You don’t have to keep kosher to enjoy the large portions of health-oriented food at West Avenue Café. The stylish spot with an umbrella-shaded patio uses soy products to replace dairy. There is a full bar where you can also grab a smoothie or juice.
Owners Luis and Charles Castro, whose heritage is Puerto Rican and Italian, grew up in the restaurants their parents ran in San Juan and Miami. They bought the former Gourmet Carrot last year, renovated the space and revamped the menu with the help of Argentine manager Pablo Lucero and Honduran chef Alex Carrasco. Luis is a banker and Charles is a flight attendant, but the brothers are often at the café. At night the tables have white tablecloths and candles setting a romantic mood with a classical guitarist Thursdays.
Appetizers range from baba ghanoush served with whole-wheat pita to tuna tartare marinated in olive oil and lemon for spreading on ciabatta bread. There’s a daily soup, house salad with carrot-ginger dressing and a house-made veggie burger concocted from brown rice, lentils and vegetables on a toasted bun with sprouts, romaine and grated carrots.
Heartier eaters will enjoy the pan-seared Florida snapper fillet with caper sauce with shallots, tomatoes and basil or grilled chicken breast with roasted mushrooms and balsamic vinegar served with a baked sweet potato or mashed potatoes. Vegetarian dishes include stir-fried tofu with veggies and pecans, pasta primavera and baked vegetables with melted soy cheese over brown rice or the tiny bead-sized super grain quinoa.
Dairy-free desserts are delicious — try torino walnut cake layered with mocha “cream” or cheesecake made with silken tofu.