Reviews written by Geoffrey Kleinman
Registered on Sep 11 04
The Alberta neighborhood has been going through a lot of changes lately and more and more people are discovering it's charm. If you've never experienced 'Last Thursday' on Alberta street you OWE it to yourself to experience it. The Alberta Co-op Grocery is smack dab in the middle of it all on Alberta street. It's located between The Tin Shed restaurant and Everyday Wine (two very notable Alberta Street stops). What the Alberta Co-op Grocery lacks in size it makes up for in quality and friendliness. The produce is fresh and well kept, there are great choices in the dairy case (including some great cheeses) and beverage and snack choices are plentiful. Their prices are fairly reasonable and often lower than Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) or New Season.
Above all the Alberta Co-op Grocery is a great place to shop. I've been in the store many a time and the people who work there have always gone out of their way to be friendly and helpful (even on nights when they are crowded). Since Everyday Wine up the street doesn't serve food, and lets you bring your own eats in Alberta Co-op Grocery is an essential resource for nibbles if you're headed up the street to Everyday Wine.
While The Farm Cafe isn't entirely vegetarian, there are a ton of great vegetarian (and even Vegan) options on their menu. The Farm uses all fresh, local and organic ingredients and the result is nothing short of amazing.
We started our dinner with local roasted Hazelnuts which were extremely yummy and Ken's Artisan Bread (which is always good). The main courses were a Tofu Marsala that was so good it's hard to believe it was tofu and a tempeh stuffed pepper which was absolutely fantastic.
While The Farm isn't exclusiviely Vegetarian, it's hard to think of a better vegetarian meal I've had in Portland than at The Farm!
Holy crap. A VEGAN GROCERY STORE! What more can you ask for! This little store is tucked away on the ground floor of a little hideaway mall in SE Portland (Right Behind Kelga Kafe). It might be Portland's best kept secret if so many people (nationally) didn't know about it.
If you're vegan, you'll enjoy the fact that you can walk right in and not have to read a single label. Wooo Hooo!
Food Fight! also has the much coveted Vegan Marshmallows, Vegan Haggis (I don't know why in the world anyone would want that... but it's there if you do) as well as a nice selection of Vegan goodies.
Food Fight! is a one of a kind, which is too bad, It would be great if there were more vegan grocers out there. But if you're not in Portland, never fear, they've launched online ordering so you can get those Vegan goodies no matter where you are.
Kalga Kafe is one of those places doesn't fit neatly into any one category. Its both a great place for a meal and late night hang out. Grab a glass of wine or beer or have a big meal. It's one of the better veggie Indian places in town but it's also known for its veggie or vegan pizza and burritos.
The menu has everything from Thai, Mexican, Italian and India and everything we tried was really good. On the Indian side the Thali - traditional India dinner, was fantastic. I ordered it medium-hot and it had a great kick while still having full flavor. My wife ordered the Dal which was also very good. We brought our kids who split a personal size pizza and they both gobbled it up. I grabbed a bite of the pizza and it's that great New York style thin crust with really tangy and flavorful cheese.
Also Kalga doesn't scream 'VEGETARIAN', the menu has so many choices from so many regions and almost all of them aren't tofu or meat alternative based. It's the kind of place you can bring your meat eating friends and with all the great choices (including good wines and teas) they probably will overlook the fact that there's no meat on the menu.
After you eat at Kalga, be sure to venture next door to OTSU which is a neat little vegan clothing store and Food Fight! a tiny vegan grocery store that's fun to check out.
Three Words - Hungarian Mushroom Soup
If you've never been to Old Wives' Tales or never experienced their Hungarian Mushroom Soup, do yourself a favor and experience it. It's one of the better, hearty soups in town. If soup isn't your thing Old Wives' Tales has a very extensive and eclectic menu, accented by a good number of regular breakfast and lunch specials.
Old Wive's Tales is extremely family friendly. They have a section of the restaurant where they seat families, so if your kids are a little on the roudy side it's not as disruptive or disturbing to other diners. They also have a great play area which our kids just adore.
Outside of their great soup, Old Wives' Tales does have a number of other tasty options, but many of their best dishes aren't vegetarian. Another downside is the service which can vary wildly. Some days we've had excellent service, others just awful - it greatly depends on how busy they are.
Despite any downsides, it's still a great choice, especially for breakfast or lunch.
Vege Thai used to be a place we'd go on an extremely regular basis. They're always friendly, the food is typically great and everything is veg.
Unfortunately we had an awful incident where BOTH our kids got violently ill after eating the soy mock chicken nuggets. We're talking 2 kids throwing up all night long.
Needless to say it's been very difficult to justify going back :(
By all accounts Vegetarian House is a strange little restaurant. Located right inside the gates of Old Town/China Town (almost right next door to that seedy adult book store) Vegetarian House doesn't have the most wonderful location. (At night you're bound to be rubbing elbows with a few drug dealers and drunks, but it's an experience that's worth dealing with it.)
Vegetarian House is based on an interesting concept - take the menu of a traditional Chinese restaurant and replace all the meat with meat alternative (including various textured soy proteins and other tofu related foods). This means you can go in and order Cashew "Chicken" or Mushu "Pork" and what you'll get is a meatless rendition of the dish that looks alot like (but doesn't exactly taste like) it's meated counterpart. The interesting thing about Vegetarian House is that the dishes are more interesting and tasty in their own right vs. as a meatless rendition of their namesakes. The Kung Pow "Chicken" doesn't taste a thing like chicken, but it is sweet, spicy and very tasty. Potstickers look like traditional potstickers but taste quite different - and that's not a bad thing.
Vegetarian House is a culinary oddity that is worth checking out even if your not a vegetarian. There's absolutely nothing else like it in Portland, and after eating there you might find yourself craving some of their unique dishes and begin plotting your return.
Vita Cafe is located in the 'up and coming' Alberta Street area. It specializes in fresh and organic foods. While they are definitely known for their breakfast menu (including their corn cakes), they do have a pretty extensive lunch and dinner menu with a wide variety of food choices.
Portions are extremely generous, so plan to share or take home left overs.
Vita has a number of very good cheap eats options, including a breakfast special for early in the morning, a 'happy hour' for kids meals (where kids eat for $1 5-7pm) and cheap lunch specials that will fill you up for under $5.
While mostly vegetarian, Vita Cafe does serve hormone free, family farm raised hamburgers. So if you've got non-veg friends who can't live without their burger, they can still get their burger fix while you feast on Tempeh Fajitas or Portabello Mushroom Polenta. Who knows, maybe they'll skip the burger and join you in one of many yummy tasting veggie dishes!
Vita also has a great selection of vegan desserts from the Buddha Belly Bakery.
Generous portions, good food, family friendly, a great veggie Portland food choice!