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 a globally inspired meatless menu while functioning as a community center for the hungry natural-fibers crowd.

Neighbors use it as a casual hangout, where friends can enjoy a late-afternoon nosh and a glass of wine culled from a terrific list. It does delightful duty as a ladies-who-lunchery, where the girls can sip rosemary lemonade and enjoy a fine French dip made with portobellos ($12). And it's a bright spot on Seattle's brunch circuit, when kids can investigate the toy table while waiting for their "fruit face" with honey-yogurt ($3). The grown-ups might nibble warm beignets ($4/$6) while waiting for their elegant egg scrambles ($10).

At lunch and dinner, the menu crosses over with signature dishes like the colorful soba salad ($8.75), with peanut-sauced buckwheat noodles, and my longtime favorite, Oaxaca tacos, stuffed with cheese-spiked mashed potatoes and plated-up with sautéed greens and other sassy sides ($10/$15).

Depending on your mood, you might sit in the comfort of the pretty eggplant-hued dining room or at a cafe table in the sky-lit atrium.

Café Flora hours: lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays (abbreviated "afternoon menu" 2:30-5 p.m.); dinner 5-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; brunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

At Cafe Flora in Madison Valley, the atrium offers a welcoming spot to enjoy vegetarian and vegan fare. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES, 2002)

Caf Flora

2901 E. Madison St., Seattle;