Tucked away behind the perennials and yard ornaments, the Cafe at North Haven Gardens is a pleasant find for Dallas' green thumbs.EXPAND
Tucked away behind the perennials and yard ornaments, the Cafe at North Haven Gardens is a pleasant find for Dallas' green thumbs.
Beth Rankin

The Sweet Cafe Hidden Inside a North Dallas Garden Shop

During Hidden Gems Week, the Observer food and drink writers are celebrating an abundance of diverse, delicious restaurants and bars around Dallas, places that don’t often (or ever) get mentioned by big-name food media, trendsetters, bloggers or chefs. We’re taking you outside of the ordinary to help you discover something new.

It was one of those beautiful Saturday mornings enjoyed most frequently by single, childless people like myself: A lazy morning in bed with a cup of coffee followed by a leisurely trek to North Dallas for the sole purpose of taking a two-hour class about composting.

Upon visiting North Haven Gardens for the first time, you quickly learn that it's less of a garden shop and more of a complex devoted to everything that grows. At a classroom at the back of the garden center, you can take classes in everything from herb gardening to succulent arrangements to watercolor paintings of decorative gourds. It even hosts food events like craft beer and sausage tastings. There's an art gallery devoted to "promoting a lifestyle enhanced by gardening," where locally produced art ranges from verdant landscapes to photographs of arthropods.

The cafe overlooks the garden center, where you can watch people with actual green thumbs buy all the things you will likely ever learn how to grow.EXPAND
The cafe overlooks the garden center, where you can watch people with actual green thumbs buy all the things you will likely ever learn how to grow.
Beth Rankin

And tucked away amidst all of it is a small, happy cafe devoted to using "healthy, green cooking processes" and sourcing "fresh, local produce whenever possible as well as sustainably produced meats and fish," according to the garden center's website.

The menu is simple and fresh: crudites, avocado toast, a cheese board. Much of the menu is devoted to salads, and there's also a selection of smoothies like the G.Y.S.T. ($7), AKA the "Get Your Stuff Together," made with celery, carrot, honey, lemon and ginger. On a lazy, likely hungover Saturday morning, after finally making a pilgrimage to the garden center because real grown-ups grow stuff — right? — the smoothie feels damn near like a beacon beckoning single gals like myself who, suffice it to say, desperately need to G.Y.S.T.

A veggie-packed BLT made with locally grown tomatoes and a sweet glass of flowery tea from North Haven Gardens' cafe.EXPAND
A veggie-packed BLT made with locally grown tomatoes and a sweet glass of flowery tea from North Haven Gardens' cafe.
Beth Rankin

I may not have gotten my life entirely together that day, but I left with some pamphlets on composting, a few herbs for my fledgling garden and a belly full of, for once, reasonably healthy food. Baby steps.

North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road

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