The Eats: Chaco Canyon West Seattle, 3770 SW Alaska St., 937-8732. Organic, vegan, and raw cuisine.
At Chaco Canyon, anything made out of lentils--from soup to 'burgs--is delicious.
The Deets: Chaco Canyon West Seattle is baby sister to the U District's flagship "raw temple," but here things run on a different pace. Yes, both spots are hippie-dippie as all get out, but where the U District location buzzes with students, faculty, and study groups (I'm pretty sure they also sell twice as much coffee), Chaco West Seattle has a cozier feel and sees a lot of young families, post-yoga goers, and couples. Both outposts serve a very similar menu, but their individual vibes are very different.
Viewing the U District's steady stream of customers will make you less likely to linger over your artichoke melt, but in West Seattle, there's nothing to stop you from cozying up in a chair, at a table, or at the counter-side bar, grabbing a copy of the Weekly, and staying a while. Such a sense of calm is good for the digestion, too--it makes it easy to add a Cowboy cookie (chocolate chip and walnut) to the end of your meal.
The Beets: Going out to eat can be an indulgence for the senses, but how often do you leave a restaurant feeling "unpolluted?" From the grain bowls (I love the simple "Hippie Bowl" with garlic tahini dressing, baked tofu, quinoa, and veggies) to simple soups, Chaco Canyon offers fresh and uncomplicated fare. For a health-minded vegetarian, it can become as addictive as McDonald's might be for others (more expensive, obviously, a subject worthy of a blog in and of itself, but you see what I'm sayin').
I'm compiling my own list of Seattle's best veggie burgers, and Chaco's lentil burger is near the top. It's a densely satisfying creation, a whopping bean patty served on an organic toasted roll with tangy veganaise-based dressing and crunchy sprouts. It's one of the items I return time and again for, in addition to the zesty zip of the artichoke melt, the Zen Dream juice (apple, spinach, orange, mint), a chewy chocolate chip cookie (The Cowboy) so good you could fool anyone into thinking it contains only animal products, the simple goodness of the Hippie Bowl, and the subtle flavors of the African Lentil Soup.
Flavors remain generally consistent and portions reliable, with overarching wholesome values guiding the way. There might be a cranky baby at a table nearby, you might have had an off day; but once your order arrives, there's bound to be goodness in every bite.
The Tweet: Chaco Canyon West Seattle is an oasis of Zen-inspired fare and a serene spa experience...for your stomach.