The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in and Around Seattle

Meatless Mondays may be a trend, but these vegan and vegetarian spots keep everyone happy

By Chelsea Lin October 16, 2014


This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Bainbridge Island

Emmy’s Vege House
This cash-only Bainbridge takeout joint is the truest definition of a hole-in-the-wall—just a walk-up window from which you can glimpse the owners cooking inside. But despite its diminutive size, or perhaps because of it, the restaurant has a cult following among locals and tourists, more than a few of whom may have stumbled upon the place on their way to get waffle cones at nearby Mora Iced Creamery. Consult the picture menu prior to ordering. There are veggie approximations of dishes like sweet and sour chicken, but the best are those with a Vietnamese inspiration, like fried spring rolls over cold vermicelli. Lunch and dinner daily. 100 Winslow Way E; 206.855.2996

Capitol Hill

In the Bowl
Variety makes the meal at this low-key Capitol Hill restaurant with a culinary reach that spans Asia’s vegetarian offerings, featuring plenty of meat substitutes. The menu reads like a book of self-affirming Mad Libs—dishes have names like Full-Filled Your Dreams, Melting Culture, You Are So Beautiful and Finding Angel—but the food is legit. The noodle bowls are most satisfying, each with the choice of eight noodle types, from chow mein to udon to wide rice noodles, which provide the greatest surface area for sauce coverage. Lunch and dinner Thu.–Tue. 1554 E Olive Way; 206.568.2343;

Plum Bistro  
For vegans who don’t want to compromise on comfort food, this casual eatery offers favorites such as a gently spiced vegan mac ’n’ cheese—er, mac ’n’ yease, as it’s called here, thanks to the starring role nutritional yeast plays. The meat-free meals are hearty enough to please gluttonous omnivores. The original Capitol Hill location remains the most polished, though there are now four locations (plus a food truck) in the area. Don’t go looking in owner Makini Howell’s Plum cookbook for that mac ’n’ yease recipe—it’s too secret to give out. (But search around online and you may find it.) Brunch Sat.–Sun., lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily. 1429 12th Ave.; 206.838.5333;

Plum Bistro’s vegan take on mac and cheese: mac ’n’ yease, made with nutritional yeast

Columbia City

This eclectic, faintly lit joint in the city’s south end—overshadowed by the condo development upstairs—is the sort of place that’s hard to find even if you’re looking for it. But look for it you should. Opened in 2010, the restaurant has gained a following for its excellent brunch, which features an assortment of house-made, elevated comfort food dishes, such as biscuits topped with a mushroom and vegan chorizo gravy. The tamari-braised kale served as a morning side is particularly revelatory—we know how ridiculous that sounds, but trust us. Brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner Tue.–Fri. 4525 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S; 206.725.8879;


Georgetown Liquor Company
A dive bar first and foremost, this Georgetown hangout also boasts a daylong menu of sandwiches and shareable pub food befitting the dark, scruffy interiors. And—surprise!—all of the food is vegetarian. The most popular sandwich is the Picard, a French dip knockoff piled with thinly sliced, herby Field Roast, a meat substitute made from grain rather than tofu. It’s accompanied by a cup of deeply flavorful vegan au jus for dipping. Stay awhile: Grab a PBR and play pinball or old Sega games on the ancient monitors. Brunch Sat.–Sun., lunch and dinner daily. 21 and older only. 5501 Airport Way S; 206.763.6764;

International District

Loving Hut
This diverse, internationally influenced restaurant credits its concept to a woman known as Supreme Master Ching Hai, a spiritual teacher with thousands of followers worldwide. Now, before we lose you, know that this tucked-away diner is worth taking seriously, despite its slightly woo-woo origin. The vegan menu is filled with predominantly Vietnamese dishes—spring rolls, crispy, crepe-like bánh xèo and even a decent pho full of fake meat and tofu—but you’ll also find veggie burgers, pizza, pad thai and cheesecake among the expansive options. Not your typical I.D. fare. Lunch and dinner Wed.–Mon. 1226 S Jackson St.; 206.299.2219;


Punjab Sweets
Don’t be misled by the name—the savory snacks and entrées at this Indian eatery are prepared with the same attention to detail as the rainbow-hued squares of sweets that look like jewels displayed in a glass display case. Everything from the curry powder to the paneer is made from scratch. Meals such as the channa bhatoora, stewed chickpeas served with two fluffy pieces of naan, are relatively small, but you’ll want to save room for dessert anyway. Lunch and dinner daily. 23617 104th Ave. SE, Suite C; 253.859.3236;

Lower Queen Anne

Bamboo Garden
Ambiance isn’t the reason to visit this eatery, decked out with dusty plastic flowers and bathed in harsh overhead lighting. But the meals—all vegetarian, all certified kosher—cover a multitude of decorating sins. The mock versions of sweet and sour chicken and broccoli beef are good, but less interesting than the traditional Chinese vegetarian dishes, which, they say, go back to imperial China. Do yourself a favor and try the Botanic Feast, made with braised vegetables and white fungus. Lunch and dinner daily. 364 Roy St.; 206.282.6616;

Madison Valley

Cafe Flora
This Madison Valley beauty is a plant lover’s dream in more ways than one, with its menu of internationally inspired vegetarian dishes and the lush, light-filled atrium, where diners will feel like they’re eating alfresco. Regularly voted the city’s best vegetarian restaurant, this all-day eatery excels at weekday breakfast and weekend brunch—order a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll crisped with caramelized sugar and punctuated by pecans, or an egg-batter-dipped quesadilla stuffed with roasted yams and poblanos. But dinner is particularly refined, with dishes such as a vegan pâté sampler and portobello Wellington. Breakfast and lunch Mon.–Fri., brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner daily. 2901 E Madison St.; 206.325.9100;

Heirloom melon and shiso salad from Madison Valley vegetarian favorite Cafe Flora; photo by Chustine Minoda


Teapot Vegetarian House
Devotees to this pan-Asian vegetarian (and kosher) restaurant now have to head to Redmond since the Capitol Hill location closed in 2012. The decor is simple, the service is friendly, and the proteins come in the form of nuts, mock meat and tofu in a parade of dishes representing Thailand, Japan, China and Vietnam. The best of them have deep roots (as the owners do) in Singapore: Curried, stir-fried vermicelli and fragrant laksa (a traditional noodle soup) studded with light puffs of fried tofu are both good bets. Lunch and dinner daily. 15230 NE 24th St.; 425.747.8881;

Fragrant laksa soup with tofu, coconut curry and Singapore rice noodles from Redmond’s Teapot Vegetarian House; photo by scott stedman


Pabla Indian Cuisine
Sure, you can order à la carte, but the assorted thalis (a meal consisting of a variety of tiny dishes served on one platter) at this strip-mall Indian restaurant are so colorful, so alluring and so spicy that it would be a shame to miss them. Sample your way through the menu and then swing by the adjoining Indian grocery to pick up desserts, frozen samosas and curries to enjoy at home. Lunch and dinner daily. 364 Renton Center Way SW, Suite C-60; 425.228.4625; Also in Issaquah.

University District

Araya’s Place
A favorite among Seattle’s meat- and dairy-free crowd since its opening in 1987, this vegan Thai restaurant has had a big year, opening new locations in Madison Valley—in the old Rover’s space—and Los Angeles. The University District outlet—recently relocated to a more polished space dripping in Thai tchotchkes a few blocks from its original spot—offers the much-loved lunch buffet (11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. daily, $9.99), which is surprisingly fresh and flavorful. Diners pile plates high with pad thai, fried rice, steamed veggies topped with peanut sauce, curry and spring rolls. Everything here is made in-house, from the seitan to the spectacular array of salty, spicy, sweet and vinegar-spiked condiments. Dinner is offered as well, though not as cheaply. Lunch and dinner daily. 5240 University Way NE; 206.524.4332;

Veggie Grill
Think of the fare here as fast food rather than health food. This all-vegan West Coast chain may not be grilling any bacon-wrapped burgers, but the menu isn’t entirely quinoa bowls and kale chips. You’ll find quick eats like nachos, buffalo “wings,” tacos and a crowd favorite, the Santa Fe Crispy (faux) Chickin’ sandwich. The brightly colored interiors and kid-friendly grub are particularly popular with University Village’s mom-and-tot set, although there are also locations in South Lake Union and downtown. Lunch and dinner daily. 2681 NE University Village St.; 206.523.1961;


Thai food tends to be a vegetarian favorite thanks to its bold flavors and take-it-or-leave-it meat options, so it’s no surprise that both the Wallingford and Ballard locations of this all-veg eatery are regularly hopping. The open kitchen does an admirable job of turning out the Thai dishes that American palates gravitate toward—pad see ew, green and red curries, peanut-sauce-slathered Swimming Rama—with tofu and mixed vegetables in the center roles. Vegans will find plenty to eat, too, since much of the menu is also free of dairy and eggs. Lunch and dinner daily. 1718 N 45th St.; 206.632.1484;


Seattle’s vegetarian answer to Canlis-level fine dining is this sliver of a restaurant, which serves a five-course menu in a single seating Wednesday through Sunday. The intimate, 35-seat space makes for a dinner party feel—one that starts with a gong chime and ends with full bellies. What follows in between is inventive, artful fare that highlights seasonal produce and celebrates meatless eating without relying on imitations (think chilled corn-leek-peach soup in the height of summer). Bonus: There’s a well-curated wine list full of organic and biodynamic bottles. Dinner Wed.–Sun. 1605 N 45th St.; 206.547.1348;

Best Veggie Dishes at Non-Veggie Restaurants

Savvy vegetarians always know the best veggie dishes at non-veggie restaurants. Keep these in mind!

Cafe Selam
Show up early to try the foul (pronounced fool), sautéed fava beans with serrano chilies and eggs (served only during breakfast) at this Central District Ethiopian eatery. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 2715 E Cherry St.; 206.328.0404;

El Borracho
Late-night revelers of the vegan persuasion will appreciate this Ballard taqueria’s vegan taco offerings—particularly the one stuffed with diced potatoes and roasted poblanos—until 2 a.m. nightly (and only $1 each during happy hour). Lunch and dinner daily. 5465 Leary Ave. NW; 206.582.1974; Also located in Pike Place Market.

The London Plane
A meatless lunch is easy at this Pioneer Square newcomer, where a quartet of seasonally changing spreads and dips—such as beet hummus and caramelized onion raita—pair perfectly with the plethora of salads. Breakfast and lunch Mon.–Fri., brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner Wed.–Sat. 300 Occidental Ave. S; 206.624.1374;

Pork belly is king at this Fremont favorite, but vegetarians will want to get an order (or three) of the seasonally changing vegetarian dumplings—sizable pouches stuffed with ingredients like ricotta and kale. Brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner Sun.–Thu. 403 N 36th St.; 206.547.2040;

Don’t stuff yourself with fresh pasta and pizza and miss the seasonally inspired “meaty” vegetable side dishes, such as roasted cauliflower, thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes and grilled greens, to name a few. The preparations may change, but they’re always a sure bet. Brunch Sat.–Sun., lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Tue.–Sun. 5214 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.695.2051;


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