Dandelion Communitea Café – Orlando, FL
Comunnitea. I love it! It’s the perfect name for a cafe with spectacular, high-quality tea blends and conscious food that strengthens the community. Like Sweet Pea, Dandelion serves wholesome, homemade food, from sandwiches, to wraps, to bowls, to deserts provided by a local bakery. Vegetarian/vegan and organic fare is the concept here, and they also offer gluten- and soy-free options, as well as fair-trade coffee and tea. The prices are very reasonable and you walk away feeling happily satisfied, in more ways than one. This café is a local, small scale and independent enterprise that finds value in producers that are as well. Co-proprietor, Julie Norris, makes a solid statement about why these types of businesses are becoming so much more important: “Folks are waking up to the effects of mass consumption and the emptiness of big business and tuning into a simpler and more sustainable existence.” Bring back the mom and pop shops!
Here, you order at the counter and then find a table. I am always surprised at how quickly the food comes out; most times, my food arrives before my tea! Granted, I like my teas iced this time of year, but still, it’s freaky fast (no Jimmy John’s pun intended). There’s plenty of inside and outside seating, including a small courtyard with patio chairs for full-moon get-togethers with live folk music. Each night, Dandelion offers a special event:
Monday: $5 GiddyUp - famous chili on spring greens topped with crumbled blue corn chips, tomatoes and scallions served as a wrap or salad; served with vegan queso or organic dairy cheddar. But I think their green goddess dressing is the best; a creamy tahini dressing.
Tuesday: Open-mic Poetry Night
Wednesday: Local art hangings
Thursday: Green Drinks - eat, drink, enjoy great music and talk/learn about the issues concerning Orlando’s community
Weekends: Live music
And let’s not forget about Dandy Hour – discounted beer and wine with $5 appetizers on weekdays from 4-7pm. The beer selection here is one of the best around; they really branch out for some unique microbrews. Many beers come from the Orlando Brewery, Florida’s only certified Organic brewing company. They offer light and easy-drinking ales to dark and robust porters. You can check out Dandelion’s full drink and food menu here: http://dandelioncommunitea.com/eat/menu/
My dinner tonight, ~$11:
Mama’s Native Mix – Hearty quinoa served with 3 toppings of your choice and a dressing. I chose black beans, corn, onion, tomato, scallion and cilantro (more than 3, but I do what I want), and of course the divine Green Goddess Dressing to top it all off. I chose a bowl this time, but you can also get it wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla or collard leaf.
Stay Well Now Tea (iced) – A smooth blend of Echinacea purpurea herb, lemon balm, elder flower, lemon peel, elderberries, goldenseal herb and ginger root. This place has the most amazing tea selections I’ve seen, and you can purchase any loose leaf tea blend to take home for yourself.
Chai-Peach Cupcake – Like all deserts, this sinful creation came from Orlando’s Rhapsodic Vegan Bakery (check out their blog here: http://raphsodic.tumblr.com/).
Past meals I have had:
Giddyup as a wrap with green goddess dressing – there is something about this chili. It holds so many wonderful flavors that it makes you forget it’s actually meatless.
Summer of Love Rolls – Fun little rice wraps stuffed with carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, and herbs served with a coconut peanut sauce.
Rhapsody’s Vegan Brownie – SO MOIST, SO DELICOUS. I’m not a vegan, but vegan food can be outrageously good.
|Mama's Native Mix Above, Summer Rolls Below|
Because I love how simple, nutritious and tasty the Mama’s Native Mix is, I’ve had this bowl several times to experiment with different topping combinations. Sometimes I choose the Chef’s Choice and let them decide what they want to create. This is also a great way to use up those ingredients that may otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day = reduce waste!
I would recommend anyone to give this place a try. The food is simple, responsible and delicious. The atmosphere is eclectic and cozy. Dandelion is more than just a café – it’s also a community enhancing establishment fit for sustainable foodies.