Vegan Taste of Portland, Oregon: Restaurants, Street Food, and Cycling for Smoothies!

…Aaaand here I am with a report about the delicious trip to Portland, Oregon, that Rob and I took this past weekend! If you follow my blog on Facebook, you probably saw that last week I asked Vegan Runner Eats page followers for some tips on picking the best vegan restaurants in Portland – and there were a lot of suggestions from you guys! So today I’m going to share with you the delicious adventures we had in Portland following your advice!

(I know, I know – the Neat giveaway has ended, and if you’re here to see if the winner is you, just scroll to the bottom of this page.)

Vegan Taste of Portland ORIn case you haven’t heard about the abundance of vegan-friendly restaurants in Portland, you’re in for a treat. That is, of course, if you’re planning to visit this lovely city in the Pacific Northwest sometime soon. If not, make sure to put it on your map of places to check out in your lifetime! The whole city has this free-spirited, out-of-the-box vibe, so it’s no surprise that a lot of people with a compassionate and/or health-conscious mindset have flocked together in this town. The list of restaurant suggestions I received through social media could have allowed us to eat at a different place three times a day for a week!

In addition to the flourishing food scene, Portland has lots of great places to go and things to see. I could write a whole another post about all of the lovely and quirky things we encountered there, but today I’d like to just focus on food because there’s so much to share!

Prasad

We got to Portland on Friday afternoon, and after taking in some lovely views of the city we got pretty hungry. My list of suggested restaurants prompted stopping by Prasad – a neat little eatery in the downtown area attached to a yoga studio. Prasad had the kind of vibe that reminded me of not being able to twist my body into a pretzel any time of the day, and that maybe I love food way too much – but heck, it’s all about finding balance, right?

PrasadWe went on to order the Dragon bowl with peanut dressing for Rob, and the Urban bowl (pic above) with miso-harissa dressing for me. Both were absolutely delicious, filled with lots and lots of veggies, greens – both fresh and steamed – seeds, etc. One thing I wished I had done differently: I should have ordered some rice with my bowl to make it a little more filling.

Bite of Oregon Food Festival

Little did I know that there would be more food coming up soon because after lunch, we made our way to the waterfront park in the downtown Portland, and to our surprise, we stumbled upon a food festival in full swing! We decided to check it out fully understanding that there probably wouldn’t be that much food for us to sample. Luckily, we found a few vendors that were offering veg-friendly fare. Boba food truck had these delicious kimchi pancakes made with perilla leaves (apparently, it’s an herb from mint family, common in Asian cuisine):

PancakeAnd to add some sweetness to the experience, So Delicious dairy-free products stand was giving away FREE ice cream bars – no kidding! Just one bar per person, but still way better than nothing 🙂

 So Delicious

Vita Cafe

Friday night dinner happened for us in Vita Café on Alberta street. This place got a few recommendations from the blog followers, so we had to give it a try. It was a blast! The menu had lots of options for any taste, and all the food looked delicious. I ordered this lovely bowl of Tempeh and Broccoli that came with a medley of various vegetables, some of them (like jicama) not regularly met in restaurant offerings – at least in my experience:

Tempeh and BroccoliTo end the day on a sweet note, we ordered a couple desserts – the restaurant had a pretty large selection to choose from. We rarely go all out like this when it comes to dessert, but this time we couldn’t resist! Here’s a picture of our carrot cake and peanut butter-chocolate chip cheesecake:

Dessert Vita CafeYum yum yum!

Beaverton Farmers’ Market

Saturday morning started for us with a trip to the fabulous farmers’ market in Beaverton, a town just outside of Portland. I’ve heard about the Beaverton farmer’s market before, so we just had to check it out. The market turned out to be a thriving community event, with lots of locally grown produce, fresh food, arts and crafts, dancing, singing and much more!

TomatoesBeautiful heirloom tomatoes at Beaverton Farmers’ Market

You can’t even imagine my surprise when we stumbled upon a booth with Russian food that had some clearly marked vegan choices! As a born-and-bred Russian, I can attest that there’s not that many vegan-friendly dishes in traditional Russian cuisine, so the fact that the local Russian community had recognized the demand for vegan-friendly foods really impressed me.

Russian Food BannerThe booth offered veggie-stuffed peroshki – a traditional savory pastry that’s usually stuffed with anything but plain vegetables. The makers of these particular peroshki went quite a bit creative by adding mung bean thread to the veggie stuffing – you’ll never find that in Russia, but it actually worked great to enhance the flavor and texture of the stuffing!

Vegan Peroshki

 The look, the feel – very Russian indeed!

Culture!

Once we got back to Portland, we visited a couple of interesting places that I highly recommend to anyone visiting this city to get the feel of its highly varying cultural offerings. If you are interested in learning more about Portland’s history, definitely visit the Pittock Mansion, built in 1914 by an influential man who played a big role in the development of Portland, and enjoy gorgeous architecture and beautiful views of the city. In case you’re looking for some quirky entertainment, check out the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium – a museum-store with interactive exhibits like aliens performing an autopsy on a human, or a room that is set up to look like the insides of a zombie brain. Add lots of odd old-timey pictures of families posing for wedding pictures with children freaking out, and things will get pretty weird… My inner 13-year-old was quite impressed.

Moberi

Later that afternoon, we came across Moberi – an unusual smoothie stand that used a stationary bicycle with a blender attachment in the front to allow customers to blend their own smoothies by pedaling the bicycle! The genius idea to make a bike-operated smoothie maker came to the founder of Moberi in 2011 – read his story here. He even took this idea to the legendary Shark Tank show!

Smoothie makingNeedless to say, Rob and I had to try out the smoothie-making abilities of this contraption. It worked out very well – I kind of wish I had a bike like that at home! Rob made himself the Delorean smoothie (strawberry, banana, apple juice), and I indulged in the Captain Planet (greens, hemp protein, ginger, mango, banana, etc.). The cool refreshment of fruit and veggie smoothies was just what we needed on a hot Northwestern afternoon!

Bête-Lukas

The culmination of our delicious tour of Portland was the visit to Bête-Lukas – an Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended to me by the amazing Kittee Berns of the Cake Maker to the Stars blog. I’ve been following Kittee’s culinary creations for a while – in fact, she’s the blogger who introduced me to the genius chickpea flour omelets from this post!  I asked Kittee about her favorite Ethiopian restaurants in Portland (she often posts amazing pictures of Ethiopian food on Instagram), and Bête-Lukas came up.

The intriguing thing about Ethiopian food is that it is usually served on top of injera bread – a thin, pancake-like bread made from teff, a tiny, iron-rich grain that’s also gluten-free (other grains are sometimes added). To eat the food, you are supposed to tear off little pieces of injera, and pick up the food with them – no forks or knives here! This was our first time ever at an Ethiopian place, and Bête-Lukas made it very impressive!

Ethiopian medleyWe ordered a medley of their vegetarian stews to have the best sampling experience. Clockwise from top: Misser Wot (red lentil stew), Tikel Gomen (cabbage, potatoes, carrots), Gomen (kale, Serrano peppers, ginger), Kik Alicha (yellow split pea stew), Fosolia (green beans, carrots, onion). Center spot – house salad. Each stew was cooked with just the right amount of spice, the most prominent of which was the classic African berebere – a spice combination made with Ethiopian chili peppers, garlic and other ingredients. Another folded injera was generously provided for our convenience.

In case you are looking for some not-so-typical ethnic food in Portland, I definitely recommend Bête-Lukas. If you’re not in Portland, however, take a look around and see if there are any Ethiopian restaurants around you! Also, Kittee Berns from the Cake Maker to the Stars is about to publish her first Ethiopian cookbook – yes, she’s that passionate about Ethiopian food! – so bee on the lookout.

 That was our vegan food experience in Portland. Question for you: If you’ve ever been in other vegan restaurants in this lovely city, what would you recommend us to visit next time?


Time to announce the winner of the Neat giveaway that ended on Monday! Thank you everyone who participated, there’s more awesome giveaways coming up in the near future!

Aaaand the winner is… Shelley H. from Canada! Congratulations Shelley, look for an email from me really soon.

Stay in touch with Vegan Runner Eats by subscribing in the top right corner of this post, or by following the blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!

This post is linked up in Treat Yo’ Self link-up on Treasure tromp.

About Alina

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.
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10 Responses to Vegan Taste of Portland, Oregon: Restaurants, Street Food, and Cycling for Smoothies!

  1. Shannon R. says:

    If you come back, you really have to visit Portobello. It is hands down the best vegan restaurant in the city. And, you must get dessert there – I highly recommend the sundaes. If you’re downtown and need a cheap, delicious lunch, Sonny Bowl (food cart) is amazing. And, Prasad has a sister restaurant called Harlow which actually has a bigger selection and more dining space. Finally, the AND Cafe has incredible breakfast and brunch options.

    • Alina says:

      Thank you Shannon – I should have contacted you before our trip for some recommendations! Man, your suggestions make me want to go back really soon…

  2. Pingback: Vegan Japanese Sweet Potato Chia Pancakes | Vegan Runner Eats

  3. Great choices! I was there in May and ate sooo much. It’s a great city for vegans that’s for sure!! I wish I’d made it to Vita Cafe, it looks delicious!

    • Alina says:

      Deryn, I had so many restaurant suggestions that it felt like I should have stayed for a couple weeks! Next time I’d love to look into the vegan food truck scene – apparently it’s hopping in Portland!

  4. Martina says:

    Nice choices!! I visited Prasad, which was a daily visit once we had it!!!

    I had to indulge in a little “fast food” at Hungry Tiger Too & The Grilled Cheese Bus. We did a to go order at HT2 and weren’t too impressed, but a vegan blogger Quarry Girl, who I follow highly recommended it so we will have to try it again when we get back out there.

    The Grilled Cheese Bus uses Daiya for their cheese if you want a vegan GC sandwich and of course they’ve got tomato soup too. It was yummie!

    Another PDX institution is VooDoo donuts which has a great vegan selection and was a one time treat as I’m not super big on very sweet stuff.

    Our FAVORITE place in PDX was Blossoming Lotus. Their food was incredible. They had great wines and cocktails as well and we went there the first night and back twice more for dinner.

    Still many places we didn’t get to visit, including Portobello since we couldn’t get reservations.

    And we did the Saturday market in downtown PDX which was the best and most amazing market I’ve ever been to!

    We also tried Petunia’s Pies & Pasteries which serve ALL vegan and GF desserts & treats. There stuff is nothing short of perfect and delectable.

    Our first morning brunch we had at Sweetpea Baking Co. This little gem was great for sweets and treats, if that’s what you fancy, or a great brunch or paninis and sandwiches galore. They also brew a mean cup of Joe! This place is in Portland’s “Vegan Strip Mall” http://archives.quarrygirl.com/2009/08/09/a-vegan-strip-mall-even-la-doesnt-have-it-this-good/

    And my last recommendation would be Slice Pizza. They have some awesome vegan pizzas by the slice and you can also build your own.

    Hope you get back out there! We loved it so much we are trying to move!!

    • Alina says:

      Wow Martina, all of these places sound amazing! Like I said, we’ll definitely have to go back to Portland to check out more of their awesome vegan places!

  5. Laura says:

    Proper Eats – A small grocery store with a humble cafe in back with nourishing, tasty food and kind staff. I recommend the tempeh tacos…

    Papa Gs.. a vegan organic deli.

    Homegrown Smoker vegan BBQ food cart. They have great specials.

  6. Pingback: Teff Love Ethiopian Cookbook Review | Vegan Runner Eats

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