When I first moved to the culinary haven of Portland, Oregon, I read an article in the Willamette Week listing all the reasons to love Portland. Number 21 struck me as odd: “BECAUSE WE HAVE FAT VEGANS.” At the time, I was a vegetarian with plans of transitioning to veganism. (For those of you who don’t know, vegetarians do not eat meat, but still consume animal by-products, such as eggs and dairy. On the other hand, vegans eat an entirely plant-based diet. Nope, we eat no honey, no gelatin, and certainly no cheese.)
Anyhow, I quickly realized that this article was one hundred percent correct. Vegan donuts, quesadillas, burgers, pizza, breakfast burritos, Philly cheese steak, pot pies, and beer can all easily be found in this land of the weird. Not only are these dishes cruelty-free, they are all astoundingly, deliciously drool-inspiring. Even cavemen would pull out their incisors and voraciously eat vegan food here.
Of all the meals you can eat, brunch is definitely the most fun. You get to crawl out of bed on the weekend, meet up with your friends, guiltlessly drink copious amounts of mimosas, and consume an elephantine breakfast at noon. What’s not to love? To top it off, brunch is much more than eggs and pancakes here. Leave that to IHOP or Denny’s. Portlanders are anything but boring, and you can count on your food following suit. This is the freshest, tastiest, most creative, out-of-this world vegan fare you’ll find in the Pacific Northwest.
So here is where you need to go:
Address: 3439 SE Belmont St.; Portland, OR 97214
Situated in the Belmont neighborhood, just down the street from the iconic Avalon Theater, lies the Paradox Café. This chill spot has the feel of an old-school ‘50s diner with a u-shaped bar and the option of stool or table seating. Their menu is filled with delicious, organic vegetarian and vegan options, such as the Vegan Breakfast Burrito and the Country Comfort Breakfast with Tempeh and Veggies. While they don’t sell alcoholic beverages, they offer kava cocktails and kambucha. There is nothing paradoxical about this café; this is the real deal, and their mode of operandi is to consistently serve food so delectable that you’ll instantly become a regular.
Address: 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd.; Portland, OR 97214
Located in the hip, Haight-Ashbury-esque neighborhood of SE Hawthorne, Harlow is a culinary gem. Known for its fresh fruit and veggie smoothies and to-die-for cuisine, its menu includes a vast array of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. The Huevos Rancheros, Walnut Flapjacks, and Farmers Vegetable Scramble are particularly coveted choices. If you’re in the mood for an afternoon drink, the Pomegranate Mimosa is a tasty option. While this is an order-at-the-counter, communal seating establishment, its charm, delicious fare, and friendly service will leave you wanting more.
Address: 1742 SE 12th Ave; Portland, OR 97214
Just across from the Willamette River, minutes from downtown Portland, stands Junior’s Café in the Ladd’s Addition area. Walking into this diner, with the funky décor of doll heads, framed drawings of pigs, ponies, and the like (not to mention the uber-cute hanging lamps), you’ll immediately know that you’ve arrived in Portland. What’s great about this place is that herbivores, carnivores, and everyone in between will find a dish sure to floor their palate. On the vegan menu, I’d recommend their Vegan French Toast, Spicy Vegan Tofu Scramble, or Vegan Hash. By the way, did I mention that their industrial-strength Mimosas and spicy Bloody Maries are served in mason jars?!
Address: 3342 SE Belmont St.; Portland, OR 97214
Entering Suzette, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a sophisticated French atmosphere. Offering both sweet and savory crepes, Suzette offers plates so fresh that they are cooked before your eyes, behind the bar. Speaking of bars, they have a full alcohol menu, and their espresso is also equally potent. I’d recommend the Marsala-Soaked Fig Buckwheat Crepes, the Vegan Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, and to drink, the Corpse Reviver #2. If you can’t find a crepe on the list that you fancy, you can pick your own (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or meat) ingredients and create your own- how awesome is that?! P.S. Don’t miss out on the Prix Fixe menu on the weekends for Brunch a Suzette!
All in all, Portlanders take their food very seriously, especially when it comes to brunch. Locally-grown, organic, cage-free, grass-fed, gluten-free, cruelty-free- and especially vegan- are all adjectives that you will encounter frequently when it comes to cuisine. This list of brunch spots is by no means comprehensive, but instead is meant to point you in the right direction if you’re curious about how ecstatically satiating vegan cuisine can be.