Monday, October 19, 2009

Portland, Oregon: A Vegan's Paradise

Many thanks to all who asked... I will finally write about my Portland trip. My husband Dan and I were there in late September following a few days in Reno, which I wrote about here. On a personal note, it was an especially important trip because, as I mentioned before, it marked our 10th wedding anniversary, and, it was a much-needed week of complete relaxation, total avoidance of computers, and no child (who, by the way, had a ball at home with his grandparents).

Portland was incredible. The weather was perfect, the people were welcoming, and the vibe was outstanding. We took a lot of pictures but the memory card got corrupted, so unfortunately a lot of the photos are gone. But we do have some from another card. I was going to blog all about the trip but I never got around to it after coming home!

Portland is the most bike-friendly city in the US. We arrived in the late afternoon, took a train to the hotel, chilled out, and then the next morning we walked to City Bikes Co-Op and rented bikes and a bike map (very useful -- showed the best bike routes around town. Thanks guys!). We basically biked everywhere the whole week we were there! We stayed east of the river so we biked across the bridges most days; the bike paths are everywhere! One day we biked along the river going south, and it just kept going for miles and miles along a train and beautiful woods.

We tried 6 or 7 veg restaurants; all of them were great. It was a vegan's paradise.

My favorite day was when we biked into town on a Wednesday, when they have an amazing Farmer's market right in the middle of town.

We got some fruit and walked around, then biked to the university area. We got on the train, hung our bikes on the hooks (can you believe they have hooks for your bike?), and went 1 stop up the mountain to Washington Park.

We took the bikes up the elevator and out, and coasted down the hill for some time, then stopped where there were hiking trails.

We locked up our bikes, hiked and ran on the trails (PERFECT packed dirt trails, and I got to break in my new trail running shoes).

Eventually we ran into the Japanese Gardens, so we decided to take a tour. They were beautiful.

Then we hiked back up, got on the bikes, and rode back into the city. We headed straight for Voodoo Donuts and had a glazed and some other concoction with about 83 toppings.

Then we rode back to the hotel, showered and changed, and went to dinner at Portobello, our fanciest meal there. We indulged in Pate al Tartufo (pate with bread, figs, mustard), polenta, and gnocchi. And dessert. If only I could remember what. I just remember it was good. Everything was scrumptious.

Here are some of the other vegan and veg-friendly restaurants we visited:

Vita Cafe: This was a favorite of mine. We biked there for breakfast several times. They have a ton of comfort food and the feel of the neighborhood is great. We even got to know some of the staff pretty well. (Hi, Dave.) If you go, the morning potatoes are a must-try. And if you're gearing up for a day of hiking, do try the porridge; it kept me going for hours. Dan loved the chicken-fried steak. We both loved the corn cakes and scrambles. Across the street they have a place with vegan pizza. In fact at least 3 pizza joints have vegan pizza. I can't recall the names; do the goog before you go, to see what's in the neighborhood you'll be in.

Paradox Palace Cafe: Ok I can't stop thinking about their BBQ Rib & Peanut-Sesame Salad. I cannot remember anything else about the place. Order that.

Bye-and-bye Bar: Vegan bar food? You bet! We had a grilled cheese for goodness sake! And I had the Bye and Bye drink... served in a quart-sized mason jar, I kid not. And they don't skimp on the alcohol. That night we traveled by hotel shuttle, rather than bikes, in case you're wondering.

Blossoming Lotus: Raw food! Loved it. The Nachos were seriously one of the most delectable things I've ever eaten. We also tried the live sampler platter (highly recommend); my favorite on the plate was the cashew hummus. It's only been a month but I cannot remember what else we tried!

Sweatpea Baking Company: More than a bakery! One morning we got bagels and GLOBS of "cream cheese" -- it was a taste of Long Island out west. Their cinnamon rolls are terrific. Everything looked good but we only have 2 stomachs between us so we couldn't try everything we wanted to. Of course, this bakery is part of the Vegan Mini Mall, so we also spent a lot of time (and cash) at Food Fight and Herbivore. In fact last night I made beef stroganoff from the mix I got at Food Fight.

Planning to visit? Make sure to check out Veg Portland before you go!


Debra said...

I miss Portland!! I miss Oregon.. We lived in Portland for 1 year and then Astoria for 10. The kids and I miss it, hubby does not. So not even going back for a visit :-(
I got to live through your blog- thanks!
Debra @ Vegan Family Style

Michael Sampiano said...

Great posting Dina! Makes me want to go back to Portland.

TRISTA said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked Portland and that you ate at two of our favorite places--and that you had nice weather!