A decade ago, when national chain Veggie Grill arrived in Seattle, the company was one of many to intentionally use the term “plant-based” to avoid the dour connotations some people had with the word “vegan.” But each year, this practice inches more firmly into Seattle’s mainstream. Diners prioritize plants on the plate for a multitude of reasons: lactose intolerance, general health, or environmental concerns about meat’s carbon footprint. Then there are places like Frankie and Jo’s, where flexitarians, vegans, and omnivores line up for a cone just because the ice cream is so dang good.
Most great Seattle restaurants can feed vegans well, though sometimes advance notice helps. But here are our favorite restaurants (and bars, and bakeries) dedicated to plant-based fare.
Plant One on Me:
Thoroughly Plant-Based Restaurants
Bellevue, Madison Valley, University District
A quarter century ago, Aratana Nualkhair led the way on vegan Thai food in the Northwest. Now Araya’s Place has three Seattle locations and a broad menu filled with finds like avocado curry, tofu satay, and drunken noodles. And yet so many regulars (plant-based eaters and omnivores alike) confess, they can’t get past their regular order of phad thai.
South Lake Union
A window inside the venerable Vietnamese chainlet’s South Lake Union location offers a freestanding menu, mostly plant-based renditions of flavors from across Southeast Asia. Coconut and curry, dan dan noodles, and Lao-style crispy rice salad pack big flavors, as does a choyrizo banh mi that defies geography in the tastiest manner possible.
Owner Thanh-Nga Nguyen, or Tanya, is a neighborhood treasure, and so is her food: tangy noodle soups, eggless egg rolls, and banh mi with faux crispy pork skin that passes muster with carnivores. Best of all might be ChuMinh’s buffet, a bounty of curry, tofu, braised jackfruit, eggplant, and assorted “meat” that’s the stuff of meatless dreams. You can pay by weight or plunk down a fixed fee for all-you-can-eat.
Nashville-style chicken, a Dick’s Deluxe, even In-N-Out Burger’s animal fries, sans actual animals. This food truck turned counter offers impressive vegan facsimiles of America’s fast-food favorites—right down to the kids meal that comes with a tiny STEM toy.
Five-course dinners brim with intelligent vegan creations (saffron lobster mushroom bisque, curried cashew paneer) and equally smart wine pairings. You can even order them to-go, or hit up the pandemic-era market stocked with roasted beet garlic hummus, cookies, and creamy salad dressing—a more relaxed insight into the kitchen’s plant-based talents.
Downtown, University Village
The fast-casual chain leans into comfort food with buffalo wings, nachos, and fast food–style sandwiches made with Beyond Burger patties, chick’n, even a Good Catch vegan tuna melt and crispy fish sandwich.
Chef Makini Howell—Seattle’s version of vegan royalty—puts out cultured, plant-based plates at her flagship restaurant. Howell has added multiple dishes to Seattle’s meatless canon (her mac and yease, a properly decadent tofu reuben, some incredible salads) but she also knows when to keep things straightforward, like pan-roasted cauliflower or truffle-topped gnocchi.
Seattle’s stalwart vegan pizza tavern has worn booths that look like their own tiny rooms, and a ton of old-school flourishes like cheesy breadsticks, cookie pizza, a calzone option, and the ability to stuff your pizza crust with Teese, one of the better plant-based mozzarellas out there. These are no minimalist pies; toppings proliferate on soft chewy crusts, with a few options by the slice.
Kirkland, South Lake Union
Thai’s a natural fit for plant-based dining, but this restaurant duo finds decadence and deep flavor in fried oyster mushrooms, garlicky jackfruit, pumpkin curry, pad see ew, and a host of classic dishes. The desserts: unexpectedly great. A new location at the Village at Totem Lake recently joined the handsome original in Amazonia.
Lower Queen Anne, University District
This sustainably-minded cafe makes veggie-forward breakfast and lunch creations that transcend dietary preferences, like an artichoke melt sandwich on sourdough, piled with sprouts and cucumber. Broadfork goes light on the faux meat—save a little bit of Field Roast—and heavy on veggie bowls, smoothies and juice, and the house cashew cheese sauce.
The former owner of Capitol Hill’s beloved meatless dive the Highline resurrected this vegan punk bar in 2020. Some Highline favorites surfaced here, like the french dip and reuben made with house seitan. This is assuredly a bar, serving burgers and nachos in those little plastic baskets, but the kitchen makes an impressive amount of stuff in house.
That perfect egg white foam atop your cocktail is actually the work of chickpea juice, and the stunning vinyl collection nods to the owners’ deep ties to local music scene (KEXP’s John Richards is a partner). Patrons get to pick records to play, but you might be too busy with the plant-based disco fries, the chop cheese made with Beyond Beef, or the brunch menu that comes with its own slate of careful drinks.
It’s hard to choose from the deep bench of sandwiches, melts, and an entire section dedicated to (soy-based) pulled pork. But it’s hard to bypass burgers at this compact, black-walled counter spot, thanks to housemade patties with great texture and a proper sear. They come piled with proper fixins, including a smoky house bacon. The soda, dipping sauce, and side order game is equally strong.
A classic American burger stand with an enormous menu hides inside the Roosevelt Whole Foods, complete with a rare (and fairly impressive) lineup of milkshakes. The Oregon-based company piles its sandwiches with toppings and flavor, and adorns its packaging with messages about eating better for the planet. A free-standing Seattle location is on the way.
Ballard, Capitol Hill, University Village
Three plant-filled shops offer a mind-blowing lineup of vegan scoops—crazy decadent, deeply flavored, and in no way a dietary consolation prize. Flavors like dirty horchata, date-sweetened chocolate, or pickled blueberry channel Southern California; sorbets step away from the nut milks with combos like beet-strawberry-rose. Every last scoop, chocolate sauce topping, and vanilla-maple waffle cone is both vegan and gluten-free. (F&J pints are also available at some local grocery stores.)
Vegan croissants are a rarity, but a plant-based bakery in the heart of Fremont pulls off a commendable version (classic, almond, and the occasional chocolate) thanks to the magic of vegan butter. Lazy Cow also makes tasty retro-looking layer cakes. The bakery supports mutual aid organization La Casa del Xoloitzcuintle and operates a community fridge and food pantry inside its large space.
Ballard, Capitol Hill, Alaska Junction
These newcomers (two brick-and-mortar, plus a truck in Ballard) have cascaded across town, bringing doughnuts in a rainbow of flavors that sparkle—sometimes literally thanks to edible glitter. The all-vegan dough isn’t as light as a typical brioche doughnut; they almost resemble King’s Hawaiian buns, but make a worthwhile canvas for birthday cake, strawberry lemonade, everything bagel, or lemon poppyseed. Coffee drinks come with a wee doughnut, skewered on a stir stick.
There are butter-based bakeries in town whose pastry cases look skimpy next to Flying Apron’s legendary counter lineup of cookies, cakes, muffins, bon bons, sticky buns, scones, even the occasional beignet. Everything is plant-based and gluten free, including a savory menu of pizza, tofu scrambles, and mac and chez. These goods also show up at groceries and coffee shops around town.
This longtime staple found its way to plant-based recipes after setting out to make organic, consciously sourced doughnuts. Doughnuts are mostly of the cake variety (plus the requisite raised twists, bars, and fritters), full of familiar, yet finessed flavors like chocolate topped with peanut butter, or raspberry-glazed vanilla. Early experiments pouring chai into doughnut mix yielded the popular french toast flavor.
As the name implies, this North American chain specializes in cinnamon rolls piled with frosting, sprinkles, pie crumbles, chocolate sauce, and all manner of edible flair. But anyone craving vegan, gluten-free junk food should also investigate the edible cookie dough.