These favorites create a celebration of vegetables

We've come a long way from the days when a "special order" for a vegetarian meal meant a perplexed chef grabbing a bunch of veggies, sautéing them in olive oil and serving them over pasta. Today, restaurants all around town nod to the needs of the meat-free masses.

So, what did this carnivorous critic find when she took a tasting tour of several longtime local vegetarian and vegan restaurants — places that take the meat and, in vegan cases, the animal products out of the dining equation? A celebration of vegetation and plenty to keep her coming back for more.

Café Flora: It's been 15 years since Café Flora made its Madison Valley debut, bringing with it a clearly spoken commitment to vegetarianism and environmentalism. Lofty goals, those. But then, as now, Flora "walks the walk," offering... More

Carmelita: In 1996, Kathryn Neumann and Michael Hughes lent their artistic efforts to a Greenwood storefront, hired the first of a long line of creative chefs to make magic in their vegetarian kitchen, and opened Carmelita. Date-night right, family friendly, perfect for gatherings ... More

Silence-Heart-Nest: After nearly 20 years in the U District, tiny Silence-Heart-Nest relocated to the heart of Fremont. Today the former Longshoreman's Daughter restaurant has been refreshed in robin's-egg-blue and lives life ... More

Teapot Vegetarian House::Teapot's dual locations — on Capitol Hill and in Redmond — cater to the culinary consciousness of Asian-food-loving vegans, proving the many ways in which tofu can tantalize ... More

Other meat-free options: A partial list of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Greater Seattle ... More

Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or

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Carmelita's mural was painted by Kathryn Neumann, one of the Greenwood restaurant's owners. (JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES)
The Jewel Box is a house specialty at Teapot Vegetarian House, now with two locations, one on Capitol Hill and another in Redmond. (BETTY UDESEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES, 2002)
Silence-Heart-Nest restaurant has relocated to Fremont. (NANDITA POLISSAR)