Portland Community

17 Vegan Eats You Must Try in Portland

It’s no secret that Portland is a vegan mecca. It’s renowned as one of our country’s prime destinations for plant-loving persons young and old. The reputation is well-deserved — with offerings ranging from local mix-your-own salad bars, to late-night dives dedicated solely to vegan comfort food, to four-star rated vegetarian establishments that you’ll need to call ahead for a month in advance (seriously), Portland has it all.

I’ve lived in Portland for nearly three years, and when I first moved here from the D.C. metro area, I was overwhelmed with choice. “Choice” — that’s a word that can be pretty foreign to vegans. We’re usually pretty happy if one item on the menu is certified vegan, and resign ourselves to whatever it is, even if we really wanted a pasta dish instead of more roasted vegetables. I’m all for simplicity, but I really enjoy the luxury of poring over a menu rife with plant-based options before I pick a winner. This is why Portland is such a hotspot! Yes, the food is stellar. The people are friendly. The vibe is laid-back. But what Americans really love is choice, and Portland offers something for everyone.

I can’t dream of covering all of Portland’s vegan offerings — it seems like every time I take a walk around my neighborhood something new has popped up. But over the past three years I’ve honed in on a few of my favorite spots, so I’ll give you something to lick your lips over — that is, until you come to visit and give the wild and wacky world of vegan food a spin!

1. Blossoming Lotus / Prasad / Harlow
1713 NE 15th Ave. / 925 NW Davis St. / 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Each of these spots fall under the same overarching management, and serve some of the best raw, whole food I’ve ever had. Let’s just say their Vitamixes are on…ahem…constant rotation. The offerings aren’t cheap, but who can resist their “Bumblebee Shake” — a mouth-watering mixture of pb, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, coffee, and banana — after a yoga class?

A bowl, juice, and smoothie with goji berries from Prasad

Prasad is more of a light-lunch post-workout joint, whereas Blossoming Lotus and Harlow are more established sit-down restaurants. Their filigreed menus promise decadent and unique vegan treats, including Butternut Squash & Sage Penne, Raw Golden Beet Ravioli, and Pumpkin Empanadas. Blossoming Lotus is excellent at satisfying gluten-free requirements, and Harlow offers some absolutely decadent granola breakfast bowls. Call ahead for a reservation at Blossoming Lotus.

2. Vita Cafe
3023 NE Alberta St.

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(c) Vita Cafe.

This is one of my favorite brunch spots. Complete with local artwork (last time I was there, the most detailed mandalas I’d ever seen fully occupied my attention until my food arrived) and attentive servers committed to making sure your coffee cup is never less than half full, this is vegan comfort food at its finest. Biscuits and almond gravy? Check. Hash browns, grits, and corn cakes? Absolutely. Some of Vita’s finest selections include Chicken Fried Steak, Sloppy Joes, Thai Corn Cakes, and the Comfort Breakfast (my personal favorite). Breakfast is served until 3 pm — what more could you want?!

“The Vita Cafe is not your standard raw beet and rabbit food kind of vegetarian place. We specialize in huge servings…come hungry.” You may have to brave a bit of a line on a weekend, but Vita Cafe is well worth the wait.

3. The Bye & Bye / Sweet Hereafter
1011 NE Alberta St. / 3326 SE Belmont St.

These are two sister bars, one located in NE and one in SE, because Portland is convenient like that. I live within walking distance of The Bye & Bye, and find myself there a little too often! The Bye & Bye is an unassuming all-vegan bar — most of its patrons don’t even realize every food product served is completely plant-based. The best part? It serves vegan grilled cheese, meatball subs, and pretzel knots until 2 am. If a vegan meatball sub isn’t part of your late night plans, what are you doing with your life?

Meatball sub, (c) quarrygirl.com

4. The Waypost
3120 N Williams Ave.

This unassuming bar is one of my neighborhood favorites. This is the place I was served the best Old Fashioned of my life, so it holds a special place in my heart! The Waypost serves an array of vegan items, including plantain and mango tacos, taco salads, and vegan chili (are you sensing a theme?). You’ll probably run into a trivia night or a local band performance if you come by on a weekend. It shares a space with a community garden, so post up at a picnic table outside if you can!

5. Homegrown Smoker BBQ (food cart)
4237 N Mississippi Ave. (The Mississippi Marketplace)

I won’t lie to you: I have a punch card for this place. I first discovered it at the Mississippi Street Fair back in 2012 (now one of my favorite yearly events, and also one I featured on this blog). As food carts go, Portland doesn’t have much to want for — there are pods all over the city, and no lack of patrons for each cart. The Smoker BBQ offers some of the most intense meals I’ve ever laid eyes on — the “Macnocheeto Burrito” combines soy curls, vegan mac ‘n cheese, beans, and maple-bourbon BBQ sauce into a burrito bigger than my head.

mac n cheeze and a sloppy joe. (c) luminousvegans.com

6. Santería
703 SW Ankeny St.

You won’t find this place by wandering around.  Santería is tucked away behind the esteemed Mary’s Club, and shares a bathroom with this iconic Portland strip club. Go here for the Plato Vegan Tinga and bring your friends because the portion sizes are hefty.

7. Tin Shed
1438 NE Alberta St.

You better get to Tin Shed early, and not just on the weekend. This place fills up fast and waits are at least 45 minutes. Luckily, you can leave your cell number at the counter and go shopping on Alberta while you wait! And if you don’t want to mosey, pour yourself a mug of coffee from the bar inside and start waking up. Tin Shed serves some delectable vegan breakfast options, and you’ll definitely walk away satisfied. Furry friends are welcome so bring them along (just don’t forget to sneak them some treats!).

(c) mindofmako.blogspot.com

8. Canteen
2816 SE Stark St.

I wrote about this spot when I first started this blog, but it hasn’t lost its spot in my heart. If possible, Canteen has more Vitamix action going on than Prasad, Harlow, and Blossoming Lotus combined. They love their smoothies, and it shows! Canteen also makes a kimchi to die for, which is great news for those of us bolstering up our gut flora.

9. Portobello
1125 SE Division St.

Pro tip: take a date here. In addition to the absolutely decadent food, service, and drink selection (who doesn’t love a good wine pairing suggestion, or a specialty Italian liqueur to pair with dessert?), this is the only place in town I’ve found that serves vegan tiramisu. Enough. Said. And if you want the noms without the ambiance, you can get take-out pizza.

Potato Gnocchi at Portobello. (c) pdx.eater.com

10. Natural Selection
3033 NE Alberta St.

Confession: even though this is on my list of favorites, I haven’t actually eaten here. I put it on the list because this is the gourmet, four-star restaurant perfect for celebrating your birthday, or a new job or house. You’ll want to make reservations well in advance for this gourmet hub. The chefs opt for seasonal produce for their meals, and will happily make vegan options. A prix fixe meal is $45 and wine pairing another $25, but I could see this being a fantastic special outing. (Any takers?)

11. Hungry Tiger Too
207 SE 12th Ave.

If you know me at all, you know I love dive bars. I personally think that the dive bar is becoming a lost art, as we make way for the classier things in life. But I especially love dive bars that offer good vegan late night options. HTT is one of these — choose from nachos, “Tiger Fries” (garlic, rosemary, and cheeze tossed hand-cut fries), “Vings,” corn dogs, and mac & cheeze to nosh on while you play some pool.

12. Fire on the Mountain
1708 E Burnside St. / 4225 N Interstate Ave. / 3443 NE 57th Ave.

Say it with me now: Vegan. Wings.

No matter how mild of sauce I specify, halfway through a six-piece plate of “drumsticks” I always feel like I mistook Cholula for mouthwash. Make sure you order a beer (or non-alcoholic refreshment) with these babies cause you will need it! This is also a great spot to watch a basketball, soccer, or football game with friends.

13. Blue Star
1237 SW Washington St. / 3549 SE Hawthorne Blvd. / 3753 N Mississippi

Blue Star is Voodoo Doughnut for the locals. They only stay open until all of the fresh doughnuts are sold, so you better get there early in the day! I’ve sampled the Vegan Pistachio Cake with Raspberry Hibiscus glaze doughnut many a time (I mean, even the name is dripping in sugar) and always been transported to a magical, sugary land full of happiness.

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(c) @bluestardonut instagram.

 

14. A N D Cafe
5420 E Burnside St.

This is one of my favorite brunch spots in Portland, hands down. And yet every time I visit, I’m faced with the quintessential conundrum….sweet or savory? A N D offers an assortment of Belgian waffles (Pumpkin Cheesecake Waffle, anyone?), breakfast scrambles, biscuits and gravy, and always has something special on the menu, which tends to change weekly. GF friendly. It’s a tiny spot, so expect intimate service from your server and quick coffee refills.

(c) neighborhoodnotes.com

15. Dove Vivi
2727 NE Glisan St.

A lot of people think that pizza for vegans means grabbing a frozen Daiya on the way home from work. No offense to Daiya, but this local cornmeal crust pizza place blows those frozen pies out of the water. My favorite is the Corn Cashew: a roasted tomato, corn and caramelized onion delicacy swimming in cashew cheese. I wrote about the science behind our “umami” taste sensation, and Dove Vivi exemplifies it perfectly. I suggest you grab a pie to go and bring it to one of our many parks for a summer movie screening.

(c) foodmtn.com

16. Black Sheep Bakery
PSU Farmer’s Market

Black Sheep is a vegan-only bakery that sadly closed its storefront doors in 2012. Luckily for you, it still operates as a wholesale bakery and provides muffins, cookies, and other pastries to vendors around the area. If you’re at the PSU Farmer’s Market, I would recommend a cranberry coffeecake to pair with a latte as you peruse the vendors’ stalls. You can also find Black Sheep goods at New Seasons, a local grocery store chain in town.

Yum, yum, and yum. (c) stumptownvegans.com

17. Junior’s Cafe
1742 SE 12th Ave.

I hesitate to even include this on my list of best vegan spots in Portland, because it’s my secret, cradled and dearly loved breakfast place. It is here that I tasted the most delectable, caramelized, crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside vegan French toast of my life. It is here that I see the same two waitresses every time, who kindly and quickly refill my coffee and call me “honey” or “babe” (or both). I don’t want to give this little-known spot away, but — alas — you would probably find it anyway.

Other quintessential Portland spots serve vegan options — Salt & Straw recently started offering a coconut ice cream delicacy which is perfect for hot summer days. Like I said, I can’t cover all of the wonderful plant-based choices we have here in Portland. I certainly hope our offerings continue to grow and that other cities in the country — and the world — see how easy it can be to make vegan choices when you’re out and about, at a restaurant, or sitting down for an afternoon coffee break. If you have a favorite vegan spot in Portland that I didn’t mention, feel free to give it some love in the comments! Now, are you hungry or what?

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The Facts about Worldwide Hunger, and How YOU Can Help

Let’s talk about hunger.

No, I’m not talking about what you might feel when you wake up in the morning and can’t make a bowl of oatmeal fast enough. I’m talking about hunger that kills. As a dietitian, worldwide hunger and nutritional deficiency hit close to home. And as a dietitian, I know that there is more than enough food to feed every single person in the world, and feed them well.

While on a trip back home to Virginia, I had the pleasure of lending my help to an an anti-hunger campaign called Stop Hunger Now, which was hosting a meal-packaging event in my town. I hopped onto the assembly line and made sure meal packets were the right weight and consistency to be shipped off to over 65 countries worldwide. Within two hours we had packaged 25,000 meals. That’s right — 25,000 meals! Each of those packets will feed six children and boasts rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and 21 vitamins and minerals.

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Children are hit hard by malnutrition and the diseases that arise from (or are amplified by) not having enough food. Measles, malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia are some of the leading causes of childhood death. And malnutrition can start before kids are even born, if their moms aren’t taking in enough nutrition. Read more about the effects of malnutrition here.

The meals that we packaged were exclusively vegan. Now, depending on what country they are sent to, various meats may or may not be added per the local culture. But the meals cost just 25 cents because they are plant-based.

“Stop Hunger Now created its meal packaging program, in 2005. The program perfected the assembly process that combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets. Each meal costs only 25 cents. The food stores easily, has a shelf-life of two years and transports quickly. Stop Hunger Now works with international partners that ship and distribute the meals in-country.”

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(c) Stop Hunger Now

So if we have enough food to feed everyone in the world, why does one person every three seconds die of hunger or hunger-related illness? I’ll briefly summarize some of the key reasons. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this matter, but I have learned quite a lot through my studies and my travels to food-insecure countries such as Tanzania and the Dominican Republic.

1. Poverty and a Reliance on Meat as a Protein Source

Farmers and families living on $1 or less a day simply cannot afford to buy or trade their food. And farmers trying to make a living off of their own land are often not supported by their governments. As the renowned Marion Nestle writes,

“Governments must support food systems that provide farmers and workers with a reasonable standard of living, replenish soil nutrients, conserve natural resources, and minimize pollution and greenhouse gases—and promote health.” Part of minimizing pollution and greenhouse gases naturally involves growing more plants, and less meat. When the focus is on growing crops to feed animals, an opportunity arises to feed more people instead of fueling a meat-driven system that just isn’t working. 

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2. Climate Change (read the 2009 World Food Programme’s climate report here)

You don’t have to believe in human-accelerated climate change — it’s happening, and it’s been happening, for a long time. Due in part to increased heat and decreased water availability, farmers all over the world will suffer a decrease in agricultural production (mostly wheat, rice, and maize). This will cause an increase in food prices worldwide, but mostly in Africa, South Asia, and Central America. Extreme natural disasters as a result of climate change will  continue to wreak havoc. By 2050, we expect an increase of 10-20% of people at risk of hunger worldwide.

3. Lack of nutrition education.

During my time in Tanzania, I sampled probably twenty kinds of root vegetables, dark leafy greens, and native fruits. Unfortunately, many of them were underutilized by the local population and sometimes even treated as throwaway foods. But these foods were rich in vitamins and minerals, protein, and valuable starch. It takes dedicated professionals to provide nutrition and cooking education to teach people how to rely on the food that their own soil can produce.

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In America, 48 million people are hungry and rely on government initiatives like SNAP. I encourage you to read about the $1 a day challenge — this is something I was tasked to try for one day in college, and it was hard. But over a billion people worldwide have to do for their whole lives. And remember:

“It’s not due to laziness that someone is poor. It’s not due to a lack of ambition or lack of intelligence. It’s because they lack the things that we take advantage of every day.” — Living on One Dollar

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So how can YOU get involved? I’ve compiled a list of Portland-specific organizations that need help. Oregon is the fifth-hungriest state in America.

1. Have a garden, or participate in a community garden? The “Plant a Row” program with the Oregon Food Bank allows you to donate home-grown food to the needy.

2. Want to get involved long-term? Growing Gardens offers programs to help schools start gardens and provide cooking classes. In the summer, weekly garden parties will involve a local Portland chef who can teach people how to cook what they grow. They even have an internship, which will focus on fundraising, building gardens, and hosting garden summer camps.

3. Reduce your own food waste. With so many hungry in the world, it’s a damn shame to throw so much food away. And Americans waste 40% of the food they buy. The Kitchn has a great article on ways to get the most out of the food you buy. And remember to compost your food scraps if you can, as decomposing food in landfills contributes methane to the environment.

4. If you like gardening a whole lot, get involved with the Produce for People Program. Last year they grew and donated 20,3337 lbs of produce to needy families.

5. More of a day-to-day volunteer? The Oregon Food Bank (and any food bank, no matter where you live) needs help. Here’s an easy way to get involved.

6. Host a meal-packaging event with Stop Hunger Now. This would a fantastic event for an organization or club to host. With 40 people, you could package 10,000 meals in two hours, at just 25 cents a meal.

7. Make your dollar count. Support local farmers, and local produce. Alleviate your carbon footprint by reducing your meat intake.

There’s so much more to be said about hunger, and so many experts out there who can say it better than I can. I hope this post left you with the knowledge that hunger and the disease that occur with it can be stopped. What do you know about hunger?

 

Nike Portland Run Club: We Run PDX

What’s better than running? Not a whole lot.

What’s better than running with a group of running-obsessed Portlanders, Britney Spears blasting on the speakers, while being simultaneously cheered on and honked at (in encouragement) by people and cars in the streets? Definitely, definitely nothing. Welcome to Nike Run Club.

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If you’re looking for some inspiration and motivation to get out there and hit the pavement, you’re in luck. The Portland chapter of Nike Run Club is open for business!

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What’s makes running with a group so fantastic? It’s all about the synergy. Think back to high school physics.

syn·er·gy
ˈsinərjē/
noun
noun: synergy; plural noun: synergies; noun: synergism; plural noun: synergisms
1. the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
 
That’s right: with the perfect mixture of friendly, fun energy and a fantastic group of runners, we accomplish more than each of us would on our own.
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Running with a group is one of the best ways to pump up your pace and endurance. 
While I do love running solo, sometimes I need to push myself with some healthy competition! Running up the OHSU hill would never have happened without Run Club. It’s hard to focus on mileage and the respiratory taxation of running when you have an overwhelming amount of positive energy circling around the group. I have succeeded in introducing four of my friends to Run Club, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. That’s cause it’s fun, y’all. On run club nights, we run the city like we own it.

Not to mention, we get to run in one of the most beautiful and fun cities in the world.
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If you live in Portland, come run with us! It’s free, and all levels are welcome! All you need to bring is a smile and some shoes. If you don’t like your shoes, you can take the Nike store’s currently featured kicks on a test run. Nike lends out the latest gear for user testing as well, like its new sport watch. If fear about your pace is keeping you from joining us, stop right there! At least three Nike employee pacers come with us and make sure no one is ever left behind.

Bonus points if you have the Nike Run+ app on your phone to track mileage (it’s free), and an Instagram account to tag our runs! Nike will donate a set amount of money per mile to a selected charity. Remember to hashtag #werunpdx!

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Meet up at the Nike store downtown on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. Monday runs break into groups planning to run 3, 5 or 7+ miles. The Wednesday run will usually be a themed fun-run between 3 and 5 miles, planned by one of the Nike employees. Last night, our art-themed route had us running to some of Portland’s iconic sculpture stops, where we did some quick strength training moves before continuing on.

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Wall sits: par for the course.

You’ll also get the inside scoop on larger runs coming up. For example, Nike’s We Run the Night Flash Run on December 21st hosted hundreds of runners on a four mile route through Portland to celebrate the longest night of the year. I’ve never seen so many glow lights in my life. We were treated to a pit stop inside the Jeld-Wen stadium for some personal trainer-led strength training, and a fireworks show inside the stadium! Since it coincided with Santacon, we were cheered on by about 200 intoxicated Santas, but kept on course with the help of a bona fide marching band. What can I say? If you weren’t there, you weren’t there.

Needless to say, if you ever needed a boost of pure adrenaline with some of the best people in this city, run club is for you.

But apart from the mileage, the hashtagging, and the training, I love Run Club because it helps me to get out there and be active within my community. Between the expertly crafted playlists pumping through the city air and the friendly chatter to be had with new friends, running this city is a total blast and never fails to lift my spirits.

Just remember: if you can walk, you can run. If you can run, you are a runner. So what are you waiting for? Just do it.

(for more fantastic pictures updated by a Nike pacer himself, visit http://phillipmatos.com/)