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“Why are you grateful today?” A simple question, yet one that caught me completely off guard. This is one of the many routine “questions of the day” that our waitress, Sabrina, and other staff members at Gratitude prompt customers and coworkers with daily.

This week’s Secret of SoCal is Gratitude.

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Gratitude is an organic, plant-based restaurant in Newport Beach. Unlike its sister locations, Café Gratitude and Gracias Madre, Gratitude embraces a more upscale aesthetic while simultaneously remaining true to its original company pillars.

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Gratitude is located in the midst of a popular culinary vicinity, less than a block away from Sidecar Doughnuts and Haute Cakes Caffe along the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa border. When walking to the wooden framed doorway I was immediately impressed by the variety of succulents and the white tile along the patio. I admired the open-concept main dining room and the aesthetic theme that ran fluidly from the exterior to the interior; every square inch of Gratitude was pristine and resembled an Anthropologie catalogue.

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After being seated, my waitress provided me with background knowledge about Gratitude and the menu. I chose to order “Happy” aka the Mediterranean falafel wrap, as well as a Moscow Mule. When reading the names of plates from the menu such as “Happy” and “Rejoice” I initially thought it seemed a little cheesy. However, these names fit perfectly with the culture and ambiance of Gratitude. After experiencing a meal at Gratitude, the names of plates seemed like an organic fit, no pun intended!

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The combination of zucchini cilantro hummus, spinach, cucumber, and red pepper harissa sun-dried tomato wrap and hempseed tabbouleh on the side caused me to discover new culinary dimensions that startled my palette. Not only was this food delicious, but also it was extremely filling! I could only eat half of the plate I ordered, so the rest became lunch for the next day. In addition, Gratitude has a full service bar! The Moscow Mule I ordered was amazing; the noticeable taste of ginger beer stood out from the mix and was a refreshing change.

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My friend ordered “Magical” aka the Gratitude double-double consisting of house-made black bean patties, tomato, red onion, chipotle ketchup, cashew macadamia cheddar, that sat between a gluten-free amaranth and millet bun, as well as the Costa Mesa Margarita – all delicious!

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While dining at Gratitude, I noticed that one of the hostesses was one of my classmates! I used this serendipitous opportunity to get insider knowledge about Gratitude from an employee, as well as from a vegan. Annie Fleming, a hostess at Gratitude, applied in attempt to join the organic and plant-based food community but she found so much more. As a vegan, Annie loves the numerous food choices available for her at Gratitude. When I asked Annie about her favorite dish, she said it changes weekly- every time she tries something new, it becomes an immediate favorite. Gratitude exceeded Annie’s expectations, and it most definitely exceeded mine.

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I can’t wait to go back and try something new at Gratitude! Check back next week for another Secret of SoCal!

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