The Mighty Bowl
• Where: 108 W. Eighth St., Vancouver.
• Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday (starting Nov. 11), with lunch starting at 11 a.m.
Decoding the menu for special diets
All items at The Mighty Bowl are:
• Vegetarian, unless you add meat.
• Vegan, unless you add dairy.
• Gluten-free except burritos and toasts (but these have gluten-free options).
Exceptions: The kale caesar has cheese (not vegan) and croutons (not gluten-free); the chicken pesto bowl has meat.
When Steve Valenta started rolling around town in The Mighty Bowl food truck, he didn’t intend to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“When we started, we were just having fun having a food truck,” said Valenta, The Mighty Bowl’s owner. “As we grew, hiring on staff, it dawned on me one day that we are supporting families here. So, it went from we are just having fun to this is serious. Now, what is a sustainable (business) model?”
Valenta eventually concluded that a hybrid model with a brick-and-mortar operation and a food truck would hit a “sweet spot.”
A year ago, The Mighty Bowl took over the Palace Restaurant, opening a kitchen with a takeout window. That recently closed, though, as Valenta opened a restaurant.
Through all of that growth and change, The Mighty Bowl has never wavered on something it set out to do in the beginning — serving real food.
“We want to bring up the food game,” he said. “Food matters so much to our quality of lives. It matters to our health long term. I just think that we have minimized food and food culture in our lives, and we want to put better quality food on stage and make that the forefront of our lives.”
Valenta’s seriousness about serving real food doesn’t translate into a boring dining experience. The new space features something a bit different that Valenta has seen in New York and Los Angeles — bleacher seating.
“Bleachers are kind of a funky, fun thing,” he said. “We thought Vancouver needed a set of bleachers in a restaurant and so we did it.”
Tables and stools at the smoothie/juice bar and window are available to those seeking a more conventional dining experience.
The menu also features some new twists.
For starters, you can now get breakfast — smoothies, juice, smoothie bowls and avocado toast — from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the blue tile ringed smoothie/juice bar.
Bowls, salads, and burritos (and breakfast items) are served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There are two lines — if you don’t know which line to use, just ask for help.
On my first visit, I had the coconut curry bowl and a Be Illin’ juice (celery, cucumber, apple, kale, lemon, ginger, spinach). The coconut curry was luscious with a dash of spiciness. The vegetables were cooked just right, succulent with a bit of bite left in them. The Be Illin’ juice was refreshing with a nice zestiness from the fresh ginger.
Another time, I tried the avocado toast and the kale caesar. The avocado toast was judiciously sprinkled with chopped scallions, red pepper flakes, sea salt pepper and lime juice. The kale caesar was unbelievably good. The kale was crispy and crinkly, coated with creamy, garlic-y and lemon-y dressing. On my next visit, I plan on trying the cashew broccoli bowl (with housemade cashew cream) and checking out the bleacher seating.
The prices are higher than Mighty Bowl’s food truck prices. Steve explained that prices haven’t been raised in two years (despite increases in cost) and he isn’t interested in joining, “the race to the bottom,” by using cheaper frozen or processed foods.
The next steps for The Mighty Bowl are dinner and weekend service, as well as group orders and catering. Their food truck will still roam the streets, but with less of a downtown presence in order to reach other parts of the county, bringing “real food” packed with flavor.
Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at email@example.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.