As I walk through a plush botanical garden I catch myself at an abrupt halt only to merely run my fingers through the emerald vines that are intertwined above my head. Strings of lights illuminated the overflowing garden with a path made of stones leading to the entrance of The Lotus Café. I look to my right and am astonished to see a hair studio that solely uses organics instead of chemicals to dye hair. A soft splashing sound from a rocky waterfall composes a harmonic melody as I walk the trail of stones to what appears to be the front door to the restaurant. Walking in I am greeted by a woman who has dreadlocks that touch her lower back and a smile that is beaming from ear-to-ear. “Hello sweetie. You may have a seat wherever you like,” says the cute hippy-like soul as she hands me a menu.
The Lotus Café at the Zen Garden serves much more than just a fresh and organic menu. Amongst the beautiful scenery there is a chic Shoppe that sells air plants, crystals, homemade spices, healing salves, wind chimes, driftwood pieces and traditional earth-bound trinkets. To home-made soaps, to Buddhist wall hangings my attention was set on knowing more. What is this place and why had I never been before? The owner of the shop enlightened me that the shop was created by her and her husband, natives of Panama City. They decided to name it Wild Root, which was an electrifying brand name based on the products sold and the atmosphere present. Fifty dollars lighter I was hypnotized by a lingering smell of freshly ground coffee beans. I trusted my gut instinct and followed the scent that enticed my taste buds.
I find myself standing in front of a very hip and trendy juice/coffee bar. This is no regular juice bar and it is made crystal clear by the state-of-the-art coffee and expresso machines that serve the locally admired Amivida coffee. Not to mention, it is guaranteed that all juices are made fresh and with raw and unfiltered ingredients that taste as if you stepped into a magical garden of juiced fruits. I was simply amazed by the different vibes settling over me. From walking in the garden that I was wrapped around by, to the organic hair studio, to the cute quaint restaurant, to the chic Shoppe and now to a modern juice bar I was undeniably content.
I look to my right and see a younger female with her hair in a high pony tail dressed in a striped sports bra, see through shirt, pair of yoga pants and a yoga mat. I guess from the look on my face she knew I was not a local. She smiled at me and asked me if I had ever tried her all-time favorite: The Peanut Butter Buddha Smoothie with raw Cacoa. Without hesitation, I ordered the smoothie. My taste buds jumped for joy and a surge of stimulation shook through my body. I profusely thanked her and she smiled and invited me to Free Yoga Sundays. I totally should have guessed from the vibes there would be a Zen Garden Yoga Studio.
Located in the heart of Panama City Beach on the grounds of the Zen Garden, The Lotus Garden Café is one of the best kept secrets in the area. If you want to step away from the bustle of your busy life and immerse yourself in a low-key local getaway the Zen Garden is the perfect spot to be. As Zen Garden promotes a simple yet brilliant quote, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”
Author credit: Sarah Barwick
Image credit: LotusCafeZen.com