Friday, June 27, 2008

Vegan Baked Goods Ride Epilogue

Jonathan Maus, of, did a brief recap of our Vegan Baked Goods Ride, which was part of a nearly month long event here in Portland called Pedalpalooza. The Black Sheep Bakery location we visited is right below where Jonathan has his studio/office, so he caught sight of us Tuesday afternoon and came down to snap a few shots. Jonathan is a great photographer -- check out his post on my ride, then I encourage you to explore his site some more.

Thanks Jonathan!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the Kitchen: Candle Cafe Reuben

B. and I have developed a pretty deep affection for tempeh reubens. This recipe came well recommended by Swell Vegan. This week it seemed it would be hard to get a reuben in at a restaurant, so we opted to try to make another at home. I'm happy to give you the recipe below, gleaned from this website. We halved it, but a bit roughly, so I'll just put what we ended up putting in. I'll note that there were many ingredients here I sort of resented buying, simply because I never use them any other time. Mostly the apple juice. But really blame is due to Trader Joe's, for having things like apple juice and vegan mayonaise only in gigantic containers, not the recipe, which turned out pretty awesome. I made a commitment to follow the recipe as much as possible, and I stuck to it -- even when it meant sending B. to the neighbor's for an eighth of a cup of ketchup.

Adapted Candle Cafe Tempeh Reubens (makes 2 sandwiches)

1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used more garlic than the original recipe, because I love garlic)
4 slices of fresh ginger (I never know what recipes mean by "slices," I just shaved off a generous amount)
8 ounces of tempeh, cut into two sandwich-sized pieces
4 slices of rye bread
Approximately 1/4 cup sauerkraut
Approximately 1/2 cup caramelized onions

Russian Dressing:
1/4 cup of vegan mayo
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup stone-ground mustard
1/8 cup finely chopped onion (We used dried minced onion we had in the cupboard).

You can follow her steps in the recipe. We pretty much did what she said, flipping halfway through during the marinating and also again when it was baking in the oven. B. was in charge of caramelizing the onions, though truthfully, neither of us were quite sure what that meant. I feel like all the times I've caramelized onions have been by accident.

I have to say he did a pretty good job, despite the fact I kept ignoring the timing of the recipe, and told him to start the caramelizing while the tempeh was still marinating, realized we didn't need over half an hour to caramelize onions, then made the same mistake again right when the tempeh went into the oven.

I did most of our shopping at Trader Joe's, so our mayo was Trader Joe's Reduced Fat version, and our bread was this Black Sour Rye, basically a cross between sourdough and rye. We assembled the dressing at about the same time we prepared the tempeh for marinating, so both got about half an hour in the fridge.

The tempeh baked for another 30 minutes, and were we ready for it. The recipe didn't say to toast or grill the bread, but we decided to toast it in B's toaster oven. It couldn't accommodate all four pieces, so we did the two bottom pieces first, and started assembling the sandwich while the top pieces of bread toasted. We slathered a bit of dressing on (it turned out quite thick, maybe because we used dehydrated onion instead of fresh), placed the tempeh slabs, added sauerkraut 'til it looked about right, then divided the onions between the two. When the top pieces came out, they got the dressing treatment also. We ended up with a couple tablespoons of extra dressing.

We were definitely ready to dig in (with our Apple Blossom cocktails, an attempt to use up a bunch of the apple juice) but I found my sandwich to be so pretty I had to go outside and try to get a good picture.

Let me just say that B.'s first words were, "Wow, this is really good." I was having my mind sort of blown as well. Later he stated that if we had ordered this in a restaurant, he would have come away very pleased.

I for one was very gratified that we'd actually followed the recipe. Because it was one frickin' tasty sandwich. I don't know if it was the combination of apple and maple flavors, the caramelized onions, or the McMenamin's Terminator Stout mustard we used in the dressing, but there was a delicious, smoky flavor to the sandwich. I almost would have sworn we'd put some liquid smoke in there. The bread was pretty good, too. Even though it threatened to fragment a little when I sliced the sandwiches, it held up quite well and I thought complimented the other flavors. It wasn't as pungent as other ryes, but there were so many other good flavors, it was good to have a bread that didn't overpower the sandwich. We might have toasted it more in the future. We were so eager to eat, and didn't want the tempeh to get cold, so each piece only got lightly toasted in the toaster oven. We were also too lazy to warm up the sauerkraut, but because the onions were warm, the tempeh was hot out of the oven, and the bread was toasted, we thought the over all temperature of the sandwich was good.

The only other improvement we could think of was that we should have tried to slice the tempeh lengthwise, to make it thinner, as the lovely author of "i eat food" does with her reubens. I had considered this at the start of the recipe, but this particular tempeh seemed a bit fragile and I didn't trust my knife skills, despite the fact that this was a lesson we'd learned long ago, when attempting other reuben recipes.

Over all, we give this sandwich a big hand all around. The recipe is so simple, yet in our experience, yields very tasty and complex results. Though apple juice is never really found in my fridge, and I almost didn't purchase it to use a scant half cup, I think it was definitely worthwhile, and I appreciated a marinade that didn't assume oil was necessary. All in all, I think the only real source of fat in this recipe was the dressing, which had a hefty amount of mayonnaise. The sandwich ultimately felt as light and healthy as it came out on paper.

I think we have to give this sandwich, a TRUEBEN, by the way, a 4.5 out of 5. This sandwich is so good...maybe our quest is over and we don't need to eat out anymore. Gasp!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vegan Baked Goods Ride Recap

So, call me a Pedalpalooza newbie, but yet again I was pleased and amazed by the turn out and success of the vegan-themed ride I led this afternoon. Similar to the Vegan Cyclist Pub Crawl, we had over 25 folks at our largest, and every venue we visited made us feel more than welcome.

As planned, we started out at Papa G's Organic Vegan Deli, where many riders sampled their cinnamon walnut scones, cornbread and cookies, as well as had some more substantial food to prepare for the ride. Next stop was Cellar Door Coffee on SE 11th and Harrison. We had warned each business that we were planning to attend, but still, I was blown away by the preparations at Cellar Door. Jeremy, one of the awesome owners, had actually collaborated with the baking skills of Dovetail Bakery to create a small buffet of baked good samples -- completely free. Lucky riders tasted earl gray cupcakes, chocolate orange cupcakes, tart cherry muffins, the famous pecan sticky buns, and some delicious scones. All along the ride it was gratifying to hear riders express excitement at discovering a new location or a new variety of baked goods, and it was especially nice to win Cellar Door some new fans, as this little coffee roasting enterprise, tucked away in the SE industrial district just west of Ladd's Addition, is one of my favorite coffee shops in Portland.

Next stop was Black Sheep Bakery at SE 8th and Main, famous for its bike-through window, though there were definitely too many of us to take advantage of that. Again, we were treated to an amazing variety of baked goods, another buffet of free samples, from peanut butter brownies to raisin studded muffins, to even a wonderfully inventive savory breakfast treat of biscuit and vegan breakfast sausage and red pepper baked into muffin form. I swear, I couldn't have planned it this well. I had no idea that so many free samples would be in store, but we all certainly appreciated it a great deal.

After a trip across the Hawthorne Bridge, we arrived at Veganopolis, which does a fair amount of baking in-house, including cookies, muffins, brownies and even carrot cake squares. I was a bit full, so I didn't sample anything, but the goods seemed to go over well. A few riders also opted for vegan root beer floats, as it was getting a bit hot at this point.

Because of the heat, it seemed good timing to hit Blossoming Lotus at NW 10th and Davis next. The restaurant/yoga studio lobby is open and airy, and my chilled live fudge certainly hit the spot. The restaurant was only moderately busy, about to hit the lull between lunch and dinner, so they were tolerant of us lingering and drinking lots of water. The vegan soft serve machine was in the middle of creating a new batch, so I don't know if anyone took advantage of that, but I would recommend Blossoming Lotus as a wonderful and refreshing summer afternoon stop to anyone, whether you're into vegan and/or raw food, or not.

Eventually we rallied and made it to our last stop, Sweetpea Baking at SE 12th and Stark. After all the unanticipated free samples, I was essentially overloading on sugar at this point, but many riders were still game to try some of Sweetpea's awesome cupcakes and cookies. I give special thanks to Sweetpea for the fact that, when we warned them the week before the event of our arrival, they responded by taking special requests for certain goods. As such they had a lot of great cupcakes ready for us, as well as my favorite phenomenon, the vegan cream cheese danish. I wished I had room for one, but I managed to convince others in the group to try it -- because really, where else can you get something like this?

Now that I'm coming down from all the riding and sugar, I'm about ready for bed. But soon I'll post about a trueben recipe B. and I are dying to tell you about.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another vegan Pedalpalooza ride and a trick for TJ's

We'll be posting a trueben soon, but I wanted to do a quick post on the Vegan Baked Goods Ride I'm helping lead tomorrow afternoon.

The ride meets at 1:45 at Papa G's Vegan Deli, where there are a variety of options baked in-house, including scones, cookies and cornbread. Next we'll head to Cellar Door, where we should find a few different goods baked by Dovetail, and possibly some St. Cupcake vegan offerings. The drive-through bike window at Black Sheep Bakery and Cawfee Shop is next, followed by a trip across the Hawthorne Bridge to Veganopolis, Coffee Plant (which bakes their own vegan pumpkin muffins) and Blossoming Lotus. Then we'll head back east to Sweetpea and the vegan mini-mall at 12th and Stark. At this point some may head up to Laughing Planet on Belmont to sample from their smorgasbord of sweets (all their baked desserts are vegan!) and some may head to the new, extremely bike-friendly Voo Doo Donuts location near 10th and Sandy. (By the way, Black Sheep Bakery also has a second retail location at 19th just past Sandy now -- no bike-through window but there is bike parking, and they are apparently open a little later than their SE counterpart).

Anyway, this itinerary is of course subject to change. It should be a beautiful, sunny day and a lot of fun. You should bring cash, but don't worry, not everyone has to buy something at every stop. Though hopefully at least one person will buy something at each place (I'm not having lunch in case I have to do the heroic thing and take a cupcake for the team).

Have you ever wondered if Trader Joe's sold something, but couldn't find a product list on their website? I've had this problem before, but discovered a solution of sorts last night. Trader Joe's doesn't list all their products on their website, but they do have listings of specially labeled items, like vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. So you can see a PDF file of all their vegan products here. Though for some reason the vegan list doesn't include any bakery items, which is lame, because I know TJ's has vegan bread, but probably this is something that varies a lot from store to store.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Just so you know, despite a lack of posting this week, we have not lost sight of our mission. The other night we went to Valentine's, a cute little cafe and bar in Southwest, because I'd read online they had a vegan tempeh reuben. It turns out they've revamped their menu and now serve Japanese-type food, with many vegan options. We didn't sample any, but it looked like they had some nice happy hour deals until 9, FYI.

Despite that obstacle, expect a post soon, as we still have a few more truebens to try. A fellow vegan pub crawler let me know last week that the Cup and Saucer has a tofu reuben, so that is now on the list. I love leads and recommendations, so keep them coming! We also hope to get back into the kitchen sometime next month, if not sooner, so we'll be posting a recipe or two for you to try at home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

B.'s Veganventure: Days 7 and 8 of Try Vegan Week


Because he had still had a gigantic bowl of it in his fridge, B. had three bean salad and pita for breakfast.

For lunch he had intended to bring more bean salad but accidentally left it behind, so it was Subway, and the Veggie Delight on the Italian roll, which is the only vegan bread option at Subway, again.

For dinner, on the Vegan Pub Crawl, B. and I split a plate of Squash Wontons at the Hungry Tiger, Too, and then at the very end of the night we split a Vegan Vavoom (basically a falafel sandwich -- huge and tasty with a small side of hummus) at Dots.


Keeping with the theme of comfort food and leftovers, B. did black bean tacos with spinach again for breakfast on Saturday.

For lunch, he enjoyed The Red and Black's mushroom tempeh reuben again. I know B. must really like this sandwich, as this is the third time since our review we've gone back to the Red and Black and he's ordered it (one of those times they didn't have the tempeh mix and he ended up, happily, with the Tempeh Lettuce Tomato sandwich instead).

My house was having a party Saturday night, so for dinner B. ended up with a Boca chicken patty on a vegan bun from Trader Joe's, a couple of lettuce, carrot and green onion salad rolls with peanut sauce (made by yours truly), and a few Melba toasts with red pepper spread. He also sampled some tahini shortbread I had made for the event.

And that wraps up Try Vegan Week (8 Days) for B!

In B's words, "I thought it was interesting how much easier it is to be vegan in Portland than in Vancouver when eating out. There are more vegan-oriented restaurants in Portland than in Vancouver. At my work, the only vegan thing that Sodexho serves is salad with maybe one vegan dressing, so there were no vegan options." But over all, B. found the experiment interesting. "It was fun, I had a good time."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vegan Cyclist Pub Crawl Recap

This is the only picture I took all night -- the remaining half of the last vegan squash wonton on the plate B. and I shared at the Hungry Tiger, Too. Best bar food ever. (P.S. I tried a bite of my friend's vegan mac and cheese and it is EVERYTHING raved about and more.).

Over all, the ride was, to my surprise, a resounding success. At our largest, probably around when we left the Bye and Bye, I think we had over 30 people! This was an extremely pleasant surprise for me, as I had fully expected to spend the evening with only three or four of my closest friends, wishing we were in line for Bike Porn 2 instead. Instead I met a bunch of cool new people, of all stripes, vegan and non-vegan but united by a love of bikes, and possibly booze. Some even suggested making this a regular event -- maybe if I wasn't leaving town in less than two months.

So a big thanks to everyone who made it possible! I especially appreciate the patience of the riders (not to mention the servers and bartenders at the Bye and Bye, Mash Tun, Hungry Tiger, Too and Dots)...Since I didn't expect to have such a large group, I didn't plan our route too carefully or warn any of the destinations ahead of time. Luckily, the only real hiccup was arriving at the Plan B to find that some kind of electronic show was going on, and charging a cover. B. tried to negotiate with the doorman to get us in for free or much less, but ultimately we weren't compelled to stay. Oh well, sorry Plan B. Everything worked out okay, as we ended up at Dots, which was convenient for those who wanted to catch the Midnight Mystery Ride.

I think we'll submit a ride recap to eventually, I'll link there when we do in case you'd like to hear more details.

Thanks again to everyone!

Friday, June 13, 2008

B.'s Veganventure: Days 5 and 6 of Try Vegan Week


For breakfast B. enjoyed a toasted raisin bagel spread with apple butter. He hadn't had much previous experience with apple butter and reported finding it an enjoyable topping.

At lunch, the trials and tribulations of trying to be vegan in suburban Vancouver, WA continue. During his single week of being vegan, B. encountered a situation that has undoubtedly frustrated many. His work threw a company party with copious amounts of free food. This event began at noon and was held at a bowling alley. I think he said it was called Big Al's? Needless to say, nothing on the menu was vegan. While everyone else scarfed pizza, B. of course, partook robustly of the free beer for the next few hours. When we met before dinner, he was feelin' fine but obviously the three bean salad he had suggested we make was not going to be ready fast enough, especially because it is ideally supposed to rest for at least a few hours before consumption. On our way to Safeway to pick up a few more ingredients, I noticed that the Vietnamese sandwich joint I had been dying to try had actually reopened after a few weeks of remodeling. I suggested just taking a peek inside, but we quickly realized that B. needed food fast, and couldn't pass the opportunity up.

The restaurant, at about NE 70th and Sandy, was previously called Cafe Be Van and is now Eddy's. Eddy served us, and we found him very personable and accommodating. He was even familiar with Try Vegan Week! The tofu sandwich, which I enjoyed with a $2 pint of Coors Light (I think the remodel was to install a bar and kegs), is vegan if you just leave off the traditional aioli. Eddy commented that the tofu sandwich, sans mayo, is a pretty popular order. B., who is not normally a fan of tofu, agreed with me that it was quite delicious. I detected a sweet and savory sauce on the bread, and Eddy let me know that it was a sugar, sesame oil and vinegar marinade that the shredded carrots and cucumber experience before becoming part of the sandwich (I think cilantro and/or green onion completes the package). I also noticed hoisin sauce and Siracha behind the counter, if you need an extra shot of flavor. But we found it quite satisfying as is, and the $3.50 each price tag can't really be beat.

B. apparently had fond memories of picnic three bean salad and realized it was probably vegan. We followed this recipe, except we objected to the substantial amount of sugar. We just used balsamic vinegar instead of cider vinegar and sugar, and I thought we got the same sweet and sour effect the author intended. We also, um, doubled it, so we could have ample leftovers.

Understandably, B. also snacked on some pita and hummus later in the night as he recovered from the several pitchers of microbrew he helped dispatch. (I should note that B. is both responsible and possesses forethought, and thus biked and bussed to and from work on Wednesday).


Breakfast for B. was a bagel and roasted red pepper hummus picked up on our trip to Safeway the evening before.

For lunch, he had the three bean salad featured earlier, which B. packed into warmed pita bread, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower. I should also give B. credit for passing on the Russell's Bread jalapeno cheese biscuit he usually purchases at work on Thursdays, from Russell's wife, who is a co-worker.

Dinner for B. was another leftover round-up, polishing off dishes created over the past week, which included pita and hummus again, more three bean salad, and a bit of the black bean tacos.

B. agreed that even though the week technically ends tonight, because Try Vegan Week PDX events are extending into Saturday, he will continue to be vegan through Saturday, making this -- Try Vegan Eight Days? What will B. consume tonight on the Vegan Cyclist Pub Crawl? Meatballs at the Bye and Bye? A BLT or Mac and Cheese at the Hungry Tiger, Too? Or maybe the Phoney Island -- a Tofurkey brat smothered in vegan chili and onions -- at Plan B?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vegan Cyclist Pub Crawl tomorrow!

I didn't really realize the Pedalpalooza calendar would be published verbatim in the Mercury. But cool!

If you're thinking of joining us tomorrow, we officially start at 6 pm at the Bye and Bye but I will probably be there at least a little sooner. I think I will wear my Westside Invite cap, all the better to resemble a hipster cyclist, and maybe help collect the group. I'm not expecting a huge turnout, so we'll be playing it by ear, probably moving south after an hour or so.

Bye and Bye
NE 10th and Alberta
100% vegan!

If we're not there, try the Hungry Tiger, Too or Plan B.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

B.'s Veganventure: Days 3 and 4 of Try Vegan Week


Today I had black bean soup for breakfast. That was pretty good but it was small and I was kind of hungry afterward. When I got out of my meeting at 11:45 I was online right away trying to decide what to eat.

This website tells what foods are vegan at a bunch of different places [Mostly national fast food chains. B. works in a suburban area of Vancouver, WA, so doesn't have too many lunchtime options]. I tried the Veggie Delight that comes from Subway so I could walk to lunch because there is one just down the street. I wish they gave you a little more extra stuff since it costs around the same as one with the same veggies and meat and cheese, but it was a pretty filling sandwich. The website was definitely nice because I didn't have to go in and try to ask the right questions, plus I bet the employees wouldn't have known which breads were honey free.

[Dinner on Monday was the "spanikopitas" filled with what would have been koftas -- basically just mashed carrots, potatoes and cauliflower with some spices as an afterthought.]

This is what happens when you assume that "you can freeze some for later" means its alright to stack them all in a tupperware and call it good. We decided baking this in a tower was easier than trying to pry it apart further -- it's like an inside-out casserole! (This is before baking).

Luckily I'd also made tamarind chickpeas, which ended up as the main course -- just chickpeas, chopped Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes with juice, a couple tablespoons of tamarind concentrate (watery, not the paste kind) and a variety of Indian spices. This was the more successful of the two experiments.


B. was in a hurry on Tuesday morning and so skipped breakfast. For lunch, he had intentions to go to Taco del Mar, which is close to his work. The fact that every menu item seemed to have both meat and some type of dairy product, cheese or sour cream, made it difficult. There were also very few vegetable options, so nothing really seemed appealing. Ultimately, he felt like paying for a veganized meat and cheese burrito would not be worthwhile. Since he was nearby, he went back to Subway and had the Veggie Delight again, because he knew he liked it.

For dinner on Tuesday, he ate some French bread and hummus from Safeway he had purchased the day before. He ate this bread and hummus with some olives and pickles he already had in his fridge. This was another dish he felt like he would eat any time, whether or not he was trying to be vegan. Basically he was looking to graze on stuff he already had --- he may have also finished off a left over black bean taco.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Help for the shy vegan

For some, the hardest thing about trying to be vegan is not giving up certain foods per se, but the hassle of having to inquire about the ingredients in a dish when eating out. B. reminded me of this last night as we were chatting about his attempts to eat vegan at fast food chains, which make up the bulk of the lunch options near his work. I personally find it a luxury to dine at all-vegan joints in Portland, because I greatly dislike having to pick a server's brain about what's in their bread or salad dressing, or wonder if they really know what they are talking about, or care. I even had an experience at a restaurant in Portland where I ordered something clearly marked the "Vegan Scramble" but at the end, after sending the server back many times with questions, I still wasn't sure if that had been real butter on my toast or not. Many of us have heard unpleasant tales of people being assured a dish is vegan and then discovering evidence to the contrary.

I think new vegans may be even more reluctant and self-conscious about bugging the help about what's in their food. To help them avoid this, I thought it would be nice to compile a list of recommended restaurants in Portland where vegans can dine worry-free, without feeling like a pest.

Since this is intended for new vegans, I think this list should favor restaurants that are perhaps less adventurous -- some new vegans may like meat or cheese analogs, but some may find it a sorry substitute, or still haven't established comfortable relationships with tofu, nutritional yeast and rubbery, otherworldly-looking seitan from Taiwan.

I started making this list then realized it was getting too long -- lucky Portlanders! So instead I decided to divide it into categories. These categories reflect my limited knowledge. I'm sure there are great Middle-Eastern and Indian restaurants in towns that cater to vegans, but I don't know too much about them. As always, you can check out local resources Stumptown Vegans and VeganFabulous in the right hand link sidebar -- they also have reviews of most of the places on this list. Of course there are numerous vegan dining guides online, but I think it's nice to hear some first hand anecdotes. These restaurants are either all-vegan or make it easy to veganize.


Los Gorditos is, of course, the king of vegan Mexican food in Portland. I had the greatest of luck to visit them for the first time when they were having a Cinco de Mayo celebration with free food, so I was able to sample a variety of items. Their tofu is delicious, and doesn't really taste like tofu. God, everything is delicious. They use Soyrizo in a variety of dishes, but despite the fact that Soyrizo is a pricey fake meat, you don't feel the burn on your wallet (only in your mouth!). It's a good place whether you want to go the fake meat route or just get some traditional beans and rice -- at taco truck prices (did I mention it's a taco truck?). They also have vegetarian and meat options, but I think I heard that Sundays are all vegan. They are located at 50th and SE Division, and keep pretty good hours, though we were disappointed to try them twice on a Saturday, only to arrive too early, before they opened at 11:30, and then too late, around 7 pm. Honorable mention goes to Ole Ole, with various locations around town, because their veggie burrito is dirt cheap and vegan if you leave off the cheese and guacamole. And it's like three meals. Cha Cha Cha also has a decent vegetable burrito. If you are super worried about cross contamination, I would probably stick with Los Gorditos. They are super nice and obviously conscientious of their vegan patrons.

Soup, Salad and Sandwich

Most of these places go above and beyond this category, but I had to find some way to organize. The Red and Black Cafe has a 100% vegan menu, reasonable prices and big portions. Basically, you can't go wrong. And it seems virtually everything, from their tofu cilantro sour cream to their peanut sauce and the mushroom tempeh on their reuben, is made in house (with love), which scores them huge points. I have to admit I've never tried the food at Backspace, but I love the atmosphere -- Korean PC Bang meets art gallery meets hip coffee shop in Old Town. It seems to be overflowing with vegan friendliness and fake-meaty sandwich options, including the upscale and ever-popular Field Roast. Proper Eats and Veganopolis are obvious contenders, and I mention Grand Central Baking not because they have vegan options on the menu as is, but because an ingredient list behind the counter makes it easy to inquire about all their breads. Though a few contain honey, many of their breads are vegan.

Pub Grub

The Bye and Bye, a bar at 10th and NE Alberta, is an obvious first choice with their tasty all vegan menu. I tried the Weeping Tiger Sandwich once and was not disappointed, though I didn't find it as spicy as warned. The meatballs seem to have a legion of fans, though I've heard mixed reviews. This is probably the only bar in Portland you can go to and be assured that all the booze you are drinking is vegan, without having to ask. Hungry Tiger, Too, at SE 12th and Ash has a helpful and informative menu, which allows you to veganize some standard greasy bar fare, including mac and cheese! Dots Cafe has a vegan section on their menu, and Plan B also advertises a few vegan options, including a tasty chili. They have some of the better fries I think I've had, too. Sort of a new comer to the bunch, Edge of Belmont at SE 34th and Morrison is worth mentioning for their happy hour alone. The vegan/vegetarian portion on their menu needs a little help because it doesn't clearly specify which is which, but the fried tofu sticks are awesome, the staff are helpful, and I learned that they use a simple beer batter on their onion rings, which are delicious and super cheap, along with a few other food items, before 6:30 on weekdays. I mention the LaurelThirst Pub almost hesitantly -- B. and I love their house-made spicy veggie burger (which is vegan) and they do have vegan pancakes and a scramble option. I like their food a lot, the only reason I hesitate is that to truly veganize an entire meal you sometimes have to sub (for example, a cup of veggie beans instead of their garlic toast) and they have a policy of charging extra for any substitutions. I feel this alone makes them a little vegan unfriendly, even though they have some tasty vegan menu items. But a good place for a new vegan, none the less.

Breakfast and Baked Goods

The list of options in this category is ridiculously large. As long as you are okay with tofu scramble, it's pretty easy to get a vegan breakfast in Portland --- most menus list the scramble components, so you can easily omit cheese without further inquiry. Stuff like toast gets more complicated. Which is why Sweet Pea Baking and Veganopolis are awesome options to have, as they are %100 vegan. Both have breakfast buffets, Sweet Pea with an all-you-can-eat extravaganza for $10 on Sundays, Veganopolis on the other days of the week, but pay by the pound. Jam on Hawthorne gets special mention for having vegan oatmeal chai pancakes, and being a favorite breakfast destination for many vegans in town -- they are also open early if you want to go before work. Juniors also has clearly vegan options. I'm not even going to start on all the vegan baked goods in Portland. If you really want to know, join us for our Vegan Baked Goods Ride as part of Pedalpalooza, on June 24th. I think Sweet Pea takes the cake (sorry) for best vegan bakery in town simply because they have a spacious coffee shop/retail area and an incredible variety. Black Sheep Bakery is a close second -- though I heard a rumor that they moved from their SE coffee shop with bike-thru window to a location in NE, though this has yet to be reflected on their website. Good chances your favorite coffee shop already stocks some kind of local vegan baked good, and New Seasons and Whole Foods carry many as well. Of course, there's always Voo Doo Donuts.


It may seem like Asian food should be a no-brainer -- just get tofu, right? Unfortunately, while typically free of dairy, many Asian cuisines incorporate fish sauce even into apparently "vegetarian" dishes. If you really want to be on the safe side, you can visit places like VegeThai on Hawthorne (I've never been there, but they claim to be 100% vegetarian) or the Chinese restaurant on upper Division, Bay Leaf. I was a little underwhelmed by Bay Leaf the one time I went -- definitely tasty and high-quality but kind of expensive with small portions. Vegetarian House in Chinatown is another restaurant that guarantees vegetarian purity. Pho Green Papaya, an off-shoot of the somewhat fancier Green Papaya downtown, has a vegan section on their menu and while their vegan pho lacks the depth of flavor of other variations I have had, it definitely hits the spot at times, and their portions are generous. There are also two 100% vegetarian Vietnamese restaurants in town -- Nhut Quang on NE 82nd and Couch, and Van Hanh near 82nd and SE Division. I think it's amazing and awesome they exist, but I would reserve these for the more adventurous new vegans due both to their far-out locations and less classy atmospheres, and the fact that many menu items utilize wheat-meat.


Some people think you can simply order a pizza without cheese and it will be vegan. While this is true of many pizza places, you can't assume it across the board. Luckily, again we have an abundance of vegan options. I think Bella Faccia is our favorite so far, though Pizza A Go Go has the luxury of delivery if you live in inner NE or N. Portland. Hammy's, which I haven't had a chance to try yet, also caters to the vegan crowd, and delivers, though only in inner SE until after midnight, when they expand across the Metro area. Dove Vivi is my favorite for a more upscale, non-New York style slice. Their crunchy cornmeal deep dish with homemade tofu ricotta is a much appreciated labor of love. And of course we can't forget Hot Lips, where you can get an ample, chewy focaccia-like slice topped with an always-delicious rotating seasonal selection of veggies (you can also order a pie for delivery). I want to advise Hot Lips: You know what would really hit the spot after a vegan slice? A vegan cookie. Too often I find myself eying your cookies by the register and feeling neglected. I hear A Beautiful Pizza rocks the soy cheese but my instinct is not to offer a recent vegan fake cheese unless they are really craving it. Truthfully, with few exceptions, I think most fake meat or fake cheese is best eaten by those who have forgotten what the originals taste like.


There are a few restaurants that need to be mentioned but don't quite fit a category. Both the Vita Cafe on NE Alberta and Papa G's Organic Vegan Deli on SE Division open relatively early and offer breakfast, such as biscuits and gravy, but have much more to offer a vegan. Both have some tasty comfort food, like Chicken Fried Tempeh at Vita or mushroom stroganoff at Papa G's, and both can be a little pricey, but a great deal if you get the right thing. Papa G's is 100% vegan while Vita offers both vegetarian and meat dishes. Blossoming Lotus on NW Davis is the only place in town to get a vegan icy dessert that doesn't come in a carton -- and their soft serve is addictive. They are also famous for their raw menu. It's a great destination whether you are craving a hearty chili and corn bread or raw fudge.

Whew, that was long! And there are many more. But this proves there are a variety of options in Portland that make being vegan easy, even if you aren't willing to interrogate your waitress.

Monday, June 9, 2008

B.'s Veganventure: Days 1 and 2 of Try Vegan Week

The kick-off of Try Vegan Week, in B's words, with my additions.

I started off with tacos Saturday for brunch. I used corn tortillas grilled on a cast iron skillet, and filled them with black beans, rice, fresh spinach from my garden, Emerald Valley Medium Salsa, and red onion. They were pretty good, and are actually something that I often eat even during omnivore times. I didn't have any cabbage which is my favorite topping, but the fresh spinach definitely made up for it and they tasted great.

Saturday night we explored the spanocan'tspellthisacha together. I liked that so much that I ate it for brunch on Sunday too. Hopefully we will get a chance to try some of the non-spinach ones soon. [We made phyllo triangles (I kept calling them spanikopitas) filled with spinach, mushrooms, onions, canned artichoke hearts and slivered almonds. On the side was lettuce topped with Susan's Cucumber Soy Yogurt Sauce. We had intended to make koftas to go with the sauce, but that turned into more fillings, since we seemed to have an endless amount of phyllo dough. It was good on the lettuce though, I liked the combination of lime juice, soy yogurt and fresh mint from B.'s garden.]

Sunday night we got pizza from Pizza A Go Go [He let me order, and I got us a medium build-your-own with chipotle tomato sauce, pineapple, red bell peppers and roasted garlic--it was definitely enough for two people, and didn't hurt the wallet too much], and actually I've been kind of enjoying these cheeseless pizzas. I preferred the cashew sauce from the other pizza place [Bella Faccia Pizzeria, which has a red pepper cashew base, but unfortunately doesn't deliver]. I used to eat soy cheese pizzas with my friend Nick because he is allergic to lactose, but after having some good no-cheese pizzas I can say for sure that I prefer no cheese to soy cheese.

This is T. again. I had hoped to post more this week but a concussion sustained Friday night due to a unpleasant bike-car interaction put a kink in those plans. But stay tuned for more updates from Bjorn, and any interesting tidbits I might be able to come up with, despite my addled state.

Friday, June 6, 2008

TRUEBEN: The Hungry Tiger, Too

UPDATE 1/3/2010: B. and I were back in town briefly and stopped by the Hungry Tiger for dinner. They certainly have upgraded the vegan menu, but we noted that the reuben is still served with Tofurky slices. Maybe they've improved their technique, but I wasn't willing to risk it. We went with the tempeh BLT (yum!), the basket of corn-dogs (yes, they are battered in house and totally worth it) and of course, the squash wontons.

I think I can call this a trueben, though it really is a veganization of a traditional reuben that the Hungry Tiger, Too offers. As you may have heard, The Hungry Tiger, Too, a reincarnation of the divalicious Hungry Tiger that was leveled a year or so ago to make room for condos at 28th and Burnside, has an extensive menu with many vegan options. The menu states that certain items can be made vegan, and denotes those items with a little heart/diamond type symbol. They seem very open to substitutions, and the menu lists a variety of vegan sandwich components including a Boca patty and a portobello mushroom. Maybe I should have taken that to heart, a mushroom or even Boca patty may have improved this sad, dry, vacuous reuben (spelled Ruben on the menu for some reason).

First, I am of course obligated to commend the Hungry Tiger, Too, for being so vegan friendly. And their food is often very good. I had the squash wontons once and they were awesome, and a pretty good deal. Their portions are typically very generous. Like any bar, the food is going to be uneven. Even though it's a bit out of the scope of this blog, I feel compelled to warn you that the polenta fries we had as a starter were very disappointing -- approximately 5 or 6 overfried, greasy, crunchy rectangles resting on a sea of mayonnaise. It made me wish I'd ponied up less and gotten a basket of sweet potato fries instead. The Hungry Tiger has daily drink deals, usually a dollar off something from 7 pm on, which are a good deal, but I had to remind the bartender of it when closing out, and ultimately still got overcharged. All that aside, I have a warm spot in my heart for the Hungry Tiger, Too, and will undoubtedly return. But I will certainly not get the reuben.

B. declared it the worst reuben we've had. I would say it's certainly the worst trueben. But it wasn't a horrible sandwich, and I might choose it over a vegan Rachel's Reuben, and maybe attempt to improve it with extra condiments. When it came out, I was surprised it wasn't tempeh. I'm not sure why I was expecting this, as most of the vegan sandwiches on the menu utilize Tofurkey deli slices and/or store-bought tempeh bacon. I guess I expected to see the tempeh that tops some of their salads. I was actually intrigued and kind of excited to review a trueben that isn't tempeh for a change.

Though the Hungry Tiger does employ vegan cheese in some offerings, this sandwich contained just Thousand Islands, sauerkraut and deli slices. I think the sauce was pretty good, with bits of pickle relish, but I think I was too distracted by the other perplexing aspects of the sandwich to pay attention to it. Cheese might have helped, or more sauce, as the most disappointing thing about the sandwich was how dry it was.

The bread, a marble rye, was grilled to dryness. The deli slices had all the moisture grilled out of them as well, and were sort of crunchy and seared even, which wasn't that bad on its own, but with the dry bread and small amount of sauerkraut, seemed to simulate the texture experience of eating a bunch of bark or twigs.

Though our bellies were full enough at the end, mostly thanks to the large vegan greek salad that we paid extra to sub, the sandwich fillings didn't reach the edges of the bread, so you got a few bites that were just dry bread. The dryness meant it wasn't a messy sandwich, at least, but at a cost. B. actually described it as "begging for moisture." There was a pickle spear.

I think this "Ruben" could be up there with other great vegan reubens in town, and maybe even as renowned as the vegan Club or vegan Mac and Cheese the Hungry Tiger offers. Don't grill the deli slices. Or better yet, replace the deli slices with a portobello mushroom cap or burger (or, god forbid, tempeh). Add more sauce. Add more sauerkraut. Maybe add some fake cheese, though I can't say whether the brand the Hungry Tiger usually uses is any good. When eating out, I will probably always prefer a reuben made with tempeh or mushrooms over one that uses fake meat that you would buy in the deli case at New Seasons, but this could be seriously good pub grub if someone put some extra thought into it. As it stands, I think we have to give this a 1.5 out of 5.

Hungry Tiger, Too
SE 12th and Ash
Vegan Ruben. $8. Sauerkraut, Thousand Islands and Tofurkey deli slices on marble rye. Fries, tots or coleslaw, or side salad or cup of soup for $2.

In other news, Try Vegan Week starts tomorrow! I hope to treat you to frequent posts, perhaps even on topics other than reubens! Shocking! One of those threads will feature B. as he actually TRIES BEING VEGAN FOR A WEEK. That's right, folks, the week is not just about activities like Vegan Prom and primers on vegan shopping at People's. B. eats meat. You have probably noticed he eats cheese, as he usually opts for the original version when we go out to veganize vegetarian reubens around town. I hope that this blog will chronicle this experiment over the next week.

Speaking of Try Vegan Week events, you may wonder why the Vegan Pub Crawl I've mentioned on this blog isn't on the Try Vegan Week schedule of events. To be honest, I'm wondering that, too. When I contacted the organizers about helping put something together, I was invited to take over the happy hour event at the Bye and Bye which was originally scheduled for Friday, with the Prom on Saturday. I put the pub crawl into the Pedalpalooza calendar, to make it a bike event as well and doubly cool. Then, without notice to me, the Vegan Prom got moved to Friday and the Bye and Bye happy hour to Saturday on the Try Vegan Week schedule, and the folks there haven't responded to my e-mails. Ah well, I know they're busy. Anyway, the purpose of this explanation is that I am keeping the pub crawl on Friday night -- I guess it will just be a Pedalpalooza event in honor of Try Vegan Week. Maybe this will be good, it can serve as an alternative to the Prom, or hey, come out and have a few drinks before you get dressed up.

The Vegan Cyclist Pub Crawl will be Friday, June 13th, at 6 pm at the Bye and Bye, a 100% vegan bar at 10th and NE Alberta, though I might start right at 5 somewhere like the Mash Tun, which is higher up on Alberta, and has a few inventive vegan options, though I don't know the low down on all their beers. The itinerary is not set in stone, but we plan to continue to the Hungry Tiger, Too, and probably end at Plan B.

Hope you'll join us for some drinking and tasty vegan pub grub! If you're vegan, encourage someone to try it out for just a week to see how easy and delicious it can be. If you aren't, try it! Why are you reading this blog anyway?