For a Great Greek Take on Brunch, There’s Vios
(A version of this story first appeared at Capitol Hill Seattle.)
Since 15th Avenue East brunch-spot Coastal Kitchen is closed for renovations a little longer than expected, this seems a good time to mention a lesser-known brunch option: Greek restaurant Vios, at 19th Avenue East and East Aloha. It’s true, 15th’s newest resident The Wandering Goose is now slinging delicious biscuits as well, but so far weekend traffic has overwhelmed capacity a bit. At Vios, you can usually walk right in (for brunch, that is–they are as busy as ever at lunch and dinner).
I was in Vios for lunch earlier in spring, when I noticed they were planning on launching a new brunch service, and, not entirely coincidentally, planted myself at a table the second day it was offered, back in April.
After about five minutes of review, I decided to save time and just order everything on the menu. You know, over time–not that day. Take a look yourself–this is a very strong brunch menu, and I brunch a fair amount. What I particularly like about it is the way Vios puts standard brunch fare through novel Greek paces. There’s enough of a range that everyone in the party can find something, from the Mediterranean breakfast (Crispy falafel cakes, split pea hommus, boiled egg, and pickles) to “The” Breakfast (Two eggs, bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes).
Before I get to the brisket, a few words about Vios, for those of you who know the place and those who don’t. It’s known far and wide as the kid-friendliest restaurant on Capitol Hill, thanks to their playpen at the rear of the restaurant and also because the staff is genuinely friendly to kids. This has its upside and downside, depending on whether you, too, are friendly to kids. Thanks to a rearrangement, there’s a bit more separation between the family-dining-plus-playpen area and the front of the restaurant: big wooden booths now bisect the space.
Now, back to the spiced-and-braised beef brisket, topped with a basted egg, with fried potatoes and grilled bread on the side. The brisket is soft enough to self-shred under gentle fork pressure, so you want to go ahead and mix that egg in, then save some of the bread to mop up the evidence. I can’t tell you which is better, the brisket or the Vios Benedict. It’s possibly just an eternal, Greek dilemma. The Vios Benedict’s twist is potato latkes (instead of English muffins), with braised greens or smoked ham, and a creamy Béarnaise. (Braised greens and ham? Just ask.)
Back from a trip, with my stomach in a different time zone, I went with the Pasta Mani, a Greek-style pasta carbonara dish with spaghetti, bacon, mytzithra cheese, and a fried egg. Again, you want to mix that egg right in there. I’ve actually had a little trouble locating a really good “people’s carbonara” in Seattle, and this isn’t that, but it is stick-to-your-ribs goodness in its own Greek right.
The biscuit and eggs sounds traditional, but wait, there’s sheep’s milk feta and tapenade tomato salad alongside. If you can’t get in to The Wandering Goose, the biscuits at Vios are also top-notch. Even the Northwest waffle is a little adventuresome, with smoked salmon, dill, scrambled eggs, and capers. (There are multiple waffle toppings, including Nutella.)
Most of the breakfasts are in the $10 to $12 range. A Proseco mimosa is $5.50, the Raki Bloody Mary, $6.50. A kids menu, not including mimosas or Bloody Marys, is cheaper.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and as people are still discovering there’s brunch to be had, you can still walk right in at 10 and grab a table, no line. In fact, the other weekend I got mixed up and walked right in at 9:40 a.m. The staff didn’t miss a beat. “We don’t really open ’til 10,” they reminded me. “Have a seat. You want coffee while you wait?”