New restaurant Vibrance puts emphasis on nutrition, with little cooking

Albuquerque Journal article by Sharon Niederman

Karen Hammer

Vibrance, a new restaurant in Southeast Albuquerque serving organic plant-based cuisine, is the creation of Karen Hammer, Albuquerque’s raw foods diva.

The word “live” replaces “raw” in the chef-caterer-teacher’s light, spacious, establishment. She has transformed the medievally dark Los Esquipales into a clean and breezy dining room with the sensibility of a yoga studio.

Chef-owner Hammer’s vision of her restaurant’s space is in sync with her culinary style.

Vibrance Vegetarian Vegan Gluten Free Organic Restaurant - Nob Hill - Albuquerque, New MexicoA kale salad at Vibrance. (Courtesy of Sharon Niederman)

“Everything is gluten-free,” she says, as well as organic and locally sourced. What is especially interesting is the concept of “live” food – very little on the menu is cooked above 105 degrees Fahrenheit – that maximizes the food’s nutritious enzymes. Only the quiche, made with green chile and goat cheese ($11.25), is actually baked.

The result is a menu that emphasizes fresh salads, including the kale salad “massaged to perfection,” loaded with carrot and zucchini “noodles,” hemp seed, and a fresh dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and herbs, supplying enough roughage to last a week; and an Asian salad with a delicious nut-based ginger-garlic dressing ($10).

Vibrance Vegetarian Vegan Gluten Free Organic Restaurant - Nob Hill - Albuquerque, New MexicoFresh pea soup with a side of beet kraut served at Vibrance. (Courtesy of Sharon Niederman)

Vibrance is the next generation of health food restaurant, moving far beyond the cliché of brown rice and steamed veggies into the realm of gourmet vegetarian fare.

Certainly, in Albuquerque, this establishment breaks new dining ground. It is not your mother’s “Enchanted Broccoli Forest.” From the bright green of the fresh pea soup to the vivid magenta of the beet kraut, unspoiled by the heat of the stove, plates emanate an appetizing appeal with their natural intense colors.

Entrees come with your choice of soup, salad, cabbage, sauerkraut or tangy beet kraut. That beet kraut is loaded with the digestive benefits of fermentation.

Especially tasty is the Italian mushroom pocket ($11), a dish of navy beans, basil and baby spinach deeply infused with Portobello mushroom flavor in a gluten-free bread pocket with marinara sauce.

A plate of the large soup of the day ($11) is served with your choice of vegetarian or live flax crackers, prepared by dehydration rather than baking, or seed bread. The curry soup we tasted was surprisingly delicious, especially so considering it was not actually cooked.

However, it’s a bit of hit or miss here as some items are far tastier than others. While taste is highly individual, I suggest asking for a tiny sample before you order.

But Hammer’s magic is most apparent in her live desserts, particularly the chocolate turtle cheesecake ($7.50).

Beverages include teas, fresh limeade and lemonade, as well as kombucha and refreshing hibiscus fruit-flavor infused tea.

Live music is performed in the evening and during Sunday brunch.

VibranceLOCATION: 4500 Silver SE


HOURS: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday;10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday brunch buffet


Vibrance Vegetarian Vegan Gluten Free Organic Restaurant - Nob Hill - Albuquerque, New Mexico


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  • Karen Hammer on 01/19/2017 23:31:15

    correction brunch sundays hours are 11-3pm