This Royal Oak Café Offers an Oasis for Local Vegans

Health-centric food and drink options shine at Cacao Tree


The Cacao Tree's menu includes many vegan juices, wraps, and salads. Photograph by Jacob Lewkow

Seven years ago, Amber Poupore was stopping by a juice bar near the railroad tracks in Royal Oak when she learned through one of the restaurant’s employees that the business was available to purchase.

After talking to the owner over the phone, she stopped by again at 10 the next morning with a deposit in hand. She transformed the business, and Cacao Tree Café debuted a couple months later. Poupore had worked at Inn Season Cafe, the venerable vegetarian restaurant just a few blocks away, for 11 years, starting as a dishwasher and ending up the manager.

“Everyone should start as a dishwasher,” Poupore says, adding that it is the most important job in any restaurant.

A vegetarian for 20 years, Poupore is an advertisement for a plant-based diet, with her glowing complexion and shiny hair.

Those who don’t know the vegan lifestyle tend to think of it as restrictive. After all, it includes no meat, no eggs, no dairy. A conversation with Poupore can set them straight. “It’s not rabbit food,” she says. “It’s a whole world of food.” 

She ticks off what vegans do eat: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, beans, legumes, seed and nuts, and grains. She says she learned about the lifestyle by “immersing myself in reading about it,” at a time in her life when she says she was 50 pounds overweight.

Poupore, who also owns the Clean Plate on Hayes in Shelby Township, works about 80 hours a week promoting veganism. And not just locally. She does speaking engagements and cooking demonstrations, and periodically goes to Santa Fe to participate in the Native Food for Life program, teaching Native Americans about nutrition, a project that is dear to her heart.

Phone the Cacao Tree and the background music is of whirring blenders. Juice drinks, made with frozen organic fruits and no ice, are among the most popular items on the menu, along with wraps in sprouted grain lavash or brown rice gluten-free lavash, and salads, all with a choice of six house-made dressings.

And of course, there are the shots — from wheatgrass straight up to a “firebreathing dragon” that adds ginger, lemon, turmeric, and cayenne.

The space is small, so much of the fare is for carry-out. But Cacao Tree is a pleasant little place with counter and table seating. The friendly staff can discuss the menu, of course. The price structure — juices are $8-$9.49, wraps $11-$14, and salads $11-$12.50 — is not inexpensive. But loyal patrons, and there are many who stop by every day, know they are getting quality fare.

204 W. Fourth, Royal Oak; 248-336-9043. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Closed Sun.


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Vegan Indulgence

Detroit’s first plant-based Coney Island changes the game

All-Day Breakfast at Troy's First Watch

Author’s Cuisine

At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is uniquely his own: gourmet, Puebla-inspired, from-scratch food and drink that is also halal

A Taste of Paris

Cannelle Patisserie chef Matt Knio’s baked goods are turning up in restaurants and markets across metro Detroit

Mission BBQ Opens in Troy

A new restaurant serves summer favorites with a side of patriotism year-round
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  5. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  6. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  7. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  8. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  9. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission