“An ayurvedic café? No way,” I thought. But they absolutely exist. And there’s one in Philly that I recently entered for the very first time. Owned and run by Kei, yet another incredibly knowledgeable beauty in the Philly ayurvedic community, Down Dog Healing Café immediately found a place in my heart. The café is centered around Aurveda-inspired everything – from the recipes on the menu to the paint on the walls (a color which was specifically created by the paint brand to help balance the doshas).
Kei herself is a guru and can help answer any Ayurveda-centric question that may arise while you’re in there. Many of her customers already know the dosha constitution of their bodies and can order their drinks accordingly, but if they don’t, Kei can make suggestions. Right now we’re in Vata season, so Kei may recommend Vata tea for those who don’t know their constitution. During this season, the weather turns dry and a lot of imbalances start happening. Feelings of nervousness and anxiety are common – and Vata tea can help with these things. If someone comes in with a cold, Kei will recommend Kapha tea, as colds are related to excess Kapha in the body. I bet one could learn a lot about Ayurveda just by hanging out at the café for an afternoon!
Kei put together a little sampling platter of some rejuvenating tonics and a couple other items from the menu, and talked me through each one as I tasted it for the first time. All ingredients are organic, non-processed, non-GMO, and prepared fresh – all sourced locally whenever possible. I’ll explain a bit about each one, but I must first have you know… every single thing was absolutely delicious.
1. Chamomile Lemonade
(fresh squeezed lemon + chamomile + raw sugar)
This was the first thing I tried – it’s the most traditional thing on the menu, so it’s a good gateway drink for those who may be a little hesitant to try the more exotic concoctions.
2. Honey Turmeric Lemonade
(fresh squeezed lemon + raw honey + turmeric, cinnamon, ginger)
Kei said that if there’s one thing you should have every day, it’s turmeric. This spice is excellent for inflammation, which is something that so, so many of us experience in the present day. It also helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and eats up ama – which, in Ayurveda, is the name for a toxic byproduct that occurs during improper or incomplete digestion.
3&4. Orange Sea Salt & Mint Lime
(fresh squeezed orange + filtered water + soma salt // fresh squeezed lime + maple syrup + fresh mint + cumin)
These are the café’s versions of Gatorade, as they are excellent for hydrating the body – you can taste the similarity to Gatorade in the slight hint of salt that exists.
5. Apple Cider
(locally-sourced apples + cardamom, cloves, cinnamon)
This is the café’s seasonal special at the moment. It’s made of just the 4 ingredients listed above. It has no added sugar (and you won’t even miss it), and can be served hot or cold.
6. Almond Date Smoothie
(almond milk + raw almonds + dates + saffron, ginger, nutmeg)
This smoothie is great for treating nervousness or anxiety and is ultra nourishing — so it’s a good meal replacer. It’s an ideal choice for women who are pregnant or postpatrum.
(red lentils + basamati rice + turnips + kale + butternut squash + coconut oil + tumeric, corriander, Himalayan sea salt)
This is the main ayurvedic dish – it’s like the chicken soup of Ayurveda, and at the café the dish is made with different types of vegetables each day. It’s a nourishing dish yet digests lightly. In Ayurveda, it is believed that one should feel energized and light after eating a meal – not heavy and weighed down.
Lastly, Kei offered me a “flu shot” (that little guy you see below). I’m a sucker for wit, so this totally got me. It’s a liquid shot of delicious ingredients that will keep your immune system at the top of its game.
I was blown away by this Mudcloth painting of a tea ceremony in Africa. The artist, Angie, used mud and hibiscus tea (…tea from the actual ceremony) to document the ceremony as it was happening. Beautiful!
The outside walls of the café are covered in gorgeous mosaic tiles done by Isaiah Zagar and his class. Isaiah a well-known – and extremely talented – mosaic artist local to Philly. When he teaches his mosaic classes, he needs a wall to use, so Down Dog Healing Café offered up its walls for the occasion! They invited the community and threw a little celebration with snacks for everyone. Isaiah said this was the first time a party had ever been thrown for one of his classes… Just goes to show how warm the hearts behind this café really are! :)
Kei sent me home with an awesome DVD about Ayurveda, as well as some delicious teas (made by Lilavati’s brand!) that I’ve been enjoying ever since. I can’t wait to go back, and hope that you’ll all treat yourselves to a visit if you’re ever in the area. :)
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