A Teenager’s View of the Seattle Vegetarian Scene (Guest Blog Post)
[Eric’s introduction: today I’m turning the blog over to my 13 year old son for his first-ever guest blog post]
In October, my dad and I took a short trip to Seattle. I had never been to Seattle before, so it was exciting to learn about the city’s history, see great views, and try new vegetarian and vegan restaurants. In this post, I will share a vegetarian teenager’s thoughts about the restaurants we visited (my dad helped edit this post). I hope you enjoy!
Travelers (south side of Seattle)
We first stopped at an Indian restaurant called Travelers Thali House. The restaurant was indeed in a house. It also contained a small store of Indian food supplies, and it had hundreds of Indian spices lining the walls.
We ordered the “Full Thali” to share between the two of us. If you do not know, a Thali is a collection of many dishes on a circular platter with tastings of each. The Full Thali contained Sweet and Sour Pumpkin, Nine-Jewel Korma, a potato and tomato curry, a yogurt sauce, rice, dal, fruit, a fried dough ball and an Indian dessert. We also ordered a side of garlic naan.
On the plus side, the food tasted really good. My favorite dish of the Thali was the potato and tomato curry, because it was spicy and the potato added texture to the dish. I also really liked the dal and the crunchy-chewy naan. The meal might have been too spicy for some, but the yogurt sauce and naan helped cool down the spiciness of everything else. My dad thought the spiciness was great. One thing I did not like, though, was the dessert because it did not have much flavor. It mostly tasted like coconut. The mini fruit salad was okay.
Unfortunately, I had a big problem with the service. We sat down around 1:30 p.m. on a non-rainy Saturday afternoon and we ordered our food at 1:45 p.m. The food did not arrive until 2:50! In fact, a couple even left before they ordered because they obviously knew more than us about how long it would take for them to get their food. The whole time I waited, I was starved and it was hard to focus, and each minute felt like three. To sum it up in one word, the wait was painful. For us, our enjoyment of the food was overwhelmed by the unacceptably long service times.
Speed: F (It took way too long to get our food–over an hour–and they did not adequately warn us of the ridiculously long time it would take).
Quality/Presentation: B+ (A bit spicy to me, but overall I enjoyed most of the food except the dessert, which only tasted like sugar and coconut).
Overall: D+ (Despite the good food, the time it took to get it was not nearly worth it. Waiting over an hour was really bad).
Chaco Canyon (West Seattle)
For Saturday dinner, we met some friends at Chaco Canyon. I got the lentil burger with marinated onions, a sauce, and sprouts. My dad got an off-menu item called the Hippie Bowl, with sprouts, quinoa, carrots, tofu, and a sauce. We also sampled a Thai Peanut Salad and the Elvis smoothie. As takeout for the next morning’s breakfast, we ordered the breakfast burritos.
The wait to get our meal felt short. I enjoyed my burger because it was filling and healthy, and I enjoyed the taste of the patty itself along with the fresh condiments on top. I also liked my dad’s bowl with the fresh vegetables and the protein from the tofu. The Thai Peanut Salad had good greens and cabbage and the right spiciness level. I really liked the Elvis, a smoothie with bananas and peanut butter, because it tasted sweet and creamy and had a good nutty punch to it.
I would recommend Chaco Canyon to almost any vegetarian or vegan. It was probably my favorite restaurant we tried in Seattle that weekend.
Speed: A+ (The food got out to all of us within 15-20 minutes of ordering, nothing got screwed up, and the waitress was nice).
Quality/Presentation: A+ (The food was presented as it should, the bowls looked like bowls, the veggie burger had all the elements of a great veggie burger, and when it came to taste, I enjoyed everything).
Overall: A+ (There was no more I could ask for from this restaurant. The food tasted great and the timeliness and friendliness was as good as I could want at any restaurant. There were no flaws of this restaurant in any aspect).
Cafe Wylde (Everett)
My dad and I toured the Boeing factory in Mukilteo (north of Seattle), so we decided to make the quick drive to Everett to check out a vegan restaurant called Cafe Wylde. When we got in the cafe, no other customers were there, even though it was around 12:15 on a Sunday afternoon. It was a troubling first sign that this place might not be great.
True to its name, the restaurant was casual and cafe-like. The front case displayed many fruits, and there was a circular staircase to an upstairs loft. The speed was good.
About half of the items contained jackfruit. I got the peach habanero tacos, which contained three tacos, each with a taco shell, avocados, peach sauce, lettuce, jackfruit, and habanero peppers. Yet, neither of the two advertised flavors really hit me in any bite. The peach sauce was covered up taste-wise by the other parts of the dish, and the habaneros were not spicy at all. I also did not like the taste of jackfruit, which felt like a weird meat substitute for me. My dad got a BBQ sandwich, which also contained jackfruit inside, and it was similarly unremarkable. While the speed was better than Travelers, this was my least-favorite stop on our trip, and I would not go here again.
Speed: A (Nothing fantastic about the waiters or the service time, but it was pretty quick in getting our food prepared).
Quality/Presentation: D+ (The food tasted okay, but I would have rather eaten something at home, and the two main flavors that were supposed to be the stars of the dish failed to come home to my taste buds at all. Since it did not make me feel sick and was definitely edible, it did not deserve an F).
Overall: C (This restaurant was better than Travelers because the waiting time was above average, and the food was okay, but the food lacked a depth in flavor and left me expecting more from each dish).
Pizza Pi (University District)
For Sunday dinner, we visited Pizza Pi, which serves vegan pizzas. Who does not enjoy a great pizza?
We ordered a medium pizza to share. Based on the server’s recommendation, we got half BBQ Chicken and the other half “Mac ‘n’ Yease.” Both versions used a white garlic sauce rather than a more traditional tomato sauce; the server told us he did not prefer their tomato sauce and we followed his lead.
The BBQ Chicken pizza had garlic and BBQ sauce, vegetables, and fake chicken. The Mac and Yease pizza was made of macaroni and fake cheese, garlic sauce, and faux Canadian bacon. It tasted just like Mac and cheese except the vegan cheese tasted a bit different and some good Canadian “bacon” was added.
We both agreed that the Mac and Yease pizza was better, both because it tasted good and was an unusual combination. I mean, who does not like either pizza or Mac and Yease? However, the BBQ pizza did not live up to the same standards. It had a weird combo with garlic and BBQ sauces, and the faux chicken tasted a bit weird to me. It was fine but not great like the Mac and Yease pizza.
I liked this place very much and would consider going back.
Speed: A (Nothing spectacular about it, and since it was pizza it took a bit longer, but a normal wait time that you would expect for pizza to take).
Quality/Presentation: A (The Mac and Yease tasted great and was nice and funky. The BBQ pizza was still good but had some flavors that fought each other for control and did not fully work with each other).
Overall: A (The service was pretty good, and the pizzas tasted pretty good overall, so just below perfection).
Eltana (Seattle Center)
We decided to keep breakfast quick on Monday morning, so we went to Eltana in Seattle Center. I got an everything bagel with cream cheese, and my dad got a sesame seed bagel with peanut butter. It arrived pretty quickly. The bagels were pretty flat, and not that big either, so not a lot of bang for your buck. Also, it tasted like they put extra salt on mine, and I really noticed it in every bite I took. Otherwise, it was pretty good.
Speed: A+ (It took five minutes or so to heat up and put the toppings on, and then we were eating).
Quality/Presentation: B (In terms of looks, the bagel did not look aesthetically pleasing as it was very flat. When I tasted it it was bit too salty, and there was nothing super special about this bagel relative to any other I have tasted).
Overall: B+ (If you want a big breakfast, you might want something more fancy and filling).
Araya Kitchen (Madison Valley)
For Monday lunch, we went to Araya Kitchen for their all-you-can-eat Thai lunch buffet. As a buffet, the dishes were prepared earlier, so it may not have been as fresh as if we had ordered off the menu.
I had two plates of food, so it definitely was filling enough for me. Some foods that I tried included rice, a spicy mushroom soup, curry with vegetables and tofu, spring rolls, and a few different salads. I also saw something that looked like kimchi, and a rice pudding for dessert. I enjoyed the curry the most, somewhat because I share my dad’s appreciation of curry. I liked the vegetables and tofu, and the slightly spicy curry did not overpower the dish and fit nicely with the rice. The mushroom soup, on the other hand, was a bit too spicy for me and possibly overpowered other flavors in the dish. Spring rolls are always good because it is a nice crunch with vegetables inside; nothing bad about that at all.
It was pretty filling and I would recommend it to anyone with a big appetite and anyone who enjoys good Thai food.
Overall: A (Everything tasted pretty delicious to me, but the soup was a bit spicy. The buffet was presented nicely and made me want to start chowing down).
Sugar Plum (Capitol Hill)
For a special treat, my dad and I visited a dessert shop, Sugar Plum. We ordered a scoop of vegan salted caramel ice cream. Unfortunately, the coconut cream was a bold flavor in the ice cream (at least to my taste buds) and covered up the taste of saltiness or sweet caramel flavor you expect. I still enjoyed it, but it had the potential to wow me and enjoy it more.
Bamboo Garden (Queen Anne)
Bamboo Garden was right next door to our hotel. When rain made it difficult to get to our dinner destination, we decided to get takeout and relax at our hotel.
I got a Corn Chowder soup and a Golden Baked tofu dish that had many chunks of fried tofu stuffed with vegetables and broccoli on the outside and a sweet sauce. Dad got Kernel Corn Chicken soup and an appetizer of potstickers. We ordered everything vegan.
Dad’s soup looked pretty good to me and I enjoyed the potstickers that we shared. I don’t normally get corn chowder and it had a weird texture for my taste, but dad enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the tofu dish because of how it tasted and because it was fairly filling. I especially enjoyed the contrasts in texture; the tofu with the vegetables inside and broccoli for the “crunch” outside of it. The sauce also went well with this entree because of the sweetness compared to the other flavors present inside the dish.
Overall: A- (I enjoyed the tofu and vegetables and dad’s potstickers, but the corn chowder was not my favorite, though dad liked it because he ate most of it. The dish was plated nicely).
Sunlight Cafe (University District)
For Tuesday breakfast, we went to Sunlight Cafe. It was a homey cafe, with honey on the tables and ceiling fans.
I ordered the Huevos Picante, a breakfast burrito. They gave me an option of green or red salsa, or I could get it “Christmas style” with both. I tried that. I liked the green salsa better because the red one tasted funny to me, while the green one tasted a bit spicy and just good. Inside the burrito was beans, eggs, onions, salsa, tortilla, and sour cream. However, the sour cream seemed a little on the heavy side. The salsas were not really that spicy, so I did not need the sour cream to reduce the spiciness, and I do not love sour cream *that* much! Everything else I really enjoyed, especially the nice, beans and well-cooked eggs. It was filling to start my day off strong.
My dad got the Vegan Highlander, which was only on the brunch menu, but the waitress recommended it to him. The dish was like a tofu scramble with an english muffin on the side.
The service wait was not too long either and the waitress was nice enough.
Speed: A (Nothing spectacular, but the food did not take too get to the table).
Quality/Presentation: B to B+ (I enjoyed my meal, but there was a bit too much sour cream on my dish, and the red salsa tasted a bit funny to me. I would still go there again next time. The food was plated nicely with beans on the side, and everything else inside or spilling out of the tortilla).
Overall: A- (The service was pretty good, but the taste of the food had a few minor errors that got it away from getting a great grade).
Plum Pantry (Seattle Center)
Our last stop was Plum Pantry for lunch. This place was very casual. We ordered it to go and ate it in the sun at Kerry Park, overlooking downtown Seattle and Puget Sound.
I got a chipotle grill sandwich. I enjoyed it, with the spiciness of the chipotle sauce and the tomatoes on two slices of bread. Dad got a make-your-own-bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, vegetables (yams and broccoli) and a basil pesto. Dad’s bowl looked pretty appealing. However, it looked overpriced at $12 for a small bowl. Both dishes definitely felt like you could use ingredients you may find in most or some pantries to make the dish–just as advertised. Not too filling, but still a nice way to finish up my eating spree in Seattle.
Speed: A (Pretty good).
Quality/Presentation: A (I enjoyed what I ate with the freshness of the nice tomatoes, and dad’s bowl looked fresh and like something I would definitely eat at home, or really any time).
Overall: A (I would go there again, but not one of my main go-to restaurants)