Flavor Hunting on the island of Vashon
For a unique day or evening out of the city, visiting Vashon for a foodie adventure is one not to miss. Nestled between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, our Island is located right in the middle of Puget Sound. Far from remote, however, is the emerging foodie scene. Vashon is surprisingly chock full of charming bistros, elegant restaurants, and one-of-a-kind places that will make your visit memorable, but you may have to make more than one trip to hit all of the high notes here. When arriving at Vashon, make your way to the central part of downtown, called in-town or uptown, to find the gastronomic heart of the island. No matter what time of day you arrive, Vashon delivers deliciousness all day long.
Morning Warmups and Yummy Brunch
Starting your day off with a hot coffee is a traditional way to warm up a cool morning in Washington, so be sure to grab a cup of joe at The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. Located just south of uptown, this mainstay coffee roaster uses organic beans and offers a subscription coffee option so you can enjoy their brew at home as a memory from your trip to the Island.
Every local knows that a visit to Vashon Island Baking Company is in order when you are craving a delectable pastry alongside a steaming hot coffee or tea. There is a treat for everyone as this bakery serves up gluten free and vegan selections as well as traditionally made baked goods. Gorgeous pastries and interesting menu items boast local ingredients, like island-grown veggies and fruit. Locally roasted beans mean the freshest of coffee, and sumptuous Mochi cakes and Chocolate Tortes will have your mouth watering for more than just breakfast!
Snapdragon Bakery and Café is a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike that love creative, delicious baked goods, vegetarian cuisine, and a mouth-watering secret recipe chai. Stop by for out of this world pastries that rotate with the seasonal specialties, but the mainstay croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and cookies are available all year. Locals order their wedding and celebration cakes from Snapdragon, so you know your dessert options will be stellar. This welcoming, rustic restaurant’s evolving menu will please even the pickiest of eaters. But Snapdragon is really geared to the gourmet who wants a sophisticated meal created by innovative chefs using fresh, local ingredients who create standout vegetarian options that even a meat-eater would crave. Open mornings through early afternoon, grab breakfast through a late lunch here. In the evenings, hit the bar or sit on the patio for more gastronomic delights while you are serenaded by local music.
Mica’s Kitchen is a bakery that churns out mouth-watering pastries and breakfast treats that rival any you’ve ever eaten. Made with love is the slogan that Mica, the namesake baker, gives her creations. From doughy biscuits to locally sourced vegetables that fill omelets, Mica whips up delicate pastries as well as breakfast must-eats to fill your belly with deliciousness.
A casual pub that offers breakfast through late night noshing is Sporty’s. With a diner atmosphere beloved by locals, Sporty’s offers bigger than your plate breakfast entrees that are served all day long. You will want to stick around, or return, for a drink on their patio or to listen to Sporty’s live music, as well, to mingle with the locals in this beloved local hangout.
For a memorable brunch, The Hardware Store is the place to visit. Housed in the oldest building on the island that in a former life housed the hardware store, this elegant restaurant has served up brunch through dinner to Vashonites and visitors alike since 2005. With brunch selections like Steak & Eggs and Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, you will enjoy every bite of this unique eatery that really comes through with high marks for food and atmosphere.
Lunch on the Island
Foodies follow the road to Island Queen, Vashon’s answer to an old-fashioned hamburger diner with a modern flair. In the place formerly known as Zombie’s, this island bastion of burgers grills up burgers and all the fixin’s, PNW-style. Burgers are served alongside a Spicy Togarashi Seared Ahi Tuna sandwich, a black vegetarian bean burger as well as plenty of Growler-sized brews. Check out the Washington brewed Ranier Founder’s Lager or a Dragonshead Heritage Cider made locally with Vashon-grown fruit, or frozen UFO’s (Unidentified Frozen Objects) that the kids and adults alike will love.
Just across the street is the some of the best Mexican food on the island at Zamorana’s. First served out of a food truck, their growing popularity meant that they could expand to a storefront restaurant that even Martha Stewart has visited. Known for their authentic Mexican recipes, you won’t find a better burrito on the island. Run by a family, you will notice their friendliness just as much as the outstanding authentic Mexican tacos. Seating outside is casual with only a little indoor seating, but you won’t mind as the atmosphere confirms that food is Zamorana’s first priority at this unassuming little gem.
Nearby southern elegant dining at Gravy is not to be missed on the island. Vashonites come here for the French-influenced southern food crafted by husband-and-wife team of Pepa and Dre. With their restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Salt and Schmaltz is a foodie heaven, serving up amazing treats like shrimp & artichoke salad, smoked salmon rillette, and a trifecta burger featuring ham, sirloin, and duck breast. Gravy is upscale food but with an informal but gorgeous feel.
Camp Colvos Brewing is another local place that shines with island allure. With its casual garden patio seating, Colvos lives up to its name with rustic charm but will blow you away with its wide variety of beer and ciders to pair with a gourmet snack like their German pretzel and Beecher’s cheese sauce. Or try one of their famous Snowdrop pasties. If you know, you know, and if you don’t, you should go to Camp to find out.
Healthy bowls and organic food are abundant in Vashon, and the Pure Organic Kitchen & Juicery is a perfect spot for vegans and vegetarians alike in this all-gluten-free restaurant. Grab a Buddha Bowl to go with your organic juice or specialty smoothie at Pure Organic, or try out their Cowboy Cookies to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Casa Bonita has been in Vashon since 1996, and their authentic Mexican food is delicious for lunch or dinner. With seafood choices alongside lamb, beef, and other traditional favorites like fajitas, Casa Bonita is an established local favorite that visitors to the island can count on for excellent south of the border flavors.
If you are spending your day on the links in Vashon, be sure to grab a bite midday at the Sandpiper Café located right on the course. With stunning views of the beautiful island golf and country club, nosh on coconut shrimp, seared rare ahi tuna, fried tofu with peanut sauce, or the vegetarian mushroom and zucchini on rye. The small menu is surprisingly adventurous, and you will want to finish off your meal with a flourless chocolate torte or a slice of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream pie for a perfectly sweet ending.
Sometimes a hole in the wall is just the place for the best burger you ever will eat. Enter Perry’s Vashon Burgers. Housed in a modest little house in the center of in-town, Perry’s serves up the expected burgers, fries, and shakes, but also offers the unexpected polish dog and fish sandwich. Any place that gives out their phone number for a “burger emergency” has got to be pretty special, and Perry’s is just that kind of place. Grab your burger grilled to order and a blueberry shake and enjoy it outside on their patio or just bring it with you on your adventures on the island.
Dinners to Remember
The Ruby Brink is a meat lovers paradise started by former vegetarians just down the road from the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Center. Open for both lunch and dinner, this spot is best enjoyed as a luxurious dinner, eaten slowly to allow the gracious atmosphere to blend with the ambitious farm-to-table menu. Of course, meat is the star of the show. The butcher shop within Ruby Brink is a perfect place to order up a new mortadella for your own charcuterie board or even a grab-and-go Empress Gin Martini for a color and life changing at home cocktail hour later. If you are staying for dinner, starting off with an interesting pickle plate sets your palate up for a lamb sausage bowl or a braised beef and noodle entrée. Ruby is ambitious and delicious and should be a planned stop for every foodie on the island.
Earthen Bistro offers one of the only Vashon island’s restaurants chef’s table experiences. With a menu that boasts such delicacies as a pickled halibut starter, house-made lemon pesto tagliatelle, and a blackberry gateau Basque for dessert, Earthen is a gastronomical gem of Vashon. A large wine list pairs with the sumptuous offerings, and chef’s table menus are to die for with up to 9 courses offered.
If you are craving a New York style pizza meal in Vashon, look no further than O Sole Mio. This pizzeria would make your Italian Nonna proud, serving up veal meatballs and family-size lasagna dinners as well as house-made tiramisu to complement your savory dinner. O Sole Mio also offers their homemade sauces and Italian seasonings and oils so you can bring a little bit of Italy and New York home with you from Vashon.
For a simple yet sophisticated meal, Bramble House really delivers. Created by a home-grown chef who traveled and cooked around the world before returning to her roots in Washington. Taking the bounty from local Washington harvests, Bramble partners with a long list of local growers and producers to create a swoon-worthy menu. Some favorites are the black truffle garlic focaccia, roasted beet risotto, and strawberry cobbler dabbed with rose-mascarpone cream. Watch out for a pop-up kitchen once a week, like Lia’s Chicken Shack, that focuses on a casual approach to all things chicken.
Bringing the World to Your Table
Foodies know that the extraordinary sometimes is found in the food that different cultures bring to the kitchen. Vashon has no shortage of unique restaurants that bring worldly flavors to the table.
May’s Kitchen provides an outstanding, authentic Thai dining experience. From the pla meuk yang squid to the phad thai and the whole fish yum pla trout, you may very well eat the best Thai food stateside at May’s Kitchen. Guests rave about the authentic Thai feel and flavors at May’s, and you will likely want to come back to sample their extensive menu when you can return to your pick of Vashon Island restaurants.
One taste of Mustafa’s Syrian Kitchen and you will feel the passion this family has for the food and flavors of their homeland. An emotional exit from Syria brought the chef Mustafa and his family here to Vashon, and they strive to recreate the culinary memories of their homeland in the Syrian Kitchen. Mustafa has hit a home run with the rich flavors and beautifully crafted sauces in his food truck dining experience. Falafel, shawarma, and gyros are some of the offerings you can order up from Mustafa and his truck, and it is destined to become a quick favorite of all of the Vashon Island restaurants.
Another food truck with rich flavors and an amazing chef family cooking up delicious food is the Iyad’s Syrian Grill. Hailing from Aleppo, the oldest city in the world, chef Iyad cooks up Turkish delights from his truck that you won’t soon forget. Lamb, chicken shawarma, and baklava are all standouts in a menu with many stars. Chat up the chef while you smell your simmering meats and sweet desserts, because once you are served you won’t want to concentrate on anything but the aromatic dishes on your plate.
Vashon’s Sugar Shack is situated in a tiny wooden home, but its bright exterior is a good clue to the bold flavors it serves up. The menu varies but includes strong flavors like Indian Curry, bahn mi sandwiches, and savory pies. Pulling flavor profiles from cultures around the world, this hidden gem is sure to be a top contender with its rotating menu and nod to world-wide favorites. Only open for a few hours each evening, the Sugar Shack is a little microcosm of the world in bright yellow wrapping.
Food for Every Taste
Whether you have a few days or just a few hours, there is a taste for what you love on the island. Trying a new dish or flavor profile is surprisingly easy, but don’t be afraid to settle in with a known cuisine as you just might fall in love with a new twist on an old favorite. Vashon’s many cafes, bistros, and food trucks are a foodie’s delight, and you may just have to return to try them all.