Weekend in Portland – A Vegan Travel Guide to Food and Spirits

The Pacific Northwest city of Portland, Oregon has a reputation. Known for being a leader in sustainability, a haven for all two-wheeled commuters, and a nature lover’s dream come true, this seaport town has the kind of reputation every city wants to have. Teeming with pristine forests, unspoiled mountain terrain and gurgling waterfalls? Absolutely. A dynamic vegan scene that includes an all-vegan bar and grocery store as well as a bevy of plant-strong bakeries? Yes! A bounty of eateries presenting organic, locally grown ingredients? Right this way! And if you’ve heard that dogs are allowed inside at taverns in the great city of Portland, then you’ve heard right. Welcome to Portland.

TAKE A STROLL THROUGH PORTLAND: PEOPLE AND PUPS WELCOME

BACK TO EDEN BAKERY

If you make your way to Portland, be sure to stop by the Alberta Arts District. The energy is bright here, with a plethora of art galleries and indie boutiques peppering the community. And they have everything your hungry heart could desire. You’ll find Back to Eden Bakery with its wide array of 100% plant-based sweet treats {gluten-free also, so definitely dig into a moist cookie-cake}, Bye and Bye Bar {pop down below to discover a surprising twist of turns that involves cheesecake at this unique pub and eatery}, and Blossoming Lotus cafe, all within walking distance {or biking if you prefer}.

BLOSSOMING LOTUS

Blossoming Lotus has been serving up vegan fusion world cuisine for over ten years. Their wide and inventive menu selection includes rich smoothies, savory lentil-walnut cheeseburgers and hardy desserts like strawberry cheesecake and homemade carrot cake {I highly recommend each of these options because I tried them all; be sure to try the chile-lime kale chips, too!}. It’s all served up by the friendliest staff in a casual and convivial atmosphere. Leaning over her slice of pink cheesecake, I overheard the woman at the table next to me telling her friend in a hushed, conspiratorial tone, “It’s not actually cheese, it’s cashew based, so we can eat all we want!” Yes, yes we can have our cheesecake and eat it too.

BYE AND BYE BAR

Bye and Bye Bar I popped in to check out the widely heralded all-vegan pub and eatery, known for their extensive cocktail and beer selection which includes non-alcoholic beverages, too. While some beers, wines and spirits are processed using animal-derived products such as gelatin, casein or egg albumen, here at Bye and Bye, the staff has been pouring vegan-friendly drinks for over nine years now. But what really surprised me was the following discovery: besides a sizable, hand painted portrait of American novelist Jack Kerouac watching over patrons {including the pups on the front patio}, this sunlit venue serves no ordinary bar menu fare.

The food menu includes traditional comfort foods like grilled cheese along with southern-inspired cuisine, including red beans and collard greens. Fresh Thai coconut stew and lemon fig cheesecake were being served on the day of my visit. I tried the dessert, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It was divine. When they told me they only had one slice left, I knew I was in the right place at the right time. They say life is as much about luck as it is effort. So I put forth the mighty effort to visit the right establishments, and Fortuna smiled upon me! Life rewarded me with a pleasantly tangy cheesecake, my favorite dessert. I call that dessert destiny!

HARVEST AT THE BINDERY

Choose the rustic stuffed pasta, beet gnocchi or chard polenta with smoked oyster mushrooms and you’ll be equally satisfied. Harvest at the Bindery is a sun-drenched open space with top notch service and really, the best interpretation I’ve had of some familiar but seldom-found veg alternatives. While many of these dishes are traditionally made with cream, butter and cheese, it was quite magical to experience each of the hot, filling dishes with the same light, tender texture and rich flavor, sans the dairy. If you happen to visit during breakfast hours, the Eggs Benedict is sure to delight. The chef leaves out the eggs, but leaves in the deeply penetrating flavor.

ECO FASHION ADVENTURES

LOCAL + VINTAGE TREASURES

Be on the lookout for this wonderful little concept shop on the Alberta strip Zig Zag Wanderer. They’ve got a fine selection of vintage books and a substantial collection of wares made by local artisans including handmade, unisex essential oils and perfumes by Age of Earth as well as a beautiful brass jewelry line of hand-stamped baubles by Indigo Alice Designs. This is where you stock up on vintage sweaters and cardigans, pre-loved graphic tees, or seventies peasant blouses in earthen hues, all perfect for layering as we head from chilly months to warmer clime. Also on your list of must-see, add a visit to Herbivore Clothing Company, where hip clothing, original artwork, books and accessories {including bath and body products} line the shelves and dot the walls of this happy little shop celebrating it’s tenth anniversary this year!

There’s a lot to love when it’s time to dig in for a good meal in Portland. And I do mean good. With so many cafes to choose from, the only challenge is which to select for a weekend visit. If you vie for a cozy night in and want to cook your own meals, head to Food Fight! Grocery, a supermarket specializing in animal-friendly food, supplements and fresh produce {and fun buttons for every jacket and bag in your wardrobe}. If you decide to indulge in a night of fine dining, then don’t leave town without making yourself a reservation at Farm Spirit, a delightfully rustic venue with chef’s counter seating. These highlights are just a way to dip your toes into the vibrant vegan scene in the “City that Works,” a city where you can not only feed your appetite for deeply satisfying, flavorful food, but among the verdant parks and lush forests, you can also feed the human spirit.

 

All photos by author 

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Christina Pippin

Christina is an artist, educator and freelance writer who divides her time between Paris and Chicago. She believes in using creativity as a medium for change. she believes in everyday heroes, and she believes in the power of love. She curates a cruelty-free + ethical style guide at finny + dill.

4 Comments
  1. Not only does that cheesecake look great but Portland looks like a beautiful place to go. It seems like a fantastic place for a vegan like me and I am now thinking off taking a trip to try all the vegan food Portland has to offer. Thanks for the great story Christina.

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