Portland goes by many names: The City of Roses, Bridgetown, PDX and Stumptown to name a few. Currently the largest city by population in the state of Oregon, Portland has a plethora of restaurants, shops and grocers catering to vegans. Because of this, Portland was rated the #2 Most Vegan-Friendly City of 2013 by PETA (source).
Below is a list of establishments I visited while in Portland. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it will give you a good idea of what places to stop by while visiting.
Back to Eden Bakery
Back to Eden is a 100% vegan and gluten-free bakery serving various pastries, ice creams, lunch items and beverages. Catering to any food sensitivities you may have, Back to Eden provides many raw, soy and sugar-free delectables. I stopped by this bakery twice while in Portland. Opting for their Boston Cream Mini Cake, I ate the whole darn thing in one sitting. While the cake seemed a little over-baked and dry, and the flavor didn’t remind me of traditional Boston Cream Pie, it was still good (and beautiful to look at). I wanted to try one of their shakes or sundaes on my second visit but alas, I was too full.
Many sing the praises of Blossoming Lotus‘ weekend brunch and they are right to do so! With mouth-watering choices like a Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll and Zucchini Bread French Toast, this upscale restaurant covers its bases with the basics in addition to creative alternatives. The name alone sold me on the cinnamon roll so I ordered that as a starter and split it with my sister. After devouring half of this mammoth 5-inch plus cinnamon roll, I was already beginning to feel full. This thing alone could be a meal! Crazy enough, I also split the Lotus Benedict, which is “a split biscuit topped with tofu scramble, sausage patties, sliced tomato, wilted spinach, and hollandaise, served with steamed greens” and the Breakfast Burrito, filled with “tofu scramble, roasted potatoes, kale, tomato, avocado, red onion, coconut bacon, and cashew sour cream” with my sister. Needless to say we had leftovers!
Bob’s Red Mill World Headquarters Tour / Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant, Whole Grain Store and Bakery
If you have a car at your disposal, a fun thing to do is to drive to Milwaukie, OR (approximately 20 minutes south of Portland) and take a tour of Bob’s Red Mill World Headquarters. Offering two daily tours Monday-Friday, the friendly folks at Bob’s Red Mill will guide you through the factory where you can see each stage of the production process, and if you’re lucky, you may even get to meet Bob himself! After the tour (or before, if you prefer), you can visit Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant, Whole Grain Store and Bakery about a mile down the road, where you can shop for any Bob’s Red Mill product imaginable. Attached to the store is their bakery, which features a couple of vegan items, and on the other end is their restaurant. Though I had already enjoyed breakfast before visiting, I was happy to see that their menu has its very own vegan section!
Cacao is a small specialty chocolate shop downtown, which offers solid chocolates from around the world, in addition to drinking chocolate and hot cocoa. The carefully selected chocolate sold here is chosen based upon criteria such as small manufacturers, organic and fair trade practices, and value pricing, just to name a few. Upon perusing Cacao’s shelves for vegan goodies, my eyes fell upon a jar of Hot Cakes Caramel Sauce. Never having tried this particular brand, I quickly snatched it up. The introductory flavors are very pleasant and finish with a slightly darker burnt flavor. Cacao also offers various vegan chocolates should you so desire.
A self-serve yogurt and smoothie place located in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Place Mall, Chef Fresh offers 12 different house-made rotating flavors, with 2-4 being 100% plant-based. The flavors on hand while I visited were Nutella (fashioned after the popular non-vegan spread), vanilla creamsicle and another one, which unfortunately, I cannot remember. In addition, Chef Fresh offers various toppings for you to enjoy with your soft serve. If you aren’t sure which are vegan, the friendly ladies behind the counter are happy to help. Dish out as much or as little soft serve as you want, top it with your desired toppings, then take your treat up to the counter where they will weigh it and charge you by the ounce.
A 100% vegetarian food cart located in downtown Portland, D.C. Vegetarian makes their own seitan and offers a vegan alternative for every item on their menu. A favorite among many, this food cart offers brunch and lunch every day of the week except for Sunday (as of this posting). Opting to visit D.C. Vegetarian twice during my trip, I enjoyed their Sausage, (Not)Egg and Cheese sandwich for brunch, which was topped off with avocado, tomato and roasted red pepper sauce, and on the second trip had their Chicken Salad Sub (no picture, sorry) for lunch. “A mixture of soy curls, Beyond Meat, celery, red onion, and Vegenaise with lettuce and tomato,” their Chicken Salad Sub was very filling. Though I would have liked a little added flavor, it was still very good. My sister had the Italian Sub (not pictured) and it was delicious.
Departure Restaurant + Lounge
Departure Restaurant + Lounge is an upscale roof-top establishment located above The Nines hotel and features various Asian-inspired dishes, a few of which are vegan. With a bar that opens to the outdoor lounge area, Departure is the place to be when you want a fancy evening out. Hearing great things about their Departure Banana Split, I stopped by and got one to go. Consisting of “banana tempura, cherry compote, miso butterscotch, peanut brittle ice cream,” and topped with peanuts, this treat is possibly the most intricate and most well thought out dessert I have had in Portland. Word has it that the peanut brittle ice cream is from the popular Salt & Straw ice cream shop.
The FLAVOURspot is a creative waffle sandwich food cart with two locations. Though they have a small menu consisting primarily of meat-based options, they DO have three vegan options: Vegan Sausage & Maple, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and PBM (peanut butter and maple). I decided on the Vegan Sausage & Maple waffle sandwich, which featured 2-3 vegan sausage patties (which I believe to be Gimme Lean) and The FLAVOURspot’s organic pure maple spread. The smell alone of this sandwich is enough to make your mouth water, so devouring the entire thing was no problem for me. I would definitely order it again and would love to try their other vegan options.
Food Fight! Grocery
Part of the first, and only (that I know of), vegan mini-mall, Food Fight! Grocery is a small 100% vegan grocery store selling the obvious groceries in addition to household and personal items, as well as apparel and accessories. Trying not to spend TOO much money, I settled on some Earth Balance Vegan White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Sol Cuisine Veggie Breakfast Patties and a Caramel Cashew Bar from Amy E’s Bakery. You should definitely stop by this store while in Portland and pick up some vegan staples. Support local!
The Fruit Loop
Located in Hood River County, approximately an hour and 15 minute drive east of Portland, The Fruit Loop is basically a loop of various farms and fruit stands running along highways 35 and 281. Offering seasonal produce, many allow you to pick your own, which is what my friends and I opted to do. Needless to say, we ended up with the freshest and most delicious blueberries and strawberries we had ever had. Nothing makes you appreciate fruit like U-pick and it is fun for the whole family!
Starting out as a food truck in 2006, Los Gorditos‘ popularity quickly grew, which caused them to later open two restaurant locations. Los Gorditos provides a separate vegan menu with multiple items to choose from including various tacos, burritos and other plates, and from what I understand, they are all good. Having visited the Pearl restaurant location, I decided on the Soy Curl Fajita Burrito and was very pleased with it. Seasoned perfectly, this burrito was stuffed with “soy curls, grilled fajita veggies, beans, rice, onion & cilantro.” I thoroughly enjoyed it and wished I was able to visit a second time so that I could order it again! Does anyone want to ship one to me?
Located in the vegan mini-mall, Herbivore Clothing is a 100% vegan clothing shop that also sells various accessories, household items and books. Need a hoodie to proclaim your vegan awesomeness? Want a leather-free belt? How about a beverage cozie? They’ve got them all, and luckily for us we can order them online! Keep in mind, however, that their shirts run small.
Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ
Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ is a 100% vegan food truck that serves various comfort food items. Aside from their regular menu, they offer a different special each day, which keeps the crowds coming back. After browsing through the menu, it was difficult to decide on what to get, but finally my sister and I decided on the Grilled Hyam and Cheese (not pictured), which is “Applewood smoked maple-ginger hyam, tomato, Daiya mozzarella, Mellow Yellow, and Nocheese sauces on grilled sourdough,” and the Macnocheeto Burrito (“Smoked soy curls, creamy Macnocheese, BBQ beans, grilled peppers, onions and Maple-Bourbon BBQ sauce all wrapped up in a grilled wheat tortilla”). It was a hot and sunny day so I topped it off with an Arnold Palmer.
New Seasons Market
Giving Whole Foods a run for their money, New Seasons Market is a locally owned chain of health food stores offering various food and household items. They support local businesses and provide health-conscious consumers with multiple options, many of which are vegan. I recommend stopping by, just to see what kinds of goodies they may have.
Located on the east side of Portland is Paradox Cafe, a 100% vegetarian restaurant with multiple vegan options. Paradox Cafe serves brunch all day (in addition to lunch and other items) and focuses on freshly made food that is easy on your wallet. Because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I chose their Country Comfort dish, which has tofu, veggies, breakfast potatoes and a whole wheat biscuit topped with almond gravy. The potatoes and other vegetables were nicely seasoned, however, I wasn’t pleased with the biscuits as they were too light and tender. My sister opted for the Supa-Dupa Sandwich, which consisted of “tomato, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, [vegan] cream cheese and cranberry chutney served on Good Seed bread.”
People’s Food Co-op
A local, community-owned co-operative, People’s Food Co-op has a nice selection of vegan items, including some that are hard to find. One such item is the Snackrilege line of sandwiches, which is 100% plant-based. For my plane ride out of Portland, I opted for the Joey DeMayo sandwich, which features “red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, seitan and balsamic vinaigrette Vegenaise, all on a Portland French Bakery Ciabatta roll.” People’s also sells fabulously soft and chewy cookies in a variety of flavors including chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip and snickerdoodle. I regret not taking photos of my sandwich but I did snap a picture of the cookie…it was DELICIOUS.
Petunia’s Pies & Pastries
A super cute shop located in downtown Portland, Petunia’s Pies & Pastries is another 100% vegan and gluten-free bakery. I stopped into Petunia’s around noon one day for an Ice Cream Sundae (hey, I was on vacation okay?) featuring a scoop each of coconut and salted caramel chocolate ice cream, topped with house-made salted caramel sauce, peanut butter and cookie dough pieces. Also enjoyed during my trip was a Salted Caramel Cookie Bar, a Peanut Butter Crispy bar and a Root Beer Float. Heavenly!
Portobello Vegan Trattoria
Portobello Vegan Trattoria is a must if you are visiting Portland. This upscale Italian restaurant is very popular so reservations are highly recommended. Offering dishes featuring seasonal ingredients, Portobello’s dishes have light, yet very satisfying flavors. Perhaps their most popular appetizer is their Beet Tartare, which features “diced roasted beets with carrot aioli, fines herbes & capers atop cashew puree with olive oil, sea salt and toast.” As a matter of fact, my Beet Tartare with Cashew Cheese recipe was inspired by this very dish. Enjoying an order of this and their Mushroom Arancini, which are “crispy mushroom and risotto fritters with tomato basil sauce,” we were off to a delicious start. For dinner we enjoyed a large plate of the Mushroom Leek Ravioli (“mushroom and cashew cheese filled ravioli with caramelized onion cashew cream sauce”) and a small plate of Zita’s Cavatelli (“house made cavatelli noodles with brocolini, capers, oyster mushrooms finished with bread crumbs”). Regrettably I did not have room for one of their fabulous desserts or cocktails, but dinner was delicious.
Powell’s City of Books
Located in downtown Portland, Powell’s City of Books is the largest new and used bookstore in the world. This bookstore is so large, it takes up an entire city block and recently opened up a second building for their overflow, right across the street. Consisting of nine color-coded rooms which feature over one million books in total, Powell’s is THE place to go if you would like to buy a book (or ten). Unlike other bookstores, Powell’s has a good two isles full of vegan books! I, of course, couldn’t leave without purchasing a book and my choice was the 365 Vegan Smoothies cookbook, which is currently assisting with my detox from all the Portland gluttony!
Open until after 2am each day, Sizzle Pie has two locations in Portland. Though not a vegan or even vegetarian establishment, this pizza joint offers a variety of vegan options. With ten vegan pizzas, three salads and breadsticks with four signature sauces to choose from, Sizzle Pie is possibly the most popular pizza place in Portland among vegans. One such reason may be because they offer breakfast pizza! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to eat here for breakfast, but I did enjoy a slice of their Bad Reputation pizza and an order of breadsticks with their marinara and two signature dipping sauces.
Sweetpea Baking Company
Perhaps the most well known 100% vegan bakery in all of Portland is Sweetpea Baking Company. Part of the vegan mini-mall, this bakery has been around since 2008 and offers various pastries, breakfast, lunch and beverage items. After stopping into Food Fight! Grocery and Herbivore Clothing, I finished my vegan mini-mall trip at Sweetpea. From what I understand, their busiest time is in the mornings, so when I visited in the afternoon, the pickings were somewhat slim. After quickly browsing their selection, I decided on a peanut butter brownie and enjoyed every bite of it. You know how I am with peanut butter. My only regret is that the already healthy size wasn’t even larger.
Veggie Grill is a 100% vegan fast food chain with various healthy salads, bowls and plates, sandwiches, beverages, and desserts to choose from. Opting for the “Crab” Cake (“Crispy ‘Crab’ cake, spiced tartar sauce, pickles, tomato, lettuce, red onion”) and a side of seasoned Yukon Gold fries, I was very pleased with the flavor, though I certainly could have used more tartar sauce. I was also hoping for more food for the price. Regardless, I enjoyed my food and even went back a second time for their Chill Out Wings (not pictured), which are their Chickn’ wings “with tangy BBQ sauce and chipotle ranch.” If you like Native Foods, you will surely enjoy Veggie Grill, which seems to have even more items to choose from.
Just down the street from Back to Eden Bakery is Vita Cafe. While not 100% vegan or even vegetarian, this place is very vegan-friendly. Vita Cafe features multiple plant-based options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. I had the pleasure of visiting Vita Cafe twice while in Portland, once for dinner and once for brunch. For dinner I couldn’t choose just one thing to eat so my sister and I each ordered a dish and then split them. I chose the ‘Fish’ and Chips, which is “battered and deep-fried tofu with fresh-cut fries + vegan tartar.” The tartar sauce was tasty and unique, featuring a familiar ingredient that I just couldn’t put my finger on. The other choice at my table was the Vegan Club Sandwich featuring “organic tempeh ‘fakin’, homemade faux turkey, vegan mayo, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato between 3 layers of toasted sourdough bread.” This sandwich had a variety of flavors that meshed well together and was very good.
For my second trip to Vita Cafe, I ordered their Sloppy Biscuit Sandwich with fried tofu, “faux turkey, [Daiya] cheese, & gravy between a vegan biscuit” with a side of potatoes. While I certainly didn’t have biscuits at every establishment I went to, Vita Cafe has THE best biscuits I’ve had in Portland. This dish was absolutely delicious and I devoured every bite of it, down to the last piece of potato, which was seasoned wonderfully. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. Needless to say, everything I had at Vita Cafe was very good so I highly recommend it for every meal of the day.
If you are familiar with Portland at all, you probably knew this one was coming. Voodoo Doughnut is a must when visiting Portland, especially if you like doughnuts. With the tagline of “The Magic is in the Hole,” you know this place has got some spunk. With two locations in the city, Voodoo almost constantly has a line out the door, filled with adoring fans. Both Portland locations have two separate cases filled with doughnuts, and each case has an entire level dedicated to vegan doughnuts. They feature your classic doughnuts such as regular, maple and chocolate glazed, apple fritters, and cream and jelly filled, in addition to more exciting options with Fruit Loops cereal, Oreos, and other exciting toppings. What’s more, Voodoo takes it a step further by providing a giant glazed doughnut, a voodoo doll doughnut (he is raspberry-filled and has a pretzel stake through his chest), and even a phallic-looking doughnut, that, yes, is cream-filled! If you want a good chuckle and to enjoy some delicious doughnuts, I highly recommend Voodoo — just be prepared to wait in line.
Whole Foods Market
As you know, I always have to visit Whole Foods Market while in a new city. Here I purchased some Mighty-O Donuts Cini Minis, a package of Love Strips featuring Butler Soy Curls, and a box of Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Mac & Cheese. Mighty-O Donuts is a Seattle-based doughnut company so it was exciting to find that I could purchase their Cini Minis (which are delicious, by the way) in Portland. Whole Foods always has various other items I want to buy but there is only so much room in my suitcase!
Have you been to Portland before, or do you currently live there? What are your favorite vegan-friendly places to frequent?