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.
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: 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.