Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Twisp River Pub

I recently spent my birthday in the Methow Valley and did some serious research about where to eat on the special night. Unfortunately, it appears the Twisp/Winthrop/Mazama stretch is pretty bleak for good vegetarian food.

I initially got really excited about this:, an unusual (and not corny/cooperate/tourist trap, as the name might make you think) restaurant developed as a life dream by a local woman that revolves around eating artfully prepared, healthy, traditional (local as possible) Native American foods while in a beautiful tipi. In the winter time, there is fire and candle light and and animal skins to keep everything warm. The proprietress, Suekii, cooks everything in a nearby kitchen and brings it via hand held wagon to her hungry guests. I spoke to Suekii about what she does for vegetarians (no bison steak for this birthday gal), and it all sounded wonderful... hummus and pickled asparagus, stuffed squash, emmer farro, etc. But it turned out that the tipi was already fully booked (it only holds 8) on the night of my birthday.

There are other fancy type options in the area, including the Sun Mountain Lodge and the Arrowleaf Bistro, but these have really limited vegetarian entrees that are priced at meat prices. No thank you.

So I went to the Twisp River Pub, where I knew there were decent vegetarian options to be had. My dining companion and I split two things: the Asian salad and a veggie burger with fries.

Based on the menu description, I had hoped that the Asian salad (with rice noodles) would be similar to the contents of a Vietnamese bun. Turned out the noodles were more of a garnish, and the salad was mostly green. I ordered it with fresh tofu (instead of fried), which was possibly a mistake, because it came fully unmarinated (rather than in the sesame marinade the menu describes).

The pub-made veggie burger was tasty, and the fries were excellent.

For my birthday dessert, I ordered a warm walnut brownie with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious.

Winthrop Tipi Dinners on Urbanspoon Twisp River Pub on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tacos El Asadero

I have walked past the jumbo bus, Taco "truck" at Othello and MLK, by the Othello lightrail station, countless times and finally stopped in for some tacos. There weren't any vegetarian tacos on the menu, but it was no problem to order them. After you order, you can actually board the bus and and sit inside and eat and watch Mexican TV, but I got my tacos to go.

I ordered three vegetarian tacos. They were somewhere around a buck fifty a piece, and came full of beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Both the red and the green salsas were delicious and spicy. I think the refried beans may have been cooked with lard.

The one thing that was obviously lacking was the little packet of pickled carrot/radish/jalapeno/fresh lime... on one hand, they are tiny insignificant garnishes, on the other, they are one of my favorite parts of eating at a taco truck.

These tacos totally hit the spot, and are hard to beat for the price. One complaint is the use of styrofoam in the packaging for the tacos to-go. I'd definitely be willing to pay a little more for a compostable option.

Tacos El Asadero on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Some hidden hipster part of me is really reluctant to embrace restaurants that gain quick noteriaty; I tend to initially shy away from places with too much hype (or accolades, eh). And then eventually, once curiosity or necessity or social obligation finally requires it, I drag my snagglepuss self out into the world to check then out. And on occasion I am blown away. Revel was a restaurant like this. I should have gone sooner.

The menu is small and changes frequently, and is grouped into a few categories: salads, dumplings, rice bowls, etc, each of which has maybe 3-4 varieties in it, including one that is vegetarian.

On a surprisingly lovely recent night I began with a spinach salad with palm hearts, black lentils and smoked peanuts. The dressing was salty and lightly acidic and every item was perfectly in balance. I would not have guessed that the explicit flavor of the lentils would be important and enhancing in a salad like this, but it was.

Next I had the vegetarian dumplings, which were filled with cauliflower and ricotta and served with pickled leeks and a black truffle puree. They were every bit as interesting, delicious and unusual as they sound.

The perplexing this about this place, which had fancy, well crafted, artsy type food, was that the prices were in the same ballpark as a "normal" restaurant. Both the salad and the dumplings were $9 each. Ordering them together made the meal extra fun and decadent, but wasn't necessary to get full. I am intrigued by whatever else is going to be coming out of this kitchen!

Revel on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I recently went to Lemongrass Vietnamese restaurant on 12th ave full of excitement for a bowl of vegetarian pho.

In addition to having a vegan broth, my current qualifications for what is a "good" bowl of pho include:

1. Soft (NOT DEEP FRIED!) tofu
2. Interesting selection of veggies
3. Broth that gets its goodness from more than just MSG

What arrived at the table looked exquisite... nice soft, white tofu, and a selection of veggies that included broccoli, baby bok choy, green beans, carrots and more. But I took one slurp of the broth and had a, wait, WHAT? moment on my tongue.

This ol' gal has gotten quite adept at tasting the foul or flesh (or fish) when it sneaks into my food. A check with the waitress confirmed that, in spite of the fact that vegan broth is standarly used in some OTHER soups, the "veggie" pho will be made with meat broth unless otherwise specified. Ah.

I'm glad to know this, and I would consider visiting again in spite of the broth confusion because of the surprisingly hard to find soft tofu and nice veggies.

Lemongrass on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best Corn - Antojitos Mexicanos

There are many emerging intriguing culinary delights at the "Othello Swap Meet" parking lot at the Othello lightrail station at MLK and Othello, including Antojitos Mexicanos, AKA "Best Corn" shack that sells elote (roasted corn on the cob sprinkled with various delicious things), and esquitas (roasted corn off the cob).

On one cold recent evening I bought myself a large sized order of esquitas and it was quite the treat. I ordered mine with everything but the mayonnaise (mayo seems to be a standard part of the dish), and what I received was a big cup full of freshly roasted, freshly decobbed corn layered with butter, lime juice, cheese, chili powder and chili sauce. It was super delicious, and the buttery, corn-y, lime-y cheesy, spicy liquid that remains once the kernals are gone is a treat in itself.

This would be a great snack to munch on while waiting for the lightrail... all the tastyness of a well-dressed elote, but with the tidyness of a spoon.

Antojitos Mexicanos on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CP Thai

I was recently in Georgetown tasked with the responsibility of bringing home lunch, preferably of Asian persuasian, to a group with vegan preference. I decided to give CP Thai (in the little strip mall that holds my home-Kinkos) a try. The waitress was skeptical of my special requests (no fish sauce, unfried tofu), insisting that the food would have "no taste." I persisted, and unfortunately, she was right.
Can't say what the food would have been like with meat or fishsauce or fried tofu, but we ordered Garlic Tofu, Ginger Tofu, and Rard Nah (wide rice noodles with some veggies and tofu in a cornstarch thick gravy), and the vegan versions of these were more or less bland and greasy.

Eh, now I know I guess.

Cp Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chelsea Deli

The Chelsea Deli is the relatively new deli in Columbia City, and I am sheepish to admit that the first time I visited I left without ordering anything because I thought the two obviously vegetarian options looked unappealing to me. I WAS VERY MUCH MISTAKEN, and missing some critical info: Field Roast can be subbed for meat on just about any of the otherwise enticing sandwiches. YES!

There is some personnel connection between the Chelsea Deli and the Other Coast sandwich shop up in Ballard, and the sandwich I ordered is very similar to the Ragin' Cajun I've had in Ballard: toasted whole wheat baguette, field roast slices, tomatoes, red onion, chipotle aioli, broiled pepper jack cheese. Greasy, flavorful, filling and delicious!

In an interesting take, the Chelsea Deli also sells jumbo sized baked goods, including this rice crispie treat (I munched on it for days), and brownies that seem to be about quarter pan size. Nice.
Another nice vegetarian-friendly food option in Columbia City!

Chelsea Deli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 6, 2011


For years I had heard about Maruta's Japanese grocery store/to-go Sushi case/Chinese take out window in Georgetown and only recently had a famished lunchtime visit. I started in the store, where the pre-made sushi sits in refrigerated cases, and was disappointed to find that the only vegan options were cucumber rolls and inari. So I bought a bag of seaweed flavored chips and a package of melon chews and walked next door to the take out window to test my luck there.

Photo courtesy:

Unfortunately the take-out area was no better. The only vegetarian option here was a sad looking tray of greasy veggies. There were many *almost* vegetarian options: MaPo Tofu with pork, fried rice with pork, noodles with chicken. Dang. Ended up leaving with nothing but my chips and candy, and it turned out that even my chips had both shrimp and bonito in them.

Maruta Shoten on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Casa Que Pasa

I love going into a burrito shop in a college town like Bellingham because I know that the vegetarians are going to be well taken care of!

The burritos at Casa Que Pasa are large (about 2 meals worth for me) and delicious. There are many vegetarian and vegan options, and on the day of my meal I ordered vegetarian daily special: flour tortilla, spicy black beans, deep fried potatoes, guacamole, sour cream, cabbage and green salsa. It was quite the burrito!
And as with any Mexican restaurant worth its salt, Casa Que Pasa has a nice little salsa bar with a variety of red and green homemade salsas and spicy pickled carrots. All were tasty, none were especially spicy to my palate.

Reminds me that I should spend more time in Bellingham!

A Casa Que' Pasa on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bamboo Garden

The Bamboo Garden is a vegan Szechuan restaurant near the Seattle Center, and I recently visited with a friend who had just returned from the Szechuan region of China jonesing for some dry cooked green beans.

The Bamboo Garden rendition was spicy, tender crisp and tasty, but unfortunately lacking the scrumptious blistered skin of the beans my friend had eaten in China.

We also ordered the Hot and Spicy Fried Bean Curd Braised with Bell Peppers, Broccoli and Cauliflower (special ordered with fresh tofu).

And the Pan-Fried Rice Noodles with Mixed Vegetables in Hot Spicy Szechwan Sauce.

Both dishes were spicy, savory, and fantastically vegan, but weren't quite the flavors my buddy remembered from his trip. That said, I still tend to be thrilled with any delicious Szechaun meal, (authentic or Americanized) that is clearly vegan friendly, and for this reason the Bamboo Garden holds a place dear to my heart!

Bamboo Garden on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Broadway New American Grill

I recently had a lovely happy hour at the Broadway Grill, where well drinks are $2.50 and food is about $5. There is a decent selection of junky vegetarian options (fried pickles, garlic fries, truffle fries), and one healthy type of vegetarian option: white bean puree with pita.
We ordered the white bean spread and it was decent, certainly good enough compliment the stream of well-rum and gingers that flowed down our gullets!

Broadway New American Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tacos Chukis

[UPDATE, 1/21/12: I haven't seen it yet with my own eyes, but it sounds like Tacos Chukis now serves homemade salsa and home-stewed beans for the vegetarians. Has anybody tasted either of these? I'm excited to go and give them a shot!]

There has been quite a little stir recently for Tacos Chukis, the taco shop with a sweet story (the Mexican owner, after finishing a degree at the UW, took a giant bike ride down to Mexico and spent some time investigating all the best street food with the intent of coming back to Seattle and opening a restaurant) and I was eager to give it a try.

Tacos Chukis has a limited menu with a handful of meat options and a vegetarian version of each that uses nopoles, grilled prickly pear cactus pads, in place of the meat. I ordered two nopoles tacos.

While I am not a huge fan of nopoles, these tacos were still pretty good: fresh, hot tortillas, cilantro, onions, lime, guacamole, and a little melted cheese on the tortilla. However, if I could redesign these tacos to fit my personal perfect vision, I would make them with tasty home stewed beans instead of with the cactus.

I was super hungry and found that 2 tacos wasn't quite enough to fill me up (the tacos are inexpensive and can easily be eaten many at a time!). Good to know.

This is such an endearing little taco shop and I love the story and the fact that they have an unusual vegetarian option (even if it isn't my ideal vegetarian option). The one other missing item, far as I'm concerned (aside from some beans), would be some homemade salsa.

On the meat side: I heard rave reviews from my meat eating dining companions about their tacos. I think between the two of them they managed to try just about every meat taco on the menu!

Tacos Chukis on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Counter

I was recently an evening guest of some friends up in Ballard, an area that feels ever more like an adventurous trek from my increasing southern/central Seattle world. We started our activities at the giant LA Fitness mega-gym, where, among other activities, I got to watch one of my hosts do some special pushups while balancing on free weights. It was quite an evening, and we all felt as though we'd really earned our detour into the strategically abutted temptress The Counter on our way out of the gym.

We started with a a "50/50" order of fries with half potato and half sweet potato. We had our choice of dippin' sauces and chose Buttermilk Ranch, Roasted Garlic Aioli, and Sweet BBQ sauce. The quantity was not disappointing, and the fries were tasty (the sweet potato fries, which seemed to be lightly battered, were the favorite.)

The Counter is a "build your own burger" restaurant where you can really get yourself into burger trouble by getting greedy and losing track of complimentary flavors. I based my burger off of a 1/3 lb veggie burger, and topped it with horseradish cheddar, grilled onions, jalapenos, mixed greens, tomatoes, and chipotle aioli. Pretty tasty!

If any one of us could have mustered even a semblance of an appetite after this feast, I could have been convinced into topping it all off with a milk shake. Instead, we let a good thing be and waddled off into the night.

Thank you D & W for the lovely evening!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ba Bar

There is a certain pleasure in dressing up a little bit and walking into a restaurant where the other patrons are also looking good, and for a frugal Seattle-ite such as myself, this experience comes rarely. For this reason I enjoyed with my general experience recently at Ba Bar, the new Vietnamese restaurant with a pleasingly hip ambiance located on 12th ave in the old Watertown location.

The menu is somewhat limited, and we started with the most substantial vegetarian small plate: Mung Bean dumplings (there are also a couple of salads).

These dumplings were unlike any other I've had: the dough had the slimey, gummy texture of wet mochi, and the insides were the texture of somewhat dry mashed potatoes. Was this the mung bean? I am totally ignorant about what a mung bean dumpling is supposed to be like, so it is hard for me to criticize these. That said, I found the textures to be hard to bite/chew/swallow. The sauce, however, with fried shallots, was fantastic.

There were just a few vegetarian entrees (including make your own spring rolls), and I chose the tofu vermicelli bowl.

Now, there is no shortage of fantastic, inexpensive, vegetarian tofu vermacelli bowls in this city, so I found myself with really high expectations for this $11 primadonna. I am dissapointed to say that it just wasn't very impressive. Granted, I am not a mushroom fan and the bulk of this bowl was savory, delicious (so I was told by my dining companion) shitakes, but apart from that detail, the bowl was too light on my favorite parts of the bun bowl: browned peanuts, fried shallots, fresh herbs, and shredded veggies. The sauce was delicious (it was the same sauce that came with the dumplings), but everything else was sort of ho-hum. Even the distinguishing feature, some strange little smashed burrito type garnish made with tofu skins, was sort of cold, greasy and bland.

I so enjoyed sitting in the warm crowd of lovely patrons, and the ambiance was perfect on a recent cool evening, but still it's hard for me to imagine going back and paying slightly more upscale prices for the dishes I got.

Ba Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 19, 2011

La Medusa

Ok, the picture is sort of lame, but this is an announcement that La Medusa, the lovely, somewhat higher priced (eh, by my frugal standards) Columbia City Sicilian Soul Food restaurant is experimenting with a happy hour. I went recently and split a couple of reasonably priced happy hour snacks (ratatouille and polenta fritters) with some friends and drank and a most delicious elderflower/aperol cocktail.
The happy hour was a nice opportunity to have a taste of what makes La Medusa so wonderful without having to shell out the money for a full dinner. Especially as the weather turns more to fall, I look forward to more afternoons sampling the delicious offerings!

La Medusa on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beloved Mexico

I have raved about Beloved Mexico before here, but wanted to post a little update with another tantalizing picture. As a quick review, Beloved Mexico is a very special taco truck in West Seattle that takes care to use good quality ingredients and makes healthy and satisfying food for both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

I recently had the pleasure of eating a full meal at the truck, and was thrilled with what I got. I ordered a vegetarian enchilada meal (with the special request of filling them with pinto beans and veggies instead of the standard vegetarian filling of potatoes and cheese), which came with my choice of two sides.

The enchiladas were delicious... warm corn tortillas filled with tasty fillings and covered in a fresh green enchilada sauce, a little sour cream and a sprinkle of queso and cilantro. I chose sauteed onions and peppers as one side (well seasoned), and a house salad with lime dressing as my second.

I left, as always after a visit to Beloved Mexico, feeling full, healthy and happy!

Beloved Mexico on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rudloof's Pizza

Rudloof's Pizza is one of a couple pizza options in the Bavarian themed tourist/outdoors Mecca Leavenworth. Stopping to eat here was a debate... there was a hunch among us that the pizza was going to be the lamest kind, but a peek through the fence at the plates of fellow diners inspired some confidence and we gave it a shot. It was the wrong choice.

The best part of the meal (it's all relative!) was the family sized house salad with ranch dressing. It was reasonably large (though two of us easily polished it off), and included some dried carrot/cabbage shreds, mozzarella, a few tomatoes, cheap croutons, and a mix of fresh and old lettuce.

The pizza was, unfortunately, one of my least favorite kinds. The crust, which seemed pre-baked, was a sort of greasy, pillow-y texture with no chew or character. The toppings (we chose fresh tomato and bell pepper) were finely diced and lost in a repulsively deep layer of un-browned cheese.

The whole experience made me sort of sorry. I felt sorry for the restaurant for wasting so much money on excess mozzarella. I felt sorry for the cows who made the milk in the cheese that I wasted. I felt sorry about wasting our precious dollars on this dinner. I felt sorry for myself for the vast number of unenjoyed calories I put into my body during this meal.

Rudloof's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 26, 2011


I came across Pai's food truck late in the evening at the South Lake Union Block Party. Most of the cuisine related components of the event had long shut down, and the masses of hungry late-comers were hanging out in a parking lot surrounded by soft glow and smokey allure of the food trucks.

I have long coveted the Hawaiian plate lunch, and was thrilled to see the Pai's has a vegetarian friendly plate. It is a pretty far stretch from the traditional meat/rice/mac salad type of affair, but the deviations made it that much more awesome for me as a vegetarian.

I got a "plate special" with lemongrass tofu and bok choy over rice, and my two sides were sesame coleslaw (no mayo!), and vegetarian kimchee.

Thank you Pai's for creating such a rad option for the vegetarians! (And vegans too, far as I can tell).

Pai's (Mobile) on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 19, 2011

Seven Stars Pepper

I have written about Seven Stars Pepper before, but the gist is this: it is a Szechuan restaurant in the International District, you take an elevator to get up to it, and it is rumored that they are one of the few Seattle restaurants to use real Szechaun peppercorns. A recent meal here reminded me of how tasty the food is, and sampling a few new dishes inspired me to put up a second post.

A meal at Seven Stars Pepper begins with a complimentary dish of their kimchee like salad: fermented pickled cabbage, carrots and celery in a slightly spicy sauce.

We ordered dry cooked (AKA deep fried, I'm guessing) green beans (that's the kimchee on the side). They were garlicky, spicy, oily and perfectly tender crisp.

We also ordered the Dan Dan noodles with tofu. These are humongous hand shaved noodles in a spicy peanut sauce.

And last but not least, soft tofu in Szechaun Sauce. The soft tofu was bathed in a beautiful bowl of oily garlicky spicy red sauce, green onions, roasted peanuts and peppers.

I should mention that this is rather intense food... it is spicy, salty, and oily. Definitely a treat to eat in moderation, but feels a bit like it needs to be interspersed with some salads!

Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon