…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.)
In 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!
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?
We 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):
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:
To 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:
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!
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.
The 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!
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.
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!
Needless 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!
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!
We 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?
UPDATE September 2017: Here’s a great list of vegan + gluten-free friendly restaurants in Portland from Kittee Berns’ and Julie Hasson’s new website, JulieandKittee.com.
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.
This post is linked up in Treat Yo’ Self link-up on Treasure tromp.