Princess began tweaking traditional Caribbean recipes so the only thing this place would be missing is the meat. And to be honest, we don't miss it.Sometimes Caribbean cuisine can seem a little intimidating. And vegan Caribbean cuisine? Even more so. But neither is the case at Healthful Essence, a fully vegetarian and vegan Caribbean restaurant, which has been proving Westend carnivores wrong for over 10 years. The location might seem a bit tricky to find at first (it's behind the Krispy Kreme), but it's well worth the search. Owner Princess is an authority on authentic Caribbean cooking—she learned from her mother, after all—and after she switched to a vegan lifestyle nearly 30 years ago, she began tweaking traditional recipes so the only thing they'd be missing, is the meat. And to be honest, we didn't even miss that.
"I enjoy what I do," Princess said. She then went on to explain what drew her to the vegan lifestyle in the first place, and how, a couple decades later, she's still just as passionate about it. And that passion for health and flavor extends to the food, which includes crowd favorites like the Curry Un-Goat, Collard Greens and a Raw Blueberry Cheesecake. Yes, cheesecake. In addition to the soulfood and Caribbean classics, Princess also whips up hibiscus and ginger teas made from alkaline water on the daily, which make a refreshing complement to the red and green pepper-laden traditional dishes. Though, to be honest, we're rather drawn to the Jerk Un-Chicken and the Curry Vegetables. After all, shouldn't we be able to love the food we eat, and eat the food we love?
3-item plate, $8.50
2-item raw plate, $5
Raw Vegetable Medley Tub, $10
Raw Blueberry Cheesecake, $7.50
Monday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.