An Ode to the Wayward Vegan Café



Wayward Vegan Café, Seattle

801 NE 65th St, Suite C

(206) 524-0204

~$30 USD/person with drinks (dinner)

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦

I fell in love at the Wayward Café, sitting across from this Yorkshire lass I could barely understand, she tucked into the “Lost Souls” tofu scramble, while I meowed down on “The Wizard,*” a veggie burger par excelance, with tempeh bacon, just the right amount of mayo, and strangely delicious vegan cheddar cheese.

The both of us were participants at a writing workshop where grub was included—but oh what grub it was—I kid you not, the chef’s speciality was “Swimming Chicken,” and the only person worse off than us at the workshop, food-wise, was my garlic allergic vegetarian friend, who she kept on confusing with someone gluten-free. All of us with particular dietary requirements were starving, and so I asked the only other vegan at the workshop out—out for lunch I mean.

We walked up 15th Ave NE, past the University of Washington Bookstore, the head shops, and Sidecars for Pigs Peace (now Vegan Haven), it was 2:00 in the afternoon, 2012, the sun was shining down. You could smell Wayward half a block away.

Over the course of our six weeks at the workshop we would visit all the vegan hot-spots in Seattle. Ten years a Vancouverite, I was a frequent day-tripper, and I felt like I knew all there was to know. Mighty-O, Chaco Canyon, Plum Bistro, Araya—but it was Wayward we kept coming back to. And that day, as we stepped into the shade, out of the sun, I felt something click. I swear I did.

We sat at one of the back tables in the rear left corner. We happily bussed our own table. My future wife laughed at my face as I tried a sip of her Zevia (gross), I laughed at her face as she tried my chocolate peanut butter pie. “Do you really like this?”

I did. It made me smile like a dog with a stick.

The next day we were back for more, and so too did their biscuits and gravy, their ‘meat’ and two veg, their consistently awesome service, and the crowd, gentle souls all. The Wayward serves straightforward American comfort food, well executed, and deliciously seasoned. The food is hearty, portions generously sized, and if I had to pick a last supper, it might very well be their country fried steak, the closest vegan meal to the favourite meal my Mom used to make me as a child. The seitan based meats at Wayward are a particular standout, always well seasoned, and well prepared, rich, moist and hearty.

The workshop ended. Eight months passed, my darling girl and I missed each other too much to stay apart. I picked her up from Seattle Airport in March 2013. We stayed at a hotel in the University District, and our first meal back was at the Wayward. They’d taken “The Hammer” a filet steak with mash and broccoli off the menu, but they made us one anyway. Nothing else and everything else had changed.

Recently, they’ve moved into a new location, with table service, elbow-room, and more of a view. But from what I hear, the food hasn’t changed. And I can’t wait to visit again.

*this is now the BBQ Burger.


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