Outings + Activities | Food

Kid-Friendly and Vegetarian: Cafe Flora and Veggie Grill

girl with broccoliPeanut butter and jelly ... bacon and eggs ... kids and vegetarian food? We checked out these two vegetarian restaurants to see how they do it.

Cafe Flora
2901 E. Madison St., Seattle, 206-325-9100
Neighborhood: Madison Park
Price: Average entree: $10–$18; kids meal: $5–$6
Kid distractions/activities: Yes
Kid menu: Yes
Dietary/gluten free options: Yes
Cuisine type: Vegetarian/Vegan

It may seem like an out-of-the way neighborhood for most area folks, but Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood should be your destination if you're in the mood for really good vegetarian fare. Cafe Flora has been around since the early 1990s and has gone through a few spiff-ups over the years. The premise is the same, however: vegetarian cuisine using local ingredients and global flavors in a relaxed, garden-like atmosphere.

Cafe FloraParents' view: Simply put, the food is delicious and the cocktails inspired (a Rosemary Lemon Drop, um, yes please). You can safely drag a card-carrying meat eater here and know they will leave satisfied thanks to hearty sandwiches, pizzas and perennial favorites like the Oaxaca Tacos and Portobello Wellington. There are more than a few choices for gluten-free and vegan eaters as well, and the menu is clear on which offerings can be tweaked to accommodate.

Kids' view: While the veggie-averse may have to push a few green things aside, the kids' menu is especially expansive. Seven entrees including pita pizzas, simple penne pastas and coconut tofu dippers offer a nice variety. The restaurant clearly embraces its mini clientele with a small play area conveniently located in a central spot — visible from most of the restaurant, the more than sufficient supply of highchairs and even a stool in the bathroom for little hand-washers. And if the cup of crayons they bring to the table loses its appeal, littles can peek into the bubbling fountain in the center of the atrium.

Pair it with: A visit to City People’s Garden Store, a nursery that will give you a shot of spring in any season, or — a longish walk or short drive — to the Japanese Garden.

Veggie GrillVeggie Grill
2681 N.E. University Village St., Seattle, 206-523-1961
446 Terry Ave N., Seattle
Neighborhood: University Village, South Lake Union
Average entree: under $10; Kids' meal: $5.95
Kid distractions/activities: No
Kid menu: Yes
Dietary/gluten free options: Yes
Cuisine type: Vegetarian/Vegan

Someone's pulling a fast one on fast food. This place looks and feels like one of those national chain burger-n-fries joints — you order at the counter and seat yourself in the well-lit, eye-popping green and orange seating area — but that's where the similarities end. Veggie Grill started in California and has three locations in Oregon and these two in Washington. Their food philosophy centers around plant-based nutrition that tastes like traditional American comfort food. We think they hit the mark.

Parents' view: The is guilt-free feeding for the brood. These all-vegan, healthy alternatives have bright and bold flavors yet are comfortingly familiar. Try the Crispy Chickin' Wings, Buffalo style, to satisfy both the tastebuds and the belly, or the All Hail Kale Salad for a quick power lunch. The best part? No high-fructose corn syrup or plastic junk toys in sight. Beer, cider and wine are available — another factor that raises this place a few notches above average.

Kids' view: The super-casual atmosphere (read easy to wipe up booths and tables) and bright decor make the kids think they're getting junk food. There are no kid distractions per se, but the quick service gets you in and out with little fuss time. The Kids' Menu offers vegan versions of familiar favorites: nuggets, a burger and a mac-n-cheese. Sides are sweet potato fries, mandarin oranges or carrot sticks. The $5.95 meal includes a choice of chocolate pudding or cookies for dessert and a drink.

Pair it with: At University Village, there's shopping, of course, and a stop at the covered playground that will get wiggles out on a rainy day. At South Lake Union, a short walk will get you MOHAI, Center for Wooden Boats, the South Lake Union Trolley, and on.

Emily Smith is an inveterate foodie and an Edmonds-based mom of two boys.

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