Shayna B’s by the Sea, Westbrook
We’ve long been fans of this dedicated gluten-free and vegan cafe since it’s opening back in 2017. An exceptionally versatile spot, Shayna B’s has a wide variety of made-from-scratch baked goods like specialty cupcakes (if you haven’t had one yet, you’re missing out!), donuts, cookies, oat squares, brownies, pop tarts, cinnamon rolls, scones, cheezecakes, made-to-order cakes (and the list goes on). They also offer salad bowls, sandwiches, and pizzas (our social media manager stops in once a week for their cashew margarita). Our personal favorite is the Mexican Bowl, buffalo cauliflower, Mexican jackfruit, black beans, yellow rice, greens, avocado, mango salsa, and cashew ranch dressing. They recently moved from Old Saybrook to their new location in Westbrook, with expanded offerings and indoor dining, plus allergy-conscious groceries like Kite Hill products, Simple Mills crackers, and Jovial pasta (another Connecticut-based business).
Good to know: They offer alternative holiday meal mains and sides for allergy-conscious folks.
631 Boston Post Rd, Westbrook
W- Su: 10a-4p
Life Bowls, Madison
Life Bowls is known for their Instagram-worthy acai bowls. And since we fancy ourselves (unofficial) acai bowl aficionados, we can confidently say that Life Bowls’ bowls take the cake. We always go “classic”, blended with acai, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and almond milk, then topped with strawberries, banana, granola (gluten-free by request), coconut, and honey. But just a peek at their “Nutty” bowl, and you’ll be drooling about it ‘til the weekend. Boosts like hemp, chia, and flax seeds and bee pollen can be added to any bowl. Pitaya bowls, oat bowls, smoothies and toasts are also offered. We’re big fans of the planty vibes inside their downtown Madison location. Order a bowl to-go and enjoy on the outside tables along bustling Main Street.
Good to know: The Life Bowls food truck can be found around CT and is available to hire for private catering services.
757 Boston Post Rd, Madison
Karma Kitchen, Mystic
Karma Kitchen in downtown Mystic prides themselves on their cold-pressed juices and house-prepared cleanses, with each elixirs’ ingredients sourced locally and organic when possible. But they’re way more than a juicery. Their extensive food options include bowls, wraps, sandwiches, soups, snacks and more. During the early summer three-day heat wave where we couldn’t imagine eating anything cooked, we stopped in to try their new Karma Kobb Salad, and it did NOT disappoint. Made from romaine/spring mix, hemp-crusted tofu, cherry tomatoes, carrot baKon, avocado and red onion with a side of housemade maple lime vinaigrette dressing, it hit the spot. Their warm MexBowl appears to be a star menu item, as it was ordered 3/3 times while we awaited our order. The Mermaid Lemonade (made with spirulina) is KILLER, and the perfect summer refreshment.
Good to know: Grab the FIRST available parking spot you find downtown and take a stroll to Karma if need-be. Located across the street from Engine Room.
15 Holmes St, Mystic
Three Girls Vegan Downtown, Guilford
We’ve loved watching the evolution of Three Girls Vegan and were literally ECSTATIC when we heard about their downtown opening. An offshoot from their creature comfort classics at their Route 1 location, downtown offers grain and salad bowls, smoothie bowls, baked goods like delectable carrot cake, heavenly coffee cake, and SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM (yes, you read that right) made from Oatly. Dips and sprinkles available, too! We popped by during the rainy 4th of July weekend to feast on their tasty taco bowl, a mixture of organic supergreens, brown, forbidden, and jade rice, heirloom cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, black beans, red onions, cilantro, guacamole, tortilla chips, with Three Girls Vegan sausage and chipotle cheddar. In a word, it was YUM. A kick of heat and a lot of flavor.
Good to know: Get there early, especially if you’re hankering for bakery items. With an established following, their baked goods sell out, and there is often a line for entry (one party permitted into the cafe at a time).
23 Water St, Guilford
Right Path Organic Cafe, New London
If I lived just a smidge closer to New London, this organic, plant-based cafe would be my daily go-to for smoothies, lunch, and coffee. Located on State Street, this airy, welcoming, cheerful space houses an open kitchen that pumps out all manner of quality goods, raw and otherwise. It’s clear why this place has such a loyal following among vegans and health-minded people, as owner and chef, Rob Bernardo takes great care in all of his dishes on the vast menu. Start with fresh juices and add wheatgrass or ginger shots or hearty smoothies with pee pollen or Ashwagandha supplements. Choose from loaded bowls, packed salads, snacks, and soups. Keep up with daily specials like Loaded Nachos, Waldorf Salad, and Fried Rice on Right Path’s Instagram.
The Wisdom Bowl (pictured) is something I have dreamt about since my last visit. A big heaping bowl of brown rice, baby kale, carrots, beets, cabbage, peppers, Thai cashews, and creamy ginger dressing. I gobbled every last bite but still managed to devour a raw Carrot Goji Berry Cake with cashew “cream cheese” frosting, something I’d intended to simply have a bite of.
Good to know: They deliver! Thanks to Shoreline Menus, you can have your bowls, desserts, juices and more delivered right to your door.
147 Bank St, New London
One of the very first vegan restaurants to establish itself in Connecticut, this clean eating institution has been around since 2010. G-Zen dives deep into clean eating culture, supporting local farmers and small green-sustainable businesses. Their ingredients are grown locally, 100% organic and fair-trade. In addition, they refrain from refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, table salt, GMO corn or soy products of any kind. Which, on top of having incredibly delicious food, is why they’ve received honors like “Top Ten Upscale Vegan Restaurants in America” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, plus press in The Food Network and New York Times, just to name a few. Everything on their menu piques our interest, but we often go with their Zen Burger, a house-made organic black bean & chipotle burger with fresh heirloom tomato, local lettuce, onion & house tofu “nayo” dressing. Of course, with a side of their sweet potato G-fries and house-made hickory smoked ketchup. G-Zen’s interior is sophisticated and stylish, and dining on their outdoor patio is a treat in the summer months.
Good to know: “G Monkey Mobile” food truck can be found around the CT Farmers Market circuit. Check their calendar for its whereabouts.
2 E Main St, Branford