Before you even enter Chickpea’s Main Street vegan café, the yoga-teacher optimism and flower-powered décor start. A sign outside reads, “Spread the Chick-peace,” and one just inside the door says, “The Chickpea in me recognizes the Chickpea in you, NamaChickpea.”
This brick-and-mortar outlet of a food truck, opened by a pair of Israelis, serves brunch, lunch, and dinner — even late-night on weekends — adding drinks and desserts to their already beloved menu of Middle Eastern favorites.
Sabich, schnitzel made of tofu, and tempeh “shawarma” fries round out the main section of the menu, along with various eggplant, chickpea, and cauliflower dishes. But the menu expands from there, with soup, salads, a whole menu of fries, and extras, like latkes. The equally extensive drinks menu ranges from turmeric tonics to locally made IPAs, and the illustrated cocktail menu shows off the world’s cutest spiked lemonade, along with the house-brewed, kefir-based “berry sababa.”
Within the menu is the doodled “just for kids” section, which offers smaller and simpler versions of regular menu items, along with an almond butter and jam pita. But the real kids’ treat here is the play area in a back corner, where a C-shaped, cushioned bench circles a soft-mat floor stocked with toys, games, and books to keep kiddos occupied, whether for the length of a lunch or for a few cocktails.
When the restaurant on the ground floor of British Columbia’s Chabad changed from Shuk.Eat.Play to Café FortyOne last year, one distinct element remained: the brightly colored play structure. The kosher dairy café, co-run by husband-and-wife duo Daniel Presman and Yamila Chikiar — serves big, beautiful salads, JJBean coffee, Mediterranean food, and handmade chocolates (Presman is a chocolatier). It also provides an excellent home-away-from-home for Jewish Seattleites on the road.
In the mornings, a boureka platter comes with a big bowl of fresh cucumber, lettuce, and radish salad, a quartered hard-boiled egg, pickles, and sauce, along with the potato-and-onion pastry. Alternatively, the breakfast sandwich and shakshuka offer a bright start for the day, while pastries fill the big glass case next to Presman’s chocolate handiwork. The menu later in the day teeters between Middle Eastern and American café classics, like macaroni and cheese, blintzes, and falafel. On Fridays, grab the Shabbat combo with challah, hummus, and salatim.
For those without kids, the main section of the café is welcoming and friendly — a set of comfortable couch and chairs, roomy tables, and inviting windows. Free WiFi and parking make it an easy choice for travelers in need of a place to set up shop. The play structure — a colorful plastic house, slides, and climbing wall — is in a back room, where kids have the freedom to make noise and release all their energy, particularly useful for parents in need of a coffee before everyone piles back into the car to head home.