118 degrees & cooling

If you live in the city, cooking is often the only significant way you can connect with nature. Pampering yourself with luscious, healthy food is not just a trend, it’s a revolution, especially as more people discover the infinite possibilities that the vegetable kingdom has to offer. Going vegetarian, vegan or raw can be a choice people make for different reasons, but the underlying factor is that people enjoy vibrant health by eating organic and fresh foods. One benefit of eating raw is the energy derived from the enzymes available in living foods. More exciting than that is the creative way that chefs are crafting delicious, raw vegetarian cuisine that can rival any five-star gastronomical delights.

Executive chef Jenny Ross, owner of 118 Degrees Organic Eats and Drinks Lounge in Costa Mesa, is at the forefront of the raw food revolution. Her three-month-old lounge is chicly adorned with sustainable timbers and metals and filled with cozy chairs of suede-like microfiber. A dark wooden bar runs along the front of the lounge, making it a great space to have a fresh juice or friendly conversation. High windows line the wall of the lounge, creating a bright and clean space. Live plants adorn each table, complimenting the bright orange chairs and dark wooden beams and tables. Located in the heart of The Camp””an “anti-mall” in Costa Mesa for all seekers of a sustainable lifestyle to admire””118 Degrees is located just where it needs to be. 

An exciting menu of salads, tamales, wraps and so much more is sure to appeal not only to raw foodists, but also those interested in eating raw for the first time. It really is something to see so many classic dishes on a menu that are all raw and vegan. The flavors are exciting and delicious, and the way that the food is crafted is truly sure to excite your taste buds. 

The food is beautifully presented with splashes of color on each plate of living, organic food. To start, take pleasure in the olive pizettas, a delicious olive kamut crust topped with a mouth-watering sun-dried tomato herb marinara, mixed Italian vegetables and basil “cheese.” (The cheese is made from fresh herbs blended with sprouted seeds and nuts.)

If you feel like cooling down, try the Merry Monkey, an unforgettable smoothie redolent of grandma’s yummy carrot cake, blended with Brazil nuts, banana, almond butter, cinnamon, vanilla and agave. The all-raw Mole Enchiladas, in spicy tomato wraps with chipotle cheese, marinated vegetables and avocado, and topped with a mole pepper sauce, is a healthful, delicious twist on an old favorite. The eatery also has great desserts and a great philosophy to go with it. As the menu states, “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!” The Drunken Berries is a wonderful finish with its creamy coconut custard and a raspberry champagne sauce. The loose-leaf tea list is extensive with an exciting variety of herbal teas served by the glass or pot with sweet agave nectar on the side. As a special treat, a DJ spins every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 7-10pm, making the lounge a great place to meet other foodies over a glass of organic wine or steaming cup of tea.

As the raw food revolution gains popularity, more creative ways to craft foods are being developed. Chefs like Jenny Ross are breaking down the barriers of people who believe that all food must be cooked to taste good. The public is beginning to see the benefits of eating raw and vegan and 118 Degrees is a chill spot to truly explore your raw food palate.

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