Move over, bacon — there’s a whole new world of tasty, creative and bold plant-based eateries opening across Oregon. Vegan diners (and even omnivores) are loving it.
With more hungry travelers looking for more than just smoothies, salads and a single veggie option on the menu, you can now find everything from vegan burgers and barbecue to pad thai, donuts and other sweets — if you know where to look. When done right, they’re often equally tasty as the non-vegan versions.
Just consider the bounty of vegan hotspots that have sprung up from talented chefs in Portland, such as Farm Spirit, Homegrown Smoker BBQ, Blossoming Lotus, The Bye-and-Bye, Doe Donuts, Virtuous Pie or Sweet Pea Baking Company, to name a few. All pride themselves on their sustainable ethos and preparations of nourishing, satisfying and — most importantly, yummy — dishes without meat or animal products.
You can find vegan options in each of Oregon’s regions. Here are some local favorites.
You’ll feel like you’re in your best friend’s backyard, enjoying the 100-percent vegan comfort food here in a garden bistro setting. The Tin Thistle Garden Cafe in North Bend, is a Celtic-themed eatery serves up a lovely soup of the day — whether it’s mushroom stew or autumn vegetable — as well as a daily fresh-baked pie, like apple, raspberry or peach. Chow down on an authentic pastie, chipotle barbecue burger or a hearty village bowl with beans, rice and greens, and feel amazing about your body and the planet.
Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge
The Farm Stand in the Gorge in Hood River is the ultimate road-side stop, a three-in-one natural foods market, cafe with full breakfast and lunch menu, and deli with fresh to-go options. To make it easy, the cafe’s lunch menu is nicely divided into “vegetable style” and “animal style” sections, the standout being the mouthwatering Radical Reuben, with marinated tempeh, house-made kraut, cashew sunflower cheese and 1000 Island dressing on toast. Everything is organic, and they use only sunflower, coconut and olive oil. Salads, soups, wraps, bowls and smoothies round out the menu.
Born out of a food cart in 2010, Cornbread Cafe in Eugene serves up 100-percent vegan comfort food — Cajun-Creole influenced and scratch-made with locally sourced ingredients and a strict policy against using genetically modified ingredients. They also send their food scraps and oil to a local gardener, with a pledge to keep as small a carbon footprint as possible. The Eugenewich sandwich — with Southern-fried tofu patty, Daiya cheddar, carrot bacon, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato and smoky sauce on a grilled bun — has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” A second cafe is in the works to open in downtown Springfield in 2018. Then rest easy at Velo Bed and Breakfast, also in Eugene, featuring private en suite rooms and organic vegan meals — plus a 10% discount for guests arriving by bicycle.
If you think raw food must mean a plain old carrot or an apple, you haven’t been to Salud Raw Food in Bend. Vegan warriors can rejoice in the 100-percent raw, 100-percent decadent sweets and savories here — like chocolate almond butter pie, dragon fruit cheesecake, spicy carrot ginger soup and plant-based Mediterranean pizza — a true work of art on a plate. Like elsewhere in the vegan community it’s all about wellness here, and the organic, nutrient-dense foods that keep the body, mind and spirit fueled.
Even in meat-and-potatoes country, it is possible to find a vegan options besides a side salad. Paizano’s Pizza in Baker City offers a vegan mozzarella that they’re happy to substitute on pies. Just a mile away at Sweet Wife Baking are the hot-selling fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies that (shh…) just happen to be vegan. “No one out here on this side of the state says the ‘V word’ very much,” jokes Jenny Mowe, baker and owner at Sweet Wife. With vegetable oil as a stand-in for butter and eggs, as well as high-quality chocolate, these cookies simply taste better than any other recipe she’s tried, she says. The shop doesn’t advertise the fact that it’s vegan, but will admit if asked.
About half the menu at Pangea in Ashland is vegan, but every bit of it is made from scratch, with love, as well as with seasonally sourced local ingredients and spices. You’ll feel invigorated by the superfood-filled Squirrel Nut salad: organic field greens with sprouts, carrots, goji berries, seeds, nuts and lemon tahini dressing. Or, try the yummy Grill from Ipanema wrap, with grilled tofu, avocado, tomato, red onion and roasted vegan aioli. For dessert, sweeten things up with the lemon basil cookies or a cocoa bean bomb.