The days of relying on salads and veggie burgers as the only vegan options are long over. Creative restaurants with exclusively or substantially vegan menus win over diners — regardless of whether they eat meat or not — with a vast range of culinary specialties from all over the globe. Some use meat alternatives or seasonal vegetables while others find inspiration in traditional dishes from a number of cuisines. Here are some great options to explore across the state.
Portland, Herbivore Capital of Oregon
Portland is home to a bounty of 100% vegan restaurants, many owned by people of color and opened in the last few years. Vegan Asian dining runs the gamut from Japanese classics like tempura udon and Portland-made Ota tofu katsu with sake pairings ,at Obon Shokudo in Southeast Portland, to crab-less California rolls made of oyster mushrooms, at Sushi Love food cart in the CORE PDX pod at the edge of the Jade District (set to reopen with new owners in June 2022).
Derived from Buddhist and Taoist culture, plant-based “meats” have thrived in Asia for centuries. Mama Dut serves vegan-luncheon-meat banh mi and Vietnamese “beef” stew. Try the weekend rice and jackfruit — which has a meat-like texture — curry plate with a side of coconut roti at worker-owned Mirisata in Southeast Portland. At The Sudra’s four locations, the thali plates of soy-curl tikka masala, black-eyed-pea korma and coconut yogurt with kale dosa are perfect for sharing. The menu is influenced by the Indian American background and New Mexico upbringing of owner Sanjay Chandrasekaran — the same force behind Rabbits Cafe and an upcoming vegan Italian restaurant named Lilla.
For other globally inspired tastes, check out the northeast part of town, where cart-turned-taqueria Mis Tacones provides free meals to trans people of color and serves up juicy made-from-scratch tacos with seitan asada and al pastor. On select days they host bakery pop-up La Casa de Mamá for its popular vegan concho, a sweet bread with a crunchy top. Or transport yourself to the Andean region of South America at Epif when you pair their empanadas or stuffed peppers with a pisco sour flight.
Seeking comfort food? You can’t go wrong with vegan interpretations of American classics, like the jackfruit nuggets or Out & In cheeseburger at Plant Based Papi downtown or seitan catfish and collard greens at Dirty Lettuce. Don’t miss Boxcar Pizza in The Zipper food hall, Portland’s only all-vegan Detroit-style pizzeria.
And finally, any morning can be sunny in Alberta with an “eggy” breakfast sandwich from Ditto or carrot-lox bagel sandwich with a thick smear of vegan cream cheese at Ben & Esther’s Jewish deli. For Southern and Southwest-influenced brunches — complete with mimosas and Nashville hot fried “chick’n” — SxNW is a solid choice.
Veggie Bonanza in Hood River
In Hood River, choose from plenty of plant-based options after a Gorge tour or hike. Refresh with kale-chard-cucumber juice and veggie bowls drizzled with tahini at Remedy Cafe; marinated tempeh Reubens with cashew spread and ciabatta sandwiches with roasted veggies and olive tapenade at Farm Stand in the Gorge; and pesto-sausage-sundried tomato pie with a slight char and chew at Solstice Wood Fire Pizza. Riverside, which overlooks the Columbia River, features Oregon-made Tofurky burgers with mushroom and smoked “Gouda,” and Rawdacious — another Oregon company — cheesecake for dessert.
From Crunchwraps to Cookie Cheesecake in Central Oregon
In Bend a trio of fully vegan food carts wow with comfort fare. Can’t decide between nachos or a crunchwrap? The nacho crunchwrap with layers of Beyond beef, cashew queso, beans and jalapenos at Toasty is the answer. Meanwhile, Lively Up Yourself cooks up barbecue plates with sweet and tangy jackfruit and seitan ribs. For oversized biscuits with mushroom gravy, A Broken Angel is the brunch spot to hit up. For those who prefer a sit-down meal, visit Salud Live Kitchen for the colorful rainbow salad, veggie minestrone soup and raw, vegan peanut butter chocolate cookie crumble cheesecake.
It’s Not All Meat in Eastern Oregon
After stocking up on organic groceries at Ruby Peak Naturals in Enterprise, grab an avocado veggie wrap and a refreshing green smoothie with spirulina. At Paizano’s Pizza in Baker City, ask for vegan mozzarella and vegan Italian sausage on any pie. Just a mile away, the fresh-baked-daily chocolate chip cookies at Sweet Wife Baking just happen to be vegan and are not to be missed. In Pendleton, Moe Soeum celebrates his Cambodian heritage at Moe Pho Cafe, where you’ll find a soothing bowl of vegan pho packed with fried tofu and veggies.
Waffles and Global Small Plates in Southern Oregon
Ashland’s NW Raw proves that healthy eats don’t have to be a bummer. In addition to decked-out toasts and avocado-cacao pudding parfaits, this outdoorsy cafe serves gluten-free waffles with fruit, almond butter and coconut cream. When in Medford, visit Melange Eatery to nibble your way through small plates of oyster mushroom “scallops” in Chinese fermented-black-bean sauce, Japanese gyoza with spicy ponzu, and braised tofu smothered in Korean red-pepper sauce. At Terra Veg in Klamath Falls, choose from among nourishing plates of hummus, falafel, tofu shawarma and za’atar eggplant.
Warm Comfort Meals on the Oregon Coast
North Bend’s Celtic-themed and all-vegan The Tin Thistle Cafe serves walnut-oat burgers and hard-to-find vegan pasties in a backyard-bistro setting. Relax after a beach walk with a jalapeno grilled cheese with thick-cut Texas toast or BLTs made with smoky Oregon-made Thrilling tofu bacon at Stoopid Veganz at The Pines Dine cart pod in Lincoln City. Before climbing the hills of Astoria, you’ll want to fuel up with extra tempeh in your veg-and-nuts cauliflower-rice bowl at downtown’s Green Door Cafe.
Fried Treats and Drumsticks in the Willamette Valley
In Eugene Cornbread Cafe — the epitome of vegan comfort food since 2010 — slings fried-seitan chicken and waffles, tofu bacon ranch oat-patty burgers and jalapeno hush puppies with spicy remoulade. For a quick snack, grab a meat-free Tofurky “hot dog” or Philly “cheesesteak” from Viva! Vegetarian Grill in downtown Eugene. When visiting Salem, try the matcha chocolate and lemon poppyseed doughnut holes at Bigwig Donuts before catching a comedy show at Infinity Room, where you can nibble on soy sugarcane drumsticks slathered in hot sauce.