Portland's 10 Best Guilt-Free Dishes

Vegan sushi, Paleo parfaits, bracingly acidic ceviche, and salads a-plenty...there's a whole new world of healthy dining out there, and it's delicious.

By Benjamin Tepler, Allison Jones, Kelly Clarke, and Tuck Woodstock July 17, 2014 Published in the Health Annual: Summer 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Farm-to-Chef Bento

Chef Naoko

One part Japanese efficiency, one part Oregon seasonality, Chef Naoko’s geometric lunch gridlocks bites of tamagoyaki (a sweet, rectangular Japanese omelet) with silky, local miso-daubed Ota tofu, top-quality Draper Valley chicken, and a market-fresh salad from perennial favorite Gathering Together Farms. $13

Paleo Parfait

Dick's Kitchen

It’s hard to go wrong with fresh Oregon marionberries. But it’s also rare to find them this well treated, perched like a crown atop a healthy dollop of vanilla- and lemon-tinged chilled cashew cream. Sprinkled throughout: a sweet, crunchy mélange of almond, cocoa, and maple syrup, binding the parts into a perfect sum of guilt-free indulgence—served in a martini glass. $4.75

Cebiche de Pascado "5 Elementos"


The Peruvian classic gets a seasonal spin from the Pearl District’s Novo-Andean eatery, where the fish of the day is “cooked” in citrus and served with sweet potato, corn, and red onion. Try to get each ingredient in every bite to balance sweet, salt, and acid. Detoxing? The tart marinade (called leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk) is rumored to be a potent hangover cure. $18

Betty Bowl


It’s a geological survey of healthy eating: silky avocado cream or zippy raw garlic tahini sauce trickles down through layer upon earthy-briny-savory layer of roasted veggies, seaweed, steamed kale, mellow house kimchi, and beans to a bedrock of fluffy quinoa, setting off flavor-quakes with every bite. $9

Moroccan Collard Rolls

Blossoming Lotus

This Spice Route–inspired roll wraps Moroccan carrot salad (spiked with cinnamon) with creamy sunflower-sesame sauce, shredded ruby beets, spicy peanuts, and cabbage in a tender collard leaf for a satisfying meal heavy on crunch. It’s raw, vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free—and divinely delicious. $13

Zucchini and Romesco Sandwich

Little T American Baker

You could tuck cardboard between Little T’s stretchy, olive oil–soaked slab bread and it would still taste good. Luckily, this focaccia-style loaf comes slathered in a rich, nutty romesco sauce with thick wedges of roasted zucchini and soft shavings of pecorino fresco cheese. $7 

Peacock Salad

The Sudra

This curio-cute vegan Indian saloon flaunts a tangy, crunchy mountain of raw kale, studded with a jewel-bright confetti of perfectly roasted roots, peppers, and corn nubs mingling with irresistibly crisp-edged tandoori soy curls—all drizzled with nutty-lemony tahini dressing. $9

Spinach Lasagna

Petunia's Pies and Pastries

Petunia’s comforting, veggie-packed lasagna stuffs spinach and chunky tomato sauce between layers of Daiya cheese and brown rice noodles. It may be gluten- and dairy-free, but die-hard pasta lovers will still be pleased to find signature crispy edges and gooey innards. (Local bonus: Portland’s own Heidi Ho Veganics crafts a craveable hazelnut ricotta exclusively for this dish.) $8.50

Gringas Con Molé

Verde Cocina

Dive underneath a heap of rainbow chard and sweet roasted carrots covering hot, maize-perfumed gringas (soft rolled tacos) at this former farmers market–only hot spot for the main event: braised pork from Eugene’s Sweet Briar Farm, mashed garbanzo beans, and dark, musky mole sauce. $12

Grilled Shiitake Roll


Departure’s sushi chefs skip the fish in favor of savory, flame-licked shiitake mushrooms. The colorful roll is plumped up with cooling avocado and cucumber, a bite of scallion, and splashes of bright orange carrot sauce. It’s a dish best served with a side of sweeping views care of the restaurant’s 15th-floor perch. $8

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