Walnut kale salad
Joanne Howard

Alchemy Café is quite possibly the healthiest restaurant in Santa Barbara. Located inside the three-year-old Alchemy Arts Center on the corner of Chapala Street and West Haley Street, the café shares the center’s passion for wellness, which founder Emma Narachi, a reiki master and craniosacral therapist, developed during her travels through Asia.

The café prides itself on offering a menu full of raw, vegetarian cuisine. “We’re the only real place that does organic, vegetarian, clean food,” said Stevie Mason, the center’s marketing and sales manager. “Everything here is over 95 percent organic.” The restaurant is also farmers market certified, meaning they commit 25 percent or more of their total monthly food expenditures to the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. She explained, “Our center combines wellness of all levels, whether it be what you eat here or what you experience with our personalized treatments, spas, acupuncture, or herbal medicines, all of which can be integrated into your daily life.”

At the café, guests can start their mornings with an elixir drink or nutrient-rich smoothie. Their Kefir Water, which is a detox beverage made from fermented grain, contains probiotics and helps improve digestion. As a fermented drink, it may be an acquired taste to some diners, so try it in the Premier Nutrition supplement, which is fortified with Vitamin B and flavored with pineapple juice.

For lunch, try the walnut kale salad with locally grown kale, toasted walnuts, and avocado, topped with sprouted crunchy quinoa, finely shredded Parmesan, and a lemon olive oil dressing. The salad’s freshness and vibrant, bursting colors are a stirringly light option for these winter months. Pair it with the seasonal special of butternut squash soup; its creamy texture, made with antioxidant-rich coconut oil, is a fuller complement to the lighter salad. Clean food often tends to connote blandness, but not so at Alchemy Café. The flavors of the food are as lively as the colors.

With its uniquely healthy dishes and sunny, Eden-like dining room, Alchemy Café is enjoying increasing success. “We have a loyal clientele who knows our passion for clean food and wants to support us,” Mason said. To join Alchemy Arts on their journey of healing, a healthy meal at the café is the perfect way to start.


The Alchemy Café is located at 35 West Haley Street. Call (805) 899-8811 or see alchemyartscenter.com.


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