Tag Archives: portland

Restaurant Review: Blackwater Bar [Portland]

Today we ventured down Broadway in Portland, looking for a spot for some lunch goodness.  The only problem?  I wanted something new.  I remembered hearing about Blackwater Bar in Portland, an all-vegan bar.

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Blackwater is a punk-rock themed bar, that teeters on the edge of dive status for me.  Once you walk in, the space is on the dark side (not sure if deliberate for the punk theme) and has a good mix of booths and chairs with tables.  The place is pretty good size, with a full sized stage for live music shows, a bar in the back, a couple of pinball machines, and ample seating.

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Today a screen was showing Discovery Channel documentaries so we all watched lions take down Giraffes and other nature shows.  We rooted for the giraffes.

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Once we sat down we were really excited about the menu.

It was all what I call traditional bar food. Which is probably higher on the unhealthy scale, and also higher on the good taste scale.

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We saw items like Mozzarella bites, burgers, chili cheese fries, pretzels, nachos and wings.  There were salads but they were at the bottom, and clearly not the prime focus of the place.

The service was really friendly and punctual.  I ordered an IPA on tap (from Breakside), and Kristin wanted a greyhound.

I decided on the traditional burger which included a house made patty (I heard great things about their burgers), Chao cheese, burger sauce, lettuce, and tomato.  I also ordered some mozzarella bites to try.  These also featured a house made mozzarella.

Kristin ended up with the Western Burger which included BBQ sauce, the same patty, burger sauce, fried onions, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

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The mozz bites came out first and looked really good. They came with a small cup of marinara sauce.  I was really excited to try these as I have a lot of respect for a place that makes their own vegan mozzarella.  However I think fans of the cheesy sticks may feel a little bummed about these.  The cheese was a little “gritty” and lacked substance in my opinion.  They fell apart in the marinara.  I do think though they are on the right track and will perfect these little fried balls soon.

The burgers soon followed.

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Mine was a perfect specimen of a vegan pub burger. The house made patty was amazing and it had a little crunch on the outside which was great.  They seemed to have also cracked the code on how to get Chao to melt onto a patty.  The burger sauce lent a great flavor to the burger also.

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The Western was beautiful as well.   The patty was basted in BBQ sauce and had a ton of flavor.  The fries were crispy and some of the best I have had from a vegan joint.

In the end, our food was really good.  We weren’t able to finish our meals and most of them came home.

Minors are also allowed in the bar but not past the clearly marked zones near the actual bar.

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While Blackwater Bar is not a place you’ll be taking Grandma (unless she is a punk rocker), we will definitely be going back and spending more time there!

835 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232

 

Restaurant Review: Southern Fried Vegan [Portland]

Well, today it happened.  I finally made the trek to Southern Fried Vegan (SFV) in Portland.  I saw the posts of bountiful buffets, and instagrams of beautiful sammiches.  And today I finally went.

And today I was really bummed.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Southern Fried Vegan [Portland]

Restaurant Review: Vtopia [Portland]

I have never liked cheese.  Only as a slice on a cheeseburger, or on a plain pizza.  All the fancy cheeses just grossed me out.  The thought of moldy, fermented cow milk was never anything I really wanted to try.

But now, as a vegan, I am really excited to try out all these new cheeses!  They are not gross at all, and, ironically I’m learning all about different cheese now that I am vegan.

What does all this have to do with Vtopia? Well, for starters, it is Portland’s first all vegan cheese shop.  For seconders (is that a thing?) they have an incredible deli that let’s you try all their cheeses in their glory.

Kristin and I pointed the Jeep at Vtopia, and headed to NW Portland for some lunch.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Vtopia [Portland]

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Yuan Su Vegetarian [Portland]

When it comes to vegan sin food, look no further than a steaming chinese buffet to quench your carby-starchy-salty cravings.  And, no two Chinese vegan joints are ever created equal.  There are upscale locations and, well, downscale too.  Which was honestly what I expected as we pointed the Jeep to Portland’s “felony flats” to try out a new Chinese place.  And boy was I wrong.

Yuan Su is located in a large building at the corner of 112th and Powell with ample parking.  Once inside the huge wooden doors, the place is well lit, clean, and very spacious.  I was surprised to see a stage there, but figured it was just part of the building’s history.

The service was warm and humble and quickly brought us water, house soup, and discussed the new business.  As we pored over the immense menu (I honestly do not know how they can sustain such a huge menu) we decided on some options.

Continue reading RESTAURANT REVIEW: Yuan Su Vegetarian [Portland]

My Experience with Uber and why it rocks!

I know this post isn’t directly related to Jeeping, or even veganism for that matter (I did have a vegan driver once).  But it is an issue that has been in the Portland-area circles, as the city decides how to “handle” ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The first time I used Uber was during a business trip to San Diego.  I took a cab ride from the airport to the hotel, for a whopping $37 (it was like 4 miles).  What is even worse, was the driver’s attitude about accepting my corporate AMEX card (“you don’t have any cash?” he pestered).  As he was grumbling about swiping my card, he didn’t even help me with my bags from the trunk.  As he sped away, I just about swore off taxis.

On the other end of the spectrum, on my return trip to the same airport from the same hotel, the cost was just over $11.  And the courteous driver offered me complimentary water, set the music to whatever I wanted, and was incredibly polite and conversational.

Continue reading My Experience with Uber and why it rocks!

Restaurant Review: Sweetpea Baking Co. [Portland]

Believe it or not, we have so many vegan establishments in Portland that it is still a possibility to explore new ones.  And this is exactly what happened to me recently when visiting Sweetpea Baking Company in SE Portland.

I had been there before, but usually only to pick up a special order cake, or for a coffee emergency.

But today I visited with the intention of actually exploring the place – starting with one of their ginormous cinnamon buns.  And what a place to start! Continue reading Restaurant Review: Sweetpea Baking Co. [Portland]

Restaurant Review: Native Foods Cafe [Portland]

In my opinion, there are two titans of the vegan “fast/casual” restaurant market:  Veggie Grill and Native Foods.

Fortunately for us vegans, they both take a different approach on their food so we truly get to enjoy the strengths of each.

Bright and light, the interiors of NFC are always inviting.

Veggie Grill uses purchased meat analogs where Native Foods makes all their own stuff.  Both options are great, but with Native Foods you can enjoy food that you just can’t make at home.  Another plus?   Native Foods has ventured further inland than VG, with locations in places like Boulder, Washington D.C., and Chicago.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Native Foods Cafe [Portland]

Restaurant Review: Brass Tacks [Portland]

There was a study (er, an article I saw on the internet, so it MUST be true) that there is a certain color of red that instinctively makes humans hungry.

Think about one fast food brand that does not have this same red in it: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., In ‘N Out, etc.

It just so happens that the vegan meatballs at Brass Tacks are the EXACT same red.  That must be the reason I am drooling like a Pavlov dog each time I walk into the place.

Their meatballs bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they’re better than yours.

Brass Tacks is in a non-descript building facing Vancouver at Fremont.  The interior is austere and a bit cold, attributed mostly to the huge glass windows along the front that make for great people watching.

Hmmm Dovetail must be operating under a secret bunker somewhere in Alberta. How are they still making cookies!?

While BT is very accommodating and knowledgeable about veganism, they do serve meat, so keep an eye out on the menu.

But what a menu.

What the menu lacks in quantity (there are 4 options + 1 special), Brass Tacks makes up for in quality.  The white bean meatballs are housemade, and they are some of the best I have ever had.  The housemade “ham” is also amazing.

4 vegan items and 4 meat!? WE TIE!

I have yet to try the Salamigeddon, as the word “spicy” scares off this New Englandah.   Their new Curry Chicken Salad will be my next choice for sure.   But those meatballs are just amazing and I find it hard to order anything else.

Melanie tried the Velveeta Underground along with the potato salad, claiming to love both.  The sammy looked really good, but paled in the sloppy beauty of my meatball sub.  I tried the potato salad and it was good, but I am not a huge potato salad fan, so take my criticism with a grain of salt.  Or paprika, as there was a metric ton of it on the salad.

Velveeta Underground, sans Velveeta. Or ground.

Brass Tacks is an in-and-out place with not much in the way of comfort.  But that is part of the allure of the joint.  It’s utilitarian yet the kraft paper tray liners harken back to a 1940s lunch bell place, where lunch was scarfed and you went back to riveting the bridge together before your 20 mile uphill walk back home to  milk the cows.

Not sure who Lou or Neil are, but how do you get your own cup at this place?

And that is why Brass Tacks will be on my fav lunch spot list along with the Veggie Grills, Homegrowns, and DC Veg’s of the world.  They offer enough difference to make it awesome.  In Portland, no two lunches are ever created equal.

I still make the choo-choo noise every time I eat.

Next time you are craving a great, hearty lunch that is relatively inexpensive and delicious, hit up Brass Tacks.

A beacon or a warning?

Restaurant Review: Homegrown Smoker [Portland]

OFFROAD VEGAN TOP 5!

There is a small, obscure, sea-foam green food cart tucked into the corner of the Mississippi cart pod.  To the untrained eye, it is yet another cart slinging hipster chow.  To the vegans of Portland, it is a shining beacon of real-deal, home-smoked, vegan BBQ.

The little cart that can. And does.

And it is amazing.

I have been a fan of Homegrown Smoker (HGS) since they had a spot down in SW Portland.  Ever since those early days, Homegrown has been a pinnacle of the vegan scene in Portland and is one of my Top 5 spots in the US.

My favorite used to be the Loafaroni, a “meat”loaf sandwich made up of a slathering of BBQ sauce, a heaping scoop of mac no cheese, meatloaf, and two buttered, crispy buns.  It is still my favorite, but I accidentally read the fat content of the Field Roast meat loaf they use, and well….the nutrition facts were a little startling.  Even for vegan food, it was a little “rich.”

Slow Smo Mo Fo with a side of Mac.

HGS also revised their menu and the Loafaroni took a bit of a sabbatical.  During that time I became pretty enamored with the SlowSmoMoFo, a BBQ sandwich of seasoned soy c urls, cole slaw and maple bourbon BBQ sauce.  Order it with a side of Mac no Cheese and you have a winner.

The menu at HGS is a collection of southern-esque BBQ fare; with offerings such as the Carolina Chicken Sandwich (BBQ and Beyond Meat together in a sammy), Smoked Tempeh Burger, Sweet Potato Fries, and a Combo Platter.

The menu at HGS.

The menu has a decent variety of food for the regulars, but the specials are really where the tough decisions need to be made.

With specials like “Another Good Burrito” (A grilled wheat tortilla filled with psstrami, sweet potato fries, Daiya, Mac No Cheese, Broccoli, Grilled Peppers, onions and mellow yellow sauce) and the “Buff Burrito” (Tempeh Facon, smoked Beyond Meat, Buff Sauce, Mac no Cheese, french fries, tomato, raw greens, and creamy ranch), it can often be hard to choose your lunch.

Today’s special: The Buff Burrito.

There really aren’t any complaints with HGS.  Their food is top notch, vegan BBQ comfort food.  Their hours can be a bit flimsy, but that is to be expected with a food cart operation.  If you are traveling in from a distance, be sure they are open (the cart life seems to be plagued with closures for many issues).

My personal goal is to try more of their options, and not the same ol’ slow smo mo fo.  Honestly, though it is really hard when you have an absolute favorite!

Homegrown Smoker is a pillar of the vegan food scene in Portland.  I hope one day to see them mature out of the cart and into something more permanent…so I can sleep better at night.

Restaurant Review: A.N.D. Cafe [Portland]

As many people know, brunching in Portland is something of an olympic sport.  It is part of our heritage, much like good espresso, grey Winter days,  and cold craft beer.  And, just like never owning an umbrella, people have come to look at standing in a long line as something that actually defines a true Portlander.  

So, when you can find an amazing vegan brunchery (not a word until just now) with not much of a wait, it is like the heavens have opened up and a thousand angels are singing.

This sign beckons me in my dreams. Is that creepy?

A.N.D. Cafe rarely has a long line of hungry souls, but that is not due to the food, atmosphere, or service.  I tend to think it is due to being “farther out” on Burnside than most fixie riders are willing to go.

Let them have the Screen Doors and Tin Sheds of the World.  We’ll fill up the Jeep and barrel her down Burnside for some of the best vegan food Portland has to offer.

A.N.D. Cafe is, by default vegan.  However, upon request, vegetarians and omnis can elect to have eggs and dairy cheese subbed.

Let’s talk food.

I cannot recommend enough, anything with their walnut meat loaf. My personal fav is the Meatloaf Benedict, but the sammy is great also.  On their menu, the MB is defined as “herb tofu or two poached eggs, walnut meatloaf, hollandaise, toast.”

Meatloaf Benedict

The Florentine waffle is an amazing choice, with chicken (Beyond Meat), gravy, scrambled tofu, hollandaise, and tomatoes.  It also is stuffed with cheese (I’m thinking Daiya) and spinach.

The Waffle Florentine

Just today I tried the Buffalo Blue Hoagie, a buffalo chicken (ala Beyond Meat) sandwich with homemade blue cheese and spinach. The soft, velvety bread makes this easy to eat. It is a top contender for possibly being one of my favorite all-time vegan sandwiches.  And I don’t just throw that around all willy-nilly.

The best vegan sammy in ALL of Portland? The Buffalo Bleu Hoagie.

Melanie ordered their special today, which was a fried tofu cutlet with gravy, kale and cheddar jalapeno corn bread.  She liked it, but made the mistake of trying my chicken sammy first.  Once she had that, the bar was set too high for the tofu cutlet to keep up.

Today’s special: The Lucky Plate

Service is short, brisk, and very pleasant which is really what you want in a place like this.  I don’t have time for clingy waiters and waitresses – get my order right, bring me my food, check on me from time to time, and let me free up that table for the next hungry group.

The people at A.N.D. Cafe are always great.

Let’s talk about the BAD parts of A.N.D. Cafe:

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(there are none)

In conclusion,  this place is a pillar of the vegan scene in PDX and should never be missed.  If you are a vegan in town and have not been here yet, GO THERE.  Make it a regular stop.  If you have out of town guests, take them here and blow their minds.