Govinda's Vegetarian Dining Club Offers Lunch in a Peaceful Setting

Govinda's Dining Club

 is painted bright corals, greens, and blues. A large porch beckons diners to relax as birds and butterflies flit among garden flowers. Soft music reminiscent of smooth jazz plays in the background. Listen closely to the words and you'll hear the familiar chants of "Hare Krishna," which makes sense since Govinda's is located inside Coconut Grove's

Hare Krishna Cultural Center.

All food is cooked fresh and is 95 percent vegan (there is an option of having vegan or dairy cheese on the whole-wheat pizzas). Meals are cooked to order, and no microwaves are used. Govinda's manager, Parama, says, "Ingredients are as organic as we can find them. We buy local as often as we can. We're trying to be part of the neighborhood, not the system."

Parama (her spiritual name) believes serving healthful food is part of the Hare Krishna way of life. "We believe in parasdam, which is giving a blessing of good food to people. We want to spread the good word of vegetarianism."

The menu consists of Indian, American, and Italian offerings, including vegetarian pizzas ($7.99); pakoras and samosas with tamarind chutney ($4); thali ($10.99); three-bean chili ($6); and various wraps and sandwiches.

Because the temple is in a residential zone, Govinda's is not a restaurant, but a dining club. Guests are given a membership/frequent-diner's card, which offers free meals after a certain number of visits. All proceeds benefit the Hare Krishna Temple.

A trip to Govinda's is the perfect antidote for Miami's sensory overload. Sitting on the porch with a rosewater lemonade will transport you to a Zen place far from traffic, velvet ropes, and the quest for the perfect body -- for at least a lunch.

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