That's right! I took a trip to Vegan Mecca, aka Portland, OR. The main reason for my trip out there was a grad school interview (which went well, thankyouverymuch), but I still researched the hell out of the best vegan eateries and other locations to visit. And I had an effing blast... I am in love with this city. Public transportation is clean, efficient, and *free* downtown... there are people riding bikes and walking dogs everywhere... and I really loved how city life mixed with the residential, suburban areas - they were right on top of each other! And everyone I met were so kind and helpful to this little wide-eyed tourist. Shall we begin?
Mt. Hood from the plane window during our descent... beautiful, huh? So, you wouldn't believe... the woman sitting next to me was a Portland resident, VEGAN, and originally from my home state of Ohio. What are the odds?! Her name is Jenna. We spent the latter half of the trip talking about our veganism, her life in Portland, and her suggestions for my visit. After we landed, Jenna and her lovely (and vegan!) husband, Brendan, were kind enough to take me to lunch at their favorite veg-friendly cafe, Vita Cafe! They raved about the place on the way there and... lemme tell ya, they weren't kidding.
Vita Cafe serves both breakfast and lunch/dinner fare. And look at the options! It was very, very difficult for me to decide - I had to take into consideration that I would be walking all over town later, so didn't want something to absolutely immobilize me. I chose the Fishwich, never having had the opportunity to try a vegan "fish" dish!
It was fan-fuck-tastic! The breading and seasoning were absolutely perfect. And to tofu itself wasn't to dry or too soggy - wonderful. And that vegan tartar sauce?! To die for! Also had a side salad with lemon tahini dressing... holy mother. I am for sure going to replicate this dressing to the best of my ability. Just the right balance of creamy and tart.
Brendan ordered himself a small feast! Buffalo Tofu Wrap, fries, and vegan sausage and gravy. I took his word that it was all spectacular. :D
More of the sausage and gravy, plus Jenna's dish - the special! BBQ Seitan sammich! She cut off a hunk of it for me to try and it was out of this world. The sauce was delicious and the seitan was just the right texture... creepily reminded me of pulled pork, but oh-so cruelty free. I would most definitely visit this place again in my travels.
After dropping my things off at my hotel in Hillsboro (about an hour away on the MAX, ugh) I ventured to SE Portland. I was quite disappointed when I arrived at my destination - mini mall of Sweetpea Baking Company, Herbivore Clothing, and Food Fight Vegan Grocery - to find that I had arrived JUST after closing for Sweetpea and Herbivore. Luckily, though, Food Fight was still open!
Gah... if only I weren't flying back on a g. damned plane, I could have walked away with such a haul! Frozen foods I have never seen before! Sauces and dry ethnic foods! Ice creams! Refrigerated deliciousness! What I would give to have one of these shops in Akron. I bought a few Primal Strips which cannot be found here, some almond butter and mint chocolates, 2 Merry Hempsters chapsicks, a delicious spirulina juice concoction to fuel my trip back to the airport, and a sticker that reads "I'm vegan and I poop 3 times a day, minimum" for my bestie, Sarah, whose conversations consist of about 30% poop-talk. I had the dumbest, most unyielding grin on my face the whole time I was in here...
"What's a good place for dinner within walking distance?" I asked the clerk, and he recommended Hungry Tiger Too! Once I looked at the menu I remembered seeing their butternut wontons online and wanting to lick my computer screen.
Yup, there they are. Butternut squash wontons with creamy coconut milk and a mildly spicy chili sauce. Upon first bite, these were delectable. But, as I kept eating I found myself wishing that they would have either chosen the creamy sweet or the sweet chili motif... my tastebuds were a little confused in the end.
The clerk at Food Fight raved about the mac and cheez, and so I gave it a try. The result: meh. It wasn't cheezy... it was basically a white sauce. Which wasn't bad-tasting at all, just unexpected. And a little disappointing. But that salad in the back? Best vegan Caesar I've ever had, hands down.
My walk back was scenic, chilly, and just lovely.
After my interview, I headed back downtown to Powell's bookstore! This place is absolutely gigantic, and this is their attempt at a map/key of the store. They have both used and new books and, only having been in there for about an hour, I knew I could've spent all day. But my tummy started growling!
Back to Eden Bakery Boutique! This small bakery had sooooo much to offer! A shelf of vegan cookbooks, sustainable dishware, candy bars, purses, and - of course - the eats! They also have soft serve... which was SO hard to resist, but I had other dinner plans! The woman behind the counter was so sweet! She helped me choose my baked good and assured me that my other purchases were of excellent quality... I also bought the Papa Tofu cookbook and this awesome hemp purse with a green embroidered Vegan "V"!
"So, how's that hazelnut cinnamon roll?"
"Um... do you like hazelnuts?"
"Do you like cinnamon rolls?"
"Then, I think you're getting a hazelnut cinnamon roll...!"
Haha, this was absolutely fantastic. Definitely would get one again!
The restaurant about which I was most excited - Blossoming Lotus. This all organic, all vegan eatery serves some delicious and creative dishes - some live foods, as well! The place is kind of small, so the wait was about 30-45 minutes on a Friday evening - which isn't too bad. But I would've waited all night!
My cocktail: Sailor Jerry rum (NOM) with agave and coconut milk. Very strong and very fantastic. I also ordered the Live Soup du Jour - Cucumber and lime with a ginger carrot puree. It was pretty tasty! And I'm usually not a fan of raw soups.
My entree... Four Cheese Lasagna. I'll let the description talk for me: layers of fresh seasonal vegetable marinara, semolina noodles, herbed tofu ricotta, roasted garlic & squash mozzarella, and sesame parmesan, served on a bed of steamed kale, topped with lemon-basil cashew cream.
My last morning in Portland brought me back to Hungry Tiger Too for breakfast. They had a list of tasty-looking tofu scrambles and I settled on the Portland Scramble - veggie sausage, peppers, onions, nooch, and their cheez sauce. Yes, I gave their cheez sauce another chance, and I do NOT regret it! This is the best fucking scramble I have ever had. I must've looked like I hadn't eaten in days the way I was chowing down on this... oh, and my side dish? A pancake the size of a hubcap. For serious, this picture does not do it justice. It was pretty good, but it had a texture that kind of reminded me of injera, Ethiopian spongey bread, of which I am not a fan. Delicious breakfast overall, though! And, no, I did not have the gastrointestinal fortitude to finish all on my plates...
Sigh. Me waiting for the MAX to take me to the airport. Can you see the pain in my eyes?! I wish I could bring Portland back home. What an amazing city. I wish I had more time to explore! Has anyone ever been to PDX and tried any of these restaurants? I'd love to hear your opinions!