Vegan southern food? That term might seem incongruous, but a visit to Quickie Too and maybe it will make sense. Or not, depending upon your comfort with vegan dining. I reviewed the restaurant a few months back during a series called 10-in-One where we review 10 restaurants in a single neighborhood. Not only is Quick Too in the middle of one of the city’s most interesting eating neighborhoods, but the Hilltop restaurant has been feeding vegans in town for more than two decades – first as a wholesale sandwich shop, then as a restaurant. The casual restaurant with a serious dose of laid-back attitude is a worthy lunchtime sandwich destination whether vegan, or not. Click “more” to read what I had to say about the restaurant in my last review.
The longtime Hilltop restaurant, which opened 20 something years ago as a wholesale sandwich company and turned into a restaurant five years ago, combines the two loves of Niombi and James Howell: a vegan lifestyle merged with southern cooking.
James Howell hails from Mobile, Ala. He’s the front of house, the quiet unassuming man who shuttles glasses of water and towering plates of food to your table. Daughter Afi works with her mother, Niombi, in the kitchen. The restaurant has one of the mellowest vibes in Tacoma: a reggae soundtrack, a bright and airy dining room, a slow pace that means your lunch might be more of a lounging experience than a fill-up quick stop.
Comfort food with a soul food spin shows up in burgers, sweet potato fries, wraps, sandwiches, vegan mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens.
From the dinner menu, breaded tempeh with a vegan tartar was a stand-in for fish in the Friday Night Fish Fry ($14.99). Potato salad held mustardy pucker on a bed of crisp greens and a tangy tangle of purple cabbage, a chewy hush puppy was spicy sweet, and collard greens were vinegary smoky. (How’d they do that without ham?)
Burgers, sandwiches and wraps come thumped with palate-pleasing flavor. A Mama Africa burger ($9.49) was a soft bun spilling over with a deliciously chewy but loosely bound millet and quinoa patty topped with grilled sweet onions, tomatoes and house-made salsa and vegan mayo. Millet and quinoa with a spicier edge showed up on the Stephanie wrap ($10.99) in a griddled tortilla with crisp lettuce and carrots mingling with the same kicky cabbage from the fish fry dinner. The Strami wrap ($10.99) showcased the versatility of smoked tofu paired with a profusion of crunch – snappy pickles, crunchy onions, tomatoes and lettuce and a hefty smear of mustard.
Sides for burgers and wraps change: peppery sautéed potatoes on one visit and smoky red beans and rice on another. A side dish of flavorful Mac NYease ($5.75) might have been pasty but was quite tasty with nutritional yeast (the “NY” in the name) adding nutty balance to mushy noodles.
Here’s something worth noting: The restaurant offers a Southern-style vegan brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. every Sunday.
Where: 1324 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma
Hours: 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday; noon-6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday