Photo Gallery | Cafe Sunflower in $20
BUCKHEAD, Ga. – Mingle with the likes of Janet Jackson, Jermaine Dupri and Andre 3000 at this fourteen-year-old niche nook in Buckhead. Café Sunflower opened in the Brookwood shopping center in 1996 and has managed to maintain exclusivity, throughout the years, making it a comfortable stop for celebrities and high-profile vegetarians and vegan foodies around the city.
Café Sunflower was rated second best vegetarian restaurant in the United States and holds the title of best vegetarian restaurant on the east coast; they’ve achieved these alcolades without advertisements. The restaurant depends solely on word of mouth referrals and regular diners. General Manager, Jim Shumate says the restaurant gets business from vegetarians and organic food enthusiasts from all over the United States.
The restaurant, whose owner harvests many of the vegetables used, offers fully organic, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. They feature local produce from co-ops and local farms which, in their opinion, ensures freshness and stimulates the local economy.
According to Shumate, the restaurant attempts to educate vegetarians or those curious about the lifestyle; he says, eighty percent of the clientele aren’t vegetarians; they’re just people who like vegetarian food. The restaurant doesn’t use animal by-products except for some cheeses, which are primary used on children’s meals. Shumate emphasizes that absolutely no cheese ever touches the grill or other food products in the kitchen.
Shumate explained that “soy protein has as much or more protein than that which you would receive from animal meat” and “it’s also lower in fat and cholesterol”; he became a vegetarian, only, six years ago and lost 75lbs. during his first tree years practicing the lifestyle.
Chef Edward Sun created the menu in 1994 after he and his wife decided to become vegetarians; in the beginning Sun said “there were a lot of women who came to the restaurant” but as the restaurant began to integrate different entrees and slowly changed their names to mirror that of animal proteins, the gender of their clientele began to even out.
“Guests want comfort food so we named our meals names like Lasagna and Sesame Chicken and people had a flavor profile for what they would taste like”, says Chef Sun. “We had to give our meals clever names because people always want comfort foods”.
Every Tuesday, the Where U Live team chooses a Metro Atlanta restaurant and with the restaurant's help, shows you how you can sample the menu without spending too much.
Every day the restaurant cold brews a different flavor of Herbal Iced Tea. The tea is naturally decaffeinated and sugar free. Raw sugar is available at each table and all teas are served with a slice of lime. When WUL visited the restaurant, they were featuring a Country Peach flavored iced tea. The tea will set you back about $3.00.
As a starter, Shumate recommends the Crispy Organic Okra in Mae Ploy Sauce. The okra is picked fresh from the owner’s garden, daily. Chef Sun beer batters the okra, breads it and then it is flash fried in vegetable oil. The okra is then coated with Mae Ploy sauce, which is an organic sweet and spicy sauce, made without sugar. The okra, only, costs about $5.00.
Shumate recommends the Sesame Chicken as an entrée. The Sesame Chicken is crafted with soy protein which is has a chicken-like texture; the “cage-free soy chicken”, as they like to call it, is flown in from Taiwan. The dish is stir-fried with broccoli, red peppers, onion, snow peas, mushrooms and it’s served on a bed of organic brown rice. The Sesame Chicken entrée, only, costs $12.00.
*If guests want to try their hand at an organic, vegan dessert, the restaurant suggests a Raw Vegan Cheesecake. The cheesecake is low carb and sweetened with agave nectar. The pie’s crust is created with cashews and the actual pie is crafted with cashew milk and whipped tofu to create the consistency. The restaurant doesn’t create the cakes, themselves; they order them from Café in the Garden. One slice of the pie costs $8.00.