Strong Hearts Café serves up tantalizing vegan bites

Review: The local café provides an endless menu of soups, salads, milkshakes, pizza and more.

The food may be dairy- and meat-free, but Strong Hearts Café is not just for vegans, it’s a place for people who love to eat.

The café, located at 719 E. Genesee St., offers a plethora of dishes, from soups to sandwiches and salads. The menu says breakfast is always served “’cuz breakfast’s awesome.” On Friday nights, from 6 p.m.—2 a.m., the café also serves pizza. 

When I entered Strong Hearts, I was immediately struck by its relaxed earthy vibe. People in boho clothing and stylish sunglasses sipping their soy milk coffee drinks make up the majority of the café’s client base. 

The menu is scrawled on a chalkboard on the wall, and there are also handheld menus which describe the dishes in more detail because, trust me, there are so many tantalizing options, you’ll need all the help you can get.

Loaded tofu scrambleMy entrée choice: the loaded tofu scramble. With the scramble, you get the choice of five add-ins.  I decided on broccoli, seitan, spinach and red peppers. You can also get tofu scrambles that come with the add-ins already included, like the green tofu scramble, which contains green peppers, pesto, spinach and broccoli. The scrambles are served with a side of toast. 

The tofu scramble was nicely spiced with an almost curry-like seasoning. The vegetables were tender and the spinach was cooked perfectly so it was soft, but still retained its leaf shape and was not soggy. 

The seitan, although it counts as two add-ins, is a personal must. It is perfectly seasoned and tender. I chose the sundried-tomato flavor seitan, but there are other flavors, like curry spice, available. The toast served on the side was a lovely golden brown and came un-buttered. 

My dining companions had the soba noodle salad and the soup of the day. The soba noodle salad came with marinated tofu and mushrooms, and was served on a bed of mixed greens. Although there was a good amount of tofu and fresh mushrooms, the dish was a bit light on the amount of soba noodles. The tofu was marinated nicely in flavors of soy and sesame. The dressing with the salad, ginger-sesame, was delicious and the sesame flavor really shone. The dressing also came on the side, so you can add a lot or a little depending on personal preference.   

The soup of the day, chili, was spicy, but so much spice that it might overbearingly hot for some. It was loaded with tender kidney and cannellini beans, celery, sweet potatoes and green and red peppers. It is a must for chili lovers who like a bit of a kick. 

Strong Hearts’ dessert selection is out of this world. Cookies, cupcakes and muffins line the shelves. They all look so tantalizing; you will undoubtedly catch yourself staring.  Not to mention, they have a sprawling milkshake menu. 

My dining companions and I opted to share a half-moon cookie. The texture of the cookie was almost scone-like at the outer edges, but cake-like and softer in the center.  The cookie wasn’t loaded with icing like a lot of frosted cookies, so you could actually taste the cookie part of the cupcakes and not just the sugar of the icing.

The café also offers coffee drinks, like espressos and mochas, as well as non-coffee drinks, like hot chocolate.  I ordered a cappuccino made with soymilk. Alternative milks usually don't yield as much foam as regular milk, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of foam in Strong Hearts’ cappuccino.

There are no designated servers of the restaurant, just staff who serve the dishes. Our only complaint about the service was the cashier, who looked bored when taking our order and appeared to be annoyed when I asked what flavors of seitan they offered. 

Overall, Strong Hearts is a great café and I would highly recommend it for anybody who is looking for a laid back environment, great food and overall good service. I will surely be back to have a milkshake (which are some of the best I’ve ever had), and some more delicious food.


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