I just got back from visiting Portland and Seattle with my good friend and big sister from another mother, Carolyn Woods.
It was my first time there and I loved it. I got to hang out with some friends (hey, ya'll!) and take in the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest--the ocean, the beaches, the mountains, the trees, the clean air--just gorgeous. (Alki Beach in Seattle at night was one of my favorite spots.)
And being the true foodie that I am, what I loved most was all the fabulous vegan food. Portland and Seattle are vegan heaven!
One of the things that blew me away was that most of the vegan restaurants had brunch options every single day. And not just one or two brunch options, but pages of brunch options--pancakes, waffles, French toast, different kinds of tofu (or tempeh) scrambles, cereals, biscuits, scones, muffins, fruit salads, smoothies, juices...I could go on and on.
Daily brunch is just standard fare in vegan (and many non-vegan) restaurants there. Not to mention all the awesome vegan lunch, dinner, and desserts options, of course. It was incredible.
So, here are some must-try vegan places from the trip:
In Portland, the highlight was definitely Prasad in the Pearl District. Not only is it vegan, it's also organic, with plenty of gluten-free and raw dishes, as well. (We ate there twice.)
This is their Blueberry Cornmeal Waffle with Vanilla Cashew Cream, Bananas, and Maple Syrup.
And this is the Chili Scramble with Smokey Tempeh, Jalapeno Cashew Cheese, and Quinoa.
A few blocks away was a different kind of culinary adventure: Powell's City of Books, which has the largest collection of vegan books I've ever seen--27 shelves. (And yes, they carry my book!)
Now, on to Seattle, where we stayed the longest. The supreme highlight there was finding out about a 100% vegan Thai restaurant called Araya's Place in the University District (there's also a second location in Madison Valley, Seattle and one in Beverly Grove, Los Angeles).
I absolutely LOVE Thai food--it's one of my favorite cuisines. But in the 30 years that I've been vegan, I've rarely eaten it because I was afraid of hidden fish sauce in non-vegan Thai restaurants (it's happened to me before). So I was over the moon about Araya's! We went there during Happy Hour and they had $5 prices for some of their regular meals. So I got this big plate of vegan Pad Thai for only 5 bucks! Delish!
Another instant classic was Wayward Vegan Cafe in the University District. (This is one of the places that had pages of vegan brunch options.)
I got waffles as my main dish, which were delish, but it was the biscuit I ordered that was to die for. Finally, a vegan southern biscuit the way my grandma used to make it!!
It was so good, in fact, that I took a picture with the owner, Tami Blanchett, and we talked about having a book-signing there for my second book. (I'll keep you posted.)
Here's the Fried Chiggen and Waffles that Carolyn ordered there. They were yummy. too.
We also went to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe. And what I loved about this cafe, in addition to the food, was that they had a Community Bowl, which was a bowl of grains, beans, and veggies with a garlic tahini sauce that was pay-as-you-can or free, so that anyone who wanted a fresh, nutrient-rich meal could come in and get one, regardless of their ability to pay. Awesome!
I ordered the Eggless Mushroom Spinach Quiche, raw Buckwheat Cereal with Almond Milk, and Tempeh Bacon. The quiche was made completely from scratch and was so flavorful! I had to stop myself from ordering another one.
Another highlight was visiting Plum Bistro in the Capitol Hill area.
Plum Bistro is owned by my friend Ayinde Howell's sister, Makini Howell (who also owns Plum Burgers vegan food truck; Plum Pantry in Seattle Center; SugarPlum vegan bakery, also in the Capitol Hill area; and Quickie, Too in Takoma). Their parents were pioneers of veganism in Seattle in the 1970s and 80s. We got the famous Mac n Yease, which lived up to the raves!
...And the light and flavorful Mama Africa Salad with Tempeh, Seasoned Quinoa, and Millet, Fresh Fruit, and Mustard Aioli.
And my friend and Seattle native Keith Tucker took us to one of his favorite spots, Teapot Vegetarian House, which I just loved!
The owner came out and chatted with us and made us feel right at home. The cuisine was pan-Asian and absolutely delish. The highlight for me, though, was the tea. Watching this chrysanthemum flower bud...
...turn into this beautiful upright flower as my tea was fun!
I also had a Naked Vanilla Cake donut from Mighty O Donut Shop, an organic vegan donut shop with locations in Capitol Hill, Ballard, and Greenlake. I actually got mine from the Starbucks next to Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. Plain cake donuts were my favorite growing up, and Mighty O got it exactly right! I gobbled it up before I thought about taking a pic, but here're some samples from their website. The one I had was the very first one pictured. :)
I also went to Veggie Grill in downtown Seattle for a quick bite right near our hotel. Veggie Grill is a fast casual vegan spot with locations in Seattle and throughout California.
I got the Bombay Bowl with Herb-Roasted Veggies, Super Grains, and Cannellini Beans in a Coconut Curry Sauce and was surprised at how good it was for a fast-foody kind of place.
So there you have it, fam. Some of the culinary highlights from my visit to the Pacific Northwest. There're SO many more vegan restaurants to choose from that I'll definitely be back for more!
And this is a great time for me to recommend the book Will Travel for Vegan Food by my colleague Kristin Lajeunesse, who writes about eating at every single vegan restaurant in the US on a two-year road trip.
Have a great rest of the week, family!