Category Archives: Restaurants


2000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
206. 441.1430

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On our 42nd wedding anniversary, my beloved pusher and I decided to check out Lola for breakfast.  My older daughter and her miracle of a husband have breakfast or lunch at Lola when there’s even the slightest reason for a celebration, such as:  “It’s Saturday and we’re up before 10!!  LOLA!!”  or “It’s Saturday and we slept in past 10!!  LOLA!!” They are such fans that they lovingly checked out every wheelchair detail and urged us to try it out, telling us which table to request when we called to make a reservation and which door to enter.

How good was Lola?  The truth is that I could not get a photo of the full plate of warm, made-when-you-order-them doughnuts (accompanied by a sinful vanilla mascarpone spread and blackberry jam) because we had scarfed all but one of those doughnuts down before I could get my phone out of my pocket.  Our eggs benedict breakfasts were delicious—his with a steep pile of ham and mine with a bed of ripe cherry tomatoes and snappy arugula under the perfectly poached eggs and rich hollandaise sauce.  And those potatoes!  Little creamers boiled, smashed, and then fried—utterly amazing.  On top of that, our server was kind and attentive.  We were grateful to have this sweet celebration with only the tiniest of access issues.


Continue reading Lola


600 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
206. 402.4588

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Each year four of us go out on the town for one amazing dinner to celebrate all of our birthdays.  These are two of our dearest friends, and our challenge for these meals is to deny ourselves nothing, which usually leads to the four of us spending so much money on the meal that we are embarrassed to tell anyone about it.  The excess and fiscal irresponsibility of this celebration means that we cannot repeat it in a given year; hence, the one meal out for the four special days.


This year, we decided to celebrate at Loulay, the new restaurant of Seattle’s revered chef-in-the-hat, Thierry Rautureau.  My beloved pusher called ahead and had a conversation with the hostess about seating.  The restaurant has two levels—one up a long staircase—and we needed to be sure our reserved table was on the ground floor with a clear passage to the restrooms, he told her.  She said she had just the table for us. And she did!

Our amazing meal was lit by a charming French candle.   Two of us have special dietary needs, so some of us feasted on crab beignets, oysters, foie gras, sweet polenta with mushrooms, beet carpaccio with smoked salmon and chevre,  salmon with red beans, roasted chicken, the chef’s hot chocolate with toasted brioche and salted butter…well, embarrassingly, the list goes on. The evening was a delight to the senses, and we sang the virtues of everything we ate to each other, praising the chef-in-the-hat, himself, when he stopped by our table.  “Thank you,” I told him, “for making your restaurant so accommodating to those of us in wheelchairs.”  “I love everyone,” Mr. Rautureau responded, “and I want my restaurant to be one everyone can enjoy.”


And enjoy it we did!  The food was amazing; the space felt welcoming; and our server never smirked even once when we kept adding to our order.

Continue reading Loulay

Wild Ginger

1401 Third Avenue
Corner of Third and Union
Seattle, WA 98101

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On a furiously stormy January night, we needed a place to celebrate the new year with our dear friends from Oregon.  One of us is a vegan; one of us ventures into the animal kingdom only for certain kinds of fish; and two of us eat everything humanly possible.  We needed a place that could accommodate all food desires deliciously with comfortable space for a wheelchair,  so we reserved a spot at the aromatic candlelit haven that is Wild Ginger.


Looking out the Wild Ginger windows at the gloom of downtown Seattle on a windy rain-cloaked night, we felt as though we were safely tucked away in a warm place that would serve us a lovely meal, and we were not disappointed.  We all shared lively spring rolls with a pineapple dipping sauce to start. Our omnivores chucked down oysters, prawns, and chicken; our vegan chose a couple of savory small plates from the vegan/vegetarian menu, including a pumpkin soup; and our vegetarian fish eater had an amazing tofu and eggplant dish with a stolen prawn on the side.


The wait staff were divine—attentive and negligent exactly when we wanted them to be.  They let us take our time so we could enjoy each other and this very sweet and—with the exception of parking–accessible spot.

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Stanford’s Restaurant

Northgate Mall
401 NE Northgate Way Ste. 1106
Seattle, WA 98125

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After risking our lives with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in the interstellar search for a planet that could support human life, we and our fellow travelers—dear friends of 30 years—needed a good meal.  So we shuttled on over to Stanford’s from the movie theater, a trip demanding no suiting up or oxygen tanks.

Stanford’s, a free-standing restaurant at the northwest tip of Northgate mall, is one of a chain of nine restaurants located primarily in the Portland area.   Stanford’s has an older feel to it than some Seattle restaurants, and, indeed, we weren’t the only gray-beards in the place as we sometimes are.  The menu is wide-ranging, offering just about everything from pizza to prime rib to delectable desserts, including a warm apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce.


We had a wonderful meal there, a conversation that we could all hear, and an easy time getting in and out.  Stanford’s is a good dining choice for those searching for a restaurant in our galaxy that can support wheelchair diners.

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University Village
2630 NE University Village St,
Seattle, WA 98105

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On a cold, rainy day of shopping at the University Village, my beloved pusher and I decided that Elemental might be a cozy place for a late lunch.  Located in the north end of the ever-expanding shopping center, Elemental specializes in a big selection of wood-fired pizzas that can accommodate gluten-free diets, vegan cheese needs,  meat-worshippers’ desires, and the obsessions of potato lovers alike.  Many of the toppings, along with the flour used in the pizza dough, are locally sourced.  In addition, Elemental serves delicious appetizers, such as the wood-fired cauliflower shown in the picture above, and hearty sandwiches, including the grilled veggie shown in the photo below.


The food at Elemental is tasty, and the servers are sweet and generous.  However, the path in and out is tight and bathroom access is extremely challenging, making Elemental a less than optimal choice for wheelchair diners.

Continue reading Elemental

Din Tai Fung

University Village
2621 NE 46th Street
Seattle, WA 98105

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I grew up in a time and place where “ethnic food” meant Chicken Chow Mein at the only Chinese restaurant in town, a place which also served burgers.  That’s why—when I find myself at a place like Din Tai Fung picking up the sweetest vegetarian Taiwanese dumpling on earth in my chopsticks, dipping it in a tasty ginger/soy/vinegar sauce, and popping it in my mouth—I feel lucky.


And make no mistake here:  these aren’t just any old dumplings.  So light they might float from their steamer basket, these dumplings are plump with their spinach and tofu-stuffing and so delicious that you think about them days later.  Dumplings aren’t the only wonderful things to eat at Din Tai Fung.  There are spareribs, katsu, fried noodles, broccoli (or green beans or spinach) with garlic, and delicious mango smoothie/slushes, along with a wide range of other choices—all of them yummy.

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I recommend that you order more than you can eat so you can take the leftovers home.  When you do, the waitstaff—all of them kind and attentive—will pack the leftovers in a beautiful little bag.


When you open that bag, you’ll find your leftover dumplings inside along with little containers of soy, ginger, and vinegar, so you can re-make the dipping sauce.


This kind of attention to detail at Din Tai Fung is completely accessible to all.  Easy parking, spacious passageways between ample tables, and a perfect bathroom make this restaurant a delicious choice for wheelchair travelers.

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Road Trip

Seattle, Washington to Albany, Oregon

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I have loved road trips all my life.  I especially love riding in the car with my beloved pusher as night gathers and stars take the sky or as the gray rain drives down.  The car is an intimate space for talking and sharing music or a book on tape, and “heading down the highway” is a compelling if incorrect metaphor for our lives.

However, since arthritis has settled into my hip, knee, and shoulder joints, I can barely last an hour in the car before the pain catapults me out.  Therefore, it was with some anxiety that I began the trip to Jonathan and Maddi’s wedding in Oregon.  Jonathan is a deeply loved young man whom we rocked to sleep when he was two days old and whom we have walked with through all the days since.  Maddi, his bride, is a lovely and courageous young woman whom we have known and loved for all the years that Jonathan has known and loved her.  There was no way we were NOT going to that wedding!


Armed with a heating pad that plugs into our car lighter space, pillows to brace my knee against the car door, and ibuprofen–and tilting my car seat to the setting suggested by my beautiful and brilliant physical therapist–we headed out.

Jon and Maddi’s wedding was wonderful, but this review only tells the ADA part of the story.  It includes reviews of a motel and restaurant in Castle Rock, WA; a motel, restaurant, and wedding venue in Albany, OR; and three bathrooms in between.  The URLs for all reviewed sites are listed at the end of this review.


Continue reading Road Trip

Blue C Sushi

University Village
4601 26th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

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“Goodness in motion” is the motto of Blue C Sushi, a California and Washington chain of sushi restaurants that feature a conveyer belt of sushi, rolls, spinach, katsu, and other dishes circumnavigating the dining area.  When you see something you want, you pull it off its little stand; add the soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger provided in generous quantities at your seat; and enjoy.  The little traveling stands that hold the dishes include the ingredients in the item and note whether it is cooked or raw.  Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan items are available.


You can also order off the menu, but that is not nearly as much fun as waiting for the conveyer to bring you new surprises in every circuit.  If you are leaning toward the menu because you’re worried about how long that Spicy California Roll has been cruising the dining room, no worries there.  An RFID chip is embedded in each plate, so the staff can monitor how long any item has been making the rounds and remove it when it’s time has come.

The plates circling the room with their many temptations are color coded to prices, from green plates at $2 each to purple at $5.50.  The story the featured image above tells, with its three red and three yellow plates, is that my sweet pusher and I spent $21.75 on a delightful and accessible late lunch earlier this month, not counting the lemongrass lemonade.


Parking:  The newly-built, south end parking garage has wheelchair parking spaces close to elevators. Though spaces are provided and likely the number of them meets ADA requirements, open handicapped parking spaces are scarce at the U Village, often because people without handicapped permits are either parked in them or lurking in them waiting for friends.  It would be great if U Village security made monitoring permit-less use of these spaces a priority.  Once you’ve found a space in the parking garage, take the elevator to the ground floor and “sidewalk level.”  Turn left and head west down the sidewalk to Blue C, which is on the southwest corner of the U Village.

Entrances:  The entrance is wide, step-free, and easy to get through.  In the summer, the restaurant opens the whole front wall, but in either case, entry is pain-free.

Tables:   There are booths at Blue C, but these are not great for wheelchair diners, who would need to sit at the end and ask others to grab that shrimp tempura roll for them.  However, the countertop that winds around the restaurant is perfect and easy to access.  Wait staff are happy to move chairs for you.  A warning though:  Blue C in the U Village is often packed, which may complicate getting that spot that is perfect for you.  We were there after the lunch crowd had left, and we had no problems finding a space that was roomy and close enough so I could snare a fresh vegetable roll from my chair.


Restrooms:   The restrooms are located at the back of the restaurant down a corridor.  Without crowds, it is easy to get to, but if the place is full, you may have to ask one or two people to tuck in as you pass behind them.   The bathroom is great—a large handicapped stall, good toilet paper placement, and a roll-under sink that works for people at any mobility level.


Photos of interior space online:  Yes, on Google images.  The restaurant’s website includes a gallery but photos are not necessarily of THIS Blue C and they don’t show much of the interior space.

Photos of entrances online:  Yes, on Google images

Reservations taken:  I’m not sure, but whether or not they take reservations, I would call ahead to let them know you are coming in a wheelchair and will need a counter space.  Tell them Spoken Wheel recommended them!

What the wheelchair pusher has to say:  It’s flat, wide enough to navigate around corners.  The wait staff is really helpful.  I’d give it five wheels!  We’ve already been back and will probably be back again.

Photo credits:  Picture of veggie roll,; picture of restaurant,

Liam’s Restaurant

University Village
2685 NE 46th Street
Seattle, WA 98105

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One sweet summer afternoon mid-week, my pusher and I found ourselves needing to make a run to the University Village, so we decided to stop at Liam’s Restaurant for a late lunch.   For those of us with mobility challenges, restaurant dining a bit before or after the  most popular hours works well,  because we have more table choices and fewer other diners to navigate around.

Liam’s is owned by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese—the Seattle cheese empire that almost single-handedly gave mac and cheese a respectable seat at the restaurant table, both by its comforting self and in its more dressed-up versions (e.g., with prawns, prosciutto, or kale).  We called ahead, and when we arrived, the hostess gave us our choice of available tables, as well a nice bottle of water and a menu.  We picked the table that was the easiest to wheel to–close to the front of the restaurant and on the perimeter.


At Liam’s the delicious choices include the aforementioned mac and cheese dishes, arancini with a Beecher’s smoked surprise inside, mushroom tarts, sandwiches, and salads, as well as “comfort” foods beyond mac and cheese, such as the amazing chocolate pudding in the featured photo above.  How nice that these dishes are accessible to all of us!


Continue reading Liam’s Restaurant

Tilikum Place Cafe

407 Cedar Street
Seattle, WA 98121

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I can picture us–my beloved pusher and me–in our younger days, visiting Seattle from our little Oregon hometown, strolling near the Seattle Center on an early Saturday morning, and stumbling upon Cedar Street.  I can see us finding the lovely little brick restaurant that is the Tilikum Place Café, with its shiny windows looking out onto the tree-shaded street, and entering into the glow of the beautifully appointed restaurant.


I can picture the delight and surprise we would feel perusing the menu, sipping a gorgeously sculpted latte, and receiving the many kindnesses of the servers there.  What a find this lovely café would have been—the ambiance, the amazing Dutch babies and skillet-served,  pea-vine draped eggs, and the loving service–all of it clear evidence that we were not “in Kansas” anymore.


But that vision of meandering from the Kansas of our little Oregon town into Seattle’s Tilikum Place Cafe is an image of us in my walking years.  Unfortunately in my wheelchair years, this lovely and delicious restaurant presents some barriers.

I want to emphasize that the problems here for those of us with mobility limitations are not because of the staff.  When we called for a reservation, the person answering the phone asked how big my wheelchair was and what kind of seating would be easiest for me—a round table?  a rectangular space?  She was clearly aware of and thoughtful about the challenges restaurants can present.  When we arrived, the hostess saw that our reserved table would require navigation through seating so close together all the diners between us and our table would have had to move, so she quickly seated us at an easier-to-access table, pictured below at the end of the red arrow.


When our trip to the bathroom was blocked by extra chairs,  staff quickly and graciously removed them so we could get through and quietly put them back after we returned.

The staff at the Tilikum Place Cafe clearly care about providing a great dining experience for everyone, including those of us with mobility issues.  But like all businesses in older buildings, theTilikum Place Café is somewhat at the mercy of the space it inherited, and–adding a further challenge–of a menu so good that the tightly-placed tables are always going to be filled to capacity.

Continue reading Tilikum Place Cafe