Vegetarian food in Portland – up and coming
I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Portland category. In 2011 428 votes were cast, in 2012 450 votes, in 2013, 560 votes, in 2015 878, and for this year 902 votes were counted. I’m not sure if this means people are trying to eat a healthier diet, or if Portland vegetarian restaurants have stepped up their game. The number of votes each restaurant received is diluted, with the total votes of each restaurant a bit lower than in the past. This is a good thing, as it would indicate that other restaurants are getting better.
902 votes counted –
1. Farm Spirit $$$$
Farm Spirit is probably the most serious of the vegetarian/vegan restaurants in this list. It stepped up and replaced the void when the much loved Natural Selection closed and won the top place on this list by a significant margin. They call their cuisine “Cascadian”, sourcing everything locally from Oregon and southern Washington. The menus are are eight courses plus snacks, with the current price ranging from $65 – $85 per person.
- Vegan tasting menu which changes depending what is available
- You’ll be sitting at the chef’s counter
- Fixed price
- Make your reservations (ticket system) well in advance
- 1414 SE Morrison St, Portland, OR 97202 Map
2. Blossoming Lotus $$
As Paul Gerald of Breakfast in Bridgetown fame wrote in his review in 2007 “live means “raw,” and many of the selections, including two on the breakfast menu, are raw.” I’m still a bit confused, but would probably order the Live Nachos, just because it has “nachos” in the name. Along with a somewhat standard vegetarian brunch menu with a Benedict, scramble and biscuits & gravy, the lunch and dinner selection offers larger plates such as pasta primavera, tacos, masala curry and even a vegetarian bibimbap. Each item is clearly marked vegan, vegetarian, gluten free etc. They also have a bakery with cakes, pies, cookies and “raw cheesecakes”. I’m so confused.
- Full bar
- No meat here
- 1713 Northeast 15th Avenue Portland, OR 97212 Map (503) 228-0048
3. Harlow $
While Prasad has a fairly basic menu with a focus on smoothies and fancy juice combinations, Harlow is more like a traditional vegetarian restaurant.
They also offer the “Mighty Bowl” mentioned above. Extra karma points! According to the website, the entire menu is gluten-free. Here are a few of the dinner options: Butternut Squash and Sage Penne – gluten-free penne pasta tossed in a rich butternut squash cream with smoky tomatoes, spinach & carrots, topped with fried sage & almond parmesan. Marrakesh plate – black lentil & vegetable Moroccan stew served over herbed polenta cakes and steamed kale, topped with tamarind date chutney, fresh mint & cilantro. Both sound good to me. They also have the requisite vegetarian bowls along with salads and whatnot.
- 3632 Southeast Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214 Map (971) 255-0138
4. Veggie Grill $
Veggie Grill is a large chain spanning many states, but that didn’t stop it from coming in at number four on this list. The menu is completely vegetarian, no saturated fats, no meat, dairy, eggs. They have an enormous selection of items to pick from, it’s all over the place. Those of you who need something to wash it down beware, no alcohol.
- 508 SW Taylor St, Portland, OR 97204 Map (503) 841-6647
- 3435 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005 Map (503) 350-2369
5. The Bye & Bye $
Another 100% vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Bowls like the Georgia Bowl Nutritional yeast breaded tofu, brown rice and collard greens, sandwiches – Weeping Tiger Sandwich with tofu cutlets, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, jalapeño, Sriracha and miso mayo on Grand Central bread, “meatball sub”, and even a meatless BBQ platter – BBQ tofu, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and toasted baguette. Served with chips and salsa.
- Food until 10 pm
- Full liquor license, with a happy hour from 4 pm – 7 pm daily.
- 1011 Northeast Alberta St. Portland, OR 97211 Map
6. The Sudra $$
Go here for a menu that covers Indian and Middle-Eastern “inspired” vegan food. Loosely inspired I would say, but interesting and pretty good. I go here now and then and have enjoyed my meals. Beware – the hot sauce actually is.
- Full bar with happy hour 4-7 pm. Cocktails, and mocktails.
- Vegan menu
- 2333 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97232 Map (971) 302-6002
7. Vita Cafe $
Vita Cafe has been dishing up vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free fare since 1999. According to their website, they “choose to use local and organic products as much as possible” along with a focus on “sustainable business practices”. They specialize in large servings of comfort food: Vegan Nachos – tortilla chips topped with beans, brown rice, black olives, salsa, guacamole, vegan cheese sauce and vegan sour cream. Greek Salad – greens with crumbled feta cheese, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion and olives with basil vinaigrette. Three Bean Vegan Chili served with a corn muffin. Carnivores and pescatarians will find four different hamburgers including a spicy salmon.
- Full liquor license, with a rotating local brew list.
- Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus
- $1 kids happy hour from 5 pm – 7 pm daily
- 3023 Northeast Alberta St. Portland, OR 97211 Map (503) 335-8233
Sweetpea Baking specializes in baked goods, custom cakes, donuts, cronuts and more. You’ll also find a cafe breakfast menu with everything from an oatmeal bowl to biscuits and gravy. The lunch menu consists of a few salads, soup of the day, and a large selection of sandwiches.
- 100% vegan, but not gluten-free
- 1205 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97214 Map (503) 477-5916
9. Back to Eden Bakery $
Back To Eden started as a dessert bar, added a 40 seat cafe next door, and now a food cart on Division Street. All of the food served and the kitchen it is prepared in is completely free of gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, and meat.
- 100% vegan and gluten free menu
- Dessert bar: 2217 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211 Map (503) 477-5022
- Bakery Cafe: 2215 NE Alberta St, Portland OR 97211 Map
- Bakery food cart: 2880 SE Division St, Portland OR 97202 Map
10. Sweet Hereafter $
The first thing that catches my eye is – Sweet Hereafter is open until 2 am every day. Second, they have a full liquor license, which I’m going to need, as this is serious vegi food. Some examples: The Steve Martin – jerk marinated tofu cutlets, onion, kale slaw, pineapple and miso mayo o a ciabatta roll. Tofu Bahn Mi – Lemongrass marinated tofu cutlets with pickled carrots and radishes, jalapeños, cilantro, and miso mayo on a baguette. Pesto Provolone Grilled Cheese – Daiya Provolone with pesto, arugula, and tomatoes served on panini grilled sourdough. Yup, they have three bowls too, like the Eastern Bowl – nutritional yeast breaded tofu, broccoli, and brown rice with a spicy ginger peanut sauce, topped with sesame seeds. Minors allowed until 8 pm.
- Happy Hour: Weekdays from 4 pm – 7 pm.
- 3326 Southeast Belmont St. Portland, OR 97214 Map
- 2015: Natural Selection, The Farm Cafe, Blossoming Lotus, Portobello Vegan Trattoria, Bye & Bye, Vita Cafe, Prasad, Harlow, Sweet Hereafter
- 2013: Natural Selection, Blossoming Lotus, Portobello, Prasad
- 2012: Natural Selection, Blossoming Lotus, Portobello, The Farm Cafe, Sweet Hereafter, Bye and Bye, Vita Cafe, Proper Eats