This is the second instalment of my Portland series, read Part 1 here.
One of my favourite PDX hangouts was the vegan friendly bar White Owl Social Club and it had nothing to do with this Mac & Cheese Burger...okay, that was a lie, it had EVERYTHING to do with this Mac & Cheese burger. That and the delicous drinks menu and bargaintastic happy hour. Oh and did I mention that they even have a black and white photobooth, so rad! Anyway, THE BURGER! Just look at it...
...isn't it just one of the best things you've ever seen?! It's mac and cheese, fried, in a bun, with a side of fries. That's the triple carb win right there. I don't think I need to say much more than this, I ate it five times in a week.
I also visited on another occasion when I decided to branch out and Mandee and I shared a selection of goodies from around the menu. We went for the mac and cheese, which I thought was better in burger form. Fried pickles, um, amazing, I'm a total pickle convert. And the BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Burger with Fries. This was our attempt at ordering in a restrained manner, I love us!
Portland has a tonne of vegan friendly bars, I also went to both The Bye & Bye (where I took a terrible photograph of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich at 2am) and The Sweet Hereafter (where I hung out with many VVC attendees at the Unofficial Conference After-party).
I loved all three of these bars because of the plentiful outdoor seating, great drinks menus and the fact that food is served all hours. Whoever came up with the law saying that food must be served if alcohol is being served is a real winner! I wish we had bars like these in Brighton.
Alongside the super vegan friendly bars another thing I love about Portland is the Food Carts. Two of my most frequented carts were DC Vegetarian...
and Sonny Bowl.
Both of these carts are situated Downtown on the corner of SW 3rd and Washington which means you can mix it up and order something from both carts if you wish. On more than one occasion I grabbed a breakfast sandwich or bagel with cream cheese from DC Veg and a Kale - Mango Smoothie from Sonny Bowl. The perfect breakfast combo.
Another highlight of the food cart scene was Homegrown Smoker. I've been wanting to visit this cart since I first heard about it back in 2011 and it certainly didn't disappoint. I was totally unable to choose between the Macnocheeto, a vegan mac 'n cheese burrito, and the Carolina Chick'n Sandwich so I went all out and ordered the Combo Platter instead.
The platter comes with your choice of two proteins, two sides and corn bread and I picked the Smoked Soy Curls, Smoked Chikn', mac no-cheese and STFU Puppies - corn fritters with remoulade sauce. My choices were definitely influenced by my chilli allergy / aversion and I was surprised that after discussing this with the person working that they still covered my chosen proteins with chilli sauce! It was all okay though, some careful scraping and liberal use of the remoulade came to the rescue and whilst this meal was still right at the top end of my heat tolerance it was totally amazing.
This was the first time I'd ever tried Beyond Meat and I loved it, the texture was spot on and I still can't believe how meat-like it is. The soy curls were super smokey and flavourful and the mac no-cheese was out of this world delicious and creamy. I had no idea what to expect from the corn fritters but unsurprisingly I loved them and the corn bread was by far the best I've ever had. I will definitely be going back to Homegrown Smoker to order this again but next time I'll just be sure to specify no extra hot sauce!
There were plenty of other food carts I never got the chance to check out including The Cheese Plate, Native Bowl and Potato Champion. I did make it to Flavour Spot though and you can read about that here.
Moving back to brick and mortar vegan eateries Back to Eden is right up there with my favourite places in the world. On my first visit Nick and I just grabbed some soft serve, chocolate of course, which I insisted on topping with their house made caramel sauce even though the dude told me it was for ice cream not soft serve and it'd probably slide off.
He was totally wrong and it was brilliant, it even stayed on long enough for me to take a picture and it elevated my cone to the next level.
On my second visit with Randi I ordered the Quiche which was the most delicious quiche I've ever eaten vegan or not. It was perfect, really eggy and perfectly browned on top. Now, if only I'd managed to get the asparagus the right way up for the photo...
I followed my quiche with a 5" Strawberry Rhubarb pie, it had a perfect crumb topping and exactly none of it got saved for later!
Back to Eden is definitely on my re-visit list, the pastries and ice cream I tried were wonderful and if I'd had more time I could have stayed in there all day eating my way through their bakery case. I found out after my visit that Back to Eden is totally gluten free which blew my mind, I can't believe pastries this good were made without gluten and it makes me feel like I need to up my xgfx baking game.
One place I'd never envisioned myself checking out was Prasad but I'd heard so many good things about it over the weekend that I gave in and headed there with my slightly kale obsessed friend Randi. This restaurant is in the Pearl district and shares its space with a yoga studio, it was really busy when we visited but it was somehow still a relaxed and mellow environment - it must be all that yoga!
I'm not exactly sure what came over me when I ordered The Mightly Bowl which is made up of quinoa, steamed greens, lentils and a garlic tahini sauce. It was simple and tasty but looking at the menu there are so many more exciting choices!
I had a carrot and orange juice on the side which is one of my favourite juice combos. Whilst we were eating I noticed a note on the menu beneath The Mighty Bowl stating that Prasad believe that everyone deserves a warm, healthy, organic meal and therefor they offer this bowl on a donation basis, nobody is turned away. I think this is a wonderful thing for a business to do and they're not wrong, everyone does deserve a nutritious, filling, healthy meal no matter how much money they have. Nice one Prasad.
This last spot was probably the most surprising to me because I kinda went into it thinking, sure, bowls, how good can they really be? And, well, when you're at Canteen they can be pretty fanfuckingtastic!
I ordered the Portland Bowl which consists of a base of quinoa topped with steamed kale, baked maple tempeh, noochy cheese sauce, chopped local hazelnuts and grated carrot. They even have shakers of nooch so that you can go extra crazy with the cheesiness. This was a magnificent bowl and it's something I've been craving and working on recreating since I got home!
In the next instalment of my travel-ventures I'll be posting about two upscale Portland eateries, Departure Lounge and Portobello.