My mom and I have very different experiences of being vegan. I live in Los Angeles where you can get deep-dish vegan pizza delivered, and she lives in a rural community in the Pacific Northwest where restaurants consider salad with no dressing to be a thoughtful offering.
We’re both busy entrepreneurs and I needed a break from LA and she needed a break from salads sans dressing so we decided to meet in Seattle for some quality time together plus – most importantly? – to take a whirlwind tour of the best places to eat.
P L U M B I S T R O
Seattle has changed a lot since I lived there in my early 20s, including the fact that the once moderately sketchy neighborhood of my youth is now home to hip vegan restaurants like Plum Bistro. I arrived on an unusually hot evening and since Seattle spends much of the year in moderate-to-cool weather almost nowhere has air conditioning. Even as a Southern California, and even with the garage-style doors wide open, I was uncomfortably warm, and I instantly regretted forgetting to wear deodorant. My apologies to the neighboring tables.
The modern, rustic chic setting was beautiful, even in the sweltering summer heat. I was starving and every single thing on the menu sounded divine so I settled on our server’s favorite dish, the Almond Caper Tofu Piccata. My mom had the Grilled Olive Pesto Tofu (she said it was good, even if a bit oily). For appetizers, we gobbled down the Spicy Cajun Mac’N’Yease and Charred Broccolini because I figured it was important to eat something green at some point. We were in a rush so I had the Key Lime Pie to go and despite eating it out of a cardboard container in the passenger seat of a car, it lost none of its magic and I can only imagine how amazing it tastes on a plate.
ADDRESS: 1429 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
RECOMMENDATIONS: Spicy Cajun Mac’N’Yease, Key Lime Pie, wear deodorant
C A F É F L O R A
Light, bright, and with lots of greenery, our next stop was the beautiful Café Flora for lunch the following day. This vegan and vegetarian restaurant serves breakfast until 2pm even on weekdays (can we make this option available in all restaurants, please?) and while that was tempting I chose the Peach Fennel Salad and the French Dip because I’ve never had one (vegan or otherwise), and my mom had homemade Ginger Beer and the Spicy Carolina BBQ Sandwich because she’d never had jackfruit (apparently we were both feeling adventurous). I try to be gentle with superlatives however my mom claimed that the Ginger Beer was the best she’d ever had, and I stand by my claim that the side of aioli was the best I’ve ever had.
The owner, Nat, stopped by our table and I took a quick break from covering everything in aioli to chat. He has been a vegetarian his entire life, and I was raised as one as well. My mom told me later how cool it is that we’ve reached a point where two adults can meet who both grew up in vegetarian households – that might not have happened a few generations ago.
Much too full, we decided to not let us stop that from getting dessert. Per Nat’s recommendation we got the Chocolate Berry Tower, which is “graham crust”, chocolate raspberry mousse, candied pistachios, raspberry coulis, blackberries, and coconut whipped cream. Can we just pause right here and let all of those words sink in… together. One last superlative: it was absolutely the best.
ADDRESS: 2901 E. Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98112
RECOMMENDATIONS: All of it, with a side of aioli, and definitely check out the gender neutral bathrooms
C H A C O C A N Y O N
This is where we discovered what a terrible planner I am. Just a mere 3 hours after our huge lunch ended we had dinner plans at Chaco Canyon. Even though I was too full to properly breathe, I am not a quitter, so I put on stretchier pants and we headed to West Seattle.
This local vegan restaurant has several locations throughout Seattle, offering organic, plant-based food at very reasonable prices in a family-friendly atmosphere. The setting is very relaxed, with mutli-generation families dining together as easily as post-yoginis from the studio next door. They host community events, have a bulletin board covered in local small businesses, and name all of their plants (I sat next to Bob). You order at the counter and seat yourself, and it was suggested that we try the Bahn Mi Sandwich with Potato Salad, Roasted Chickpea and Pepper Jack Salad, Green Cleanse Juice, Berry Smoothie, and the Cheesecake. So we did. Despite being not even a little bit hungry, we managed to eat all of it, and I would do it again.
ADDRESS: 3770 SW Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98126
RECOMMENDATIONS: Roasted Chickpea Salad and Potato Salad
M I G H T Y O D O N U T S
The next morning, just when I thought I literally couldn’t eat any more, I discovered the sheer resilience of a vegan on a food tour and found myself at Mighty O Donuts. This organic, vegan, local donut chain is everything I love to support. “Our intention is to make an honest living while being mindful of people and respectful of the environment.” I mean, if that’s not a justification to eat a lot of donuts, I don’t know what else is.
I was just going to have one – not to be rude, you know – but when the manager of the Greenlake location Greg offered me 12 donuts I found it hard to resist. With a wide variety of flavors (and an ingredient binder which offers full transparency), it was incredibly hard to pick a favorite but the Apple Fritter has real apple slices in it and so that might make it the – am I allowed on more superlative? – best.
ADDRESS: 2110 N 55th Street, Seattle, WA, 98103
RECOMMEDATION: Apple Fritter, Maple Bar, and the adorable Mini O’s (which sell out, so go early!)
I think my next food tour may need to involve a juice cleanse.
Photo Credit: Sica Schmitz