Located along the diagonal stretch of road that is home to Bacanora, Trans Am Cafe and El Charro Hipster Bar & Cafe, the new goji Berry Cafe fits into the bustling dining vibe of Grand Avenue.
Not only is the neighborhood one of the best food hubs in town, but with Testal Mexican Kitchen, Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge, and sister restaurant Earth Plant Based Cuisine just steps away, it’s officially a plant-based food destination.
The Aguiler family launched Earth in 2019 to share vegan versions of their homemade Mexican recipes. The new outpost is less about their family roots and more about vegan health and comfort food. The menu features a mix of mocha lattes, strawberry smoothies, acai bowls, avocado toast, and pressed paninis. All plates are bursting with healthy homemade ingredients and a photogenic touch.
Goji Berry’s design follows suit. Everything about the space is uplifting, from the white-walled interior with exposed ceilings to floating wicker shades of light and lush greenery. Take a seat at the bar for a front-row view as baristas casually whip up dairy-free coffees and cocktails, or relax in the carpeted nook with its coffee table and plush sofa for a date with friends .
The food is as good as the menu promises. Strawberry Mascarpone Toast is perfect, sprinkled with ripe strawberries and blooming with fresh mint and edible flowers. Strawberries are good enough to eat on their own, all the sweeter as they are macerated in balsamic vinegar.
Contrary to the menu description, any trace of fig jam is hard to find, the mascarpone is spread out like paper thin, and the toast is actually not toasted. Yet any worry vanishes just as quickly, charmed by those sweet strawberries.
The Cuban panini is sliced just right and has all the required flavors and toppings, with a savory and tangy mix of seitan ham, house-made pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, hearts of palm and gouda cheese. Despite the inviting grill marks, the inner layers are still firm, unmelted in a smooth, melty blend. The silver lining is the side of homemade potato chips, golden and equal parts crispy and addictive – and quickly gone.
The roasted beet salad is a mass of vibrant green and red covered in a snowfall of white feta cheese, a picture of Christmas in August. It looks the part, but lacks ingredients like nuts, and the beets taste more raw than roasted, overpowering the delicate arugula. The saving grace here is the vegan feta, an epiphany of crumbly creaminess that plays off the crunch of the greens and the punch of the dressing.
Goji’s drinks menu, as long and varied as the food on offer, is no afterthought. Drinks range from refreshing juices made with organic fruit and homemade syrups, like goji berry lemonade, to layered matchas flavored with fresh strawberries and homemade organic oat milk.
But the stars of the menu are the mocktails, an inventive range of non-alcoholic drinks made from distilled fresh fruits, herbs and natural botanicals that are muddled, sprayed, splashed and garnished. These bouncy sips aren’t alcohol-free at all. This means customers can enjoy a Goji Mojito, a sweet and sour minty creation with non-alcoholic distilled rum and tequila shots, with all the satisfaction of a day’s drinking.
Finishing the meal on a sweet note is a must. In addition to the statuesque pastry case topped with creme brulee, vegan cookies, croissants and nut brownies, Goji Berry makes its own coconut cream-based ice cream, available in rotating flavors. The most popular so far is the espresso, a swoon-worthy ball with bright notes of sweet and sour caramel. Sure, the consistency could be firmer and creamier, but just like with the soy-based ice cream developed alongside Earth’s outlandish milkshakes, the Aguiler family isn’t afraid to tweak and refine the recipes until she gets them. right.
Without a doubt, Goji Berry is heading in the right direction.
Goji Berry Coffee
1325 Grand Avenue
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.