I'm in Greece and it is not even a 20 minute drive from downtown. A Greek radio (web) station is playing over the sound system, the air is cool, the sun is shining outside and the glow of its light filtering through the windows. Absolutely charming. And I'm starving.
The sandwich special today is Venison flank steak (the steak cooked on the rare side--yum!-- which has evidently been marinated for who knows how many delicious hours, or days!) made with house roasted tomatoes, braised greens and a delicious hummus-like white bean spread that is so scrumptious I would have been happy with a small serving of it and a side of pita for lunch.
The chewy and potato-ish baguette (used to be Tall Grass) comes from the not yet opened but new favorite of mine, Columbia City Bakery. The combination of flavors, with all the elements of the sandwich paired and cooked to perfection, soaking the tasty bread, made for an utterly delicious bite. My apologies to Bambi.
The cook that put the ingredients together between two slices of bread came from Tom Douglas's kitchens (Tom is to great bakers and cooks what Gene Juarez is to beauty in Seattle: the who's who of experts in the field--to our advantage-- almost always has gotten a start at one of Douglas's restaurants) and the server an import from the east coast who is as sweet as can be and seems to absolutely love working here and living in Seattle.
In here, pretty much anything you order from the menu is bound to delight and amaze. The freshest of locally sourced (Thomas is a regular at Columbia City Farmers Market) and imported from Greece ingredients--with a dash of Oregon free range poultry or Australian beef-- goes into everything Vios has to offer.
The hot chocolate is delightful, so is the knowledgeable, friendly service with a smile. The colors are warm and the feel of the place is one of of neighborhood, of friendship and love, of family (The kid friendly area reminds me so much of kindergarten with the pretend grown-up furniture and kitchen appliances).
And it must be the long wooden working, communal dining style tables with their well worn yet smooth to the touch patina that remind me of many mornings having breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Paris and Los Angeles.
It just feels good to be at Vios.
While your order is ready, take some time to peruse the shop's book case, full of gorgeous picture books on Greece travel, cuisine (there's even a well read copy of Culinaria Greece!) and specialty foods. Take a look around the shelves and coolers full of all sorts of delightful European and Mediterranean imports including cold beer, wine, olive oil and fresh fruit from the farmers market to take home with you.
From Greek Oregano to jams, jellies, honeys, dried mushrooms, Greek Nutella-like chocolate hazelnut spreads, marinated olives, cheese, candy and cookies to great wines (local, domestic and Greek) at very good prices (no crazy mark-ups here) to fresh fruit there really is something for everyone.
Vios Café is the only place in Seattle that carries the extra large tub of Fage Greek Yogurt (1000 grams). $8.50. It is a sight for sore eyes.
My wish is that if you've never been up to 19th and Aloha, you take the next lunch break and stop by. Or go for dinner. Try the chicken or lamb souvlaki, meatball sandwich, the lamb burger or the grilled quail. If it's lunch time go for the special or for one of the frittatas. You'll be glad you did.
Vios Cafe and Market Place
903 19th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112