Walking into Sukha Cafe feels like taking a deep breath — fitting for a vegan cafe housed in a yoga studio. It's hard to remain tense in a room of soft, white walls, natural-colored furnishings and candles.
“Sukha (soo-ka),” according to the cafe’s website, “translates to an authentic state of happiness, or bliss.” Kim Matsko is the owner of both Yoga Bliss and Sukha Cafe, which opened last fall adjacent to the yoga studio. As I looked into the meaning of the word, I discovered another definition of sukha from Yoga International describing it as a "good fit." Sukha Cafe is a good fit for those looking for healthy options, vegan foods or just a relaxing spot in Baton Rouge.
On a recent visit, my friend and I chose to sit at the shared picnic-like wood table near a large window which was letting in an ample stream of natural light. An upbeat server brought us paper menus and quickly ran through the soups available.
While she poured water into glass Mason jars for us, she asked us if we wanted to sample the soup of the day and we accepted. The soup included corn, black beans and celery, with a bisque-like quality. It was hearty, lightly spicy and had a slightly sweet aftertaste.
We decided to begin our lunch with chips and cheese ($10). The chips were crunchier than your average tortilla chip, providing a satisfying crack with each bite, and hard to break — like they were especially made for this dip. The cheese was savory, nutty and had a lovely balanced spice to it. The portion was well-distributed allowing for a good cheese-to-chips ratio and a great start to our meal.
Our next order, a burger and sweet potato fries ($12), was placed on the table as my friend was scraping the remaining cheese out of the bowl. The fries are air-fried, delivering a crunchy exterior and soft interior, but not too moist. Even if you order an entree that comes without sweet potato fries, it’s worth purchasing a small order ($4). My tip is to request a side of chef Domini Bradford’s homemade vegan Russian dressing for dipping — it is a pleasant, tangy, creamy sauce with a bit of a kick to it, remnant of horseradish.
The beauty of Sukha’s burger is that you feel like you’re eating a delicious fast-food burger that you know you’ll regret later, but there’s absolutely no grease, or regret. A common problem with vegan burgers is that they crumble, but this burger, made of pea protein, beets and coconut oil, has a remarkable texture that doesn’t fall apart. It comes dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickle, garlic, mayo and mustard. I enjoyed the multigrain bread with the burger but we were informed that the sandwich usually comes on Reising’s French bread. If I get the burger again, however, I will request it on the whole grain bread that we had that day.
Our other main was the Buddha bowl ($15), soon to be a daily changing special. It included pita, hummus, quinoa pilaf, steamed kale, pea shoots, roasted sweet potato and avocado. The presentation was intricate, with each item intentionally placed to present a plate full of color. Although the flavors worked well together and the bowl felt nourishing, it was somewhat difficult to eat and felt like it was lacking an ingredient. The steamed kale wasn’t cut thin and clumped with the hummus, and the avocado disappeared rather quickly. I would suggest spooning off some of the hummus, which was delicious and tahini-heavy, with pita before digging in. The menu indicated the bowl would come with walnuts and a smoked paprika-maple vinaigrette which ours lacked; we suspected this must’ve been the missing element.
We finished off our lunch with a slice of the vegan and gluten-free bananas Foster cake ($8). The cake itself had a buttery texture, pillowy and soft. The icing wasn’t too sweet, my common complaint with icings, but smooth, velvety and complimentary to the other flavors. The fresh banana placed on top was a thoughtful added touch.
The cafe can be hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but it is marked by a small sign at the base of the somewhat steep stairs. There was plenty of available parking in the front and additional parking in the back. After eating a substantial lunch and closing it with a delectable slice of cake, neither my friend nor I felt heavy or weighed down by our midday feast. We can attribute the full, but not dense sensation to the fresh produce, organic ingredients and methods like air frying and cooking with high-quality components.
7384 Highland Road (inside Yoga Bliss)
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
(225) 663-2381; sukhastyle.com
PROS: Flavorful and enticing sandwiches, fresh ingredients, indulgent options like sweet potato fries, a burger, and cake slices that don’t weigh you down, plus an inviting atmosphere
CONS: Steep staircase could be difficult to climb for some; Buddha bowl was somewhat disappointing in comparison to other menu items