The Green Confidential

The Real Vegans of Orange County

The Real Vegans of Orange County


In the land of palm trees, the Pacific Ocean and “The Real Housewives of Orange County”, lies a mecca for vegan and plant-based eating. The holy grail of these establishments is Gratitude, an upscale spinoff of the popular Cafe Gratitude family. Gratitude is located in Newport Beach, just up Dover Street from PCH. Tucked into the posh Castaway Commons building, one could easily splash out several thousand dollars in a casual day of shopping and dining.


Cafe Gratitude Patio

Gratitude Patio (Photo:

Word to the wise-if you see anyone with bandages popping in for a smoothie, do not be alarmed. It’s the O.C., baby. Land of plastic surgery. Don’t believe me? Dr. Terry Dubrow, husband of Real Housewife Heather Dubrow, and star of the E! TV series “Botched “ and “Botched by Nature” shares an address with Gratitude.

I’m from the O.C. and was visiting a girlfriend in Newport Beach. I had just flown in with my fiance and landed at John Wayne Airport. We dropped him off at a CorePower studio nearby and went for lunch to gossip and catch up on our lives. We were still deep in girl time when he texted me asking for a restaurant recommendation. I told him to head to Gratitude and that we would catch up there in a bit. 20 minutes later, a panicked text message came in.

“Do you have to dress really nice to eat here? Everyone is dressed up. I’m underdressed. I’m in yoga pants, flip flops and a hat,” he wrote.

“You’re fine. Maybe there is an event going on?” I replied.

It turns out, there was. An office was having a cocktail hour on the patio so everyone, naturally, was in work clothes.

Another O.C. fact: you can never be underdressed. Well, hardly ever. Maybe don’t show up at Mastro’s on a Saturday night in sweatpants. Duh.

I strolled into Gratitude and found him at a two-top, food ordered.

For an appetizer, he ordered Free. The dish resembled Calamari but is actually made with beer-battered young coconut pieces with smoked salt, gremolata, lime and cocktail sauce and tastes divine.


Mole Abuelita Enchiladas and Fried Coconut at Gratitude

Mole Abuelita Enchiladas and Beer-battered Coconut at Gratitude.


Dinner was Elated-Mole Abuelita Enchiladas. They are made with mole tempeh, corn, black beans, roasted tomatillo sauce, cashew queso fresco, avocado, coleslaw and escabeche.


Mole Abuelita Enchiladas at Gratitude

Mole Abuelita Enchiladas at Gratitude.


We split two cheesecakes for dessert: the daily dessert special, Remarkable, was a delicious Strawberry Shortcake. Probably the best I’ve had.


Dessert of the Day at Gratitude

Strawberry Shortcake.


The only thing that rivals it is my memory from when I was a little kid and we used to get Strawberry Shortcake from KFC. Sorry if I just made you gag. What can I say? Childhood memories are hard to top.

The Key Lime Pie is called Awakening is made with creamy avocado and lime custard, coconut meringue and pecan lucuma date crust.


Dessert at Gratitude

Strawberry Shortcake and Key Lime Pie.


I favored the Strawberry Shortcake, but I’m not a fan of Key Lime anything. My fiance loved it.

I’ll be back!



Gratitude address and hours:

1617 Westcliff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 386-8100
11 am-10 pm Weekdays
8 am – 10 pm Weekends

Gratitude To-Go Hours:
7 am- 10 pm Everyday


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