Kitava is a cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District that’s aiming to change the way people think about healthy eating. Kitava’s entire menu is completely free of gluten, soy, refined sugar, peanuts, corn, and seed oils. There are plenty of dairy and meat-free options as well. Many people think of a healthy diet as something to aspire to, but actually maintaining it can be difficult. Kitava’s focus on simple, fresh ingredients and a reasonably priced menu show that eating healthy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing great flavors – or your budget.
Co-founders Bryan Tublin and Jeff Nobbs originally started health-conscious food delivery services before joining forces to start Kitava. The restaurant’s name was inspired by one of the islands in Papua New Guinea. The residents of this island eat a diet consisting entirely of natural ingredients, making them one of the healthiest populations in the world. Tublin and Nobbs were able to open their first brick-and-mortar location in 2017. In a truly ironic twist, their current Mission Street storefront was formerly a McDonald’s.
Although Kitava’s dishes are fresh and vegetable forward, don’t expect your traditional health-conscious fare – Kitava’s menu is full of bold, globally inspired flavors to suit many different dietary preferences. One of Tublin’s favorite dishes is the Cuban bowl, which takes inspiration from traditional Cuban cooking, but with a light and health-conscious spin. It uses naturally sweet plantains and a cilantro-garlic sauce to evoke these distinctive flavors without any additives. You’ll also find dishes like Thai coconut curry, a Baja fajita bowl, and even a spin on General Tso’s chicken.
For those looking for classic vegetable-based dishes, there’s plenty of light but nutritious entrees to choose from. The Power Bowl is a classic mix of colorful veggies and quinoa topped with a tahini spread for extra flavor. Customers can also build their own mix and match bowl, combining their favorite protein and vegetable sides.
Although Kitava’s menu is certainly very amenable to those with allergies or other dietary restrictions, everyone can enjoy the creative flavors and fresh ingredients. Each dish uses locally and sustainably sourced ingredients with minimal processing. Meats are always sourced with health and the environment in mind, and there aren’t any hidden additives or fillers on the menu.
The menu at Kitava is aiming to change stereotypes about healthy food by making it more accessible. Each of the dishes has a very affordable price point, with the cost of an entree averaging around $12. Tublin states that a healthy diet is something that everyone should be able to enjoy.
Kitava has a fast-casual model and is open for lunch and dinner throughout the week. The cafe has a light and airy design that is stylish but also very welcoming. However; due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kitava has shifted entirely to delivery and takeout.
Although the restaurant offered delivery and takeout prior to the city-wide shutdown, they have expanded these efforts even further in order to continue making their healthy menu accessible to San Francisco residents. Kitava’s menu is available for pickup and delivery via UberEats, Grubhub, Caviar, and Doordash.
As a community-minded restaurant, Kitava is taking steps to help those who have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. They are currently providing food for Feed The Line, a San Francisco-based organization that is providing meals for healthcare professionals who are working on the front lines. In turn, consumers can support Kitava by purchasing gift cards, which can be used for takeout orders or for dine-in once the pandemic has ended. They have also launched a GoFundMe in an effort to continue supporting their team despite reduced working hours.
During this stressful time, it’s more important than ever that we have access to healthy food. Restaurants like Kitava provide the Bay Area with creative, balanced dishes that you can feel good about putting in your body.