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.
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.
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.
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!