Scoff if you will, all ye Oscar Meyer die-hards, but a good veggie dog is hard to find and us vegetarians want one. Though there are ways to satisfy the craving--make a deluxe dog at home with all the fixings, wait until you're good and sauced and hit up a veg-friendly street vendor--few of them carry the flavor-packed zing of the missiles hawked at Cyber-Dogs.
Owner Tatiana Harrison is an exuberant spirit and would love to share her passion--for veggie dogs, culture, politics, rock-n-roll--with you.
What's more, few things offer such delights in a small space (a renovated Convention Center closet) whose decor is an eclectic bouquet of rock memorabilia, novelty lights, customer photos, gig posters, internet terminals, and the gushing kind of hospitality that owner Tatiana Harrison, who runs the restaurant with help from her mother Fania and her daughter Isa, serves up.
It's a strange, albeit dated, brew--with its color scheme, casual vibe, and glowing computer screens, the small cafe gives off a Friends-era feeling. And you might think that an all-vegetarian menu would scare off the traditional dog lover, but
Cyber-Dogs gets all kinds of business: conventioneers, downtown workers, students.
The restaurant just celebrated its 10-year anniversary earlier this month so it's clearly a working formula, and its perennial draw is two-fold: come for the dogs, stay for the warm-fuzzies.
On the food end, these are not yer average ballpark franks: if you're dining in, dogs are served with a knife and fork and are best eaten sitting down. They're saucy things, and there's a lengthy menu, all vegetarian, and vegan on request. On my first visit I tried the "Doga Lisa," a tender soy frank housed in a soft wheat bun, blasted with pesto, tomatoes, lots of parmesean, and baked to cheesy, gooey perfection. It was rich, powerful, and satiating--so good in fact you should mind to keep from scraping the paper box it's served in or else you'll end up with pulp in your mouth.
Second time in I got to chatting with the gregarious Tatiana, who convinced me to try something new: her namesake, the "Mama Tatiana." It was similar to the Doga Lisa but featured a zesty Tofurky Italian sausage and was served with a side of "vitamins," aka, your choice of Emergen-C flavor. When the meal arrived, I was playfully commanded to "eat and drink it all!"
If you can stand this flavor of good-natured kitsch, you'll end up feeling as though you're a child again, being served in mom's kitchen, reminded to take your vitamins, and encouraged to play with others. In his 2005 Best-Of-Seattle review, Neil Schnieder even remarked that "there are truly few places in Seattle that make you want to talk to strangers as much as Cyber-Dogs," no small feat for the average uptight Seattleite. But Harrison's whimsical menu, eclectic space, and vivacious charms have a way of brightening up the line between valued customer and cherished member of the family.