Thursday, July 31, 2008

Veganfriendly on Tour: Portland, Or

Earlier this month we took a trip to the west coast and visited what might be the vegan capitol of America: Portland, Oregon. There were so many vegan-friendly places to eat that we couldn't possibly visit them all. But here are a few in case you want to visit Stumptown any time soon:

Hungry Tiger
Hungry Tiger is a cute, dark, and pub-like place with lots of light coming in through the windows. I ordered the mac n cheese which had yummy breadcrumbs all over it. It would've been awesome cold because the "cheese" would've been thicker and tackier but I scarfed it all down before I could test that theory. -Ev
I got the Scrambled Tofu with Biscuits and Gravy. The Scrambled Tofu was actually somewhere between a Scrambled Tofu and a Tofu and Vegetable stir fry, but it was pretty good. The Biscuits and Gravy were great. Hungry Tiger was definitely worth the visit. -Jim

Proper Eats
Sometimes when a vegetarian restaurant makes a big deal about being organic and local and healthy, I start to worry that the food is going to be bland. But sometimes I get pleasantly surprised by food that is all of those things AND delicious. This was the case at Proper Eats. I ordered the Nachos with all the fixins, so the chips came topped with rice, barley, black beans, salsa, corn-pumpkin seed relish, vegan sour cream, tempeh and guacamole. Sounds good, right? It was! It fulfilled my nacho craving but at the same time it tasted healthy and hearty. Also, the food at Proper Eats is colorful and pretty to look at. We heard some rumors about bad service, but it was fine when we went. -Jim
I thought Proper Eats was a a great cure for all the junkfood we had be scarfing down elsewhere. I ordered a side salad and the Cornmeal Tempeh Platter which came with with tofu-cilantro sour cream, pinto beans, quinoa, steamed greens, beets & seeds. This was really delcious, but I'd say to get the sour cream on side because it was all over the place. The basics were simple but tasty. The tempeh was yummy too but also very filling. -Ev

Sweetpea Vegan Bakery
When I first stepped into Sweetpea I was amazed at how huge it was inside. The high open ceilings and well spaced seating were a far cry from the claustrophobia of Atlas Cafe in NY. Everything looked so good we didn't know what to get. On our first trip in we split a big, moist and chewy pecan caramel brownie- which may or may not have been called a Derby Brownie, as I had just watched a Sons-of-Paula-Deen special on Derby Cake a few days before. It was a little dense but tasty. On our second visit I tried a little pink cookie like they serve in the Italian bakeries. I loved it, but would love it even more if it had been filled with jam rather than chocolate in the middle. Jim got a cupcake. We also split a strawberry parfait, which consisted of chocolate cake, yummy vanilla pudding and strawberries. It was so indulgent and so huge that we could only eat half of it. Sweetpea also has beverages. I was surprised at how good the spicy chai was. -Ev
Sweetpea seems to be THE vegan dessert destination in Portland. And it's part of the "Vegan Mini-Mall" which includes the Herbivore Clothing shop and Food Fight Vegan Grocery. -Jim

We went for Brunch at Veganopolis and were greeted by a cute, cafeteria style restaurant where you grab a tray and fill it with all the food you want, and the price is based on the weight of your tray. It was standard brunch fair: scrambled tofu, potatoes, fruit, and biscuit and gravy. Portland seems to be obsessed with biscuits and gravy. I can't think of anywhere in NYC that I can get vegan biscuits and gravy, but you can get it everywhere in Portland! I think the B+G was my favorite part of the meal at Veganopolis. Overall it was filling and good! -Jim
I thought the brunch here was just OK. But I've heard that their other stuff is really good -Ev

Nutshell is amazing! I would put it on par with the high-class vegan restaurants in NYC, but without any gloom or attitude- which is a very good thing! It is a tremendously spacious restaurant. The fuji apple salad was incredible- it had said apples, beets, microgreens and marion berries. YUM! I got the risotto cakes which were also amazing- so creamy and crusty. Probably the best restaurant in Portland. -Ev
I got the green chile and fruit tamales. Very good! Nutshell was probably my favorite out of the restaurants we visited in Portland. -Jim

The Mississipi Pizza Pub
Mississippi Pizza Pub is located on hip Mississippi Ave. We stopped here to grab some Lunch on the fourth of July. Unlike other Pizza places where you need to special-order a vegan pie, MPP has a vegan pie on hand and you can order by the slice. The vegan pie has Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted garlic, sun dried
tomatoes all on a pesto base. The flavor was great and, I know it's sacrilege for a New Yorker to say this about pizza from another city, but I really liked the crust. It was a really good consistency - crispy but not too crispy. -Jim
I loved this pizza! -Ev

Backspace is a sweet place that is again open and warm. I ordered the steak sammich, which had field roast steak, pepperoncini, peppers, and onions with rosemary basil vegenaise on a baguette. I thought it was deeelicious. It was my first time trying Field Roast which is made from veggies and not tofu. I did order pepperoncini on the side though, cause I don't personally don't like the flavor (Jim does). Jim got the El Jefe which had seitan, beans, guac, peppers and couscous inside a wrap. It was yummy but the ingredients weren't distributed evenly so halfway through it just became cold couscous. -Ev
Yeah there was a weird lump of what appeared to be couscous in the El Jefe. Besides that it was great. -Jim

Jáce Gáce
Apparently the cafe/gallery Jáce Gáce was named after a hang glider who really loved waffles, thus their specialty is waffles. I've never been hang gliding, but I do really love waffles. And Jáce Gáce delivers. Not all of their waffles are vegan, but they have several vegan options including a savory, Tex Mex waffle. I'm a waffle purist, so a savory waffle with beans and avocado isn't my cup of tea. But the Apple Cinnamon waffle that I had was awesome. I think I might have to go on a quest to find the best vegan waffle in NYC. -Jim
I loved both the sweet and savory varieties. YUM! -Ev

The Paradox Cafe was one place we had been to before the last time we flew out to Portland, although with new owners. I had the mac and not cheese with broccoli. It was in a thin, more stroganoff-y sauce but was still good. The biscuits n gravy were delcious and huge. We also split spicy potatoes, chili and cornbread. The cornbread was really sweet, almost like a muffin. I would recommend you eat here if you want large portions and a variety of food with fast service. -Ev
The rumor floating around was that Paradox wouldn't be as good as it was when we visited Portland five years ago, but I liked it just fine! -Jim

The Bottom Line
What can we say? There is just so much vegan food in Portland. I don't know if Portland has more vegan-friendly restaurants than NYC, but it certainly has more vegan restaurants per capita than NYC. Portland is a relatively small, cozy city but it's brimming with vegans and vegan food! Not to mention it's fairly close to other vegan-friendly cities like Seattle and San Francisco. Portland might just be the vegan capitol of the USA. -Jim
We barely scratched the surface of restaurants here. We even went to a vegan waffle cart, had amazing soft serve and curry (separately thank goodness) from Blossoming Lotus at the Let Live Conference, and had slammin' Ethiopian food. I also have to plug Food Fight because it was so awesome to walk into a grocery store and not have to read a single label. Hooray! -Ev


Blogger pinkberry said...

Muuuust get to Portland soon!

Glad you guys had a well-fed vaykay.

1:09 AM, August 12, 2008

Blogger Why Edward Juan? said...

glad you hear you enjoyed portland. I would say Portland and New York City are the two capitols of vegan friendly cities on this continent. You didn't get to try the vegan food carts! At least you went to sweetpea. That place is just to die for.
PS: Did you go to Bye and Bye or Tube, hip vegan bars. vegan white russian and nutritious yeast baked tofu.

4:35 AM, August 12, 2008

Anonymous Foodeater said...

Awesome, I just got done with my own vegan food tour of Portland and it was great... you guys got to a lot of places I didn't. I still haven't been to any city yet though with more vegan options than Los Angeles... at least not yet!

9:43 PM, August 22, 2008

Blogger al oof said...

i have a feeling that there is more good vegan food per capita in portland than here. :( i loooove biscuits and gravy and have never found any vegan here, though i heard sacred chow has them for brunch.

12:30 AM, August 23, 2008

Blogger Vegan_Noodle said...

Great review of vegan Portland! I was there about two years ago and really enjoyed it (didn't try Nutshell or a few of the other places...) but after just visiting NYC, I really think it's a toss uo as to which is more vegan friendly...

12:41 PM, August 27, 2008

Blogger Heather Z said...

I'm vegan and live in P-Town, so it was fun to read reviews from "outsiders". Unfortunately, the place you liked best (Nutshell) is owned by a non-vegan who serves foie gras at his other restaurant. I believe the chef is vegan, but I'm not 100% sure. Yes - definitely try The Tube (bar food for 2 bucks and strong drinks for the same price during happy hour). The Bye and Bye is strictly a vegan bar (food and libations) but more expensive (less than NYC prices though). Next time you should try Laughing Planet (not 100% vegan, several locations), which has incredible wraps with clever names.

1:36 PM, August 31, 2008

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3:00 AM, September 12, 2008

Blogger whoXcares said...

went through your whole it!!!

take care


7:07 PM, September 21, 2008

Blogger brian said...

... uh ... can the vegan tattoo shop located in the vegan mini-mall get a shout? ;) Glad you liked out city!

12:28 AM, September 24, 2008

Blogger brian said...

I guess it would help if I mentioned that it's called Scapegoat Tattoo... Shameless plug, I know...

12:30 AM, September 24, 2008

Blogger pinkberry said...

Have you kids been to Lula's Sweet Apothecary yet?

6:57 AM, November 12, 2008

Blogger Abby said...

I'm so grateful for your Portland rundown as I'll be heading there this month.

And thanks in general for taking the time to write these reviews, they're very helpful!

1:25 PM, December 02, 2008

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1:54 PM, December 16, 2008

Blogger Cody said...



11:13 AM, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you ever coming back? :(

9:40 PM, March 17, 2009

Blogger IsaChandra said...

Hmm, since your last blog, 2 of these restaurants have closed. WTF.

4:53 PM, April 04, 2009

Blogger jenny said...

Come back from Portland and blog about NYC again!!!

4:36 PM, April 14, 2009

Blogger Dean said...

I love Backspace and also Sweetpea --- and I'm not even Vegan! Good food is good food. My wife just gave me some cupcakes for a new place in PDX, found them in the redirect guide - chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting - Goody Two Shoes Bakery - hope I spelled that right. Hold on - --- "Goodie" not "Goody" --- anyway, I'm will check out the other places.

8:22 PM, May 28, 2009

Anonymous Houston Divorce Attorney said...

Portland is perfect for vegans!

4:04 PM, February 05, 2010

Anonymous Patty said...

Everything look great, I think I'm going to have to go try out the Sweetpea Bakery!

2:48 PM, March 11, 2010

Anonymous Cindy said...

I've never been to a vegan bakery. Great idea.

10:41 PM, March 24, 2010

Anonymous Luis Fernández said...

Have to try it, yummy yummy

8:58 PM, January 15, 2011

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