The Proctor neighborhood soon will be gaining a vegan restaurant. Viva Tacoma plans to open at 2602 N. Proctor as soon as final inspections are completed. UPDATE 9/2/2014: The restaurant is now open.
The restaurant might be new, but the chef is someone South Sound vegan and raw diners will recognize. Francisco “Paco” Hernandez most recently was the chef of AmeRAWcan Bistro, a raw-vegan restaurant that operated in the St. Helens neighborhood from August 2011 until May 2014 when owner Darrin London closed the restaurant to focus on another business.
Hernandez is a graduate of the Western Culinary Institute. Before moving to Tacoma, he cooked at a Portland vegan restaurant. His role at AmeRAWcan Bistro combined his vegan-cooking expertise with the concept of “raw cooking,” a style of cuisine in which foods have been minimally handled and “cooked” below 116 degrees in order to preserve as much of the nutrients as possible. Low-heat dehydration is one example of a raw cooking technique.
Hernandez will transport a few AmeRAWcan Bistro menu staples to Viva. He said he’ll serve the bistro’s popular raw enchiladas, a dish of cashew nut tortillas filled with almond cheese, walnuts and sweet red peppers. Raw soups that Hernandez made at AmeRAWcan Bistro also will be on the menu.
Unlike AmeRAWcan Bistro, half the menu at Viva Tacoma will be cooked. Hernandez described the menu, during a phone interview yesterday, as about half vegan cooked, and half vegan raw. All dishes, however, will lean on healthful ingredients and won't include animal products.
The cafe will add a much needed vegan restaurant to Tacoma’s small vegan dining community. The popular Caffe Dei closed in late 2012, but Quickie Too remains a vegan staple in the Hilltop neighborhood. Tacoma does, however, have several restaurants that are veg-leaning, even if they aren’t exclusively vegetarian or vegan. (A few to explore are Marrow in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood and Hilltop Kitchen in the Hilltop neighborhood.)
For those with dietary restrictions, the menu at Viva will list vegan and raw dishes, but also will identify sugar-free and gluten-free dishes on the menu.
The 25-seat Viva will be in the back-of-the-building space where Capers Café and Take-Home previously operated, just off Proctor (in the same building that houses Starbuck’s at 26th and Proctor).
Expect tableside service at Viva, but also take-out lunch options. The cafe will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, with brunch only on Sunday (the cafe will be closed Monday).
Opening the restaurant with Hernandez are business partners who are new to the restaurant world, Nancy Parkison and Rich Baker.
Where: 2602 N. Proctor. More info at facebook.com/vivatacoma
Serving: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday; brunch on Sundays. Closed Mondays.