The Eats : Wayward Vegan Cafe , 5253 University Way N.E., 524-0204. Classic vegan comfort>"/>
The Eats: Wayward Vegan Cafe, 5253 University Way N.E., 524-0204. Classic vegan comfort food serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Deets: In Wayward's small cafeteria-like dining room, watching a pair of straight-haired toddlers gape at the tattooed, dread-locked person serving their dinner is a small thing, but it's a precious one. Dining families and a tatted-up waitstaff are everyday things at the U District vegan diner, but observing the moment of discovery--in a child experiencing something for the first time, or a companion's delighted reaction to a dish set before them--gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.
Remember the expression "Mean people suck"? Such is the scene at Wayward. Service is all-accepting and genuine, and the clientele matches up. From busy families and single older diners to romancing couples from the UW, customers here sense this is a wholesome place to eat--if not to soak up good vibes. Whether these impressions stem from Wayward's cooperative ownership or its humble plant-based menu, one thing's for sure: a place like this makes you feel right at home, a mark the best comfort food should always make on you.
The Beets: The menu is heavy on meat substitutes and vegan cheeses, but raw, unprocessed ingredients are well represented, and you could swap out steamed kale for a side of french fries or order a healthy quinoa bowl while your companion grubs on Fried Chicken and Waffles. It's all here--and plenty of it, and because breakfast and lunch are served all day, the recent addition of dinner service, offered from 4-9 p.m. daily, provides the largest array of options.
Stopping in on a recent evening, I had the Smoky Provolovny, a "chiggen" tofu parmesan sub with a side of kale. Toby ordered the Buffalo Chiggen, the bbq'ed, spicy version, with a side of zucchini slaw.
Toby's hoagie was too spicy for me, so I pilfered only a bite, but my sandwich was lovely. Wayward's "chiggen" is actually cubed, baked tofu marinated in a creamy dressing; layered on a lightly toasted roll (the inner part, not the mouth-ripping exterior) with tomatoes, lettuce, and a slathering of vegan ranch, it was hearty and recalled some of my meatiest childhood memories: turkey subs and chicken salad. As far as those recollections go, though, nothing can top my recollection of Salisbury steak, dripping in giblet gravy. Wayward serves that, too.
Love my mother dearly, but it'll be fun to try Wayward's adaptation of that one--I can't re-write my memories, but Wayward's adaptation, prepared and served by someone more punk rock than Betty Crocker, will likely inspire some new ones.
The Tweet: Re-imagine mom's meaty menu a myriad of ways at Wayward.