Need a reason to visit Nassau County’s South Shore? Located in Hewlett, NY, The Willow Cafe could (dare I say “should”?) be that reason.
The Willow Cafe is Long Island’s newest all-vegan restaurant, having just opened in September. Despite being so new, it’s easily one of the best vegan places out here. After all, how many places serve an all-vegan breakfast on the Island?
I learned about the Willow Cafe the day before my 24th birthday. I had returned from visiting my family the previous night and decided I wanted to treat myself to a smoothie, so I went out, knowing exactly what I would order from the closest vegan-friendly place, only to find that it was no longer there! In its place was the Willow Cafe, which had not yet opened. I did, however, consider it an early birthday present: a vegan restaurant just a few minutes away from my home? What a win for me!
The Location + Atmosphere
The Willow Cafe is in a prime location. The parking situation isn’t the best, which is mostly to be expected in this area, but Hewlett is such a walkable hamlet that it isn’t much of a problem. Coming from the local LIRR station? You’ll be at this spot in just a few minutes. On a Trader Joe’s run? Even better: grab a smoothie from the Willow Cafe and get your grocery shopping done – I’ve done it, and I’m sure I’ll do it again and again.
The interior is both calming and charming. Music plays overhead – one day, it was Michael Jackson on repeat, which was fun! – and you can choose to sit at a table or relax on the couch. It’s also perfect if you’re a fan of plants: each table includes a faux plant centerpiece, which is both simple and eye-catching. The open space allows for less crowding, so you’re never on top of someone else, which can easily be the case in certain spots in the Five Towns.
The Cost + Value
Here’s the truth: plant-based food can cost some money. Things like vegan protein powder, cheese, and meats don’t always come cheap. So if you’re expecting fast food prices…well, you’ll be disappointed.
However, I’ll tell you this: I tried the food, looked at the ingredients…the prices are totally reasonable! As of this writing, you can get a personal pizza for under $10.00, a filling lasagna for about $13.00, and a smoothie filled with protein and other healthy additions for approximately $10.00. Really, a bargain for an all-vegan spot, especially considering the location and quality of food.
In the end, you are, of course, paying for more than just food. You’re paying for amazing service, which is what the team at the Willow Cafe provide. They’re friendly and personable, and really create a warm environment, which really adds to the place’s overall value.
Also important to note is the Willow Cafe’s use of compostable products. Plates, cups, straws, and utensils are all plastic-free, so you’re doing less harm to the environment ordering food from there compared to the average plastic-heavy restaurant.
For me, it’s totally worth it. I can just walk there, so there’s no gas to be wasted, and I can burn some calories…though I’ll probably gain them all back because, well, food.
What can I say about the food? Well, for starters, it’s absolutely delicious! So far, I’ve had the lasagna, Van Gogh Omelette, Creamy Banana Smoothie, My Deep Pizza, and Lifetime Power Shake. I’ve also (begrudgingly) shared their mac ‘n’ cheese and enchilada with my husband. I have no complaints about any of these dishes, except that they ended too soon and had me craving more.
I’ve never finished a meal from the Willow Cafe and felt unsatisfied. Even the “simplest” smoothie left me full. Even better, though I feel full, I don’t feel sluggish or anything bad. I know I’m eating a good amount of food, but I also know that it makes me feel good because it’s good for me (or at the very least, it could be a lot worse). That’s part of the power of veganism and plant-based meals!
The dishes I’ve had were an absolute delight. They were filling, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you can bet you’ll find me sampling their other menu items soon. The Curry Chickpeas Stew, burger, and hot dog are all calling me – and that’s not even looking at the dessert menu! Chocolate cake? Vanilla sandwich cookie? Chocolate pizza? And the fact that the recently announced that they’re adding a Mac n Cheese Pizza to the menu? Come on, I don’t stand a chance.
Can you tell I love the Willow Cafe? If I could eat their every day for every meal, I probably would.
Ah, the dream.
If you’re in the area, you absolutely must try some of the fabulous dishes at the Willow Cafe. The food is delicious, the location and interior is ideal, and the staff is super friendly – if that’s not a winning combination, I don’t know what is.
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