It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or not when you have a mouthful of deliciosity.
This upscale vegetarian restaurant and bar has flavor. Many of them actually. In the heart of Phinney Ridge, therein lies a magical place with art, community and fanciful food. Called Carmelita.
Passionate servers who are so present and knowledgeable you can’t help but trust them with your journey. I looked at the menu and knew that I could just request our server’s favorites only to be more than satisfied. That is the sign of true confidence.
The menu humbly screams about their purveyors, and support for your local farmers is sexy. A farm-to-table experience, indeed. Let’s begin this tasty trip already, right?
Beet Salad $10
Saffron poached pear, coriander vinaigrette, greens, toasted walnuts
The concept for this starter graces the menus of many tasteful restaurants around town, but Carmelita’s execution of its gluten-free beet salad is one of a kind. Beets don’t usually have to work too hard to make themselves look presentable—being so naturally vibrant—but these beets came perfectly dressed. They looked goooooood. The yellow juicy pieces on the plate made me do a double take too. Saffron poached pear? Yes, you may enter. My mouth.
The noticeable textures and subtle flavors on the plate came together so elegantly and everything was so obviously fresh. I love when appetizers are light and flawless in flavor; it makes me excited for the rest of the meal. Especially when your belly has room for more.
Fuji apple sorbet, micro greens, Marcona almonds
Shine bright like a diamond! This petite palate cleaner makes me want to sing. A dessert and salad in one delightful bite (might have been more, but cute nonetheless), it’s “The Taste”—worthy. With its bright and punchy flavors and interesting combination of components, I found myself saying “This is my life.” in the most positive reflection ever. Ummm…dessert between courses? Yes, please!
Cauliflower Risotto $17
Roasted oyster mushrooms, smoked tomato oil, fried Enoki mushrooms
As a vegan, there are certain things you must accept. Among the many things… You can’t lust after creamy traditional Italian food, you have to be creative when you go to meals with non-vegans, and you are probably cooler than anyone else in existence. Let’s just cover the first point right hurrrr.
Risotto=butter, cheese and rice. In a nutshell. Italians will slay me for this if I don’t at least mention passion too. The only thing that Carmelita keeps from that recipe is passion. They’ve substituted the other ingredients with healthier alternatives.
The plate was an elegant mush of cauliflower puree emulating the creamy rice of a risotto, tender juicy oyster mushrooms as the main protein and extra goodies like smoked tomato oil and fried Enoki mushrooms for flair. Steamy fresh from the kitchen with vigor—like chef Phil Lehmann conjured this up just for me! There was not a bland bite in the bunch. The lust for vegan Italian food can begin.
Vanilla-Almond Cake $8
Cranberry coulis, caramelized apple, toasted almonds, Valrhona chocolate ice cream
A meal is not a meal without dessert. Three of them. But this one—actually on the dessert menu—was the stunner. Every element was bold and memorable. Chocolate “ice cream” so chocolaty and silky smooth it could be a replacement for The Ladies Man. You would never know it was made from coconut milk because the texture was so on point and the cocoa flavor was blasting. The cake was a dead-ringer for coffee cake with its sugary crust that held up nicely to the juicy friends by its side—caramelized apple and cranberry coulis to be exact. The rainbow of textures was displayed in a similar fashion on the plate and the pot of gold shall be my mouth.
Of course there was dessert following the dessert. Vegan truffles that just were hauntingly good. I have a feeling that Carmelita knew I was on a diet and the only time I’ll indulge is for my readers. A thank you all around!
I might need to reconsider all the grades I’ve given the other restaurants… This could be one of the best meals I’ve had ever. Top five for sure. So, one measly cup doesn’t do it justice. A full gravy boat. That should do.
Make a reservation because Carmelita fills up with hungry vegetarians quick.
Carmelita | 7314 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle | (206) 706-7703
Photography by Corey Osher