Dish: Vegan TLT
Source: The Hazel Room
This is the classiest, and perhaps, the tastiest, TLT I’ve had in what seems like years. And years! And I do love me a TLT (and TLPs).
Here’s where The Hazel Room elevates this basic sandwich - listen carefully: the tempeh is marinated in Smokey Lapsang Souchong Tea, in addition to a smother of Vegenaise and tangy Violette mustard. So, there. And it comes with a tiny side of yummy house-pickled veggies. And you can sit on Hawthorne and drink some tea or a tea cocktail on the side.
I want another one. Pronto.
Dish: Slice & salad: Thunder and Lightening with a Caligula Caesar
Source: Sizzle Pie, Westside
True story, there are some weeks I probably walk into Sizzle Pie every other day seeing if my favorite lunchtime slice, the vegan take on the classic ‘pepperoni + cheese’ (and twelve year old me would be shocked), is available. If I’m lucky, I can grab it once a week, and when I do, it’s nearly always with the salad combo. I’m usually more of a ranchy Rabbit salad fan, but the tangy, garlicky Caeser is a nice change. I have to give Sizzle Pie so much credit for being one of the very few restaurants I’ve been to that doesn’t over-use and over-rely on Daiya when using it on a pizza.
Do I dramatically walk out frowning when this slice isn’t available? Maybe.
Price: $4.50 + toppings
Source: Jam on Hawthorne
The seemingly ever-expanding (really, they opened the portal between the big and little Jams recently) Jam on Hawthorne has been in my brunch repertoire since they opened. This was even before they had more than one basic tofu scramble options - before the chai blueberry pancake! While the Portland Roasting Coffee makes me want to skip a mug, they’ve got an appealing breakfast booze menu, with bloody mary variations you can order vegan (make sure to specify) or extra large. My go-to order in the past couple of years moved from a build-your-own scramble to what I was really going there for: the hash browns. Some days they’re crispier than others, and when they’re on - they’re on. Give me a plate of shredded potatoes, roasted garlic, a heap of wilted spinach and pass the Secret Aardvark and I’m more than content. And there’s toast with Earth Balance on the side. Jeez.
That being said, my last experience including really bizarre service, and I’m taking a break for a while. Road Runner Cafe, let’s talk.
Dish: Miser Kay Wat lunch plate
Source: Emame’s Ethiopian
If you forced me to pick a favorite downtown food cart*, my answer would often be Emame’s Ethiopian cart. Now and then, I’ll crave a TLT with avocado & Secret Aardvark at D.C. Veg, sweet & spicy delicate eggplant with basil at Ploy Thai, straight up breadsticks & sauce for dippin’ at Give Pizza a Chance, or who knows, a stop at Savor Soup House, The Dump Truck or hey, the new Grilled Cheese Grill, but the cart that seizes my lunchtime direction the most is sweet Emame’s. For $6, I walk off with a box of saucey, spicy red lentils (my favorite of this dish so far in town), rolls of gluten-free injera - also below the dish, a side of salad, cabbage or collards, and sweet spice on your hands for the rest of the day, reminding you how delicious your lunch was. There are a couple of other vegan options, and bigger combos, but this is what I go for. Every time.
*It’s imperative to note that I semi-ridiculously exclude the PSU area, and therefore, Homegrown Smoker, from my definition of downtown. That is officially, the PSU area, to me.
Dish: side of potatoes
Source: Cloud Seven Cafe*
Potato enthusiasts, stand your ground. While these oven-roasted red potatoes were very hit-the-spot with a cup of pour-over Intelligentsia at Cloud Seven and I would go for them over a toasted no-longer-Kettleman’s Kettleman any day, the cafe is currently going through a change-of-name to Super Jet* this summer. So, perhaps they’ll remain, perhaps you’ll have to turn your oven on at home. Hopefully, they keep the nice selection of hot sauce up. There was much more than Frank’s around, I just like to keep it simple every now and then.
Dish: Vegan Huaraches with soyrizo
Source: Taquera Los Gorditos, SE 11 & Division taqueria
Walked over and paired with an Éphémère apple white ale next door at Apex, the huaraches plate is a familiar combination of Los Gorditos’ salty refried beans, spiced soy chorizo and other favorites served on top of a long strip of grilled corn pasa.
If there’s one thing I want to tell you about this dish, and this trip we both took, it’s remember to grab a fork - and a knife, or you’ll find yourself attempting to scoop it up like I did, which is obviously much more appropriate if you were in the privacy of your own home. Yeah, I found orange hot sauce on my sweatshirt the next day.
Bonus points for feeling moderately more mature for trying something new and not ordering nachos.
Dish: Rich chocolate cake with porter ganache and raspberry butterfly garnish
Source: Bridgeport Brewpub
Price: part of a $50 dinner set
Full disclosure: One of the Stumptown Vegans helped organize the recent Exquisite Vegan Dinner at Bridgeport Brewpub, because she does things like that, for business and pleasure. This chocolate cake, along with the simple, fried ‘Wookie’ wings with hot sauce and intriguing, curled celery, was her favorite part. Others seemed to really be on team lentil loaf.
Dishes: Ankaka Veggie Tofu lunch plate; Tanmen Ramen
Source: Shigezo, SW Portland
Price: $12; $9
Portland loves ramen, ramen loves Portland. With a city with more rainy months I want to think about counting, it makes sense. There’s a growing number of vegan-friendly ramen options in town these days, not to mention carts (the best I’ve had lately being Wafu), and with Shigezo, you can add another option into the mix. Shigezo is very…business crowd, being on SW Salmon & 9th and all, and offers pricey vegan sushi rolls, ramen and a couple of vegetarian lunch plates. Be sure to skip the miso, define vegan/vegetarian, request their variety of hot sauce, chili powder and chili oil, and ask for a private booth. Get ready to remove your shoes.
On the downside, it’s expensive. On the plus side, maybe your boss is paying and you’re entertained at the thought of her or him removing their shoes and sitting uncomfortably cross-legged? Not that this happened, it really didn’t, but it makes me smile and think about a giant bowl of noodles with grilled corn.
Dish: small hot & spicy fries with spicy tofu sauce
Source: Dots Cafe
Seven years ago, I moved to the neighborhood just to be close to Dots. Their hand-cut fries have good days, and really good days, and this one was one of the latter. I’m of the dipping in ketchup and then spicy tofu sauce persuasion.
Brace yourself: a few months ago, Dots started taking cards for the first time ever.
Dish: Veggie Platter for two (it’s vegan)
Source: Sengatera Restaurant
Price: roughly $10/person when sharing a combo
If you can look past the tribal animal hides on the wall, this NW Veg-supporting restaurant on Ethiopian row serves one of the best vegan platters in town.