Friday, September 2, 2011

Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Portland, Part 4

I have one more Portland post up my sleeve, before I'm fully immersed in my culinary training here in Fort Bragg - and you'd better believe I'm excited.  Let it be known that I love making food, and eating food.  And I'm going to get better at both.  Hell yeah.

So despite how entranced Logan and I were with the whole food cart scene, we did actually manage to get out to some real restaurants, too.  And a doughnut shop.

1. Laughing Planet Cafe

Laughing Planet was our very first Portland food stop, entirely because of its proximity to our hostel.  Hungry from a long day of bus and train rides, we eagerly stepped inside, where a menu of burritos, bowls and beers greeted us with much glee.  And we gleefully greeted them back!

The menu had some good lookin' vegan options, and most of it could be easily veganized by getting rid of the cheese, or subbing it with Daiya.  Yup, they had Daiya - and vegan sour cream!

Of course, we went with burritos, because burritos are nature's perfect food.  I got the Grilled Veggies burrito, but ix-nayed the cheese (obviously) and added sour "cream" and guacamole instead.  Even after adding that delicious, fat-laden goodness, the (huge!) burrito only cost me $6.50!  Hello, America.  Need I mention the cheap beer?

Meanwhile, Logan ate the Che Guevara (pictured left).  Amongst the seasoned beans and rice, it contained bbq sauce and plantains - can't really go wrong with that.  The burritos were huge and messy, but luckily each table came with some very important instructions:

So basically, Laughing Planet Cafe was a perfect first date, promising many more delicious meals to come, and lots of cheap beer.  We still had to get to know each other a little better, but I had a good feeling about this handsome city called Portland.

2. Portobello

We couldn't come to Portland and miss out on the opportunity to visit Portobello, an upscale vegan dining experience.  My fine dining experiences in general have been very limited; mostly I've carried an idea in my mind of small portions, dim lighting and a hefty bill.  And if that's what was in store, so be it - you just can't pass up fancy vegan dining.

...Or beer.  But you knew that was coming.  Not pictured is me sipping champagne, just to feel extra fancy.  I don't think I've ever had champagne before this - that's how deep my love of beer runs.  But foregoing beer was worth it for the bubbly!  And to make our wait even more enjoyable, we munched on these cute appetizers:

Meet the Cashew Cheese Stuffed Sweety-Peps, a perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy and smooth.  If I could think up any more words starting with 's' to describe these, then I would.  Super.  Stellar.  Satisfying.

After enjoying our appetizer, we were ready for a meal.  Logan ordered the Arrabiata pizza, and it was the incarnation of beauty itself.  The menu described this pizza as "chili-fennel seed marinara, cherry peppers, cashew cream, and vegan sausage" - doesn't that sound incredible?  The portion was huge, shattering my main concern about fine dining - I knew our bellies would indeed be full by the end of this meal.

After eating a slice or two, the waiter came by and asked how everything tasted.  Logan exclaimed with gusto, "this is the best pizza I've ever had!"  It was that good.  The crust was perfect - thin and crisp with some softness in the middle, and you just can't go wrong with vegan sausage and Daiya.  Though the menu offered pizza topped with their homemade cashew cheese, Logan opted out because he is a complete Daiya devotee.

I ordered the small size of their Spicy Eggplant Ravioli, because how often does a vegan get to eat fresh, homemade ravioli?  It's way too much of a pain to make at home, so getting it at a restaurant is a real treat.  As you can imagine, it was incredible - though not very spicy, so I think even a spice wimp could enjoy this.  When it arrived, the portion did seem small indeed, but I'm glad I chose that size because I had a very full belly afterward!  And it was very important we save room for dessert...

Vegan tiramisu.  Delicious, rum-soaked spongy cake layered with a light, creamy whip.  It was perfection.  Logan and I were exploding afterward but it was so, so worth it.

For the amount of food that we ate, and for the excellent quality of that food, the price was very fair, and not nearly as expensive as I was originally anticipating.  Whether or not you're vegan, Portobello is a great place to go - if it was in my town (oh, how I wish!), I would feel comfortable taking most anyone there, since the food speaks so well for itself, and does a great job telling the world that vegan food can be gourmet, fresh and inventive, without being weird.

And now I'm all emo because it'll be a long time before I get to enjoy Portobello again.  Band, if you're reading this, we need to do a west-coast tour ASAP.

3. Hungry Tiger Too

When Logan and I first walked inside after recently completing our vegan strip mall adventures, I immediately saw the holy grail of all whiteboard messages:

First off: vegan corndogs?  For realz?  The deal was truly sealed when I learned that a pint of beer could be had for a mere $1.  It was like a dream come true.  The last couple of days had shown me cheap beer o'plenty, but this took the animal-friendly cake.

While we sipped our cheap beer, we started flipping through the 3-page vegan menu, which sadly isn't online, so you'll just have to visit in person.  Check out that drink menu - $2 cans and bottles?  Whoa!  We must've died and gone to beer heaven!

It wasn't just beer heaven we were experiencing, either - with so many delicious sounding choices on their menu (All-day breakfast?  Score!), it took us a good 20 minutes before deciding what to munch on.  Ahh, choices, I had forgotten what you felt like.

We ended up getting an order of Tofuffalo Wings (come on, say tofuffalo out loud, you know you want to), which was deep-fried tofu goodness in a barbeque sauce, served with some vegan ranch.

In addition to the Tofuffalo, we shared a small portion of their Greek Tofu Scramble, which was a giant plate remniscent of Smitty's, but vegan, and way more colorful.  Like so many places in Portland, the portions were very generous and were cheap as hell.  Our entire bill - beer, corndogs and food - only ended up costing us $20.  I could live in this restaurant.  Again I say to my band: west coast tour.  Pronto.

4. Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo Donuts might as well be world-famous, what with their crazy donut selection and offerings like Diablos Rex and Maple Blazer Blunt (both of which we got, by the way).  It definitely seemed world-famous when we got there - there was a lineup way out the door!  But Logan and I were determined to score us some vegan doughnuts, so we waited patiently in the hot 30-degree sun to claim our prize.

Hello, prize.  We decided to get a box of 6 donuts, so we had plenty for snacking and for breakfast.  Aren't they awesome-looking?  The best of the bunch, in my opinion, was the Portland Cream, described as "Raised yeast doughnut filled with Bavarian cream with chocolate on the top and two eyeballs" - I'm sure you can find it in the picture.  In addition to the Diablos Rex (top left) and Maple Blazer Blunt (top right), we also got the classic Voodoo Doll (complete with pretzel stake, bottom left), an orange-flavored one which I can't find the name of (Update: It's called the Orangutan - thanks, Logan!), and a classic glazed doughnut, buried underneath all of the madness.

Oh Portland, now that you've been gone from my life for five days, I miss you like crazy.  Where else in the world could such amazing vegan food be found on virtually every corner?  You have stolen a piece of my heart, dear city.

Okay TCK, let's get on this.  Step 1: achieve fame.  Step 2: tour the west coast.  Step 3: Eat.


  1. The orange donut is called the Orangutan.

  2. The burrito guide is hilarious. Burrito technique is very important. Everything here looks amazing!

  3. I want to go to Portland SO, SO bad. Those donuts are cool!