News flash: I’m in a relationship. If you know me, you know I’ve got a personal and fan page on Facebook. I’ve got a twitter account too. I share a great deal of my personal life publicly but this part I kept to myself until now. I’ve met someone great an want to introduce you to her. Her name is Jenn and, not long after we started dating, she started the Primal Blueprint lifestyle. She started making primal dinners with me and coming up with great recipe ideas.
I received an incredible surprise back on August 26th. For my birthday, Jenn took me to Cafe 118°. I hate to admit that when she told me she was taking me to a meatless, raw food, vegan restaurant the birthday excitement went slightly out of me. This was before the 30-day Primal Blueprint Challenge and in the back of my mind I was secretly hoping for a birthday dinner splurge of sushi or a churrascaria of non-stop meat. Instead we were going to Cafe 118°.
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Earlier in the afternoon we found the menu online and my excitement level jumped right back up. My curiosity was peaked. The menu at Cafe 118° offers juices, smoothies, ‘milk’ shakes, living entrees, raw desserts and raw ice cream. Each of those food types has several selections beneath. They also offer a selection of white and red wines by the glass or bottle along with a warning for those that have problems with nut allergies. Joe Diaz opened this restaurant because he saw the demand growing in the area for natural, veggie-based meals. Here’s some info from the Cafe 118° website and the back of the menu:

You & Us
Cafe 118° promotes balance and health; within our food, within our family, within our community. Utilizing many locally sourced organic ingredients, our goal is to provide modern raw cuisine that will benefit your everyday life and those you share it with.

What Is Living Cuisine
Living Cuisine are foods that are highly nutritious, free of animal by-products and processed/refined sugars. These foods are heated below 118° in order to preserve their rich vitamins, enzymes, coenzymes, minerals antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber – helping bioavailability and cell reconstruction.

The most beneficial characteristics of eating Living Cuisine are they are mostly alkaline forming and naturally fortified with amino acids. The enzymes (amino acids) help facilitate digestion, while the chlorophyll content in raw food help cleanse and balance your body’s pH levels.

At Cafe 118°, we harness raw organic ingredients to satisfy your wellness. Our entrees not only offer food in its simplest, most natural state, but explode with nutrients and flavor which will charge your body, strengthen your immune system and leave you feeling invigorated, engaged and energized.

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So this menu sat before us and, I must tell you, it all sounded good to me. We decided to order something from each menu section and share tastes.

Juiced
Jenn ordered a Cucumber Mint Cooler ($6). It had a little fizz to it and a great, fresh and bright combination of flavors. Very refreshing.
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‘Milk’ Shakes
These are dairy-free and infused with house made nut milks. I ordered the Divine Cherry ($8). It’s a blend of cherries, cacao, almond milk and banana and let me tell you that if I’m craving Cherry Garcia by Ben & Jerry’s again, I’m driving over to Cafe 118° to enjoy this instead. It was sweet, chocolatey and thick. It made me realize that, when made properly, healthy food can be just as enjoyable as the things I used to binge on before I made a conscious choice to get healthy.
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Living Entrees
We started off by sharing the Spiced Macadamia Hummus ($10)
The hummus was made from Macadamia nuts and was surprisingly good in texture and seasoning. It came with Sundried Tomato and herb flax crackers that were out of this world. So a little smear of the hummus on a cracker and I was hooked. This shared appetizer didn’t last long at all.
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For our meals, Jenn decided to get the ‘Lasagna’ ($18) and I ordered the Traditional Italian ($16). Being raised Italian, I tend to be a snob when it comes to restaurants trying to re-create the flavors of home. I threw that idea aside and decided to sample these entrees with a clean palate. Jenn’s ‘Lasagna’ was comprised of Sun dried tomato, herb pesto, macadamia ricotta and, where there would normally be pasta layers, there was sliced zucchini. The stack was topped with raw spinach and herb pesto and surrounded with a drizzle of oil. I found it pretty amazing that they managed to take the same macadamia nuts and combine them with a different level of moisture and seasoning and make something that tasted just like ricotta. The texture was identical. I was fooled. I’m also not a fan of crunchy veggies but by heating these to a temperature lower than 118° managed to take a good deal of the crunch away leaving only a slight bite which I didn’t mind one bit.
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The Traditional Italian is Zucchini noodles topped with Sundried tomato sauce, cashew parmesan and vegetable ‘meatballs’. The ‘meatballs’ are made from a mixture of sliced tomato, avocado and hemp seed and were very delicious. I won’t lie, they aren’t like the ones mama and grandma used to make but they were surprisingly tasty and the texture was very similar to a meatball. I enjoyed them. The zucchini noodles were soft enough to twirl around my fork and, again, had just enough bite that I wasn’t put off by the crunch. The portion size on this entree was large enough that I wound up having to take it home to finish the next day. I enjoyed it both times.
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Dessert
Since Jenn is an incredible baker, she made me primal cupcakes so we decided to pass on dessert at Cafe 118°. We were both pretty full anyway and didn’t need to be stuffing ourselves so we left and took a break to open presents and relax. The menu offers ‘Cheese’cake, Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, Berry Parfait and ‘Smores’ along with four selections of raw ice cream. I have every reason to go back and sample the desserts. They sound amazing. I’m very excited about going again.

If you eat according to The Primal Blueprint or the Paleo Solution, Cafe 118° is worth a visit for a casual dinner or special occasion. The flavor combinations make for a very exciting time and you can walk away feeling pleasantly full and without bloated guilt. Check it out. I’ve included the details below.

What: Cafe 118°
Owner: Joe Diaz
Location: 153 East Morse Blvd.; Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (407) 389-2233
Hours:

  • Monday: 11:30-5p
  • Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30-9p
  • Friday & Saturday: 11:30-10p
  • Sunday: Closed
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Comments
  1. Marrisa says:

    Crap, for some reason I thought this place was in Longwood. It’s right around the corner from the Winter Park ULTA! I’m at that store for one more week so I’ll be sure to check it out. I’m going to have them fax me a menu!

  2. Hannah says:

    I’m so happy for you and Jenn! 🙂 Pasquale you are such an inspiration to me. Had to share I am down 5 and a half inches in my waist after a little over a month of Paleo eating. Glad to hear you are doing so well and it sounds like you have discovered a new gem of a restaurant. Take care of yourself and I can’t wait to hear your progress.

  3. This is an amazing post! I think you may have a future as a FA2BA food writer! Great job man!

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