From sweet and tangy teriyaki spots on every corner to fresh and flaky fish and chips, Seattle is the kind of city where hidden food gems reign supreme.
As a newbie to Seattle (I’m from Florida!) and a former vegan turned recent flexitarian, friends and co-workers alike were quick to offer a lineup of very well-known plant-based recommendations like Cafe Flora and Plum Bistro. But in true reporter fashion, I made it my mission to hunt down the best vegan spots.
WalletHub ranked Seattle the fifth-best city for vegetarians and vegans in 2020, so there’s plenty to choose from in the area. Here are some tasty vegan restaurants I tried in my quest to do a full day of plant-based eating.
Breakfast: Dough Joy
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, closed Mondays; 5401 17th Ave. N.W., Seattle; doughjoydonuts.com
I heard about Seattle’s flourishing doughnut scene even before I arrived here — a nice change-up from the Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme chain offerings I was used to. Stationed in an unsuspecting crevice in the Ballard Mini-Pod food truck area on 17th Avenue is a whimsical food truck bustling with plant-based doughnuts and breakfast goodies.
Co-owned by Christopher Ballard and Sean Willis, who also run Outbound Herbivore, a Seattle-based brand and self-published magazine that showcases vegan food in the area, this plant-based doughnut shop knows how to please vegans and nonherbivores alike.
All Dough Joy doughnuts are 100% vegan (no animal products) and soy-free. The doughnuts are made with coconut and wheat. With unique flavors like strawberry lemonade and “over the rainbow,” it was hard to pick just one — so I chose four. My favorite? The Basic B doughnut. Compare this sweet ring to a traditional glazed doughnut, but it’s better and healthier for your gut and the environment since it’s dairy and egg-free. Wash it all down with a “Pink Drank,” a bright, crisp, tropical-flavored iced beverage — plus it’s caffeinated to help jump-start your day.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Seattle doughnut destination if it didn’t involve coffee. Dough Joy’s coffee menu features cold brew and a variety of plant-based lattes crafted with local ingredients.
Dough Joy makes small batches, so the doughnuts are sold first-come, first-served until sold out. Arrive early for a shot at sampling the best selection. Or skip the line by placing an advance order for same-day or next-day pickup.
Pro-tip: If you’re lucky, you might pull up for doughnuts on a select Saturday when they are serving the Chik’n & Waffle Donut Hole Skewer — a sweet and savory bite-size snack with three doughnut holes on a stick, accompanied by two crispy vegan Rebellyous Chik’n Nuggets topped off with a satisfying maple syrup drizzle. The skewer is only offered on specific weekends, so keep an eye on Dough Joy’s Instagram stories for more information.
Lunch: Cycle Dogs
4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday; 5410 17th Ave. N.W., Seattle; cycle-dogs.square.site
From a one-man hot dog cart, to a food truck, to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Cycle Dogs, Seattle’s first all-vegan hot dog spot, is no stranger to serving up vegan junk food in unique ways.
When Cycle Dogs shifted from a mobile truck to its first-ever building, Dough Joy took over the vegan legacy by adopting its previous truck and is now only 200 feet away from Cycle Dogs’ new location.
If you’re feeling adventurous, toss on your best cycling outfit and pedal over to this vegan haven where you’ll find an extensive rotating menu of plant-based hot dogs, burgers, fried treats and several beloved meat-and-dairy-free spins on Whataburger and Dick’s burgers. Cycle Dogs uses only local ingredients and everything it cooks up has a low carbon footprint.
My pick? The vegan corn dog with a side of Hangry-Style Fries. Let’s be real — it’s really hard to find a tasty vegan corn dog. A corn dog is all about the crunch, and most vegan corn dogs I’ve tried have lacked in the crispy department. But to my relief and surprise, this one delivered that plus more. With a satisfying crunch at first bite, I found myself grinning like a kid at the county fair as I enjoyed what I consider to be the perfect texture of a vegan hot dog — not mushy and with a slight chew resembling a real hot dog.
Pro-tip: Ask for the chipotle mayo and dip everything you order in it. The chipotle mayo is subtle with a slight wave of mild heat toward the end. It’s the perfect sauce to complement all the crispy menu items.
The Hangry-Style Fries are messy, so get plenty of napkins. The fries are smothered in “Hangry Style fry sauce,” American cheese and grilled onions. You can compare these flavor-bursting fries to the animal fries at In-and-Out Burger — but they’re better.
If you’re looking for lighter fare, try the Chick’n Caesar Wrap, which, according to some folks I met in line, is a real hit. Nestled into a soft spinach wrap, the Chick’n Caesar Wrap is filled with lettuce, tomatoes, herb breadcrumb croutons, a deep-fried Rebellyous Chick’n patty and vegan Caesar dressing and Parmesan cheese. It’s pretty much a vegan Caesar salad but upgraded into a wrap.
Order online and take it to go or walk up to order and enjoy the outdoor seating right in front.
Dinner: Pi Vegan Pizzeria
4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday; 5301 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle; pizzapivegan.com
What’s a full day of vegan eating without pizza? I wrapped up the day by heading to Pi Vegan Pizzeria, an unassuming craft vegan pizza and cocktails eatery.
Start your supper off with the Sauce Sampler, an array of white garlic breadsticks coupled with marinara, white garlic, vegan ranch and pesto dip.
Then move onto the main attraction — the piping-hot pies. Choose from any of the 10 specialty pies like the BBQ Chicken (white garlic sauce, green peppers, grilled onions, mushrooms and barbecue “chicken” in a sauce) or the Sunny Day (sun-dried tomato cream sauce, spinach, potatoes, black olives and cashew ricotta).
I opted for the veggie specialty pizza. The hot, round pie was light, soft and chewy with an abundance of marinara sauce, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and black olives — all blanketed by a generous dusting of vegan cheese.
If you’re not in a standard pie mood, switch things up by ordering a calzone for the same price as the small pizzas ($12.99). And if you’re gluten-free, there’s a seat at the table for you, too, as Pi offers gluten-free crusts.
By the time I finished demolishing my pizza, I didn’t have room for dessert. But next time, I’ll be sure to try the tempting Cookie Pizza — a sweet dough pizza baked with frosting, chocolate chips and finished with a drizzling of chocolate syrup, chopped nuts and powdered sugar.