Saturday, July 2, 2011

Portland Day 3: Ruby Dragon, Sushi Tree, Back To Eden and Vita Cafe

On day 3, we headed out with Susan to explore the North East (NE) area particularly Mississippi Ave and Alberta Ave (Vegan Mecca). Portland is divided into quadrants, I found this quite confusing and so to help remember, I gave them little code names, I initially referred to NE as nothing but eating because we couldn't find anything online on guide books about what to see or do there.I now know that you might have more luck if you look up either of those street names. I also referred to the part where we lived (south west) as so weird because it basically downtown and I remember seeing the keep portland weird sign there. South East was referred to as so excellent due to vegan mini mall and previous breakfast and I don't think we really went to North West so it didn't get a name. You should ignore me though and check out Favourite vegan food by quadrant here and make up your own names.

First we visited Queen Bee Creations which was close by. It is a vegan store that sells wallets, handbags etc. I got a new purse, but kind of wish I also got a new handbag.

Hanging out with Susan was awesome, we checked at stores and ate desserts while Toby chilled out at coffee shops and record stores. On the way to get Toby we come across this cute double decked bus called Lodekka with vintage clothes and accessories. This store along with many others made me regret buying vintage stuff in New York because it was so much cheaper in Portland. Also food was much cheaper in Portland than San Fran or New York.

We then walked to where there was three veg*n food carts in one place on Mississippi avenue. Both Toby and Susan sampled something from each of the food carts, from left to right: ruby dragon, sushi tree (vegetarian sushi cart) and native bowl.

We sat in the shared seating to the right in the shade which was perfect during the nice summer day. There was also omni carts in the same area. I thought how perfect would this be for a small group of people with different preferences. Can we start a food cart revolution here please?

Here is the menu at Ruby Dragon, I love the 98 % gluten free tag.

I couldn't resist quinoa pancakes from Ruby Dragon since I can't find pancakes I can eat here (back in Melbourne now) unless I make them. The options were to add walnuts, blueberries or choc chips. I chose all three, and so they were mixed into the batter. They were served with agave and were perfect. I'm not usually a bag a fan of quinoa in desserts but this worked. Although, I do admit that I prefer maple syrup to agave on pancakes.

Susan also shared some of her cornmeal griddle cakes from Ruby Dragon with me which were tasty and had an interesting texture.

Toby then asked the sushi tree, if they do gf sushi and they made us some specially without miso (as we weren't sure if it the miso was gf). Toby chose the smoked tofu and the one with pickles. They were both incredibly fresh and tasty even without soy sauce. I preferred the pickled one and Toby preferred the tofu one, not sure about Susan?

Toby and Susan also ordered from Native Bowl but I was determined to leave room for desserts, although the pancake and sushi was incredibly filling so it didn't work.

I recommend checking out Mississippi ave, where there are a few cool stores including vintage stuff. And we walked from Mississippi ave to NE Alberta Ave which felt like an incredibly long walk, so I suggest getting a bus. Part of the reason, was the hope that it would allow us to be hungry again but it didn't work either, we just had sore feet.

Remember I mentioned NE Alberta Ave was the vegan Mecca, well that is because there are two vegan bakeries, a vegan bar, an upmarket vegetarian restaurant, and omni places with awesome vegan options. We tried to visit most of them, but had to do it across 3 days. So you will be hearing about the others on later posts, so stay tuned.

The first stop on Alberta became my favourite Portland place. A vegan bakery called Back to Eden Bakery. Not only is it all vegan, but they had plenty of gf options, the staff were lovely, the place was super cute and it just made me damn happy, on the 3 occasions that I visited.  They sell ice cream, baked vegan goods, milkshakes, banana splits, root beer floats etc. What else could you want, really?

On the first occasion, I tried the chocolate almond toffee bar. I loved this small slice, the toffee was not so much toffee (well not AUS term anyway) but fudge like and incredibly sweet and rich and the base was much more neutral so it provided the best balance.

And I felt I had to try a root beer float. But not just any root beer float, the root beer is sweetened with agave and the ice cream was made with their own soft serve. I thought floats were the same as Australian equivalent called spiders, you know coke spider, lime spider etc. But I watched and she filled the soft serve all the way to the top of the glass and then put in the root beer, unlike our spiders with only one scoop of ice cream. It was my first time having root beer, and a float and I loved it. Root beer reminds me a lot of Sarsaparilla and went really well with creamy soft serve. Although it was quite ambitious given how full we were. So I couldn't quite finish it. I did finish the ice cream just not the extra soda in the bottle.

Here are some pics of inside, but they don't capture the feeling of the place:

The thing I never quite figured out, was what to do in between eating in Portland since the city is quite separated into different parts and we were staying on the other side of the river. So this is when we went back to Mississippi ave (by bus) to check out the shops and to kill time before we could eat again. Yeah, it's kind of gross, how much we ate, but I'm not sure if I will ever return to Portland or the US again. 

We then returned to the vegan Mecca, and ate at Vita Cafe. Now beware that there are two cafes on the same street with the same name! Vita is an omni place but describes themselves as primarily vegan and vegetarian fare. They are also super gf friendly. 

Another thing I noticed about Portland, is that many of these places have nooch on the table with other condiments, how cool is that?

We shared the buffalo tofu.  I've never had buffalo anything before, but you have to trust me that were amazing. The tofu was coated in crispy batter and spicy sauce and served with ranch. I seriously need to recreate this at home somehow, I was addicted to these. There was also some carrots and celery for the leftover ranch dressing. The ranch dressing just tasted like yummy tartare sauce.

For main, I tried the 'chicken fried steak' which was tempeh, coated in batter and served with mashed potato and almond gravy. This dish was great and I was a big fan of the almond gravy but the buffalo tofu was still my fave.

And yes I'm got a major sweet tooth, so couldn't resist a tiny dessert. I could have had the larger raw cheesecake, but instead chose the much smaller salted caramel truffle. There was sea salt on top and rich caramel inside a chocolate coating, with a tiny bit of chocolate sauce. Perfect way to end the day!

I then fell into a food coma, well until the next day.


  1. Someone in Portland should do vegan food tours because it looks like there is SO many options! The buffalo tofu looks awesome and I'd really like to try those quinoa pancakes.

  2. OMG that buffalo tofu looks seriously amazing. I can't wait to visit Portland one day.

  3. Oh my gosh, you ate at all my favorite places! I'm glad you got to check out Queen Bee and Vita. It sounds like you had a fabulous time!

  4. Awesome!! This is the first time I've seen your blog and I just want to say that I really love the name of it and your header! I'm definitely going to have to have noodles for dinner now, hehe.

    My other half and I did a road trip of the west coast of the USA & Canada during April/May this year and loved it. If you're still in Portland on Saturday, check out the market!

    Loving your updates :)