We get treated to dinner at Quickie Too, a vegan soul food restaurant on Hilltop
Gritty City Food is a labor of love. We love food and we love Tacoma. We’re not journalists and we don’t make a cent off the site (but we are certainly open to offers). When it comes down to it, this website is simply a vehicle for two guys with no culinary training at all to wax poetic about their favorite food and drink. We’ve met those who think any food critic should broadcast flaws with the same gusto they praise the food, perhaps wishing that we too turn our pinkies out and do our best impression of the waif-like journalist in Ratatouille. Good news. We’re not food critics. We’re just food nerds. Big dif.
We had the pleasure of meeting another food nerd in our travels, her name is Sandy. In fact Sandy shares our passion for the reveal, the sharing of excellence, so much that she graciously treated the GCF boys to dinner at Quickie Too, a vegan soul food joint on MLK. And I gotta say, I was ready to bust out my Ratatouille pessimist persona for this one, but I just couldn’t. The rat won me over. (There was no rat in this scenario. That was an allusion.)
Quickie Too redefines nondescript. It sits at 1324 MLK Way in a rectangular box of a building that reminds me of the creepy teriyaki joint on 6th and Alder, except it has no visible markings other than a single sign on the South side. It is in a part of town that few people traverse on a regular basis, and sits amid [seemingly] failing businesses and all the general hilltop prejudice referred to in this post of 1022. The small sign references their primary source of business: wholesale. And if you’ve ever had a tasty seitan sandwich at Marlene’s it was probably made here. I had never had a tasty seitan sandwich before eating here. Why would I eat something called seitan? That just sounds weird.
Quickie Too has been churning out vegan delights since the 80s, yet somehow we were completely oblivious to the existence of the place prior to this. You can even find a very successful Seattle-ified version on Capital Hill called Hillside Quickie. The owners were on vacation in Jamaica (not a huge surprise judging by all the Bob Marley posters papering the walls), so we were treated to cooking by their daughter, seemingly in the same vein as her parents with dreads closer to the floor than her head.
We kicked off with an order of Mac n Yease – a vegan macaroni featuring nutritional yeast in place of cheese. We’d heard a lot of hype about the Mac n Yease going into this, but even so we were surprised by the experience. The flavor is earthy and herbal, and surprisingly good. It might seem weirdly creamy to some, but it’s a different enough dish from your typical mac and cheese that it doesn’t strike you as odd. Clearly a staple at the place.
The burger list here is impressive, featuring massive stacked sandwiches heavily seasoned with jerk and Jamaican spices and BBQ. Made from tofu, tempeh, or seitan, the burger “meat” was surprisingly chewy and substantial enough to satisfy any texture whore. The immediate reaction from a meat lover is that of shock…shock that such bold and seemingly meat-related flavors (fatty brine and seasoned salt) are possible in a vegan meal. I felt this even more so in my dish.
The Vegan TV Dinner is a breaded and fried Tempeh steak served with amazingly authentic tasting collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a frighteningly delicious little fried corn ball. The greens and potatoes tasted like Southern home cooking and they probably rival those of most BBQ joints in town. The greens are insanely briny though, so if you’re a salt-phobe be sure to steer clear of these babies.
The fried steak was special. I tried to convey this at the table, but just ended up sounding like a douchebag. Hopefully I’m more successful here. It seems almost cliche to assume that a vegan restaurant would slather a dish in spices. After all, without meat you’re already a few colors short on the flavor rainbow. This can more often than not go wrong for the cook. Sometimes the spices aren’t enough to compensate for the palatable flavor from the fat in the meat, but usually it’s just a combination gone awry. I’ve often done this myself in trying to cook some delicious meat-inspired meal for my vegetarian wife at home only to have the food end up tasting like a bag of Johnny’s seasoning. Quickie Too did not share my woes. In fact, this steak was seasoned better than any fried steak I can recall in recent memory. The breading was crisp, the tempeh moist, and the flavor off the hook. Maybe going vegan isn’t so bad.
During this lovely endeavor we were also privy to an amazing salad loaded with vegan meaty goodness, BBQ burger sliders, and homemade bread pudding. The BBQ burger is Sandy’s favorite menu item, and with good reason. The bread pudding wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was a take-home item which may have suffered a bit from the journey.
Quickie Too is an anomaly. Soul food is so very meat-centric, yet this place knocks it out of the park without it. It only reinforces my stature as a pandering promoter of Tacoma eats, but I’m gonna have to give this place some serious props here. Meat free will never describe me, but at Quickie Too I can happily vacation from it for a night.
Mention us and get…nothing! Especially not meat.
1324 Martin Luther King Jr Way Tacoma, WA 98405