VITA CAFE 

3024 NE Alberta, 335-8233

I almost feel guilty when I eat at the Vita. Their meals are so rich and delicious, flavorful and comforting, that surely by consuming them I am committing an extravagant crime against my digestive tract. But their ingredients are totally wholesome and organic--they just know how to make them right. The cooks at the Vita are masters of illusion.

For instance, they have the most decadent peanut sauce in town. You can find it in their Thai Pasta ($6.95), which is a huge, scrummy plate of buckwheat soba noodles, tofu or tempeh, and vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and squash. The tempeh is cooked to a perfect consistency--not too soft, but not crackling burnt, either--and has a slightly nutty flavor. The peanut sauce in which it so delicately swims is like eating warm, creamy, spicy peanut butter without the stickiness. Though it's definitely more Thai-like than actual Thai, it's so thick and fresh (and sprinkled with peanuts!), who cares if it's good for you.

Another of my favorite dishes is the Tempeh Broccoli Surprise ($5.95). It's a slightly salty, garlic-tamari-sauced plate of chopped tempeh, vitamin-green broccoli, and crispy-hot spears of the best root on the planet, jicama. You know when your body feels all nasty because you spent last night drinking Oly and smoking like, 55 cigarettes? And there's that little void in your belly for something full of protein, yet tasty? I guarantee you're craving Tempeh Broccoli Surprise. Sprinkle some aminos on top (a bottle of which is thoughtfully supplied on every table).

I obviously lean towards the Vita's Asian options, but the Chicken Fried Steak (batter-fried tempeh with almond gravy), the Monte Cristo Sandwich (tofurky!), and the Provincial Plate (corn, mashed sweet potatoes, tofu, and greens) are all famous dishes among the Vita's devoted following. My meat-eating b-friend says the hamburgers (made from 100% free-range beef, by the way) are small, expensive ($4.95, without sides) and kind of bland, but he is also quick to point out that the Vita is so good at cooking non-meat products (TEMPEH! TEMPEH!), what would you expect? To that, I say a-fucking-men.

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