Carnivore's Holiday: Daily Juice Cafe
A 10-part adventure on the other side of the food chain
Part 3: Daily Juice Cafe
4500 Duval St. 512-380-9046, www.dailyjuice.org.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Food service stops a half-hour before closing.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 05.25.12
The Daily Juice Cafe takes a formula that already works — the smoothies, juices and shots of the Daily Juice — and adds a menu of raw and cooked vegan sandwiches, salads, entrees and desserts. Served from a corner shop with the carport service bay and yawning garage spaces that suggest it pumped a different kind of energy in a former life.
What you’re eating: A Texicali Taco ($6.95), a raw construction of walnuts chopped and spiced to behave like ground chorizo, fortified with guacamole, leaf lettuce, beet greens, onions, sprouts and tomatoes. It’s a delicate thing, folded into a red tortilla as thin as a gypsy veil made of what the menu says is corn and flax but tastes and feels like sun-dried tomatoes and red bell peppers. The elegant shell tempts you to use your hands but dissolves on contact to become a taco salad. The walnut mix doesn’t taste like pork chorizo, more like cumin-scented chunky walnut butter. But again, I’m not auditioning meat substitutes for American Idol, just good flavors. And this plate is the package, dawg.
What you’re drinking: Something hot, something cold. Because this is the Daily Juice, cut the taco spice with a strawberry limeade ($2.50/small) that leans much more on the pulpy husk of the berry and the icy-hot zap of lime than the sweetness of agave nectar for its frothy red cooldown. Once the hot foam fades from a big hempseed maté latte ($4.50), it swarms with what look like Sea Monkeys beneath the shimmering surface, an undersea ballet of khaki-green ground seeds animated by the heat of yerba mate pressed from rainforest shrubbery. It tastes somewhere between green tea and unsalted bouillon with a latent sour touch, tuned with cinnamon to a more familiar frequency.
Other options: Get a short or long course in yerba maté with a straight 1-ounce shot for $1.25 or boost it with goji juice, B-vitamins, Himalayan salt and agave nectar for the $2.75 Daily Boost. Juices start at $4 for the squeezed lifeblood of the usual fruits — apple, pineapple, orange, carrot, watermelon, grapefruit — then springboard into the less usual: coconut, parsley, kale, beet, cabbage, ginger. The cafe boards carry raw foods such as eggless egg salad, yam noodle bowls, mock tuna salad and enchiladas with sunflower “cheese” ($6.50-$8.50). Hot dishes might include a veggie burger made with GoodSeed hemp patties, baked nachos with vegan queso and garlic flatbread ($3.95-$5.95).
Dessert: A vegan ice cream counter called Sweet Ritual shares space with the cafe, dishing dairy-free soft-serve made with soy, coconut milk and sugar. In frosty temperature, velvet cream texture and sweet ice cream flavor, it’s flawless, a solid base for a wheel of fortune’s worth of vegan embellishments: salted caramel, marshmallows, toasted coconut, even vegan versions of Oreos and Butterfinger. A sundae with chocolate sauce, salted peanuts and the powdery dry-heat crunch of wasabi-and-peanut balls is $6.50.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)