July 25th, 2013 by Jill Meredith – Comments (3)
Tracy Caton wants to start a healthy revolution. This native Oklahoman spent time in Colorado, developing and nurturing her passion for cooking that began in her grandma’s kitchen.
It was her grandma who also taught her about growing fresh food. Fascinated with the gorgeous colors of fruits and veggies, she especially loved everything from purple peas to fresh tomatoes.
Over the years, Tracy worked numerous jobs, but realized that serving people wholesome, flavor-packed food was her true passion.
When she opened Café Samana in February 2010, her goal was to serve healthy food at a reasonable price. Tracy wants to dispel idea that good food has to be expensive and therefore unattainable to some people.
Her menu takes the concept of “eating the rainbow” and makes it accessible, affordable and delicious. Most of the offerings are vegan or vegetarian, but there are a few options for carnivores.
Whenever possible, the restaurant uses organic, locally grown products. Even the tableware, chairs, napkins, etc. come from second-hand stores in order to reduce the consumption of resources.
Tracy reflects, “We have a symbiotic relationship with the environment. If it’s sick, so are we.”
Café Samana partners with other local businesses like Farrell Family Breads, Progressive Produce, Shikoba Recycling, Topeca Coffee and others to give patrons an unmatched dining experience.
The restaurant that seats 40 has a light, vibrant atmosphere.
On a recent visit at lunchtime, the place was completely packed, except for one seat at the counter.
Servers were friendly and helpful, offering suggestions and explaining the dishes in great detail.
Tracy later explained that everyone who works in the restaurant is cross-trained to do every job.
She elaborates, “They start in the kitchen and then eventually move to the front of the house. Even if they don’t have a lot of experience serving at first, they know every, dish, every ingredient.”
I was happy that my server was so knowledgeable as I perused the menu.
I started with a cup of gazpacho ($5), a traditional, cold vegetable soup. The tomato based broth, was brimming with fresh veggies. Although I added just a pinch of salt, the soup was flavorful and the perfect start to a real adventure in healthy eating.
For my main course, I decided on one of the two specials of the day. The Thai Wrap ($10) was full of colorful ingredients like oranges, onions, red bell peppers, mushrooms and onions in a spicy peanut sauce. Instead of using meat as a protein source, this wrap has tempeh, a protein rich meat substitute made from fermented soybeans. Café Samana’s tempeh is made in-house. The texture of cashews, tempeh differs from tofu, which is made from soymilk that has been curdled and mixed with a coagulant to help it firm up.
My wrap came with a choice of several side dishes. I chose the Potato Patties that were roasted and had wondrous flavor. Other side dishes include asparagus bundles, roasted sweet potatoes and an addictively delicious slaw. Made with crunchy, locally grown mung sprouts, it is so good, I could have made a meal on it alone!
There are so many interesting menu items to try, I opted to take a few home and continue the adventure there.
The stuffed mushrooms ($8) were filled with tomato, spinach cream and topped with pecans and mozzarella. The nuttiness of the pecans paired well with the earthiness of the cremini mushrooms.
The Baba Rolls ($8) were a hearty take on baba ganoush, a classic Middle Eastern eggplant dip. Tracy’s version featured organic spinach, organic carrots, olives, local sprouts and feta rolled in a wheat tortilla and drizzled with red pepper vinaigrette.
The lemon poppy cake was a sweet and pleasantly tart end to a delicious day of creative and unpretentious food.
Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or a ravenous meat eater, you’ll enjoy the food, concept and overall good feeling you get at Café Samana.
3807 S Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74105
Jill Meredith – Author
Jill is a foodie and freelance writer who lives in Broken Arrow with her husband, their daughter and some furry family members. She loves spending time in the kitchen developing new recipes and reading cookbooks like novels. Besides writing for TulsaFood.com, Jill also writes monthly food related columns for Oklahoma Magazine and several weekly articles for Examiner.com. She loves sharing her knowledge and has even taught cooking classes.