Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Chapel

I was recently at The Chapel for my birthday. We initially thought we were there for the $5 martini happy hour (where "martini" is used loosely, and included all sorts of lovely cocktails), but it turned out everybody was hungry and we were thrilled to see that The Chapel has a reasonable food menu too.

I started with a Baby Mae "martini", which was a delicious drink made with tequila, cardamom and grapefruit juice. For my meal, I ordered a South-of-the-Border burger off of the extensive burger list, all of which can be made with a garden burger.

It was a very decadent burger!!! It was so saucy and delicious... there seemed to be three types of sauces on the well grilled patty: some tasty spicy salsa, some sort of green chili mayonnaise, and some chipotle type mayonnaise. The burger also had grilled pepper jack and lettuce and tomato. I usually shy away from too much mayo, but my goodness, it was delicious in this application.

I don't think I'd go here for dinner specifically, but it was a pleasure to discover that a real dinner could be had in the middle of happy hour, and I give them a huge thumbs up for the veggie burger option!

Chapel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Loving Hut

After a long remodel, my beloved international district mainstay, the Vegan Garden, has been transformed into one of the sensuously named "Loving Hut" chain of vegan (Supreme Master based) restaurants.

Off the bat, I found the menu to be a little bit less appealing than the Vegan Garden's. The Loving Hut menu is composed largely of fake meats shaped like real meat parts, and has lots of deep fried morsels that look delicious but not particularly healthful. I was pleased to see that the lemongrass tofu vermicelli bowl still exists, as does a spicy soup. My dining companion ordered the soup, and was disappointed to find it came with a variety of fake meats instead of tofu. Good to know that a tofu specification needs to be made next time!

I ordered the "Guru's Curry," specially made with with soft tofu instead of vegan meat nuggets (they are willing to do this all over the menu) and found it to be fantastic. The ample plate consisted of cubes of silky custardy tofu, broccoli and cabbage drenched in a most delicious, slightly spicy, very savory yellow curry. I don't know how they make that stuff taste so good but it was addictive. I can imagine going to the Loving Hut with specific cravings for this dish.

There is definitely a "Supreme Master" bend to the place; propaganda videos play on a big TV, there are pamphlets and books to take and buy, and the fortune cookies spread Supreme Master wisdom. None of this bothers me though. I'm not sure if Supreme Master is leader of a cult, a religion, or just a state of mind, but as far as her message is understood to me, it is that being vegan is kind to the planet and fellow life, which is an idea that I generally agree with. If there is a darker or more manipulative side to the videos and messages, I'm not picking up on it (nor am I on the look out for it).

The sweet waitress brought us multiple samples of vegan baked goods through out the meal.

Supreme Master or not, chain restaurant or not, it feels really good to go to a restaurant where the entire ideology is based on veganism, and if the change-over is what needed to occur to keep this location in business, I'm happy that it happened.

Loving Hut on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The lovely T of Premium-T (and former south-end neighbor) recently suggested a meal at Tagla, AKA the Ethiopian restaurant across from the Walgreens, next door to the tattoo parlor, at the somewhat uninspiring intersection of Genesee and Rainier. Today I had the treat of lunch out with my mother, and we gave it a try.

Something that I love about Ethiopian restaurants, generally speaking, is that they seem to often be family run. Today Tagla was staffed by an older man who is the owner, a beautiful matriarch who was our waitress and also the cook, and a younger man busy working on something at a table in the corner. They were all gracious hosts and treated us like guests.
We split the vegetarian combo, which was $12 and more food than we could finish, and it came with the unexpected delight of 8 different items. There were multiple types of lentils, veggies, curries, salads etc. The greens were especially delicious, and all of the dishes had a variety of spices and flavors that were really fantastic. I appreciated that a couple of the dishes actually had a little heat to them as well. Tagla may well provide my favorite Ethiopian restaurant veggie combo yet.

Something exciting for the vegans is that Tagla's default is to use oil in their vegetarian dishes, and butter in their meat dishes, so it should be easy to get a satisfying vegan meal here.

The location leaves a bit to be desired, but they have been in business for many years so something must be working.

Tagla Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Had lunch today at Awash, an Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant across the street from Empire Espresso in Columbia City. The meal was tasty and reasonably priced, and I don't really understand why my dining companion and I were the only patrons in the place. We split the veggie combo, and it came with an additional plate heaped with injera that made us both waddle full.

The veggie platter came with three different types of lentils, curried potatoes, greens, okra and the typical sort of Ethiopian restaurant Romain lettuce salad with the lemon salt dressing I love so much.

The food was good... lots of variety and flavor and not too salty. Again, I wonder, where was everybody?

As the only lunch patrons we were lavished individual service, and were brought a personal space heater for our table region because it was a particularly cold day.

I asked the nice older waitress about the situation with the use of niter kebbeh (clarified butter), and she said that they do indeed (unfortunately for the vegans) use it.

Awash on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I recently went to Happy Hour at Julia's on Broadway with an old friend. Julia's has a nice Happy Hour food menu, which included (in addition to chicken wings and misc meat burgers) some satisfying vegetarian items, including an iceburg wedge with blue cheese dressing, various fries, and the two charmers: edamame and a hummus plate. We ordered the latter two, $1.95 a piece.

Both were great. The edamame came as a hearty pile and included some particularly tasty rock salt, and the hummus plate was also plentiful (though not enough bread for the amount of hummus!) and came with some feta cheese and a variety of colorful pickled vegetables.

We ordered hot alcoholic drinks: I the hot toddy with lemon, honey and whisky, and she the hot buttered rum (these drinks were a little under $4 a piece). Perfect for the cold grey afternoon.

It's been a while since I've been to a Happy Hour, and this reminded me how great they can be! Our waiter was particularly friendly and helpful too.

Julia's (Broadway) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Red Mill Burgers

I am a Seattle native and hadn't been to the much loved Red Mill Burgers before today. I think this is not only because I have been a vegetarian since I was a little girl and burger joints tend to fall off my radar, but also because I've primarily lived in the southern parts our lovely city and haven't experienced much neighborly proprietary feelings towards the place (located on Phinney Ridge and in Magnolia).

Anyhow, a friend recently told me that Red Mill has a Veggie Burger section of menu, and today gave it a go. I was pleased, off the bat, to see the veggie burger section of the menu had multiple options: a standard veggie burger with basil mayo, a veggie burger with caramelized onions, and the one I chose, the Verde Veggie Burger with jack cheese, house sauce (slightly smoky mayo-type sauce) and a big fire roasted Anaheim chili.

The bun (kaiser roll, actually), was soft, the fixings were real (as in, green lettuce, fresh juicy tomato), and the big slimy slightly spicy green pepper was no joke. It was a good veggie burger for sure.
I was pleased, as always, to see a satisfying vegetarian option at a burger joint. Thank you Red Mill.

Red Mill Burgers (Interbay) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 14, 2009

J Sushi

Nighttime comes early these days in Seattle, and my dining companion recently found himself craving a big steaming bowl of udon to stave off the cold. We decided upon J Sushi in the International District, a relatively new sushi/udon restaurant that had been recommended by a friend.

I don't tend to have very high expectations for vegetarian fare in Japanese restaurants since so much of the food is fish based, but there were a few vegetarian items to be had: vegetarian roll, agedashi tofu, a salad. The very very friendly but perfectly hands off waiter also informed me that the sushi chef could prepare a variety of special vegetarian rolls if asked. I started with a vegetarian roll from the menu.

There was something interesting in the roll that I initially thought was fish, but ended up being pickled gourd. Interesting! I liked the variety.

I also ordered the agedashi tofu in a savory sauce, and unfortunately it came with big pile of bonito flakes (fish) on top. I wasn't feeling particularity finicky and just scraped them off (unfortunately also scraping off much of the delicious light, crisp batter) and ate it anyhow. And it was really good: fresh, soft creamy silky tofu squares lightly battered in a most delicious airy but crisp coating and lightly fried, and served hot with a light smoky sauce (maybe there was fish in it... I couldn't taste any, but am not positive..). Got to remember to order it without the bonito next time!

My dining companion's udon bowl was exquisite. With a rich savory, oniony beef broth, perfectly chewy thick cut square noodles and nice size slices of beef, it was exactly what he was jonsing for and I was a wee bit envious.

He generously fished out a few udon noodles for me (and I continued my safari of near-omnivorism) and ate them sprinkled with one of my favorite Japanese condiments, S&B Nanami Togarashi, a vegetarian granulated pepper mix that includes chili pepper, orange peel, ginger, sesame seeds, pepper and seaweed. Omg the noodles were good. It made me all the more mournful when I found out that the vegetable udon bowl on the menu uses a fish broth. J Sushi, if you are listening, I would be a loyal and frequent customer if you made a vegan broth udon bowl!!

I really liked the ambiance of the place, which was modern and artsy and kind of hip with beautiful large paintings of koi and other sea creatures directly on the walls. The staff was also awesome: The sushi chef, behind the sushi bar, was obviously a very friendly, inclusive, fun, outgoing, funny guy who was happy to chat it up with his customers, yet I was feeling more reclusive and private and involved in conversation with my dining companion. The beautiful thing was that he graciously and tactfully sensed this and didn't overly engage us. I was so grateful and it made me feel so warmly towards him.

Especially if you eat fish, I suggest you give this place a go! We didn't have a huge sampling of the sushi (dining companion at a tuna roll), but the tofu and veggie roll were good and the udon (if you eat fish or meat) seemed to be divine.

J Sushi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Los Potrillos

I had heard good things about the taco truck at Rainier Ave and Graham, and recently, in the pouring rain, checked it out.

Nice horse painting on side of truck

The menu is relatively short. They have tacos, burritos, tostadas, tortas and a variety of plates including seafood. They have all of the various meats cooked all of the various ways, and the captain of the truck informed me that they are willing to make vegetarian tacos, quesadillas, tostadas and burritos, even though they aren't on the menu.

The tacos are $1.10 a piece, and I ordered 2. My meat eating companions ordered chicken tacos, asado tacos and tacos al pastor. It is indeed possible to eat *at* the truck, at the busy intersection in the parking lot of the 76 station in a military-esque canvas tent, but on this extremely rainy day we opted to take our tacos and eat at home.

Turned out that a $1.10 taco is pretty tiny! Should have known it. I had my 2 tacos, and my companions ordered 3 and 4, and we all found ourselves not quite full. I think 3-4 would have done it for me, and the other two speculated they would need 5-6 and 7-8 to make a satisfying meal.

Cute little chicken tacos with beer for scale

The vegetarian tacos were decent. On top of the very cute little corn tortillas was a good smear of refried beans (in retrospect, possibly made with lard? they were awfully savory and delicious...), rice, cheese, chopped tomato, slice of avocado, sour cream. We were each given a little foil packet of lime, radish and carrot (neither of which were as spicy as I would have preferred), and a couple tiny containers of salsa, one green and one red. The salsas were both excellent, but there wasn't enough of either. In the future I think I'll offer to pay for larger quantities of both.

Veggie tacos

The boys reported that their meat tacos were good too. Greasy, savory, richly colored little tiny baby tacos.

Los Potrillos on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 2, 2009

Roy's BBQ

This post is long overdue! Roy's BBQ in Columbia City is one of those rare gems that serves both BBQ *and* nice sides for the vegetarians. They also serve what is rumored to be an excellent fish taco made with fish that they smoke themselves (there isn't a deep fryer in the restaurant).

For the vegetarian who doesn't eat fish, there is the option of a fish taco with beans substituted for the fish, which is really tasty, but my usual preference is to instead order a couple of their delicious (and cheap!) sides.

On my most recent trip I was with a friend who was also eating vegetarian. She got an order of their mac and cheese, and a side of coleslaw. Generally, I've found that restaurant mac and cheese, while delicious, has a bit of a fat bomb bend. The mac and cheese at Roy's tastes homemade: it is cheesy and good, but does not feel over the top unhealthy

I ordered the vegetarian red beans and rice with a side of coleslaw. The beans and rice vary a bit... sometimes really tasty, sometimes with bits of veggies in them, sometimes not quite salty enough (though I appreciate under salting to over salting!), but always decent and filling and I love that they have a vegetarian version (you can have sausage added for an additional cost).

The coleslaw is made without mayonnaise, and has the cute addition of poppy seeds.

One of my favorite details is that these guys have a nice large hot sauce selection, so it is easy to doctor up whatever you order with a little more salt/vinegar/heat.

Roy's is staffed by the owner, which is always a nice feature. They also use local products... bread from Columbia City Bakery, etc, which is an awesome thing to do.

The vegetarian meal here is simple, filling, satisfying, and priced really affordability. The total bill, for both of us, was under $10.

Roy's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Had the recent pleasure of lunch out with my mom. She was craving some belly warming soup and we decided to forgo my usual Asian soup standbys (Vegan Garden, Moonlight Cafe, Pho Cyclo and Than Brothers) for a new experience. I had long seen the tempting words "Vegetarian" on the sign for Ballet Restaurant just east of Broadway on Pike, and we decided to give it a try.

Inside was simple and clean, and surprisingly busy in the middle of a weekday. The menu had an assortment of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, including no less than 4 varieties of vegetarian (meatless broth) pho.

We started with some salad rolls, which were large but otherwise not particularly remarkable.
My mom ordered the vegetarian Sate soup, which was a delicious idea (though a bit over salted for my taste). The soup contained tofu, tomatoes, cucumber, sprouts and roasted peanuts in a savory rich spicy coconut broth.
I ordered the most simple of the veggie pho options, which included broccoli, carrots and tofu. The more elaborate choices had various fake meats.
It was as could be expected. Nothing gross, but also nothing that made me rejoice in pleasure. They use fried tofu, which isn't my preference (but does seem to be the pho standard).

The prices were all very reasonable. My small pho was under $5, and her soup was just a bit more than that. The salad rolls were $1.50 a piece.

Thanks ma!

Ballet on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daphne's Greek Cafe

Was recently down in the brand spankin' new mini-metropolis that has sprung up in North Renton, hungry, and not sure which of the many mid-price, not exactly "fast food" chain restaurants to visit. Eventually it was a giant advertisement on the side of Daphne's Greek Cafe offering a sandwich slathered in "fire feta" that drew me in.

Daphne's has a few good looking vegetarian options, including a falafel sandwich. The sandwich I was chasing had a garden burger patty between warm pita rounds and lettuce and tomato and a spicy feta mix (fire feta, duh), with choice of fries or rice pilaf and salad, for $5.99. Not bad.

Got it to go, and by time I got home things were cold and not quite all that inspiring. It wasn't gross by any stretch, but probably quite a bit better when it was warm and soft.

My dining companions ordered their sandwiches with fries, and per usual Greek restaurant tradition, they were pretty danged good, even cold and soggy at home. I sort of regretted ordering the rice/salad option. The salad was a standard simple Greek salad, while the rice pilaf was more or less just plain rice.

There was ample ketchup and yogurt sauce, even to go, which I appreciated.

It wasn't a negative dining experience, especially for the price, and all felt relatively healthy. However, the "to-go" experience probably wasn't worth repeating. In addition to the dimenishmet of deliciousness due to cooling, the meal generated a rather huge amount of garbage in the form of rigid plastic trays and lids.

Daphne's Greek Cafe' on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sound Foods

I recently spent a lovely evening at Sound Foods on Vashon Island enjoying the music of the Riptide Ramblers and eating a delicious meal.

Three generations playing together

The menu at Sound Foods is small and focused on local high quality ingredients, which is something that I appreciate as long as there is a reaosnable vegetarian option, which there was. I believe it was called something like the "Tower of Vegetables," and that was a pretty accurate description of what I got.

The mainpart of the meal was a pile of grilled veggies, including peppers, squashes, eggplant, and a big slab of portobello mushroom. Accompanything this was a hearty scoop of beautiful black rice, and a salad with mixed greens and a variety of delicious pretty extras like edible flowers, chives and hierloom cherry tomatoes.

The best part about this plate was the exquisite sauces. The chef was most definitely a master of sauces and both the salad dressing and the sauce for the veggies was so fantasticaly delicious. THey were pungent without being overwhelming, savory without being overly salty, rich without being too oily. Just really good.

The meat eaters all seemed to order the fancy free range bacon burgers, with the exception of one salmon.

We topped the meal off with a really amazing (and giant) slice of homemade banana cream pie. The banana pudding was just salty enough to really explode in delicious flavor, and the chocolate cookie crust was good enough to eat by itself.

There has been a little bit of confusion about whether Sound Foods is open or closed: some time ago they closed down but have since undergone a change of hands and are most definitely open and kicking at this point!

Sound Food Catering and Events on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Moonlight Cafe

I made a recent attempt to to go one of my favorites, the Vegan Garden, to find that it is still in the dysfunctional throws of a remodel. At this point, I was extremely focused on the spicy tofu soup I had intended to order, and after a brief moment of exaggerated hunger and angst, remembered the Moonlight Cafe about a mile up the hill on Jackson.

Moonlight Cafe is a run down looking restaurant that was once a smoky, karaoke palace with a surprising second menu that is entirely vegan. Now that the non-smoking laws are well established, I found the place to be completely tolerable inside, and was able to enjoy it in a way I wasn't before.

My dining companion and I sunk into a high backed booth and perused the extensive vegan version of the menu. My choice was easy: Spicy tofu soup, made with soft (they call it "white") tofu. He ordered lemongrass "chicken".
Spicy soup straight from the kitchen: mounded plate of lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, basil, mint, jalapenos and lime waiting to be added

My soup was an absolute delight. It came in a big bowl with silky white tofu blocks, fat chewy rice noodles, lots of veggies, tasty, spicy (no-MSG!) broth, and a huge plate of fresh shredded cabbage, lime wedges etc to add. What really made this soup stand apart from others similar to it was the quantity of stuff on the fresh plate. I loved the fact that just about every bite had something in it other than noodles.
Soup with all the goods mixed in

The lemongrass "chicken" was also outstanding. The fake meat didn't look particularly like chicken, but who cares, maybe it's better that it didn't. It did provide the savory deliciousness that I'd imagine one would get from sausage (cue my omnivorous sister's laugh at my imaginary meat authority), and I was amazed at how satisfying it was. I'd be hard pressed choosing what to order next time.
Lemongrass "chicken"

I am definitely a fan and look forward to a return visit. Thanks J for the company, I am so happy you're back!!

Moonlight Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fado Irish Pub

Was recently downtown looking for a lunch spot that could deliver a sandwich and a beer (per the particular cravings of my very hungry dining companion). We were kindly directed to Fado Irish Pub, which I've seen a zillion times and never been to.
We didn't have picture taking capabilities, but there was an unusual vegetarian item on the menu that is worth mentioning: a boxty quesadilla. Turns out a "boxty" is essentially a griddle cooked Irish potato pancake, and Fado uses them in place of a tortilla in both a meat and a vegetarian quesadilla.

The vegetarian one was delightful. It was filled with grilled caramelized onions, artichoke hearts and pepper jack cheese, and then drizzled in sour cream, really tasty marinated cherry tomatoes, a pile of very finely sliced cabbage and one fresh jalapeno ring. I found this to be a delicious use of a potato pancake. My only complaint is that I could have enjoyed a lot more fresh jalapeno to eat with it all.

The menu wasn't particularly vegetarian friendly ratio wise, but there were a few other vegetarian items including a caprese baguette sandwich, a tomato mozzarella flat bread, and a few salads. Vegans would likely be hard pressed to get a satisfying meal.

There was also a dessert that was especially intriguing (but we didn't order it this time): Brown Bread Ice Cream, which involved vanilla ice cream, caramelized brown bread, caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Felt a little spendy (never helps to add a $5.50 beer to lunch), but over all it hit the spot.

Fado Irish Pub and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Both Ways Cafe

I don't tend to go out for breakfast very often because simply, I don't generally have much interest in breakfast foods. I don't really eat eggs, certainly not on their own, and I dislike the gross feeling I get after eating a pile of sugary pancakes or breakfast pastries in the morning. Of course I love to eat at breakfast time, but I'd rather eat real food, the same sorts of things I'd eat for lunch or dinner.

And this is why I enjoy Both Ways Catering Co. which is in the Columbia City/Seward Park/Mt. Baker area. They have all of the normal egg variants and standard breakfast/brunch items, but then they have the slightly misleadingly named "Tofu Scramble," which is without a doubt my favorite restaurant breakfast so far.

For starters, it isn't really a "scramble." Rather it is a savory, delicious stir fry of tofu and veggies in a tangy, ginger sauce. Then, it comes with two standard breakfast items that I DO love: skillet potatoes and a big fluffy, flaky, slightly sweet, tender on the steamy inside, crusty on the outside biscuit (there is also the theoretical choice of toast instead, which I'd imagine would make this a vegan breakfast.)

I also appreciate that, in a time when going out to breakfast can easily cost as much as going out to dinner (at least on the scale that I tend to eat on), Both Ways has managed to keep their breakfast prices in the $7, 8, 9 range.

Both Ways Catering Co. on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hot Mama's Pizza

Hot Mama's Pizza, which is open late, is located a few blocks west of Broadway on Pine and is thus especially well suited to satisfy late night, drunken hunger.

The shop is small, and after you order your slices (about $2.25 each), you can either take them on a paper plate out into the action of the street or stand inside at a crowded standing-only bar. The ambiance isn't really the point.

The pizza is pretty good in the sense that it tends to be thin, hot and cheesy with a nice crisp crust. They tend to have many vegetarian pizzas going earlier in the evening (mixed veggie, pesto, etc), but my experience has been that plain cheese dominates in the later hours. Far as I can tell, there is nothing suitable for a vegan.

I wouldn't go so far as to say it is the best pizza in the city, or even Capital Hill, and the quality of the slice varies pretty significantly depending upon whether it has been sitting or is fresh from the oven, BUT it has many of the qualities I like in pizza: a thin crust that is crisp but not crackery, plentyful but not oozing or overwhelming amounts of bubbled lightly browned cheese, and interesting toppings (hot peppers, fresh basil, etc). Hot Mama's manages to squarely hit the "after dinner" hunger and a couple of slices is a mighty fine nightcap.

Thanks K for yet another outstanding job as phone photographer.

Hot Mama's Pizza on Urbanspoon