Now it’s time for a special birthday edition of Vegan in Portland!
(If you missed my first Portland travel post, check it out here.)
As luck would have it, our trip to the Pacific Northwest coincided with my birthday. So I was able to celebrate in PDX with David, Kristy, and some special friends!
We got the day started right with a cozy brunch at Vita Café, a non-vegan restaurant with lots of vegan options. Their menu is a who’s who of comfort foods.
I ordered the breakfast burrito, which was stuffed with tofu, veggies, and chili. Then it was smothered in vegan cheese sauce, salsa, dairy-free sour cream, and guacamole. On the side, potatoes.
It’s the kind of breakfast that hugs you back.
David opted for a Denver scramble with seitan made in house, sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms. He seemed quite pleased with his order.
After lunch, sightseeing began. We walked along the Williamette River, took pictures of the Portland sign, and enjoyed the perfect summer weather.
I also got a birthday present from the city itself – a parking ticket. I didn’t notice a faded paper sign taped to a pole and accidentally parked in a tow zone – to the tune of $80.
It was sweet of them to tuck it under my windshield wiper like a Valentine… But maybe Hallmark next time?
Rather than dwell on the birthday disappoint, we set our sights on our next destination – Powell’s Books.
Powell’s City of Books
I’ve now been to Portland three times, and every trip has involved a trek around Powell’s City of Books. Powell’s is a chain of independent bookstores. And its headquarters is world-renowned.
It claims to be the world’s largest independent bookstore and seems to make every list of bookstores you must visit.
The store itself is massive, taking up an entire city block.
Walking around it feels like you’re touring a Clue board game with color-coding to jump from one section to the next. Or maybe it’s the IKEA of bookstores?
Of course, there’s a sizable vegan cookbook section with lots of titles that I recognized from my own collection.
We had worked up an appetite and decided to walk to nearby Rabbits Café.
The restaurant is unassuming and tucked inside the lobby of the U.S. Bancorp Tower. The café is small with counter-service only. There are just a couple of tables inside, but since we were the only patrons there, we had no trouble snagging a spot.
Rabbits Café focuses on bowls. We knew we would be stuffing ourselves later, and so we all opted for mini bowls. (We didn’t want to be too full for cake! Priorities.)
I got the mini-barbecue. A layer of rice was topped with barbecue Soy Curls, kale tossed in tahini dressing, and a generous ladle of nacho-ranch sauce. And of course, those three words I live by – always add avocado.
The flavors melded beautifully, and every bite worked well together.
David got the mini chickpea bowl. The bowl included curried chickpeas, kale in tahini dressing, and green chutney on top of brown rice.
He added avocado too. He’s no fool.
I had a bite for myself, and this bowl did not disappoint. Even though we opted for the small size, the bowls were plenty filling.
We were expecting some special guests that night at our AirBnb. So we picked up food provisions, wine, and a special surprise…
Cake from Back to Eden Bakery
Unbeknownst to me, David had ordered a birthday cake from Back to Eden Bakery. It’s an all-vegan and gluten-free bakery, which was perfect since several of our guests were gluten-free in addition to being vegan.
It was a chocolate cake with an addictively good peanut butter frosting. The cake was moist & rich and emblazoned with my name.
(Eden Bakery is lucky we were in town that weekend. I doubt many other Cadry’s were celebrating a birthday that day. I would have hated for it to go to waste.) 😉
It had been a very long time since I’d had a professional cake made for my birthday. Super fun!
(By the way, the area around Back to Eden Bakery is adorable. I could easily spend a couple of hours going in and out of the shops along that street.)
So many compassionate foodies in one room! Usually we’re all chatting online, and now we were finally able to gab in person.
Julie brought some of her gluten-free bake mixes as a birthday surprise along with chocolate chips and cupcake holders.
Kittee brought flowers from her backyard, homemade meringue using aquafaba, and spirulina treats.
Kristy had a present mailed to my house, so that it would arrive on the day I got home – plant-based cheeses from Miyoko!
(If you’ve got to leave the vegan mecca, it’s good to know there’s something delicious waiting at home.)
And David got me that teal dress I’m wearing, along with a few other things.
After cake and beverages, we set out to The Sudra for dinner. I’d left it to the local Portland bloggers to give dinner suggestions. This place came highly recommended.
The Sudra is an Indian-inspired vegan restaurant with lots of outdoor seating. We chose a large picnic table and then went inside to place our order.
I got the poori plate. Poori are puffy envelopes of bread. As soon as I saw them on the menu, my choice was made. I love that fried, pillowy bread.
The Sudra’s poori is on the heartier side and tastes like it’s made from whole wheat.
The platter came with black-eyed pea korma, potato masala, collards, cilantro-lemon sauce, and roasted red pepper-cashew chutney. The generous portions were perfectly spiced.
David got the kale infused dosa plate. The dosa arrived unfilled, and then he got to stuff it with the same sides that were on my plate – black-eyed pea korma, potato masala, and collards.
We stayed at the table laughing, chatting, and plotting until the sun went down and outdoor lights came on. I really can’t think of a lovelier finish to a birthday.
Continue to part 3 for highlights from my last day in Portland!