I’m finally getting around to editing all my food photos from my travels this summer!
In early June, my sister Anna and I went to Portland with our friend Kathy Vo (pictured above on the top left), on a mission to taste all the mouth-watering vegan food and see the gorgeous sights. Here are the tasty highlights of our adventures (basically almost everything we tried). My absolute favorites are in bold.
After being up since 4 am C.S.T. to catch our flight and experiencing flight delays, my sister and I arrived in Portland way past lunchtime. We were feeling delirious with hunger. After checking in at our Airbnb with Kathy V., we headed straight to the food trucks at Mississippi Marketplace. We were joined by my friend Elaina from high school (pictured above on the bottom left)!
Homegrown Smoker BBQ / menu
We had to check out Homegrown Smoker BBQ because my friend Chelsea Sherman, a Portland local (and fellow photographer, yay!), raved about it. We got the Chili Mac Attack and a Smoked Tempeh Rib Platter, which came with golden delicious hush puppies! We were pleased to find that Sriracha was available to drizzle over everything we ordered.
It was comfort food heaven!! The chili mac was a little salty for me, but most comfort foods tend to be on the salty side for my tastebuds. I’m weird.
Native Bowl / menu
I loved the colorful variety of the options at Native Bowl, and the fact that they use locally made tofu! I just wish they had a brown rice option. 😉 Since we were extra hungry, we each got a bowl heaping with colorful goodness…it was a challenge to finish everything!
Later, my sister and I reflected that we should have just shared one bowl because as Asians, we have an abundance of rice dishes in our recipe repertoire at home already. Out of the bowls we tried, I enjoyed the Burnside Bowl best–it featured teriyaki marinated chik’n, a sweet red pepper slaw, veggies, and a “fire breathing dragon” sauce. The Alberta bowl with garlic tofu was not bad either!
After walking around all day (and forgetting my water bottle at the Airbnb), we were extremely thirsty. We couldn’t understand why so many of the cafes were closed at 5 pm on a Saturday! After consulting with some local friends, we ended up going to Tea Zone to quench our thirst.
We got a bunch of boba smoothies, which were just ok, but Kathy V.’s pitcher of iced strawberry green tea was the best beverage out of everything. Fragrant and lightly sweet, it was a well-deserved reward after our wanderings in the heat outside.
So this place wasn’t like a groundbreaking highlight, but I included it in case you find yourself walking in Portland, seeking a beverage when most places are closed…haha.
A.N.D. Cafe / menu
The next morning, we met up with some of my Portland friends for a walk at Mt. Tabor (gorgeous view, btw–I’ll share those photos in another post). Afterwards, we had a delightful brunch at A.N.D. Cafe, a vegetarian and gluten-free cafe with tons of vegan options. My friend and fellow blogger, Kathy Peterman (The 3rd Chapter) is so lucky to live within walking distance of both Mt. Tabor and A.N.D. Cafe.
Pictured above, clockwise from the top left: buffalo chick’n wrap, super vegano burrito sans tortilla, chocolate pudding pie waffle with strawberries, and my savory mushroom melt waffle! Everything was incredible. I was particularly impressed with my savory mushroom melt waffle–it was stuffed with mushrooms and spinach, topped with tofu scramble and a zesty creamy dressing. I think that was my first savory waffle experience, actually. INSPIRING.
Before we stumbled upon Back to Eden, we got some ice cream at Salt’n’Straw down the street. Salt’n’Straw was good, but they only had one vegan option, and it was not nearly as delicious as the vanilla chocolate swirl soft serve we got from Back to Eden. Anna and I also got a couple of savory quiches to-go, which we saved to enjoy during our travels back home! Very satisfying.
I later learned that Back to Eden also serves breakfast, but we didn’t get a chance to check it out. Since the soft serve and quiches were so satisfying, I bet the breakfast spread would be worth trying!
Departure / menu
Departure offers modern, pan-Asian cuisine and a breathtaking view of the city if you choose to sit on the terrace, which we did. We ordered a few different things to try, but what really stood out at this meal was the Korean BBQ Tempeh Buns (pictured on the right). I’m inspired to make my own version at home!
I was completely blown away by dessert at this place. We said yes to two of their vegan desserts–Peaches + Cream Cashew Cheesecake and Toasted Vanilla Cake. By this time, night had fallen, and my feeble attempt at photos did not do these delicately plated, tiny desserts justice. Instead, I will use words.
The Peaches + Cream Cashew Cheesecake came with peach + ginger sorbet, wakamomo baby peaches, and a sprinkle of matcha, while the Toasted Vanilla Cake was served with lemongrass sorbet, rhubarb, smooth coconut yogurt, and lovely edible blossoms I could not identify. I was very taken with the peach + ginger sorbet, and the lemongrass sorbet was just REMARKABLE. I freaked out about it on Snapchat for a bit before eating. I don’t often see ginger and lemongrass as dessert flavors, much less in something like sorbet, but the flavors totally worked! Refreshing, fragrant, and unique.
Honestly, I would not mind coming back to Departure, skipping dinner (well, maybe some BBQ tempeh buns) and just going for the exquisite desserts!
We got some nachos, a comforting tofu scramble with veggies, and morning potatoes, but the star of the morning was Mexican Corn Cakes (the pancake-looking goodness in my sister’s photo on the right, above). These golden gluten-free savory corn cakes came with corn, roasted red peppers, salsa, guac, and vegan sour cream. It was like eating savory, Mexican pancakes. We fell in love…
Speaking of love, you know that feeling when you have a crush on someone and can’t get enough of them? I met my new love interest through dessert at Vita Cafe…Thai Tea Cheesecake! This creamy slice of mellow sweetness melted in my mouth with each bite. And it’s vegan and gluten-free! It’s been over a month and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I need more. UGHH. Crushes are the worst, aren’t they? 🙂
White Owl Social Club / menu
Behold, the delectable power of PLANTS! White Owl Social Club’s well-known vegan burger is made with beets, quinoa, flax, and Oregon hazelnuts. The patty is served on a sesame bun with fresh carrot ribbons, Heidi Ho Monterey Jack, and creamy misonnaise. It was incredibly rich and hearty in both taste and texture…the best beet burger I’ve had, to date. I don’t even remember adding ketchup. My omnivore friend Kathy V. was totally impressed. “How does it taste soo goood; it’s better than a meat burger…”
“The beet burger at White Owl Social Club is a new gold standard. I’ve seen full tables of die-hard meat-eaters order it, and come back for it, too.” — Eater.com
We also ordered kale + cabbage slaw, and a plate of sautéed brussels sprouts that came with a vegan cheese sauce. It was a good dose of veggies, which can be hard to come by when you’re traveling and indulging!
Harlow / menu
Our last meal in Portland was breakfast at an adorable place called Harlow! We met with my friend Chelsea S. and Kathy P. to say goodbye and enjoy one last meal together before hitting the road.
Pictured above, clockwise from the top left: Mercy Blues, Walnut Flapjacks + Bananas, Chipotle Chili Bowl, Chickpea Garden Hash, and a Strawberry Short Stack.
The food was stunning in both appearance and taste, and the staff was so kind. I wish my camera battery hadn’t died so that I could have taken more photos!
I loved the wholesomeness of Harlow’s dishes. They brought together a colorful variety of ingredients to produce gorgeous, comforting flavors. My favorites were the following:
- Mercy Blues: steamed kale, smokey tempeh, a cashew chipotle hollandaise, and avocado slices. It was so satisfying and wholesome.
- Chickpea Garden Hash: chickpeas, sautéed mushrooms, tons of veggies tossed with garlic, and a roasted red bell pepper sauce. A garden of flavors that should not be missed.
- Strawberry Short Stack: almond butter + quinoa pancakes with house-made granola, strawberry cashew cream (!!!), maple syrup, and fresh strawberries + bananas. These pancakes tasted just as beautiful as they looked!
I couldn’t think of a better place or better company to end our trip with–everything tasted delightful and it was filling in the best, nourishing way, especially since I was among like-minded, loving friends.
I hope you enjoyed looking through my Portland food adventures! I have more photos from our nature adventures, but I’ll save those for another post. Did I miss any noteworthy vegan spots? I’m sure there’s a lot that I didn’t get to try–please let me know your recommendations! 🙂
Related articles (more plant-based eats in Portland!):
- Beloved Veggie Portland Eats | via The 3rd Chapter
- The Best Vegan & Gluten-Free Restaurants in Portland | via Vegan À La Mode
- Best Vegan Eats in Portland | via Vegan Miam
- Stumptown Vegans’ Top Picks for Portland | via Stumptown Vegans
- An Epic Look at Portland’s 21 Favorite Vegan Dishes | via Eater