Thrive Juice Bar, Waterloo

I'm kind of embarrassed about how long it took me to visit this (mostly) vegan restaurant. Especially since I expend a tremendous amount of energy bitching about the lack of vegan dining options around here. After all, we traveled all the way to Montreal and then all the way to Los Angeles, our major objective for both being the consumption of the most amount of vegan food possible in the least amount of time. And yet, somehow, I couldn't find time to visit a veggie restaurant that is less than fifteen minutes from my front door and is constantly given rave reviews by our friends and family (many of whom are not even vegan for goodness sake!).

Fear not vegans (and foodies) of Kitchener-Waterloo, I am here today to talk about Thrive Juice Bar. Better embarrassingly late than never, yes?

I heard about Thrive on Twitter (how modern of me!). Months ago. But the truth is that we really don't do the restaurant thing all that much. While most people dine out at least once a week, we treat a lunch or dinner at a restaurant as a reward of massive proportions. Our dates out turn into these big affairs that we find ourselves excited about for a week beforehand, googling menus and deciding our meals days in advance. Because we let other people make our meals for us so infrequently, we end up sticking to old favourites when we do finally let loose and order that takeout.

We are so weird. I know this.

Last Saturday we had a ton of errands to run and decided it was the perfect opportunity to stop by Thrive.

Located at the Bauer Buildings in uptown Waterloo, Thrive promises to provide you with "Fuel for Life" while encouraging you to "Take Health into Your Own Hands". While I do love me a deep-fried tofu entity smothered in sugary sauces followed by a decadent cupcake, at the heart of my veganism is a desire to take care of animals and the planet, while also taking care of myself.

I love vegan comfort food restaurants because they showcase the diversity of veganism and the absence of the great personal sacrifices everyone seems to think a vegan diet entails. But I also love vegan restaurants rooted in health consciousness, because by respecting our physical bodies enough to eat consciously, we are also participating in respect for the animals and the environments that are at the heart of our cause. However, while these two types of cruelty-free dining experiences are often pitted against one another, I firmly believe there is room for both of them in the greater vegan landscape. You'll never hear me playing favourites.

That being said, what I particularly love about the vegan restos that promote health is that they let the whole foods do the talking. Fruits, vegetables and grains are so flavourful on their own that it can be quite the shame to smother them in sauces all the time. While I am known to get giddy over vegan takes on traditional omnivorous foods, there is something to be said about scrapping our old notions of what delicious food is altogether and embracing veganism for what it can offer on its own: a whole foods diet based on vegetables and grains and the health benefits that follow. Processed foods not required.

We started out by splitting a Coconut Cashew Medjool Date Premium Blend
From the menu: coconut gelato, medjool date, cashew butter, lemongrass, raw agave, rice milk, coconut water. ($6.99 for 18 oz).

The soup of the day was a mushroom.

Paul got the Vegetarian Reuben Sandwich
From the menu: lightly toasted organic marble light rye with virgin coconut oil, brisket seasoned tempeh, house made sauerkraut, Dijon mustard, lactose free Swiss cheese, served with a vegan dill pickle & potato chips. ($7.50).

I got the Artichoke, Sweet Basil & Sun Dried Tomato Pizza with mozzarella Daiya.
From the menu: house-made arugula pesto, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper, dairy free mozzarella daiya cheese & sweet basil finished with extra virgin olive oil & coarse sea salt. ($9.50 plus $0.75 for Daiya).

Everything was fresh and flavourful; filling without being too heavy. The coconut/cashew blend was so amazing that I'm afraid I'll never try any of their other drinks in fear of missing out on it. If you visit Thrive and try one of their Vega-powered concoctions, please let me know how it is and maybe you can sway me!

For the quality of ingredients used, Thrive is reasonably priced. Service was quick and efficient and the funky and unique atmosphere makes it a cool place for your next lunch date. This is Vegan: Seal of Approval granted!

Because we are crazies who google menus before visiting restaurants, I had my heart set on the House Veggie Burger but unfortunately they were sold out by the time we got there on Saturday afternoon. It's alright though, the next time we loosen the purse strings a bit and decide to treat ourselves to another lunch, we know where we can go.

Thrive Juice Bar
The Bauer Buildings
105 – 191 King Street S,
Waterloo, ON
(519) 208-8808


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