This past weekend, David and I drove up to Atlanta for a Cubs versus Braves baseball game. One of the convenient things about our marriage is that each of our favorite teams rubbed off the other: David converted me into a University of Alabama fan, and I converted him into a Cubs fan. It really wasn’t one of those annoying instances of a couple losing their individual identities and gushily adapting each other’s teams to be cute, I promise! We just both grew to enjoy the experiences and traditions of these teams we’d never paid much attention to before.
I was born with Cubs fandom in my blood; my dad grew up in Chicago and attended games as a child. But, I didn’t fully become a true fan until the summer of 2002, which I spent just outside the city. I was living with one of my college roommates, working part-time, and studying for the GRE. Okay, I also frequently fell asleep on top of my GRE book in the shade on the grass near Lake Michigan. My roommate, a Chicagoland native, was a huge fan of the Cubs, and more specifically of Kerry Wood. We wiled away many an afternoon and evening telling each other that we would just watch one more inning before we got back to work.
I became an even bigger fan in the fall of 2003, my first semester of graduate school in Nashville, when the Cubs were doing well. Usually they are heartbreaking/frustrating, so this was a memorable time! Also of note, they indirectly led me to David: I was on a date once with a guy who knew the Cubs were my team. We were in a bar during one of those 2 outs, 2 strikes, go-ahead run at the plate scenarios. (Okay, I can’t remember the exact set-up, but it was high stakes with playoff implications.) Sammy Sosa was batting and hit a home run! A cheer erupted in the bar! But, my date was completely unaware of all of this and did not even pause mid-sentence to acknowledge the commotion or what had caused it. So, I took that as a sign (among other signs) that this guy was not “the one.” And a few months later I met David, who never fails to acknowledge things that are important to me or, for that matter, most significant moments in sports. And the rest is history.
Anyway, I probably did not need to go into that much backstory in order to tell you about Cafe Sunflower, which is a fantastic vegetarian/vegan place with two locations in Atlanta. We went to the Buckhead location, which is in a strip mall. But inside, there are huge paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a warm, dark, color scheme that feels worldly. You completely forget about the whole strip mall thing, especially when your food comes to your table.
My husband had the spicy pad thai noodles with smoked tofu, which had a unique, rich, curry-coconut flavor. I really wanted to order the organic “power bowl,” which featured quinoa, seaweed, collard greens, and red wine vinaigrette, but it was only available at dinner. So, instead I got the orzo eggplant lasagna, which was a carefully layered combination of a chewy tofu ricotta base and vegetables like roasted red peppers, portabello mushrooms, and zucchini. It was fantastic.
Our starters were also memorable. These great Jamaican limbo plaintains were big, soft, and chewy, and sprinkled with seasonings that tasted like the powder on BBQ potato chips. They were served with a smooth black bean dip and a lime segment.
Our bowl of carrot-apple-ginger soup was hot and delicious.
They had several vegan desserts to choose from, including five kinds of cake and a gluten-free cobbler. Your waiter can show you a tray displaying each kind of cake, which was fun. We took a piece of the chocolate raspberry mousse cake to go, and it was fantastic. I don’t know what was in it, but it didn’t taste vegan at all- no soy aftertaste or odd texture. Our waiter thoughtfully put napkins and plastic forks into the doggie bag, without us even asking! Perfect, as we needed to eat it before the ballgame (after carrying it with us through stops at Trader Joe’s, the Container Store, and IKEA), so it wouldn’t spoil in the hot car.
Cafe Sunflower has two Atlanta locations: 2140 Peachtree Rd. in Buckhead, and 5970 Roswell Rd. in Sandy Springs. Both have lunch and dinner hours Monday – Saturday (closed in the afternoon between meals), and are closed on Sundays. Their phone numbers are (404) 352-8859 and (404) 256-1675, respectively.
P.S. The Cubs won!