Even in a city as vegetarian-friendly as ours, it can be a challenge for herbivores to find decent food during cocktail hour. Being perpetually left with another form of deep-fried potato or the ubiquitous pita-and-hummus platter gets old quick. That said, the rise of cocktail culture has brought with it more alluring drinking-dining pairings, and vegetarians are benefiting from this as well.
Here are the top 5 vegetarian bar snacks on our radar at the moment:
4. Truffled Popcorn, Oliver's Twist: There are vegetarian-friendly selections on Oliver's menu (the mini grilled cheese with tomato "cappuccino" is a great winter treat), but the simple pleasure of freshly popped corn laced with truffle oil is so addictive it has appeared around town since it made its Seattle debut here.
5. Waterzooie, Brouwer's Cafe: This Belgium-centric Fremont brewery and cafe has a menu that leans towards the rich and meaty (read: lamb, lamb, lamb), but their veg options are equally appealing (and equally rich). Recently re-introduced for the fall season is their version of the classic waterzooi, a cream-based bit of decadence, flavored with perfectly caramelized leeks, studded with baby carrots and new potatoes, and topped with a flaky lid of puff pastry.
3. Fake meat burrito, El Chupacabra: Phinney Ridge's bastion of Mexi-goth decor and tequila-driven debauchery is known almost as much for its faux-flesh ingredient options as it is for flammable-strength margaritas. The name may not be fetching, but El Chupacabra's "fake keat" is a perennial favorite, whether tucked inside a burrito of scattered atop a bubbling plate of nachos.
2. Obi-Won-Ton Plate, Georgetown Liquor Company: Even if you're just a sucker for Star Wars puns, the sesame wontons filled with goat cheese, tamarind, and steamed bok choy are pretty damn delectable, especially with the lemon-ginger sauce on the side. The punk rock ambience and occasional attitude isn't for everyone, but GTLC's combination of grit and creativity has made the bar a destination for those who appreciate the Dead Kennedys much more than dead cows.
1. Broccoli, Ocho:
Because owner Zach Harjo is an impassioned vegetarian, it's no surprise that his Spanish tapas list always includes a slew of brightly flavored veg options. However, his most brilliantly simple offering is the sauteed broccoli, a perfect foil for a couple of glasses of sangria or his pint-sized margarita. Utterly vegan and understandably addictive, a handful of florets and scalloped slices of stalk are given the ideal degree of caramelization, tossed with gently sauteed escarole and garlic, dressed generously with pungent, pine nut-infused oil, and finished with a sprinkle of amplifying roasted pine nuts. Strong and simple wins the race.