Sometimes described as a city of “richer hippies than in Oregon,” Seattle’s hippie roots can be found strongly in the city’s dietary options. Seattleites are all about the gluten-free, farm-to-table, vegan, and vegetarian experiences, and it’s pretty easy to find restaurants that cater to or run on each of them. Which experiences are the best? As far as vegetarian and vegan fare goes, you can’t go wrong with the following options.
Plum Bistro gets its name from the Japanese plum blossoms; as the first to bloom before winter has even melted into spring, they symbolize perseverance, hope, and new beginnings. Using this philosophy is how the restaurant approaches veganism. Making it more accessible, they hope to spread awareness of just how delicious a plant-based diet can be in order to promote a more sustainable interaction between humans and the Earth. The Plum Restaurants’ original location, Quickie Too, is in Tacoma, and they have since extended to a downtown Seattle location (Plum Pantry), a food truck (Plum Burgers), and their two locations on Capitol Hill (Plum Bistro and Sweet Plum).
Taking over the space of an abandoned laundromat to open in 1991, Cafe Flora is one of Seattle’s vegetarian restaurant staples. Implementing the three-fold philosophy of community, cutting-edge cuisine, and sustainable practices, this restaurant is a model for creating a successful gathering space while perpetuating ecological responsibility. Cafe Flora is an excellent option for dining as well as for event hosting, with three rooms—an atrium, an outdoor garden, and an indoor garden room—in addition to the main dining room.
Veggie Grill is all about tasty food that’s good for your body. Using organic, non-GMO products where possible, they utilize high protein grains and don’t use any animal products. With locations in Washington State, California, Oregon, and coming to Illinois in late 2017, Veggie Grill is incredibly transparent with their nutritional information through the use of their Nutrition Portal. In addition to their location in the South Lake Union neighborhood, they have two other places in Seattle: one in the University District and one downtown.
Wayward Vegan Cafe Food | Courtesy of Wayward Vegan Cafe
Wayward Vegan Cafe, which is open daily, is an American diner gone vegan. This family-owned restaurant, established in 2004, has had to move twice since its inception, as it has quickly outgrown each location. Wayward’s menu totes ingredients such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, and “beef”—not to mention gluten-free pancakes and toast. With “large portions, bottomless coffee,” and breakfast served all day, it goes to show how vegan food can be synonymous with comfort food.
Chaco Canyon's University District Location | Courtesy of Chaco Canyon Organic Café
Chaco Canyon Organic Café opened its doors in 2003 with the intention to take care of the community as well as the planet while remaining profitable and sustainable. Today, they continue to do just that. With no to-go utensils provided, 90% of their waste recycled, reused, or composted, and 90–97% of their food remaining organic 100% of the time, Chaco Canyon is on their way to reaching a zero net impact on the Earth. Their other two locations are in Greenwood and West Seattle.
Named after the mother of the family, Araya’s Place is the first vegan Thai restaurant in the Northwest. The family-owned business, open since 1987, shares the value they’ve placed on meals through the quality of the food. Each dish is made to order and thus able to accommodate dietary and allergy restrictions. Other than their traditional dining option, they also have a daily lunch buffet from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and are available for catering. While supporting local farms, Araya’s Place has grown into multiple locations, two of which are in Seattle, in Madison Valley and the University District.
Eggs and Plants is a simple café with a short menu of to-die-for dishes. Inspired by the cuisine of places such as Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Iraq, and Turkey, their “authentic Mediterranean street food” is available for dine-in, takeout, or delivery. The vegetarian dishes are served in pita baked freshly on-site. Eggs and Plants has the vibe of unintentional vegetarianism. They didn’t remove meat from their dishes; they just happen to serve recipes that don’t need it!
This hole-in-the-wall vegetarian bistro on Capitol Hill is a delight and a half. The menu is divided up into “episodes”: starter, soup, curry, salad, noodle, fried rice, and stir-fried. While there’s not a lot of information about it, it comes highly recommended from anyone who’s ever been. One of the best indications of their awesomeness is that they are successful with just a handful of seats and practically zero social media presence.
In an attempt to contribute to a healthier world, Harvest Beat uses local, organic ingredients as they are available by season. They offer a prix-fixe menu, which reduces the need to stock food and thus the possibility of food being wasted when going bad. Happy to accommodate food allergies, the restaurant works hard to lighten their carbon footprint in as many ways as possible. They use eco-friendly paint on their walls, organic hand-sewn cloth napkins, and as many organic products as possible. They also compost, grow some food in their own garden and have their coffee delivered on foot to avoid transportation waste.
Founded in 1976 by five women who wanted a healthier place to eat, Sunlight Cafe is the “longest-standing vegetarian restaurant in Seattle.” Their all-natural, vegetarian options, with no processed food, no trans-fats, and a ton of organic ingredients, has evolved over the years to accommodate vegan diets as well. After 40 years, their competition has gone from non-existent to stiff, but this café, raised on the backs of hippies, stays the course. Dine-in and take-out options are both available.
Self-advertised as “America’s first 100% vegan pizzeria,” Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzeria is 13 years old. With both dine-in and delivery options, Pizza Pi offers appetizers, salads, sandwiches, calzones, specialty pi(e)s, and desserts, or you can build your own pizza! They even offer gluten-free options. Some of the “cheeses” they use are Teese mozzarella, Daiya mozzarella, house-made cashew ricotta, and house-made tofu feta.
With eight locations in the Seattle area, Molly Moon’s is a popular, local stop. Sustainably minded, they keep things local by partnering with nearby farmers and producers. Not only are 90% of their ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, but everything in their shop is 100% compostable. They have also committed to wind power. They work hard to be ecologically responsible as well as to take care of their employees and their community. In fact, one percent of sales go to local non-profits. Molly Moon’s offers 10 staple flavors and four seasonally rotating flavors – at least one of which is often vegan!