ginger and salt

home away from home: volunteer park cafe.

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There is a cozy, yellow building on the corner of 17th and Galer tucked away behind the lush Volunteer Park in North Capitol Hill.  It blends into the residential neighborhood quite seamlessly. So well, in fact, that if you’re driving through, it might not even catch your eye.  However, upon closer look (or smell), you will find this watering hole packed with locals and pumping out the delicious aroma of freshly baked goods, toasted sandwiches, and other specialties.

I was introduced to Volunteer Park Cafe by my friend Audrey when it first opened and we were both undergrads at the University of Washington.  I remember both of us falling in love instantly with the cushy window seats and the golden retrievers sunbathing out front.  It’s the kind of place where you can polish off breakfast, read your book for a few hours, and go back to the counter for lunch.  A home away from home of sorts.  I remember feeling envious of the neighborhood families coming in that clearly knew everyone working there.  Torn between everything on the menu, I finally settled on the Prosciutto and Mozzarella Baguette with Baby Arugula and Fig Balsamic and I was in love.

In honor of that inaugural outing to VPC, I decided to order the same dish today in attempts to share it with you.  However, I must note that there are several other menu items worth trying including the Pulled Pork Sandwich, the Brie and Apple Panini with Lavender Honey, the Park BLT, and the Chicken Noodle Soup with Matzoh Balls.  But back to the sandwich.

The sandwich blends sweet and savory with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the subtle sweetness of the fig balsamic glaze.  The baguette is always chewy with delicious air pockets and the peppery arugula balances it all out.

My friend Megan ordered the Chicken and Apple Salad, which is a version of their Chicken Salad Sandwich, sans bread with additional greens.  Now I am VERY picky when it comes to Chicken Salad as I have a phobia of excessive mayonnaise usage, but VPC gets it right every time.  The roasted chicken is tender and flavorful and the celery, apples, and sweet onions are bright.  Walnuts add some necessary crunch.

We polished off our meal with the ‘Trick or Treat’ cookie which was the perfect ending.  Although, I have to admit I was disappointed to see that they were out of ‘Couch Potato’ cookies (made with potato chips), but I guess I’ll survive.

I should also mention that VPC serves dinner as well, but in a bit more of a formal setting (menus, servers, etc.).  They do a great job, but I always find myself coming back during the daytime.  Maybe it’s the familiar feeling of catching up with old friends and eating my version of comfort food while watching adorable Northwest families come and go. But maybe it’s also the hope of scoring a ‘Couch Potato’ cookie.

Volunteer Park Cafe, 1501 17th Ave. East, Seattle, WA, 206.328.3155,, (Closed Mondays)



  1. Lex

    one of my most favorite spots in the city and YOU introduced me to it! i will never forget — we ran into keiko and marisa and i indulged in the apple/brie sandie. i especially love introducing other people to the spot. love this post and you!

  2. lyngirl

    Whenever I go there I fantasize moving into the neighborhood and going there every day. It’s a great SAM/Volunteer Park post lunch or tea time.

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