Concordia/ King district
After landing in Portland we picked up our rental car, and in 15 minutes we were sitting in Case Study Coffee, and I was enjoying a vegan hot chocolate made with hemp milk. I have used this drink as inspiration for my hot chocolate recipe.
Such a yummy start to the holiday and the perfect warmer helping me adjust to the cold. Vegan and gluten-free baked goods were also available.
A few blocks down the road you will come to Back to Eden Bakery, which is a popular vegan, gluten-free bakery with many soya-free, refined-sugar-free baked goods. I had the granola, which was a tasty hearty dish, and I also tried the lemon bar and amaranth bar, perfect for afternoon treats.
This was such a great street, and you will leave well fed and perfectly relaxed. There were other good-looking places that we didn’t get to try, like Tin Shed Cafe, which had vegan and gluten-free-friendly on the menu.
A few blocks away (driving not walking) you will find Tula Gluten-Free Bakery, with the focus on gluten-free. There is an allergy symbol system to easily identify what you can eat. I had a soya-free, gluten-free, vegan cranberry loaf slice, which was excellent, not crumbly and bland like so many gluten-free treats can be.
Back in the car and in 15 minutes we were at Pok Pok for lunch. A converted house with various random seating areas transports you from Portland to Asian street food stalls. They have an allergy menu, so ask for this and you can easily find something to eat. I had my all time favourite dish, Cha Ca La Vong, which was one of the best ever, fresh and delicate with a spicy punch. If I had a Pok Pok in my neighbourhood I would be a regular. One of my favourite things about this restaurant was the water, yes their free water; this may sound odd, but it was totally delicious. The water is steeped in pandan leaves so it has a light coconutty flavour – hands down the best water.
Again the street Pok Pok is on is a lovely street to mooch on with other lovely cafes and shops.
The Maple Parlour, We stumbled across this place as it was opposite a ‘donut’ cafe my husband wanted to go to. We saw the word vegan on the window and went inside. Normally frozen yoghurt is dairy or soy-based, but here was coconut milk frozen yoghurt. The coconut and almond flavours were my favourite. The best part is making up your own sundae with a brilliant toppings bar (all allergy labelled, so you know what to have). I could eat over half the toppings, which was amazing and very rare for me. I had granola, coconut flakes, berry compote, raw chocolate fudge, and sugar free chocolate chips. The whole experience was amazing; it really was heaven in a bowl. And yes, we loved this place and went back every day we were in Portland. Healthy, stomach-friendly delights are rare occurrences for me so when I find somewhere I can eat I tend to go a little overboard and act like a kid in a sweet shop.
Just a few doors down from here is the Hawthorne Theatre, which is a lovely cinema with a café, and a well-liked restaurant called Harlow. We didn’t get time to go there but we went to their sister cafe Prasad.
After checking into our hotel downtown we started our evening at the Multnomah Whiskey Library. It is a special bar so be prepared to wait, but there is another bar downstairs where you can drink while waiting for a space in the library. It has a dimly lit exclusive members vibe while being quite low key, with big fireplaces, comfy seats, an extensive spirits list, and some nice looking food. It feels like a secret place where we had a lovely evening sitting in this bar.
A 5-minute walk away was dinner at The Departure Lounge. This rooftop restaurant is on one of the downtown hotels with a different vibe to other places we went to in Portland. It felt a little bit trashy, clubby music and everyone very dressed up, but we stayed and I am so glad as it had a fun atmosphere and delicious food. It had an allergy-friendly menu serving contemporary Asian food with every dish spectacular and each mouthful special. The best dish was roast carrot with cashew butter, coconut yoghurt and squash. Seriously, this was one of the best dishes I have eaten, with a balance of flavour perfectly pitched and cooked to the right crunch; please order this and I’m sure you will love it.
We started with breakfast at Prasad, a little cafe in a yoga studio space with an interesting choice of vegan, gluten-free foods. I was coming down with a cold by this point, and adjusting to chilly wet Portland after living in warm dry SF. So I was in need of a hot toddy (hot turmeric, honey lemon tea) was the perfect travel boost, followed by yummy treats and a smoothie for our relaxing walk in Washington Square Park.
After our walk we drove back across the river to east Portland for lunch at Olympia Provisions SE.
This is a meat-dominated place, perfect for my husband, and in a lovely setting with a converted warehouse and a good menu with salads and veggie options.
Next to Olympia Provisions is another nice juice bar, Kure Juice, so a good stop for a juice/smoothie/acia bowl fix. It is a small space, just some bar seats.
I know I should have tried Olympia, but after seeing the lunch menu at breakfast I was craving for Prasad again. I had the Betty Bowl, which was full of grains and goodness (sea veggies, egg, avocado, seeds, etc), just what I needed to boost my nutrient levels.
Blossoming Lotus, there are not many other places in this area, and it didn’t quite have the same friendly feel walking along the streets, but coming just for food was worth it. Blossoming Lotus is a vegan restaurant; the menu is allergy friendly with symbols highlighting the gluten-free, soya-free, raw/live items. All the food coming out of the kitchen looked scrummy and very well presented. The restaurant itself is in need of some modernizing, but it is still packed and has a nice buzz. The Collard Rolls made with almond cheese, pecan chorizo, sundried tomatoes, arugula, shaved fennel and lemon was a starter dish, but so satisfying that I didn’t need anything else. The rolls were packed with yummy flavours and crunch.
Concordia District and Colombia River
We stopped for breakfast on the street we were on our first morning and bought some snacks from the bakeries to take on our day of walks and outdoors along the Colombia River. Stop at Vista House for a great viewing point; this route will take you along the nicer back roads by the river rather than the main road. While the weather was terrible, practically blowing us away, it was still worth the stop. During our walks at Multnomah Falls and the Oneonta Trail it was pouring with rain, but it was still very beautiful and didn’t stop us hiking. In the summer you can also head to Hood River town and kayak, etc.
We were back to Portland in time for dinner. Will opted for Pizza at Ken’s Artisan, a great local super busy pizza joint, and I went a few doors down to Canteen. It has a small seating space, more of an in and out place, but with great food all day – juices, smoothies, salads, breakie bowls and healthy hearty main meal bowls. I had the Portland Bowl with avocado instead of tempeh, which was the perfect meal after a day of hiking and before a flight home.
Other great Coffee Spots:
Other places that looked good for veggies, allergy-friendly menus that we didn’t get to try:
Pearl District – Around Jamison Square comes to life at night, great bars.
Boise – North Mississippi Avenue had a lovely vibe and some good-looking places to eat, including some fun bars.