More Than Just Vacation Photos: Sayward’s Definitive “Must-Eat” Portland Vegan Dining Guide, Part I

April 30th, 2014 - filed under: The Food » Food and Health

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READY. TO. EAT.


Oh, Portland.

The vegan Mecca – land of all-vegan bars, late-night grub trucks and fancy roof-top fusion food, raw vegan “bakers” and an all-vegan strip club (seriously). I lived in Portland for 5 sweet years, and my adoration for the City Of Roses just continues to grow. Which is why I was SO excited to share it all with Jeremy.

When we were planning our trip – 4 nights and 3 1/2 days – we sat down together and literally mapped out all our meals. There’s just too much good stuff in P-town, and if I don’t have a plan, then I’ll surely miss something along the way. And this trip was Jeremy’s inaugural vegan Portlandstravaganza adventure, so I really wanted to hit up all of MY favorite top spots, to share them with him. Which is just what we did!

But then I realized, hey wait a minute, we basically just ate our way through my Super Duper, Best-Of-The-Best, Vegan (and mostly gluten-free!) Portland Dining Guide! Which as it just so happens, I’d always meant to blog about. Hey now!

Of course, this is not a comprehensive collection of Portland eateries. Instead, this is the condensed version, distilled down to my very very favorites. So bookmark it, Pin it, hold onto it in whatever way you can. Because if you ever visit Portland, I promise that you’ll want it!


So here goes, Day One:

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We’d flown into town the night before, and after a late-night meal at the Bye and Bye (a must-see for sure!), we crashed at my sister’s house in north Portland. The next morning we were up early and ready to hit the city. First stop? The all-vegan, entirely gluten-free Back To Eden bakery, of course!

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I started my day off right, with a warm cinnamon roll (just the perfect amount of sweet; delightful without being cloying) and a strong cup of coffee with coconut creamer. Perfect!

Along with his coffee, Jeremy got a smoked tempeh and fig scone and a small mushroom and leek quiche. The quiche was amazing! He said it was one of the best things he ate the whole trip.

We devoured our brekkies in the back seat of my sister’s car, on the way to the Saturday Farmer’s Market.

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Heidi Ho Organics, an awesome local vegan cheese company!

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♥ Sisters ♥

It was so great to spend a morning back at that market, where I’d spent nearly every single Saturday morning back when I was a Portlander. It’s one of the greatest Farmer’s Market’s I’ve ever experienced, and it was so fun to see all the new booths and vendors, along with my old favorites.

After the market we hitched a ride across the bridge with my sister, where we bid her adieu as we tumbled out of the car on the corner of 12th and Hawthorne. Cartopia.

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All the Farmer’s Marketing had really worked up our appetites, and we were ready for some real food! Portland is home to many a cart pod, but Cartopia is one of the originals, and it’s probably my favorite pod of all. Between Potato Champion for fancy fries and vegan poutine, Whiffies fried hand pies (sweet and savory options; not gluten-free), Perierra Crêperie (sweet and savory options; not gluten-free), and Pyro Pizza (not gluten-free), it’s a perfect mix of tastes and the location can’t be beat.

We had to go Potato Champion, all the way.

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Mine on the left: Satay Poutine with vegan cheese curds and house made Satay sauce. His on the right: Standard Poutine with vegan cheese curds and gravy.

Aaaaand Jeremy followed it up with a potato curry hand pie from Whiffies . . .

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Best of all, my good friends Libby and Taylor, and their ridiculously adorable daughter Evelyn, came down to join us for a bite. They all split a lemon and sugar crepe from Perierra Crêperie.

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So, one of the most interesting things about traveling with Jeremy is his line of business . . . the fine wine and spirits business. Which means, wherever we go, he’s always scoping for small batch breweries, local winemakers, and unique, artisanal distilleries. There’s so much creativity and innovation in the wine and spirits industry right now, and Portland – a city that certainly enjoys its booze – is right on the cutting edge. Which is exactly why we decided to spend our afternoon down on distillery row.

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The great grand still at New Deal. Gorgeous.

Distillery row is a freaking fantastic idea – a collection of craft-style micro-distilleries, all centered in one location (okay, technically not in a row, but whatevs, they’re all within easy walking distance) down in the industrial riverfront. It’s like wine tasting, but with liquor. And I’ve never seen anything like it.

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Jeremy talks shop with Tom, the master distiller and owner at New Deal. This was, by the way, our favorite distillery of the day.

It was such a fun way to spend the afternoon! Libs and Taylor and Evelyn came along, and we also met up with my college roommate Kate and her boyfriend Nathan. So many old friends! So much happy!

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The selection – and the cool penny counter – at Eastside Distillery.

So spirits tasting is fun and all, and an afternoon spent with friends is always ace in my book, but Jeremy and I had a schedule to keep! With our tummies beginning to rumble, we said our goodbyes and made our way back to my sister’s house to change. It was dinner time, and to officially celebrate Jeremy’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Love!) we had a very exciting reservation.

Portobello, OBVIOUSLY!

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Portobello Vegan Trattoria is a Portland vegan standard. It’s widely considered the best “fancy” meal in town, and I had been talking about taking Jeremy there for almost as long as we had been dating. Needless to say, we were excited!

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Kombucha “mocktail”.

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We started with the Roast Fennel Arancini (crispy risotto & roasted fennel fritters, with tomato-basil sauce for dipping) :

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And moved on to the Beet Tartare (diced, roasted beets with carrot aioli, fines herbes, & capers atop cashew puree with olive oil, sea salt, & [gluten-free] toast) :

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And we split a small Baby Arugula Salad (with pears, aged cheese, and candied walnuts in a creamy herb dressing) :

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For our mains we shared a gluten-free Patata Pizza (caramelized red onions, rosemary, thinly sliced gold potatoes, & cashew cheese) :

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And Trumpet Royale Scallops (marinated trumpet royale mushrooms with truffled potato puree, roast broccolini, red pepper, & white wine cashew cream) :

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OKAY. So maybe it’s possible that we ordered too much food, and we had zero room for dessert, and actually might have had to take almost the entire pizza home with us. Maybe.

But it was worth every last bite, and we left fat and happy, and rolled our little selves home and into bed, and slept like a pair of tuckered puppies. It was a good night.

~~~

Day Two

Our second morning in Portland started late – still full from the night before – and lazy just like a real vacation should be. Finally, around noon, we were ready for some food! We had plans to hit the Sunday brunch at Blossoming Lotus, an all-vegan, mostly-organic, high-raw hotspot. And we managed to make plans, literally last-minute texting in the cab on the way there, to meet up with one of my long-time blog readers and online pals, Meghan.

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Jeremy got the Lotus Benedict (split biscuit topped with tofu scramble, sausage patties, sliced tomato, wilted spinach, and chipotle hollandaise, served with roasted potatoes and steamed greens). A-mazing.

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Meghan and I ordered the exact same thing: the raw Cobb Salad (bed of romaine lettuce topped with rows of avocado, coconut bacon, pecan chorizo, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and beets, served with caper ranch dressing), and WOW WOW WOW this was sooooo good! I’m drooling just remembering it.

Just as we were digging into our food, I felt a little tap on my shoulder, and turned around to find one of my vegan mama friends from back in the day, Krysta! I squealed and leapt up and gave her a big hug, it was such an awesome surprise! I’ve known Krysta since we were pregnant, and her daughter was born just 3 weeks after Waits – one of three vegan babies born that month alone. Because Portland.

I was so happy to see an old familiar face and get a chance for a quick catch-up, and also so happy that I was able to meet up with Meghan, finally, after so many years of following each other online. She was pregnant when Waits was wee, and I met her just once very briefly at a Vegan Iron Chef competition so many years ago, before she was even pregnant. Now, her Huck is 2, Waits is 4, and she is very pregnant once again. I love it when online friendships, especially ones that span across years, finally take form (so seamlessly!) in real life. ♥

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From there Meghan gave us a ride over to the Mini Mall, one of Portland’s most iconic and must-see vegan stops. With Sweetpea Bakery (oh yes, I sampled a gluten-free sandwich cookie), Herbivore Clothing Company (and publishers of my book!), Food Fight! grocery, and Scapegoat Tattoo, it really is a little slice of vegan heaven.

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After we’d checked out each and every shop from top to bottom, and run into yet another old friend who was working on his laptop at Sweetpea (yay for vegan Portland making it so easy to cross paths!), we met up with my friend Jacqueline for a very special mission. We had thrifting to do!

Portland is one of my number one favorite spots for secondhand shopping, from vintage dresses to funky boots to kitschy kitchen-ware. But this trip I had my eye on one thing and one thing only: 1970s little boy’s clothing.

And I scored!

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Such a lovely spring day for a walk, from the Mini Mall up to House Of Vintage on Hawthorne.

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SQUEEE vintage tees for my little mister! Waits was made to wear 1970s, I swear. He just looks the part.

Kate joined in on our thrifting adventure, and then afterwards, Jacqueline invited us all down to the little wine bar that she works for.

Enso “urban winery” and tasting bar was recently voted Portland’s 2014 Bar Of The Year (wow!), and Jacqueline was eager to show Jeremy (and the rest of us) their gorgeous space and awesome line of small-batch wines, all of which are made and aged onsite.

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Ryan, owner and winemaker, gives Jacqueline a little waft of the house-made sangria steeping away.

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The wines were awesome and the company was even awesomer, but I’m super bummed I didn’t get any good pictures of me + Jacqueline + Kate together. Dangit!

Anyway, from there we caught a ride with Kate back to my sister’s house, grabbed our bags, hauled them over to Libby and Taylor’s where we were staying that night, and settled in for a quiet night at home: eating, laughing, and catching up on life.

For dinner we got takeout from my favorite Lebanese restaurant, Nicholas.

You guys, this food.

Jeremy was like, really? We only have four nights in Portland and you’re taking me to this place I’ve never heard of for falafel, of all things.

But you guys, this food!!!

It’s the best falafel I’ve ever had, plus if you order the Vegan Mezza you get hummus, garlic-stewed chickpeas that are off the hook, drool-inducing lentils with caramelized onions that I seriously dream about, and this tahini sauce that they must spike with crack because there’s no other explanation for why it’s so good. WHY IS IT SO GOOD?? I eat that stuff with a spoon.

My picture, in low and moody candle light, does NOT do it justice.

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So you’re just going to have to trust me. Nicholas! Do it!


And that was the end of another long day, halfway through our epic Portlandstravaganza, and halfway through this Ultimate Portland Vegan Dining Guide.

Part II – Coming soon!

  • http://www.thevegancookiefairy.com/ The Vegan Cookie Fairy

    An all-vegan strip club?!

    So I’m going to start saving my pennies for that Great Vegan American Food Adventure I’ve always wanted to embark on… thanks for all the foodie tips! :)

  • Liv Reiners

    This was awesome!! Thank you for such detail!

  • theveganchickpea

    that raw cobb salad looks un-f*cking-believable. i want that now and every day for the rest of my life.

  • Jbuesch

    All the pics of us are bad?! Noooo! :-(

  • http://mydarlingmydear.blogspot.com/ tamara

    Awesome photos and sounds like a great visit! I live in PDX but haven’t made it to Nicholas–I’ll have to check it out. Looking forward to part two!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, yeah I’ve never been to the strip club but apparently they have the best vegan burger in all of Portland.

    Save those pennies girl! It is sooooo worth it!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    My pleasure! It’s fun for me to re-live it as well. ;-)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    It really was off-the-hook amazing. It’s funny ’cause when I look at the pic I’m like, “It’s raw veggies!” But the combinations and that coconut bacon and walnut chorizo and caper ranch . . . oh man, it’s just perfection on a plate. Totally light and fresh yet totally satiating and satisfying. I want more! =D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I know it’s TRAGIC! But the lighting is horrible, all side bright and glaring. I can send you some if you want. Also, how did we manage to not get a single pic of just the two of us? Geeze!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Yeah, you gotta check out Nicholas! I prefer the one down on Grand. The space is teeny tiny but if you can eat there (and don’t mind crowded spaces) it’s a really cool experience. The pita fresh from the oven is enormous and amazing (if you’re not g-f).

    Part II is hopefully coming tomorrow!

  • Veronica

    My stomach is growling. Good lord. Especially that vegan cobb salad, jesus.
    I know we all blew up your Instagram with comments about that gorgeous hair of yours, but it really needs to be said again. Holy wow. That hair. Was the color an at-home job or a professional one? I know you wrote some great posts awhile back about the Manic-Panic dyes– did you use those? Tell me your secrets!

  • Pingback: More Than Just Vacation Photos: Sayward’s Definitive “Must-Eat” Portland Vegan Dining Guide, Part II | Bonzai Aphrodite

  • veganinbrighton

    Your Portland trip looks like it was super fun and you hit up some of my faves, Back to Eden and Portobello! The Beet Tartare is easily one of my fave dishes from anywhere ever!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thank you so much! The dye is an at-home job, I just throw color and bleach at it and hope it works out (and it usually does, so that’s good). I’m in the process of lightening it all up, but of course that takes time so as not to fry it.

    For bleach I use Punky Colors/Jerome Russell. It’s vegan and not animal tested. But, you know, NOT natural, haha.

    But thank you! I’m glad you like it! The cut is great but it’s also the blow out/straightening that makes it look so different. That goes away pretty quickly and I’m back tot the wavy weirdness that is my hair. =D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    That beet tartare is in my top 5 too! So, so good. They went heavy on the capers this time and I loooooved it!!