You don’t expect to find a restaurant serving delicious, natural food in a strip mall set back from Bagley Road in Berea, Ohio. I drove past it the first time I was visitng. The strip mall features two businesses: a gym and Tree Hugger’s Cafe. The cafe which serves meat and meat-free (including vegan) food is tucked away and frankly I’m shocked it stays open with such an out-of-the-way location. (I’m a foodie and a long-time vegetarian and I had never heard of the place.) But nevertheless, I am happy it is there and to have found it.
I have to do a little sidebar here on the name of the cafe because it gets under my skin a bit. I take issue with anything that is healthy or natural needing to go to the hippie side of things. Why does a love for animals and planet need to go hand in hand with tie-dye? I don’t wear Birkenstocks. I don’t even like patchouli. I do enjoy amazing food that is also natural, locally produced and nutritious. And Tree Hugger’s uses almost 100% organic ingredients and buys its produce when in season from local farmers. They also purchase their bread, coffee and other items from local independent businesses.
But the good news is that…
…the delicious food options more than make up for the cafe’s name. My current addiction: the black cactus black bean patty burger. With the perfect touch of spicy flavor, the generous patty is piled high with lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, mango salsa and fresh avocado slices. And the bun it is all nested on doesn’t disappoint either. With the burger comes your choice of side. I always go for the dill coleslaw (vegan). I’ve never had a dill-flavored cole slaw but it is all I want from this point forward. It is a crunchy dish probably due to a lack of mayo that is not missed in the least. This is a large meal and I usually end up taking half of the sandwich home.
Another favorite is the hummus which comes with veggies and warm pita for dipping. I’m pretty picky about my hummus and this one is herby, creamy and scores major points. I would order it as my meal. And don’t miss out on the hand-cut fries. They are fresh-tasting and cooked to perfection.
Tree Hugger’s scores extra points with me for also offering the following:
– Kombucha: pretty tough to find in the Cleveland area. (The only two places I have been able to buy it so far are Nature’s Bin and Good ‘n’ Raw–both in Lakewood.)
– Chocolate Chip Cookies: as big as your head (Plus an array of other delicious desserts.)
– Drive thru window: perfect for calling ahead and picking up your order at lunch time
So get check out this hidden spot. You’ll enjoy some great food and leave feeling like you also did your body good.