Take a moment to slow down and escape Seattle’s urban jungle with a day trip to Vashon island. Small-town living, secluded beaches and neighborhood farm stands are what make this place extra special, not to mention one of the best Thai restaurants in the Northwest - we’re not bluffing! A 20 minute ferry ride from the West Seattle terminal will have you singing its praises in no time.
If you’re making a day trip of your visit you’ll probably start early, meaning the first stop you’ll want to make upon arriving on island is a coffee stop and we have the perfect place. Vashon Island Baking Company features sweet and savory, house-made baked goods and island-roasted coffee. They use locally-sourced ingredients and offer gluten-free and vegan options. Their croissants are warm, flakey and made fresh every day.
Next stop, the lavender farm because what’s a day trip without an instagramable-outdoor moment that is as therapeutic as it is pretty. Lavender Hill Farm was bought by locals Catherine MacNeal and Tom Dalzell in 2006 and is run by the couple and their 4 children. Upon arrival guests are greeted and given garden scissors to cut rows of lavender varieties at their leisure for a nominal fee. In addition to lavender lemonade you can purchase lavender distilled oils, infused soaps, creams, candles and more.
By this time lunch is on the brain but might we recommend a cocktail first - hey, you are kind of on vacation. The Ruby Brink is a bar and butcher shop on Vashon’s main road featuring cocktails muddled to perfection and farm-to-table plates. Tattooed staff rocking vintage Levi’s and classic white tees add hipster accents to this ultra-cool restaurant. Stop here for libations and light bites before heading over to May Kitchen and Bar for the real feast.
Dark, exotically carved wood, Buddhist altars and a low-lit dining room make May Kitchen and Bar feel like a little slice of Thailand but not in a kitschy, commercial way. The food is incredibly authentic, rich and light with effervescent flavors that warm your throat with a multitude of spices. Even though we kept it simple we were still perplexed by every bite. We started with ‘Yum Phak Boong,’ Siamese watercress flash fried in rice flour and drizzled with coconut milk and then ordered the ‘Phad Phed Gaeng Dang,’ a signature red curry with bamboo, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, baby corn and fresh basil for our main entree. The dish usually comes with chicken however we substituted it with fresh prawns which brought a clean finish to the already decadent meal. This place is good, period.
After lunch head to KVI beach to walk along the shore and ogle at the amazing view. During your drive there stop at 1 or more of the family farm stands dotting the roads where you’ll find fresh eggs and choice cuts available for purchase via an honor system. Simply put your cash in a wooden box, take your goods and go. No cameras, no security, and no lines. The idea is simple, be good, do good. Family farms support the community by sharing their fresh produce and meats and the community sews back into the farms. It’s an old yet honest system of exchange that everyone respects.
Your last stop will most likely be Glass Bottle Creamery, the local ice cream shop owned by Vashon Island Baking Company. It also utilizes locally-sourced dairy products and offers the creamiest ice cream in town. Our favorite flavor by far was their cookie dough which did not skimp in its crumbles. Every bite had a healthy helping of smooth, doughy chunks all the way to the very bottom of the cone. Peruse the town and its quaint shops while slurping down your confection before hopping on the ferry home. All and all you’ll have an unforgettable day trip under your belt and a full belly to prove it.
By Abiola Akanni
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