Portland, Oregon: Vegan Paradise
We took a mini vacation to Portland to celebrate my niece, Adriana's 21st birthday. She's been eager to explore the Pacific Northwest as a potential home for her, and she wanted to attend a friend's wedding. So we joined her and it was fabulous. Timing was amazing. Since we came back to California in January, we've been trying to make decisions about where to go next and for how long. The Bay Area? Back to Fiji? Try Hawaii? Maybe Samoa? Why not Portland? Seattle? Southern Cal? We both found work in Oakland pretty quickly and appreciated the ease of having Zoey there, so we thought that'd be home again for a bit- it could allow us to make and save some money for a future move while being close to family. However, in the short time since we'd left, the rental market somehow became much worse. Monthly rents had nearly doubled since the last time we signed a lease (2011) and the competition became far more intense. Finding a dog-friendly place adds a whole new set of challenges. We'd found a place through our old landlord and we handed over the deposit check in April. A day before we were scheduled to move in, the whole unit flooded leaving us with a series of false move-in dates. We kept looking around and things were bleak.
Last month, we saw a friend's Facebook post on a 1 bedroom available that wasn't on Craigslist and was in our budget, hitting all of our key wish-list points. We learned the value of gratitude, community and patience. Moments after seeing the apartment, Jack got a job offer from a design firm in downtown Oakland, one that he first interviewed with two years ago. He was recently asked in to interview again and is overjoyed to be joining their team as a graphic designer!
So with all this good news in mind, we headed to Portland. We'd heard Portland was an amazing place for animal and nature-loving vegans like ourselves; but we didn't expect it to be as great as it was.
The amazing food was definitely a highlight of our trip! Portland is home to a plethora of vegan restaurants, ranging from food trucks to fine dining experiences. There are also heaps of vegetarian restaurants, and vegan-items on every non-veg restaurant we saw.
We stayed at an AirBnB in Southeast Portland and enjoyed finding places to eat nearby. We stopped into Harlow on SE Hawthorne for bowls, breakfast foods, smoothies and teas. It's on the pricy side for casual food but they do offer their Mighty Bowl on a sliding scale of $2-$7.
In between our meals, we managed to see quite a bit of Portland. We hiked around the Washington Park, and were in awe of the stunning rose garden and the Japanese garden.
We had a couple of late nights and found Indian fusion food at The Sudra. It was quick and tasty.
We celebrated Adriana's (belated) birthday at Natural Selection, a fine dining vegetarian restaurant in the Alberta Arts District. We went on Thursday night which was great because we also caught the Alberta Street Festival. We didn't find the menu descriptions to be very exciting but our minds changed when we got our food.
Our favorites were the creamed corn with mushrooms main and the pistachio pavlova dessert. They made a delicious merengue with a chickpea base- I'm definitely interested in recreating that one.
While Adriana is newly 21, she's not one for boozing and clubbing. So we found the perfect bar for the three of us- Bula Kava House on SE Division St. We were a bit skeptical at first, fearing it'd be a typical tiki bar, but we were pleasantly surprised! They offer Fiji waka and kava from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as well as fresh juices. We had the Fiji waka and it was served with freshly-cut pineapple slices. Jack was unsure about this combination but found it to be delicious and complementary, enhancing the experience.
We stopped into Back to Eden Bakery for delicious pie.
We had a delicious brunch at A N D Cafe, that included a Breakfast Burrito, Nuevos Rancheros (that I'm still thinking about!), and a Pumpkin Cheesecake waffle with chocolate chips!
After spending hours in Powell's Books in the Pearl District, we stopped in to Los Gorditos, a restaurant serving vegan, vegetarian and meat options. We tried the tacos, a burrito and chips and guacamole. Our total cost was $18 and we all left with full bellies.
When we were on the go, we visited the Woodstock location El Nutri Taco, a taco truck offering vegan options. We tried an amazing burrito filled with chipotle tempeh, black beans, fresh cactus, avocado, grilled onions, mushrooms, rice, lettuce, salsa fresca & green sauce. Their chips and guacamole were also great.
The wedding Adriana and I attended was catered by The Vegan Caterer. Their spread included potato soup, pasta, and BBQ soy curl sandwiches. They ended with a beautiful cake and of course, vegan donuts by the famous Voodoo Doughnut.
We were thrilled to visit the wold's vegan mini mall on SE Stark! We stopped into Food Fight! Grocery, an all vegan grocery store for some snacks, dog treats for Zoey, and soft serve ice cream!
While at the mini mall, we also picked up vegan wallets from Herbivore Clothing. This was an exciting upgrade from the binder clip I've been using and the surf wallet with velcro that been his go-to. They also had very cool locally-printed vegan t-shirts, totes, stickers and buttons along with handbags and cookbooks.
The mini-mall is also home to Sweet Pea Bakery Co. and Scapegoat Tattoo, a vegan-owned and operated tattoo parlor offering all vegan inks.
After following in love with Powell's Book in the Pearl District, we visited the SE Hawthorne location. We browsed the bookshelves and then enjoyed delicious chai made with hemp milk.
On our last day, we drove to the coast, and it was magical. We stopped in Cannon beach. There was not a plethora of vegan options, but we packed food with us so it was no problem.
We stopped in at Blossoming Lotus Vegan to fill up before heading to the airport. Their brunch menu offered a delicious variety of raw and cooked 100% vegan meals.
It was so exciting to travel somewhere knowing there'd be something substantial and delicious to eat anywhere we ended up. We will definitely be back!