoor seating. As usual, you place your order at the counter and choose from one of their numerous vegan options. Choices offers breakfast, lunch and dinner but we choose to dine lunch.
The menu is extensive offering numerous appetizers, wraps, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and tacos all with a twist. All ingredients used are organic, vegan, and ultimately healthy. But do not let that scare you away.
My companion, a carnivore lover, was beyond satisfied. They also have a full juice and smoothie bar where you can choose from one of their many concoctions: Fat Blast, Beets Me, The Refresher and Miami Heat to name a few.
The women behind the counter were very friendly and gladly recommended a few of their most popular dishes, which are all clearly marked on the menu with a hand symbol, and a lightening strike symbol represents to foods made quickly-for all those in a rush.
The women highly recommended their most popular wrap known as the Mentil Lentil Wrap, which comes with black beans/quinoua, lentil meat, sautéed onion, onion, plantain, pico de gallo, bell peppers, daiva cheese, and avocado for a price of $16.
Although I went with my cravings and instinct in that moment and ordered the California Wrap which consisted of sprouted tofu, black beans, quinoa, bell pepper, daiya cheese, onions, avocado, and pico de gallo. For all wraps, you have the option of a gluten free wrap. My companion ordered the “La Pixsa” the vegan pesto pizza.
Although the restaurant was busy, we immediately found seats, took our number and waited as our tummies roared while the flat screen TV’s showcased images of all the different menu items.
When my wrap arrived, it was even more mouthwatering then I anticipated. The burst of flavors with a complementary special sauce satisfied my taste buds above and beyond. However, it was very filling so the other half was taken to go.
My companion really enjoyed the vegan pizza so much so they decided to order a wrap to go for later as well. The flavors of the food are vibrant and you should not stray away just because you are not vegan. You don’t feel as though you have sacrificed anything, in fact the flavors of the food are so great you would never assume it was vegan. The only thing you sacrifice is the mystery or unhealthy ingredients usually found elsewhere.
Now the prices aren’t necessarily “cheap” considering they use high quality and organic ingredients. Most items range from the $10-$20 range, including smoothies and juices, which seems high, but the price is well worth what you’re getting. There is also not much competition, so Choices has the ability to charge these prices, and still be successful.
After reading numerous other reviews I became aware that many people are skeptical about the prices being that this restaurant is a café. Their margins are very low due to their use of organic food ingredients, making food fresh on the premises rather than buying packaged ‘meats’, dressings, etc., and Choices pays much more for the use of compostable, plant based paper ware and eco-friendly cleaning produces, as well as recycling.
Choices hopes its customers are willing to invest in conscious’ “choices,” and it all makes sense to me. We all deserve real food and the environment could use some help as well.
After staring at the delicious bakery counter our entire meal, we decided to go big and indulge. Their other location never had all these bakery options so this was another added surprise. All deserts are vegan and most gluten free. We got a box of delicious treats to go: the five-layer chocolate cake, cookie dough balls, oatmeal cookies and peanut butter brownies. Being a cookie dough fanatic, they were the perfect wrap-up to a nice dining experience.
Overall, the new location is spectacular. There is ample seating and room for larger groups with a much more comfortable atmosphere. There is street parking in front of the building, so next time you’re looking for a delicious yet guilt-free dining experience, head over to Choices!
- 646 NE 79th St., Miami Fla. 33138
- Mondays- Sundays 8 a.m.- 9 p.m.
- Parking: On street
- Credit Cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard
- Price Range: $10-$20 per dish / smoothies and juices, $8-$12
- Rating: 5 out of 5 stars