The Lotus Café And Juice Bar

Eating Up and Down 101, Encinitas #11

Another weekday in paradise, and today we are visiting The Lotus Café and Juice Bar. We have a healthy appetite, and we’re ready for some healthy eating.

Lotus serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their location in the Lumber Yard. Their menu is extensive and amazing with something for everyone. The main focus is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free, but Lotus also offers actual chicken, turkey, cheese, fish, and ice cream. Even your pickiest family member or friend will find something they love!

It’s obvious that Lotus is a labor of love for husband and wife team Carl and Johanna Wright. They started the restaurant in 2009 on a mission to serve fresh, healthy food at an affordable price. Mission accomplished!

Late Lunch

We pull onto the parking lot at The Lumber Yard about 2 pm. The location for Lotus could not be better, with plenty of parking and dog-friendly outdoor seating.

The vibe inside is open and airy with lots of seating. The décor is very Encinitas: paintings of lotus, really cool lanterns, colorful artwork of Hindu (I assume) gods, and photos of the owner’s travels to India and Nepal.

When we first arrive, there’s a menu stand on the decking just outside the back entrance. And the menu is amazing! It’s four-fold glossy paper loaded with choices.

View from the back door, with the condiment station.

Ordering is easy. Just walk up to the counter. Choosing is the hard part. I would eat or drink everything on this menu! (Except kombucha. I can’t do kombucha.) I scanned the menu online well ahead of time, but Andy needed to ponder all the choices.

I thought ahead and grabbed a pen so we could mark our menu like we’re betting at the races! We make our bets and head to the counter. 2 pm on a Thursday, and the place is jumping!

Order Up

While standing in line at the counter, we survey the open cooler full of cool drinks. Andy sees Wave Soda, a brand based in Carlsbad. We love their low-or-no sugar content. Now they have a cane sugar drink called “Dr. Diego,” so we must make an impulse buy!

Quite a variety of liquid options!

When we get to the register, we’re ready: Nachos Grande for our appetizer, the Salmon Sandwich with sweet potato fries for me, and Andy goes for the Swami’s Lasagna. For drinks, at first I wanted the Peach-Ananda smoothie, but the Carrot Milkshake totally piqued my curiosity. Andy settles on the Purple Prana smoothie.

The weather is perfect, so we score a table outdoors. We’re hungry, but in no particular hurry. Our food comes at a nice pace, but not particularly quickly. But the place is bustling, and we don’t mind at all. First to land on our table: the drinks and nachos.

Lotus Eaters

Swami’s Carrot Milkshake is a creamy blend of organic carrot juice, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg topped with whipped cream. With ingredients like that, I can convince myself that it’s almost guilt free! It’s so good I am going to have to make this at home. I notice the folks next to us have tall glasses of fresh carrot juice that also look really good.

Andy’s Purple Prana Smoothie is made with blueberry, banana, and papaya juice. It tastes like summer, full of flavor and antioxidants!

Our Nachos Grande is made with non-GMO blue corn tortilla chips piled high with with cheese, black beans, brown rice, olives, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. This is way more than we can eat, but we’ll try our best!

The salmon sandwich has grilled salmon topped with a black bean avocado relish, tomato, and lettuce, with garlic mayo on a whole wheat bun. Gluten-free buns are also available. My salmon is grilled just right, and the black bean relish is a great touch! I love the sweet potato fries, nice and crispy.

Andy’s Swami’s Lasagna is a veggie lasagna filled with fresh veggies, pasta, marinara sauce, jack, parmesan, and ricotta cheeses. Lotus serves it with a seven-grain garlic bread. The sauce tastes like fresh crushed tomatoes right out of the garden.

This is a generous portion, so we’ll take half of it home for lunch the next day. (Update: It is just as good reheated!)

Post-Lotus Coda

We leave full, but not feeling naughty. It feels indulgent, but we feel at least feel like we’ve made sensible choices! Our tummies are content.

We look forward to returning for breakfast, which Lotus serves all day. The first thing I try will be the coconut French toast. I’ll bet Andy goes for the Huevos Rancheros!