Just over a year ago, a new restaurant/coffee-shop opened on the north side of Capitol Hill, in the location of the former Café Europa. It wasn’t until early summer that I made my first stop at Volunteer Park Café. It was to be the first of many tasty visits.
Fast forward to October 10th. Lauren and I attempted to have dinner at Lark, but were greeted with an hour wait. So we decided to check out how VPC handles dinner. I still remember the Fig and Gorgonzola Pizza we had that night. We returned last night and the waits were running over an hour. Fortunately we had called ahead for a table, as it seems reservations are a must over the weekend (the weeknights we’ve been there have been much more sedate). VPC rotates their menu weekly, though it always includes a daily bruschetta that is worth checking out. Last night’s variation was a garlic spread with butternut squash, red peppers, kale and a little pecorino cheese. On top of freshly grilled bread of course. A hearty and tasty beginning!
Next was a mixed beet salad (with all local vegetables), with chevre, arugula, and a light vinaigrette. The chevre was fantastic, and a little bit of salt in the dressing brought together all the flavors perfectly.
Another regular appearance on VPC’s dinner menu is their selection of pizzas. We’d already had the "Roasted Mushroom" (with truffle oil) and the "Bianco", both of which were fantastic (though not quite as good as the heavenly Fig and Gorgonzola). Last night we branched out and tried the Spinach Pesto, with oven roasted tomatoes, red onion, feta, and oregano. The pizza was decent, but not in the same league as the rest of the pizzas I’ve had there. Maybe it was the pesto base, maybe it was the thickness of the crust, or maybe it was the greater number of toppings or the higher than usual ratio of bread to toppings. Whatever the reason, I’d pass on the Spinach Pesto pizza in the future, especially given the solid alternatives.
On weekends Volunteer Park Café offers both breakfast and lunch options well into the afternoon, and in the summer they have (slightly rickety) tables flanking the sidewalk in front of the café. For those with a sweet tooth, definitely try the Caramelized Banana Brioche French Toast. It’s heavenly. Other breakfast highlights include the Brie and Apple Panini (on croissant, not baguette) and the quiche of the day. A running theme is that the pastries are sinful, but oh so flaky and buttery. Orders take a long time to complete, so make sure you’re not ravenously hungry when you arrive (or if so, grab yourself a scone or croissant while you wait).
For lunch, the Herb Roasted Mushroom Panini is my current favorite.
Though I also frequently order the Chicken Salad Sandwich.
Overall, Volunteer Park Café is a relaxed, enjoyable, friendly place that consistently turns out great food for all meals. Add a reasonably priced wine list (which seems to be rarer and rarer these days) and super-friendly staff and it’s no surprise that the lines can be out the door!
Volunteer Park Café
1501 17th Ave E
Seattle, Washington 98112
Tues-Fri 7:00AM-4:30PM (Breakfast, Lunch)
Sat-Sun 8:00AM-4:30PM (Breakfast, Lunch)
Tues-Sat 5:30PM-9:00PM (Dinner)