Every month, we dig through our restaurant listings to bring you a themed (and non-comprehensive!) roundup of places to eat out in Portland. In the September 2017 issue, we highlight 17 spots great for vegans and vegetarians.
VEGAN OPTIONS Now the mothership of chef-turned-restarateur Joshua McFadden’s small but growing fleet of east-side eateries, Ava Gene’s swings like an indie brasserie. It’s a place to indulge in everything that makes Portland tick, as exacting ingredients, garage-rock scruffiness, shameless Europhilia, cocktail savvy, and Italian wine are reconfigured into a new standard of dining: marble clad, service intensive, and soaring behind what sounds like a director’s cut of iconic rock. Traditional limitations of “rustic” food are erased between the wood-charred breads, vegetable intensity, and satisfying pastas.
VEGAN A team of worldly chefs takes inspiration from Tel Aviv, with a menu of standout meatless Israeli dishes—often spiced with vivid green parsley-cilantro tsug and puckery mango and mustard seed amba. Inside the former vegan-Italian stalwart Portobello, Aviv focuses on vegan Israeli recipes both traditional and modern—think falafel bowls and soy curl shawarma fries smothered in hummus, tahini, and a trio of house-made sauces, plus bourekas (pastries) and pita baked in-house.
VEGAN OPTIONS Prolific comfort food purveyors Micah Camden and Katie Poppe’s doughnut shop “for grown-ups” is a true, Portland-style sugar high. The Little Big Burger duo deftly mash up the city’s artisan-ingredient obsession with fried sweets. Five years in, with locations in nearly every quadrant of the city (not to mention outposts in LA and Tokyo) their clever brioche-dough offerings, from herby-tart blueberry bourbon basil to Valrhona chocolate crunch, threaten to dethrone Voodoo Doughnut as the city’s king dough pusher altogether.
VEGAN Inside this Ikea-chic vegan haven, a world of fresh-fruit smoothies and healthful bowls awaits. You want the walnut taco salad: a frill of sliced avocado, a mountain of greens from Greenville Farms, plus chunky pico de gallo, crunchy walnut paste, and a garlicky cashew “nacho” spread primed by tangy bell pepper. Mix in a side of rice for the full taco salad effect.
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN OPTIONS Cart-born falafel spot ChickPeaDX is the handiwork of Israel native Yair Maidan, who expands beyond the falafel sandwich with salads and bowls. For the full experience, mix and match a combo platter of wickedly spicy fried cauliflower drizzled with basil-mint-tahini sauce alongside a warm freekeh salad with braised leeks, puréed black futsu squash, and a glug of garlic-cilantro zhug. Inspired dips, from super-fresh, creamy hummus to lemony, whipped labneh yogurt, boost the main attraction: fluffy, fresh-ground Washington chickpeas fried to achieve a thick, lusciously textured shell. It’s the best falafel in the city right now.
VEGAN OPTIONS There is something distinctly mysterious and foreign about Dove Vivi’s crust, but it is inarguably good. An amalgamation of locally milled organic cornmeal, Washington-grown wheat flour, olive oil, salt, and yeast results in a half-inch-thick slice, elaborately textured and slightly crispy. Sink your incisors into the kitchen’s cult classic: fresh sweet corn, smoked mozzarella, and balsamic red onions. But check the specials list for unlikely combos and the realization that, somehow, handcrafted corned beef, sauerkraut, and zucchini pickle relish make sense on a cornmeal crust served in a humble, fun-loving neighborhood spot.
VEGAN OPTIONS East Glisan’s self-proclaimed “pizza commander,” Vallery Markel, is so obsessed with pizza that in her spare time she cohosts her own podcast, Pie Talk, in the vein of NPR’s Car Talk. The crust on her pizza, a cracker-thin sourdough stratum that most closely resembles her native melting-pot Midwest style, comes loaded with farm-fresh bitter rapini, chile flake, and provolone along with a winter-appropriate kale, bacon, potato, and smoked mozzarella number set in a slick of cream. It helps that Markel trained under Italian matriarch Cathy Whims, who taught her the secrets to the perfect meatball pie, crowned with excellent, golfball-size pork rounds bound in garlic, thyme, and leftover pizza sourdough crumbs.
VEGAN OPTIONS The dye-free sprinkles have landed. So have organic gummi bears, gluten-free animal crackers, Pinkleton’s Curious Caramel Corn, and crushed chocolate-gobbed cookies from Portland’s lauded Bakeshop. Carefully curated toppings star at Eb & Bean, an artisan, soft-serve frozen yogurt pioneer that features the milk of happy, co-op cows, one table (communal), and blackboard shout-outs to local purveyors. Dessert fiends are hooked on the aptly named “Tart” fro-yo, squiggled beneath a brisk blast of marionberry compote. Don’t miss the rich almond- and coconut-milk flavors.
VEGAN Chef Aaron Adams’s self-assured Buckman dining room boasts whimsical modernist vegan tasting menus and grand, self-imposed sourcing limits. (Nearly everything on the menu comes from less than 100 miles away.) Sit at his long chef’s counter, and his pure devotion to local fruits and vegetables shines. Carrots cook sous vide in their own sweet juices before getting seared black in cast iron, like steaks. Skinned, dehydrated tomatoes masquerade as strawberries, each a one-bite burst of late-summer salty sweetness. One dish holds the lilting sense memory of sitting in a grassy field as a kid; another tastes like clarified pond scum, little rounds of Swiss chard standing in for lily pads. Farm Spirit isn’t just “great for a vegan restaurant.” It’s great. Period.
VEGAN The brick-and-mortar home of plant-based eatery Homegrown Smoker continues its legacy of convincing vegan Southern comfort food, with sweet, pulled pork–style soy curls, crispy fried faux-fish sandos, and hefty, juicy, slow-smoked seitan burgers topped with creamy, dairy-free “macnocheese.” It’s the sliced “schmeats”—deftly seasoned soy curls, tempeh, and seitan, smoked in-house for hours over applewood chips—that we can’t stop coming back for. This place excels at rib-sticking comfort ... even for the meat lovers among us.
VEGAN Ichiza brings pan-Asian vegan small plates and oolong tea service to Goose Hollow, recreating the flavors and recipes of owner Cyrus Ichiza's childhood. Ichiza uses traditional “slow food” techniques and tasty mock meats distributed by Cyrus’s aunt to craft dishes like vegan chicken adobo marinated in coconut vinegar black soy sauce. It’s possible to order one large entrée, but you’re best served filling up on several thoughtful small plates—think bean curd skin, spicy tuna onigiri, sesame broccoli, and kimchi mungbean cakes, all served together on one tray.
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN OPTIONS In Portland, Jamba Juice kiosks and Smoothie King drive-thrus have little hope. Green smoothies rule—packed with enough local fruits, vegetables, honey, and even algae to satisfy our mountain-scaling physiques and above-average IQs. In 2011, Nate Higgins and Nick Armour opened Kure Juice Bar, a ramshackle operation inside a tin shed on SE Hawthorne Boulevard. Now a mini empire, Kure draws lines out the door with its “Extra Mile” smoothie, a heavenly blend of kale, almond butter, and coconut, along with healthful bowls brimming with things like acai berries, probiotics, and matcha.
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN OPTIONS At this friendly, meat-free Indian restaurant, dinner guests are greeted with complementary wine tastings and a tray of crunchy papadum before settling in to enjoy entrees like brightly spiced Punjabi eggplant and creamy mushroom-potato tikka masala. The menu is crafted by Falguni Khanna, a half-Gujarati, half-Punjabi chef who combines her mother’s traditional recipes with Ayurvedic teachings to create ample options for any eater—even ones who eschew meat, gluten, garlic, onions, and dairy. Indeed, herbivores most treasure Maruti for two rarely-veganized Indian staples: doughy garlic naan and tangy-sweet mango lassi.
VEGAN OPTIONS Vegetarians make a beeline to El Nutri Taco, where meatless fixings include chipotle soy curls, tempeh, soyrizo, Beyond Meat chicken and even baked potatoes. Don’t expect grease bombs at this family-owned Mexican restaurant—you’re more likely to find fresh, health-conscious burritos brimming with zucchini, cabbage, jalapeños, salsa fresca, and chipotle aioli. Boasting locations on both SE Woodstock and NE Alberta, the accommodating shop offers dairy-free sour cream and cheese for the vegan crowd, and chicken and pork for determined carnivores.
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN OPTIONS This bright turquoise diner transports patrons to a vegetarian version of the early 1990s, complete with Twin Peaks memorabilia and tunes by Vanilla Ice. If a mushroom-leek-rice patty sounds too hippie-dippy, there’s plenty more to try—think buffalo “chz” fries, boozy coconut milkshakes, and gooey vegan mac-and-cheese casseroles. Return in the morning to see the space magically transformed into A.N.D. Café, a vegan-friendly brunch spot cherished for waffles with toppings sweet (pumpkin cheesecake) and savory (gluten-free fried “chicken”).
VEGAN Three words making downtowners’ mornings brighter: vegan tahini scramble. Who knew? Set in the lobby of the iconic US Bancorp Tower, this teeny café from the crew at Indian microbar the Sudra has become a favorite of Big Pink regulars, with lines frequently spilling into the hallway for charred veggie- and spice-packed tofu scrambles (that put eggy competitors to shame) and fluffy stacks of chai-spiced pancakes slathered in blueberry-coconut compote. If you’re looking to linger over a long brunch, this ain’t the spot. Instead, grab a hearty breakfast burrito—packed tight with anything and everything from long-simmered black beans to chickpeas, nutty tahini-dressed kale, or banana peppers—and a peanut butter–banana hemp milk smoothie, then head back to your desk the happiest worker bee in the hive.
VEGAN This plant-based, Vancouver, BC–born pizzeria debuted its Portland digs in 2017, with two house-made doughs (regular and gluten-free), three signature cheeses (cashew mozzarella, tofu feta, and truffle almond ricotta), and creative toppings like gochujang-braised jackfruit and spicy buffalo cauliflower. Save room for dessert: the eatery features coffee with pastries from Shoofly Vegan Bakery, plus ice cream scoops, pints, sandwiches, and flights (turmeric and black pepper anyone?).
→ The vegan pizza spot is rolling out a new happy hour ($10 pies, $4 pints) and a brunch menu starring breakfast pies like the Sunny Side, with chorizo patties, cashew hollandaise, and chipotle aioli.