While we were in Asheville, North Carolina (A city we fell in love with.) we happened upon one of the best meals Ive ever had. Thats a huge statement. If you live in Asheville I envy your ability to eat regularly at the Laughing Seed Cafe.
A little history:
This is from www.laughingseed.com. The menu can be seen there as well.
The Legend of the Laughing Seed. On the Indonesian island of Bouton there is the legend of the Laughing Seed. This plant was sacred to the people of the Spice Islands for centuries. When the seeds of this plant were consumed, the people were intoxicated with laughter and able to communicate with the gods. It is said that this wondrous food satisfied the appetite and created a sense of fullness and well-being which lasted for many days
The Laughing Seed was started in 1991. When it moved from the lower level of the local YMCA to Wall Street in June 1993, they were one of the first businesses to spearhead the downtown Renaissance of Asheville. (And Renaissance it is!)
Laughing Seed Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant using local products and organic ingredient. A couple of their awards include Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Western North Carolina eight years in a row by the Asheville Citizen Times and the weekly Mountain Express. It has been written about in Southern Living, Vegetarian Times, and the NY Times.
Laughing Seed is located at 40 Wall Street. Their phone number is 828-252-3445. Their hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30a.m. to 9:00p.m.; Friday and Saturday they stay open until 10:00p.m. On Sunday they are open from 10:00a.m. to 9:00p.m. with brunch from 10:00a.m. to 2:00p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays. Laughing Seed accepts all major credit cards.
We ate outside where there is a covered patio with about a dozen tables and a couple of tables with umbrellas on the sidewalk. The inside is nothing less than beautiful. However it isnt beautiful in a fancy way. Its beautiful in a natural, comfortable, trendy, calming way. Its appropriate not only for a trendy crowd but your children as well as grandparents will be comfortable eating at Laughing Seed.
I noted a light, airy restaurant with plants hanging and sitting on shelves. Various size and shaped tables sat on a couple of different levels. The wood gleamed. There was a large bar with a couple of people sitting at it. The restroom was attractive and clean. The entire restaurant both inside and out was spotless. Youll find a mural of the rainforest and a large water fountain. An entry way has flyers that point you to many alternative treatments and happening around town. A variety of music was playing. I went in several times. The first time I was going to call it New Age music but when I went in again there was a chart topping song playing.
We arrived around 1:00 during the week. The outside tables were full. The inside only had a handful of people. A somewhat surly young man told me that we could only sit at one of the two tables on the sidewalk with Hanna, our Pomeranian. He told us it would be about a 15 minute wait and we should come back. We sat on a bench near Laughing Seed and within 5 minutes the group left and we took the table.
I wanted to take our waiter home. This young man had to have been one of the best servers weve encountered. He welcomed us with Hows life? We learned how he came upon working at Laughing Seed, a bit about the city and of course he asked us about our hometown. He wasnt pestering us in the least. We welcomed learning what we did from him.
Not only was he friendly but he refilled our raspberry iced teas ($2.25) many times. They were so good that we figured there werent free refills but we were wrong. The fresh fruit smoothies looked really yummy. He was attentive to our food needs and answered our questions about what we were thinking about ordering. There were so many delicious looking choices it was hard to pick.
Laughing Seed Cafe serves regular as well as organic beer. They have a full bar but I had to note the organic beer. We ended up buying some in the city during our visit which I havent reviewed yet. All water that is used is filtered.
My husband and I shared two dishes. I got the Hempnut Burger for $8.50. Each item on the menu that was vegan (meaning no dairy or eggs versus vegetarian which might include those foods.) as this one was had a V next to it. This was one of the best veggie burgers Ive had if not the best. It was made with millet (a grain) and hempnuts (Industrial hemp plants, a tall, stalk-like variety, are bred for exceptionally low THC content, and can be harvested either for their seeds ( also known as nuts ) or oil. http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02.n658.a12.html
Some veggie burgers Ive had are dry. This one was moist and tasted of nuts. The texture was wonderful. It was grilled perfectly with a light seasoning that didnt over power the wonderful taste of the burger. It was served open faced with basil, lettuce, tomato, onion and grated organic carrots and cabbage. For $.95 I could have added cheese. For $1.95 I did add avocado which made this delicious meal even tastier. This was served on a toasted bun. If a toasted bun sounds boring then you have to have one at Laughing Seed. I wasnt going to eat it and I did try to leave some that didnt have all the goodies on it but it was so crunchy, fresh and healthy tasting I ate most of it.
All the sandwiches came with either a tossed Salad; the side of the day or Jalapeño-Onion Fries. We both got the side of the day which was home made potato salad. We got a large scoop and it was obviously homemade because mine was a little more chopped than my husbands was. They tasted identically delicious. There was no mayonnaise. There was a tiny bit of a bite to the potato salad. I think if we werent spending the day in the city we would have taken some food home.
My husband got the Tempecado for $8.50 which was also vegan. This was a sandwich with layers of grilled, marinated tempeh (a cake of soya beans). If youve turned your nose up then youll have to try their tempeh. Im not a huge fan of tempeh but this was delicious. It was nicely grilled and the marinade was light but tasty enough to make what can be an unappealing food excellent. This came with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, grated carrots, red cabbage, onion, clover sprouts, and Russian dressing. The focaccia bread that it was served on was thick. I had to cut it. It was slightly greasy in a good way and parts of it were really crispy. Those were my favorite parts. Hanna liked it as well.
Some other menu choices include
Low Country Rollups $8.95
A sweet and tangy tofu barbecue wrapped in whole wheat tortillas with Monterey Jack cheese, topped with tahini mustard sauce. Served with a tossed salad and brown rice.
Indian Thali Plate - Lunch $10.95, Dinner $14.95
Vegetarian Combo Plate 2 items: $4.75 3 items: $6.50 4 items: $8.25 5 items: $10.00
Create your own feasts from our basics
no substitutions please. Pinto Beans Brown Rice Simple Salad Grilled Tofu (2 pc) Steamed Vegetables Indian Dal Sea Vegetable Salad Grilled Tempeh (1 pc) Sloppy Jo Basmati Rice Side of the Day
Asian Fusion $8.50 (V)
Chilled organic udon noodles served on a bed of mixed greens and salad vegetables, tossed with spicy sesame-peanut sauce. Topped with blanched broccoli florets and organic sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Marinated organic three-grain tempeh, sauerkraut, grilled onions and Swiss cheese on organic multi-grain bread, grilled and topped with vegan Russian dressing.
Sloppy Jo $6.95 (V)
Sweet and tangy tofu barbecue served on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, carrots, cabbage, sprouts, and tahini mustard sauce.
Artichoke Dip $6.95
A warm and cheesy vegetable dip, loaded with artichoke hearts and served with wedges of organic whole wheat pita bread.
The menu changes every Sunday. You can get a Mediterranean Bloody Mary or Mimosa with waffles, omelets, salads, and sandwiches.
From the website.
I dont even have to think twice about Laughing Seed. Other than the unfriendly host/waiter this was a fantastic eating experience. The ambiance inside is wonderful. On a nice day sitting outside was really pleasant. The food was superb. Id go back to Asheville just to eat here again.
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Kid Friendliness: Yes
Vegetarian Friendly: No
Notes, Tips or Menu Recommendations Eat out of the box and give this cafe a try.
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