As much as I love Washington State, few places here have such a vibrant, fun-loving character as the city of Leavenworth. When we visited it over the weekend, I knew I had to talk about our experience here on the blog.
So today I’m going to do just that – and, of course, since this is a vegan blog, I’ll talk about what finding vegan food in Leavenworth was like during our trip.
In case you’ve never heard about Leavenworth, WA, you’re in for a treat! This city is located just outside of the Eastern edge of the Cascade mountains. What makes it remarkable is that its entire downtown area looks like a lovely Bavarian village.
But it’s not just about the looks – you can sense the unmistakable spirit of fun in this city’s friendly, casual atmosphere.
German-styled buildings, traditional beer gardens, gorgeous mountain backdrops – this town makes a great US-based alternative to the German villages in the Bavarian Alps.
The idea to transform Leavenworth into a Bavarian-style village came to a couple of local entrepreneurs in the 1960s. At that time the town was suffering from the lack of business after having lost its prominence as a Northwestern logging hub years earlier.
By reinventing itself as a Bavarian village, Leavenworth was able to start attracting lots of tourists.
Summers are a wonderful time to enjoy the town and its gorgeous surroundings. We were in Leavenworth the weekend after Memorial day, and found that it was a perfect time to visit: the days are getting warmer, there’s very little rain, and the city streets aren’t overcrowded.
Both the downtown area and its surroundings have something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of the tourist-y downtown area, there’s a lovely riverfront park within walking distance of the Front street.
Walk on the quiet trails, watch wildlife in their natural habitat, and enjoy amazing views of the Cascade mountains and Wenatchee river like baby J is doing below.
This was our first time visiting Leavenworth with baby J. We were glad to see that the town is quite family-friendly – not something you’d expect to see in a place with so much drinking going on.
Apparently, even during the annual Oktoberfest celebration, a children’s area is set up to entertain kids while their parents are out having fun.
During the winter, Leavenworth attracts droves of skiers on the way to the first-class skiing slopes of the Cascade mountains. The downtown lights up with hundreds of thousands of lights, and transforms itself into a Bavarian winter wonderland.
But in the fall, all bets are off during the annual Oktoberfest celebration.
For three weekends each October, Leavenworth welcomes thousands of people to enjoy an authentic Bavarian celebration without leaving Washington state. There’s a special parade every Saturday, during which the mayor gets to tap the beer keg, and local musicians play Alpine horns (those long wooden horns that have to sit on the ground).
The whole town sets off dancing, drinking, eating, and doing their best to have a memorable celebration.
Speaking of eating… We got a chance to eat a few meals at the downtown restaurants I’m talking about below. It turned out that Leavenworth is quite vegan-friendly: just about any restaurant we looked up had at least one or two vegan or easily veganizable options.
Since our 20 month-old daughter baby J was with us, we also looked for kid-friendly places with vegan food options for kids that she would actually eat. The restaurants we went to more or less met our requirements as well.
So here are the restaurants we went to in search of vegan food in Leavenworth.
Yodelin Broth Company
For our first meal in Leavenworth, we wanted something low-key, vegan-friendly (obviously), yet with an unmistakable Bavarian touch that this town is famous for.
To our delight, Yodelin Broth Company had all three of those. The menu had a number of vegan-friendly or easily veganizable options like the Hollywood soup made with vegan coconut-ginger broth, a house-made veggie burger patty (we were informed that it was vegan), and a sweet potato banh mi sandwich.
Rob decided to have the veggie burger, and I opted for the sweet potato banh mi (below).
For kids the folks at Yodelin offer a Bento plate that can be veganized by opting for Washington-made tofu, local fruit and carrots. This plate also comes with cheddar cheese, but we asked to leave it off for baby J, and got some baked sweet potato slices instead.
We liked the casual atmosphere of sitting at the traditional beer garden tables on the patio, enjoying the gorgeous view of the Cascades mountain range, and sipping beer while baby J made friends with other customers’ dog. I can only imagine how busy this patio gets during the annual Octoberfest celebration in Leavenworth!
The Local Yokel
After exploring the gorgeous downtown park in Leavenworth the following day, we found ourselves in the mood for something fresh, healthy yet filling. The added bonus was if the restaurant wasn’t very crowded like a lot of places on the Front street.
Enter the Local Yokel – and yes, this is the first time I’ve had two consecutive meals at restaurants with names that started with YO 🙂
The Local Yokel is located just a couple blocks off of the Front street. We were surprised that there was no crowd at all. As we sat at the table outside eating our lunch, we saw a number of people who didn’t look tourist-y go in and out, so we came to a conclusion that this place was more popular with the locals than with the city visitors.
Like they say, eat where the locals eat, and you won’t regret it. We certainly weren’t disappointed, as our lunch turned out delicious.
The Local Yokel offers a variety of late breakfast and lunch menu options like sandwiches, wraps, etc, as well as acai bowls, smoothies, juices, etc. There is a clearly marked vegetarian section on the menu, with a couple of vegan items like a BBQ tempeh wrap (below) and a hummus and veggie wrap.
Bonus: there was an impressive selection of all-vegan baked goods, from cookies to cake, some of them gluten-free. I don’t know if we were lucky that day, or if their baked goods are always vegan – just ask to make sure if you find yourself there. We split a slice of delicious glazed lemon cake that was just heavenly 🙂
For baby J, we decided to get a toasted almond butter and banana wrap from the breakfast menu. A generous helping of almond butter was mixed with granola and coconut flakes, then wrapped in a tortilla along with banana slices, and pressed in a panini grill until warm. The menu version also included cocoa nibs and honey, but we asked to leave them out.
Baby J hasn’t been good with eating tortillas (not a fan of their texture), but this wrap was a whole ‘nother story! It was so good that she ate almost the entire thing – well, except for a few generous bites that Rob and I took 🙂
Both Rob and I decided that if we go to the Local Yokel again in the future, we’ll definitely get that wrap for ourselves too.
Wok About Grill – Mongolian Barbecue
I rarely give restaurants with “barbecue” in their name a lot of attention for obvious reason – most of the time they act like we vegan people don’t exist 🙂 Yet we were pleasantly surprised by our experience at Wok About Grill when it popped out in our search for vegan food in Leavenworth.
Wok About Grill offers to make you a delicious stir-fry from vegetables, noodles, tofu, meat (the place isn’t all vegan after all) and sauces that you pick from their buffet-style offerings and bring to the cooking station. The cook measures your food by weight (it was $12.99 per pound at our visit) and gives you a price sticker.
The food is quickly cooked on large round grill surfaces where each cook tosses it and tops with the sauce you’ve made. Within about 3 -4 minutes, you have a large bowl of yum in your hands.
Vegans note: since they cook a lot of stir-fries with meat, the restaurant offers to clean the grill upon request before making vegan dishes.
My stir-fry above had a variety of veggies tossed with rice noodles and tofu, topped with a sauce I put together from the restaurant’s offerings (soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, pineapple juice) and the additional cashews and chilis. It was one of the most glorious things I’ve eaten during our trip!
I also made a separate mini stir-fry for baby J with rice noodles, tofu, tomatoes, pineapple, and a few other veggies she eats these days. She’s been fascinated with noodles lately (she adorably calls them pa-ta 🙂 ), so she picked out a fair amount of those.
The restaurant also offers white and brown rice, as well as tortillas to be brought to your table – perfect in case you don’t feel like putting noodles into your stir-fry. Even though we did, we still had some rice on the side because, well, when in town…
No visit to Leavenworth is complete without visiting one of their Bavarian-style beer gardens. The spirit of this town just makes you hungry for those fat German bratwurst sausages and a generously sized stein of home-brewed beer.
Luckily for us, we found that beer gardens in Leavenworth proudly accommodate vegans by serving vegan sausages. The Munchen Haus located in the heart of the downtown lists Field Roast apple sage sausage on their menu. So does the Leavenworth Sausage Garten located right across the street.
However, when we stopped at the Munchen Haus for lunch just before heading back home, they said that they were testing out the new Beyond Meat sausages. That was even better in my humble opinion!
The sausage is given to you plain, in a toasted bun without any toppings. Then you’re supposed to go to their condiments bar and select whatever toppings you like from their vast offerings. I counted at least three types of relishes, as well as chopped onions, sauerkraut, jalapeños, and at least a dozen of various mustards, ketchups, and other sauces.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the German Currywurst – sausage served with a sauce that resembles ketchup with a touch of curry (I have a recipe for my version of vegan currywurst over here). That’s why I decided to put a generous squeeze of the currywurst sauce on my sausage.
Other condiments I picked included whole grain mustard, cucumber relish, onions, and a few other things I don’t remember. What I do remember is that my vegan bratwurst was delicious 🙂
There are a couple other vegan-friendly items on the menu at Munchen Haus including a soft-baked pretzel (ask for no butter on top), Kettle brand chips (most flavors are vegan), and a house-made vegan soup made with red lentils, cauliflower and peppers.
One downside for us was the fact that there weren’t a lot of kid-friendly things on the menu, let alone vegan kid-friendly. Surely, older kids should do fine with a bratwurst of their own, but baby J isn’t quite there yet.
We ordered a plain pretzel and a cup of soup for her. Both were very good, especially the soup, but she wasn’t very interested. She filled up on crackers that came with the soup, and took a few bites of the pretzel.
As for beer, we chose not to have any because we were planning to head out home right after lunch. Next time we come to Leavenworth, we’ll definitely stop by Munchen Haus at a better time and have some.
Speaking of driving… If you’re coming to Leavenworth from Western Washington, you’ll enjoy gorgeous mountain views as you’re crossing the Cascades.
If you’re into outdoorsy things, there’s plenty to do in the Leavenworth area. Lots of opportunities for hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, kayaking in Lake Wenatchee, etc.
Baby J and I enjoyed searching for pine cones outside of the cabin we stayed at, and even brought one home as a souvenir.
We wished that our mini-vacation was longer, but, like they say, there’s always the next time.
Anyway, I hope you know more about this beautiful town now than you did before. If you are a vegan heading there, now you now know exactly where to find vegan food in Leavenworth!