I could smell it before I could see it, and I wondered how it was that I had failed to see it or smell it before. I walk West San Francisco Street all the time, but perhaps get too caught up in thinking about a big glass of wine, where I could put that eye-catching piece of
pottery or how to politely dodge the dude with the miracle cream ridding the world of wrinkles. Anyway, whatever the reason, that magical smell overcame the commotion that is downtown Santa Fe in summer, or maybe just the inside of my head, and lured me in.
I wasn't expecting what I found inside the Apothecary restaurant at the Santa Fe Oxygen & Healing Bar. There definitely was oxygen available, but the space itself seemed to breathe its own healthy mix of positivity and radiance, helped along by the expansive menu of things that looked really good for you—and are really good for you.
Master healer and serial entrepreneur Kadimah Levanah helms the enterprise of wellness that is the Apothecary restaurant as well as the Santa Fe Oxygen & Healing Bar, Sanctuary Spa and the Kaverns (a performance and art space). Along with her children, Miriam, Noah and Mya Kass, Levanah has built a mini-empire of natural health along West San Francisco street.
"We have a high volume of business at our spa across the street, and people were wondering where they could eat healthy food after a treatment," says Levanah. "I realized there was a gap in the need for food like that in Santa Fe; food that is highly nourishing and tastes good, even decadent and rich, but was purposefully healthy."
After a dinner party, a friend noted how much she had enjoyed Levanah's cooking. That little nudge proved to be just the inspiration she was seeking.
"This is how I cook at home, so it was delightful to have someone recognize its quality," Levanah tells SFR.
Now open just over two years, the Apothecary does indeed offer quality food, smoothies, teas and elixirs, but also a space that promotes healing. In the time I was there, many diners stopped in to eat then moved to a cozy couch nearby for a stimulating oxygen session. Having just returned from sea level, and with allergies on full attack, the combination did seem to be a smart one.
Beyond the oxygen and healing spa treatments, Levanah explains the
progression of opening a restaurant.
"It made sense to keep integrating how to 'alchemize' food," she says. "We live in such a culture of satisfaction, eating food that doesn't serve our
bodies; there's a disconnect between healthy food and what tastes good."
The Apothecary bridges that gap.
"All of our drinks and food contain the products that we create and carry," Levanah continues. "I feel what people want and need for their well-being, so I created comfort food that is alchemized: It's medicine that meets their needs, just delivered differently."
And deliciously, I might add.
The Apothecary's offerings are completely gluten-free and mostly housemade; the produce is sustainably farmed, and its meat and fish come from responsible producers (and with price tags to match). Though many options are vegan, proteins such as shrimp and chicken can be added based on what you and your body are craving. And if you're thinking, "Well, my body craves meat and potatoes, not this woo-woo health stuff," perhaps you should stop in for a bite of one of their best sellers: wise buffalo stew ($21) made of two-day slow-cooked locally sourced buffalo, achiote squash, potatoes, carrots, greens, onions, mild green chile and "secret touches." If your cravings are of a deeper kind, CBD can be added to any dish (15 mg for $4 or 30 mg for $6).
I was craving pretty much anything as my belly rumbled with the aromas
wafting through the space, so I tried lots of things. I didn't find one dish I didn't like. It was all impressive, made even more so by the fact that it was all good for me—from the jackfruit Frito pie ($12) to the Butterfinger smoothie ($9.50).
Other standouts included the vegan menage-a-trois nachos ($15), featuring vegan nacho cheese with probiotics, beans, roasted poblano chile, guacamole and fire-roasted salsa with organic blue corn tortilla crisps; the om-mani pad thai ($14) with tamarind-almond teriyaki sauce, mung bean noodles, pea and mung bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots, red pepper and toasted almond garnish served with tofu; the happy house pho (half $12, full $16.50) with fresh tonic herbs
including ginger, garlic, galangal, jujubes, hibiscus, goji berries, sweet potato
noodles, and Asian vegetables; and the yucca crust mandala pizza (small $13, large $17) which comes in four savory preparations: caprese, mediterranean, pesto or turkey pepperoni.
Though I am generally waffle-averse, I also tried the Saint Hildegard blue corn waffle ($12) made of fresh ground blue corn, cacao, and maca topped with fresh coconut whipped cream, seasonal berries and chocolate hemp seeds. As I chewed my first bite, Levanah asked what I thought.
I answered: "How do you describe something you've never tasted before?"
And then I devoured the rest of that delicious, healthy waffle. It was just what