It’s been a while since our little family went out of town for a few days, let alone taken a full-length vacation. Before baby J joined us nine months ago, we used to go on little trips pretty often, but now that she’s with us, traveling with her can be a challenge.
Recently we decided that we really needed a change of scenery, even if for a couple days, and set out for the lovely Portland, Oregon – the unrivaled vegan capital of the Pacific Northwest.
Heading into this trip however, I knew that things would look different because our activities would have to accommodate her schedule and naps in particular. We chose to stay in downtown Portland area not far from the waterfront park, which was also within a short walk from quite a few vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants.
So today I’m going to talk about our experience at four vegan (or vegan-friendly) restaurants in Portland that we visited during our two-day trip. In my next post over here, I’m sharing the exact steps we took to make sure our trip with our nine month-old munchkin was enjoyable both for her and for us.
Vegan Restaurants in Portland
8638 N Lombard St, Portland, OR
This was the first place we stopped at when we arrived in Portland on Friday afternoon. During our last trip to this city two years ago, we walked into this place after we had lunch at the nearby Vtopia Vegan Cheese Shop, and kind of wished we had eaten here instead (Vtopia is very stellar in its own right though). Fast forward two years, that location of Homegrown Smoker had experienced a massive fire, then got help form the local vegan community to recover, and moved to its current location on North Lombard street.
This beautiful mural meets you outside of the restaurant
Homegrown Smoker features an impressive vegan selection of barbecue classics like ribs (made from tempeh), burgers, sandwiches, mac’n’cheese, etc. I went for the Smoker Salad that was loaded with amazing smoky soy curls, baked beans and other tasty morsels (front of the pic below), and Rob went for the Philthy Nocheese Stake sandwich with fries. I’ll let you guess which classic non-vegan sandwich it was named after 🙂
Look at those gorgeous smoked soy curls!
Those smoked soy curls were so delicious that Rob declared that he should have ordered my salad instead – and he never orders salads at restaurants 🙂 A few other dishes on the menu feature those soy curls as well. If I were to go to this restaurant again tomorrow, I’d order the Macnocheeto Burrito that pairs these soy curls with mac’n’cheese. Anything is better with mac’n’cheese.
Baby J: This was the first time she sat in the high chair! I fed her some baby food while we were waiting on our meal (I brought a few jars of this stuff with us), which was a bit challenging because she was looking around and wiggling a lot, but we made it work.
Verdict: Homegrown Smoker is a nice place with a laid-back vibe and lots of delicious vegan BBQ classics to feast on for lunch or dinner.
Ichiza Kitchen and Tea House
1628 SW Jefferson St, Portland, OR
We decided to try Ichiza after seeing glowing reviews on the Happy Cow app. This restaurant features vegan pan-Asian cuisine and a variety of teas. Interestingly, it’s located in the same exact spot where Homegrown Smoker used to be. The sitting area is small, but you really forget about your surroundings when the food arrives.
Because everything on the menu sounded delicious, we wanted to try more than just a couple dishes, so we decided to split one entree and share a few appetizers.
I think we hit the nail on the head when we ordered Bibim Dangmyeon (below) as our main course. Clear yam-based noodles were accompanied by delicious vegan chicken, cubed Asian pear, house-made kimchi and topped with fermented gochujang sauce. We also decided to add a fried vegan ‘egg’:
As you can see, the kitchen staff split our entree in half masterfully. I found that the half size was just perfect when combined with the appetizers we picked: bean curd skin wraps filled with mung bean noodles, black fungus and vegan chicken; cold steamed sesame broccoli; and steamed Shumai dumplings filled with vegan shrimp and pork, and topped with very realistically looking vegan caviar:
Baby J: It was a bit of a challenge to keep the plates away from her during dinner, but everything worked out fine. She ate her baby food, then smiled at everyone at the restaurant and eyed our food like a hawk. Our server brought out a little chopstick trainer shaped like a bunny, and baby J loved playing with it until she dropped it on the floor.
Verdict: Ichiza Kitchen is a fantastic place for a beautiful and delicious meal that you’ll remember fondly. We saw people who were clearly on one of their first dates; a group of friends; vegans of around our age who came there with parents to expose them to vegan food, possibly for the first time – so despite the small size of this restaurant, it’s really a great place for any type of dinner party.
Los Gorditos Mexican Restaurant
6 locations in Portland – we went to the one at 922 NW Davis St
I’ve talked about our misfortunes with finding good Mexican food in our home area near Seattle. However, a while ago I’ve heard good things about Los Gorditos in Portland, so we decided to give it a try for lunch on Saturday. This restaurant is not entirely vegan but is extremely vegan-friendly: it features three separate extensive menus for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters, so you don’t get bewildered looks from the person behind the counter when you mention the word ‘vegan’.
I decided to order three tacos – the fajita, the tofu, and the soy curl as seen above – plus a side of rice and beans. For some reason I judge a Mexican restaurant by its rice and beans (I know, it’s silly that a white Russian lady would ‘judge’ Mexican food), and the ones I was served at Los Gorditos were excellent.
Rob went for their Garbage burrito (in the back of the picture above) that was highly recommended online. For some reason I didn’t see it on their online vegan menu, but the restaurant menu includes it.
Baby J: She behaved like a champ once again, eating her baby food and looking around at the surroundings. Honestly, I can’t wait till she’s grown enough to partake in all these delicious meals with us!
Verdict: If you’re in Portland looking for a laid-back Mexican food that’s delicious and easy on the wallet, go!
5 locations in Portland – we went to 926 W. Burnside (also locations in Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA)
Rob and I have a special spot in our hearts for Sizzle Pie – it was here two years ago when we discovered that fantastic pizza was no longer just something from our non-vegan past. Since then Sizzle Pie opened a location in Seattle, but going there has gotten more complicated since baby J arrived.
Our hotel was located just a short walk away from one of their restaurants, so we decided to have dinner there on our final night in Portland.
A slice of my favorite Buffalo 666 pizza at Sizzle Pie – Buffalo jackfruit, wing sauce, red and green onions, vegan mozzarella and a drizzle of ranch
The beauty of Sizzle Pie is that they always have three ready-to eat vegan pizzas by the slice in their showcase along with three vegetarian and three omnivore pizzas. You can also order full-size pizza if you’d like, which is what Rob and I usually do.
I am a big fan of their Buffalo 666 pizza (I’ve been loving everything Buffalo-flavored lately – can you tell that from my latest easy Buffalo Tofu sandwich recipe? 🙂 ), and Rob is partial to the Ripper. This time we called ahead and ordered a large-sized half-and-half pizza with both flavors and requested the Follow Your Heart cheese on both sides (makes a huge difference over Daiya in my opinion).
Baby J: Ordering ahead was hugely helpful because we didn’t want to test baby J’s patience, plus there’s nothing better than walking into a busy restaurant and getting your food right away. Baby J was her usual excited and curious self, wanting to play with everything in sight as she ate her baby food 🙂
Verdict: Love love love Sizzle Pie! We’ll definitely be back for more!
All right, here’s my report on vegan restaurants in Portland that we visited during our latest trip there a couple of weekends ago. I’ve written about a number of other Portland vegan restaurants before, see this post and this post.
Also, there’s a huge list of vegan and gluten-free-friendly (is that a word?) restaurants in Portland on Julie Hasson’s and Kittee Berns’ website over here. These ladies know good vegan food when they see it 🙂
Next time, I’ll be sharing a few tips for traveling with a 9 month-old baby that helped us enjoy this Portland trip and keep our sanity – stay tuned!
Know anyone who might find this post useful? Please share it with them! And stick around for more awesomeness – you can follow Vegan Runner Eats by subscribing in the top right corner of this page, or by following the blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!
This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you make a purchase through affiliate links on my blog, I receive a very small commission that helps me run this blog, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!