On Monday Jud and I headed to Lopez Island, one of the beautiful San Juans, to take advantage of the wonderful weather and try out the bike I’ve borrowed for a couple weeks (for the Hungry Taurus’ vegan bike tour of New Westminster, which I’m super excited about).
Lopez has a reputation for bike-friendliness, and it’s well earned. Unlike other islands in the San Juans, Lopez is relatively flat, and the few cars you’ll encounter are easily outnumbered by the bicyclists enjoying rolling farmland, stunning water views and even peeks at Mount Baker. Another reason to leave the car in Anacortes is to guarantee a spot on the ferry both coming and going, which can be very iffy in a car (ferry tickets are much cheaper without a vehicle, also–$31 for two adults with bikes vs. $49.25 for two in a car). Roughly following a loop mapped out in Biking Puget Sound: 50 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans, we spent the day developing a huge crush on Lopez.
Not knowing what kind of food offerings to expect, we packed along plenty of food. I whipped up a bean spread (1 Tbsp. garlic; 2 Tbsp. EVOO; 1 medium red pepper, roasted, seeded and diced; 1 chipotle in adobo, deseeded because I’m a spice wuss; 3 cups cooked cannellini beans; 2 tsp. cider vinegar; 1 tsp. ground cumin; 1/2 tsp. salt. Saute garlic and peppers; add remaining ingredients; process in food processor until spreadable, and check seasonings) and made sandwiches:
Other than the spread, I used zucchini marinated in garlicky vinaigrette before roasting, fresh basil leaves, romaine lettuce, and a schmear of garlic sauce instead of mayo.
I also grabbed a bunch of peaches on sale at Whole Foods, sliced them up and dehydrated them:
With some Trader Joe’s chocolate-chip cookies, our latest chocolate-bar obsession, and assorted nuts we were ready for an absolute food desert.
Instead, we found plenty of food in “the village” (the main commercial area on the island) and saved those sandwiches for later.
The Love Dog Cafe beckoned us with a large banner advertising vegetarian and vegan options. In we went. The prices on the menu were a little eyebrow-raising, but we reminded ourselves that island living ain’t cheap, and we were excited at the many options that were listed. The Old Bay Tofu Cakes immediately grabbed my eye, and Jud went straight for the Portabello burger (the menu online looks a little different from what we saw).
The tofu cakes were nicely presented with a delicious house-made sauce that mostly tasted of fresh red pepper, with a little sweetness and creaminess. The cakes themselves struck me as a little bland, but Jud liked them, and found the inclusion of nori to give them an authentic nod toward traditional crab cakes. For $14, though, they were really not much food. In most places, I would expect that serving as an appetizer rather than an entree.
Jud fared better with his burger (“A Portobello mushroom stuffed with soy based cream cheese, shallots, garlic, herbs and spices, drizzled with olive oil, and baked.”):
The sandwich was juicy, flavorful and satisfying, and the house-made ketchup was interesting and a good complement to the rest of the plate. Again, the $18 price seemed pretty hefty for a modest-sized plate of food, but we agreed we’d both go for it again.
After leaving the Love Dog we found two other spots of interest to vegans: Vortex Juice Bar and Cafe is just down the street and offers a variety of wraps and bowls in addition to juices. Food prices top out around $10 (unless you go crazy with add-ons), and my Lopez-native coworker attests that the food is good.
Right next to Vortex is Blossom Grocery, which is exactly the kind of cozy, co-op-style market you’d expect to find in a place like Lopez. It’s small and of course subject to island economics, but they make good use of their space, and this would be a great place to pick up things to fill out any gaps in your provisions for your time on the island.
Still not sold? Take a look at just a handful of scenes we rode through:
Views of Mount Baker along with the farmland
Miles of peaceful roads like this, plus some through shady woods and right along the coast.
Stunning coastline at Shark Reef Sanctuary
Mount Baker beckons you back to the mainland from the ferry.