Editor’s Note: Beets closed in June 2014. Beets owner is currently working on a new concept called Sylvia’s Kitchen & Desserts.
Beets Living Foods Cafe, an Austin favorite among vegetarians and raw food fanatics, is quite different than any other restaurant in Austin. At Beets Cafe, none of the food is cooked. “Living” foods that are uncommonly good are served throughout the day (including breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert), drawing a wide assortment of diners to the upscale cafe.
Each dish at Beets Cafe is created from raw, uncooked ingredients. They’re united in a unique and creative way, transforming simple foods into intricate meals. By using raw ingredients, Beet’s Cafe recreates many classic dishes, allowing for even the beef and cheese lover to enjoy a healthy alternative.
Located in the strip of shops below the Gables Apartments on 5th Street near Mopac, Beets Living Foods Cafe focuses on providing foods that feed your body and mind with a wide array of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
Owner and chef Sylvia Heisey wasn’t always in the raw foods and restaurant industry. After leaving the hustle and bustle of her professional career, Sylvia began focusing on her health and personal energy. By consuming a primarily raw foods diet, Sylvia began to experience life-changing benefits, all of which inspired her to want her own cafe. Her time spent in the kitchen crafting unique recipes, combined with her increased energy, led her to fulfill her dream of opening her own cafe: Beets Living Foods Cafe.
To show that really anyone can enjoy raw foods, I brought along one of my good friends, a friend who isn’t usually open to trying “healthy” foods. Our go to food together usually leans on the side of chips and queso or burgers and fries. Nonetheless, our evening at Beets Cafe was an interesting and tasty night out.
From the street, Beets Cafe seems to be a simple place. Once inside, that assumption is soon proved to be wrong. Eclectic artwork (which is all available for purchase) lines the walls of the modernly decorated and upscale cafe. Bookshelves with local books, products and skincare are placed against one wall, demonstrating Beets’ dedication to supporting local businesses.
Tables are placed throughout the open dining area, leaving plenty of room to move about in a comfortable manner. A large room is also connected to the main dining hall, which is available for parties, classes, etc. The well lit, inviting atmosphere of the cafe creates a comfortable dining experience.
Don’t let the name fool you. Beets serves an array of health conscious foods with a delicious twist. Glancing over the menu, one may notice a striking similarity to an everyday restaurant. Mouth-watering salads, smoothies, entrees and desserts fill the menu. The entrees include anything from raw pizza, to a “Just-A-Good Burger,” to Cha-lu-pas and an E.L.T. (their twist on a classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich). Beets even has a Taco Plate on their menu, fulfilling Austin’s taco-craving.
With the help of our waitress, I ordered a crowd favorite: the Raw Reuben. Kraut, Portabella mushrooms, “caramelized” onions, Swiss cashew cheese and Thousand Island dressing were layered beautifully between two slices of sunflower flatbread. The thin slices of bread were surprisingly dense and paired nicely with the sandwich filling. The sandwich was served with shaved beets (BEETS!) and veggie chips.
In addition to the sandwich, I ordered the Asian Style Noodle Salad, another recommendation from our waitress. The salad arrived presented in an artistic manner. Cabbage, kelp noodles, sea vegetables, bok choy, carrots and several other fresh ingredients were tossed in a Sweet n’ Spicy Miso dressing and topped with a brightly colored radish. The combination of flavors and textures made the salad both satiating and refreshing.
My not-so-new-food-adventuresome friend ordered the Caesar Salad, or the Ensalada de Caesar, as listed on the menu. This classic salad was topped with Brazil nut Parmesan and herbed almond croutons, both of which tasted very similar to their “real” counterpart. While my friend swore she wouldn’t find something enjoyable on the menu prior to our visit, she ended up with a satisfied smile and a nearly empty bowl at the end of her meal.
The words “all of the pleasure, none of the guilt” displayed across the top of the dessert case reassured our desire to order something to satisfy our sweet tooth. After grazing with eager eyes over all the raw options – lavender cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, cookies, macaroons, mousse and so many other options – there was absolutely no turning back. My love for coconut led me to order the coconut mousse, a sweet end to the healthy meal.
The Raw Verdict
While living a raw foods lifestyle may be unrealistic for my adventuresome palate and curious stomach, I can see myself experimenting with (and definitely eating) more raw foods. I recommend dragging your friends along and trying the uncommonly good dishes at Beets Cafe, even if your friends are skeptical. I assure you, they will find a tasty alternative to a favorite dish.
Have you found a raw recipe or dish you enjoy?