Although my blog has always focused on my own recipe creations, I will admit that I also thoroughly enjoy someone else cooking for me. Not only do I get to avoid hand washing dishes, but I actually get a lot of inspiration from the local restaurants, especially in Seattle, a foodie heaven. These past couple of months, my boyfriend and I have made a mission of exploring the many vegan and gluten-free restaurants of Seattle and I am amazed how many there are yet to try. So as something a little different, I am going to provide a review of a few of my favorites in the city, with more to follow in future posts. My hope is to introduce both locals and Seattle visitors to some excellent spots that will please vegans, gluten-freers, and omnivores alike!
This is one of my favorite restaurants ever to exist. With it’s gorgeous ambiance mixing indoor with outdoor (plants included), it just feels inviting and relaxing. It is a large restaurant with plenty of seating, so it’s never too long of a wait, especially if you want to spend the time sipping one of their artisan, aromatic cocktails at the bar. The staff are beyond friendly, super helpful, and perfectly hipster. But what really brings me back here time and time again is the incredible food. Their entire menu is vegetarian, and most of the dishes can be modified to be vegan, gluten-free, and/or soy-free. It is on the pricier side of the vegan restaurants I’ve tried, but totally worth it, especially to try an assortment of dishes. They offer brunch and lunch, but I have only been there for dinner so far, mostly because I am obsessed with their Chocolate Brownie Coupe. This dessert is both vegan and gluten-free, and is essentially a decadent Theo chocolate brownie with coconut ice cream and hot fudge sauce. It is small so don’t pretend you just want to “share” this one with your partner!
Beyond the dessert, the savory items are wonderful as well. One of my favorites is the Roasted Flatbread with celery root puree, garlicky greens, roasted chanterelles, and sea salt. You can make this gluten-free, and I promise you their gluten-free bread options far exceed the norm. Somehow their gluten-free pita still maintains the chewiness and softness that wheat bread has. Glutenous or not, this flatbread has a lovely earthy flavor with the perfect amount of savory and salty. All of their salads are are refreshing and creative, but my favorite is the Asian Pear and Persimmon Salad. It has a bright citrusy flavor to balance out the other hearty winter dishes. The dried huckleberries and spiced cashews are a fun punch to this salad as well.
One of my favorite vegan spins on a french appetizer is their Lentil-Pecan Pate platter. This pate is just a tad sweet and goes perfectly with the fig jam and crostini. This dish also provides a nice sampler of snacks, including their pickled vegetables and giant olives. Last on my Cafe Flora faves list is the Autumn Potato Cakes, which combine heirloom and sweet potatoes with roasted cauliflower sauce, fennel and fall greens, spiced apple chutney, and toasted pistachios. Although this is in the entree list, I recommend sharing this and all the dishes here, because there are too many wonderful options to choose just one for yourself. I’m already getting hungry just thinking of my next trip there!
Since opening their first location in the University District, they’ve also added an Araya’s in Madison Valley (right by Cafe Flora) that is even better in my opinion. Inside, it feels a little like Cafe Flora with bright open space that makes you feel completely at home. It’s very charming and beautifully decorated, with Thai antiques and artwork throughout. This is Seattle’s only all-vegan Thai restaurant, and they’ve truly mastered it. Although they are famous for their lunch buffet, I have only ordered off the menu (to attempt more self control ha) and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Even if you skip the buffet, they have great prices, particularly for the generous portions.
The best appetizer (only offered at Madison Valley location), in my humble opinion, is the plate of Vegetable Cakes, made with rice and Chinese leeks and served with a sweet soy dipping sauce. These are perfectly crispy on the outside, but gooey-melt-in-your-mouth on the inside. There are plenty to share, but they will go fast! My favorite comfort food here is the Tofu Rice Soup that is stock full of colorful veggies. Although it is simple, the addition of fresh grated ginger and semi-sweet broth give it an amazing flavor and warms the body on a winter day like today. They also have a wide assortment of stir-fries, noodles, and curries, with a range of flavors from savory Avocado Curry to spicy Panang to good old peanut sauce. They can really amp up the spice too for those of you brave souls! If I haven’t convinced you to take a detour over to Madison Valley yet, I can’t help you. 😉
Although this is local chain and maybe has a bad reputation for all its fake meat (e.g. chickin’), it actually offers a variety of super delicious salads, warm grain bowls, and sides that are completely fake-meat or tofu free. It’s a great, affordable lunch option for those of us who avoid dairy/gluten/meat and want something quick but still satiating and satisfying. There are locations all around the PNW, and 3 in Seattle at the University Village, South Lake Union, and Downtown. I was first drawn there for their Mac-n-Cheese, which my boyfriend claimed tastes as good as the kid stuff. Although it’s made with quinoa pasta, and some concoction of vegan cheese and cashews, it is indeed pretty yummy, and has the creamy sticky consistency that Kraft does. It actually inspired me to try my own plant-based vegan/gluten-free mac-n-cheese at home – recipe post coming soon!
My favorite dishes here are their many varieties of bowls and salads. The Harvest Bowl combines super grains, kale, mushrooms, and miso gravy with hemp seeds (optional vegan sausage or tofu) and is so hearty and delicious. Their Bombay Bowl is equally satisfying with a blend of herb-roasted vegetables, super grains, green curry sauce, kale, white beans, coconut milk, and almonds. On the more refreshing side, the Quinoa Power Salad mixes quinoa with red onion, bell pepper, avocado, fennel, cannellini beans, carrots, almonds, currants, mint, hemp seeds, kale, and romaine with a citrus vinaigrette. It’s quite a beautiful salad too. Overall, this is definitely a pit stop worth making amidst a busy day, because you are sure to be left feeling rejuvenated and your tastebuds happy.
That’s all for today, but more to follow as we continue our vegan/gluten-free food tour through the city! Please let me know if you have your own favorite dishes or restaurants around the city that I should try or review! 🙂