Ox is one of those restaurants that’s been spoken of as a top-10 Portland restaurant as long as it’s been open. The concept is meat-centric–literally, with the Argentine grill on display in the restaurant. Luckily, the wood-fired grill doesn’t create heavy meat smells, and there are enough vegetarian options on the “from the garden” portion of the menu to keep any herbivore happy.

If you don’t want mushrooms that were fired with all those meats, there are plenty of salads and sides available. At a recent dinner, the server was very accommodating, swapping out an anchovy vinaigrette for a dijon. Many sides can be served without cheese, meat, or seafood elements. A recent spring dish was grilled cauliflower, tahini-feta purée, fried lemon, arugula, and Mama Lil’s Pickled Peppers, $9/17. Yep, you can choose a large or small portion, depending on whether you’re sharing.

Bread with chimichurri is free, and refilled liberally, when your party orders something “from the grill.” That means meat for the most part at Ox, but there are also mushrooms and veggies on that portion of the menu.

Reservations available for large parties, or wait at Whey Bar next door. Because there’s going to be a wait. You can put your name on the waitlist starting at 4pm daily. Dinner starts at 5.

We hear it’s gluten-free friendly!

2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr.

vegetarianPDX Best of February 2016

We bought our house in June, so February has meant waiting to see if we have any bulbs. So far, we have… three crocuses, and what appears to be one tulip.

Oh well. We can always hope for lilies. And we have a camellia (?) which is starting to bloom red and variegated.

It's almost spring in Portland | vegetarianPDX

Hope your February hasn’t been too cruel!

On the Blog

This month, we visited Handsome Pizza, ate a hearty salad inspired by Portland Soup Company, and talked about all the vegetarian options for Portland Dining Month… which is starting tomorrow, by the way!

I’ve also been going back and updating old entries, slowly but surely. So far I’m up to Por Que No in the alphabet. Phew.


I made this Taco Torte from Smitten Kitchen for omnivores, and it turned out better than I expected. Isn’t that always the way with Smitten Kitchen? The toddler ate SPINACH and BEANS of his own free will. That’s almost magic.

We also made this red lentil soup with sweet potatoes, which will probably be added to the regular rotation because it’s tasty, easy, and nutritious. We just ate it as a soup with bread, but you can also serve over grains if you like, or all by its lonesome if you’re not into the whole grain thing.


Going to the Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival? That’s right, no commas: This one celebrates coffee beer. 13 samples of each. If you can make it through all 13, please plan out a ride and time for a nap.

Farm Spirit will start offering more seating times for dinner, starting April 6th. Yes, that means more reservations will be available on a nightly basis. They’re also adding a fancier (reserve) wine pairing. Ooh la la.

A Portland Blind Cafe pop-up will be serving a gluten-free vegan meal in complete darkness, on March 24-26.


What restaurants or recipes did you discover this month?

Ya Hala Restaurant

To be honest, I haven’t been to Ya Hala for years. The last few times we tried to walk in for dinner, probably at 6:30 on a Friday night or something, the wait has been too long. On this hopping strip on Montavilla, that’s par for the course. There’s a reason why they stay popular, with a wide variety of tasty Lebanese items for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch.

Weekend brunch is supposed to be fantastic here, from what I hear. And you can see on the menu that it speaks to a more American palate, while keeping its Lebanese flair. On the sweet side, there’s sfoof, a turmeric and anise coffee cake with cardamom icing ($5). On the savory, vegetarians have plenty of options, with a traditional Lebanese breakfast plate, shakshuka, or fried halloumi with rainbow carrots.

Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items are noted on the menu. Vegans have a wider range of options at lunch and dinner than at brunch. At dinner, check out vegan savory pies, kibbeh, fried veggies, and mezza.

8005 SE Stark St.

Wolf and Bear’s

Wolf and Bear’s has a special place in my heart. Their first cart was a short walk from my house, in a gravel lot that’s now–you guessed it–glass-fronted apartments or condos. Luckily, that’s not the end of the story. That little cart has turned into a TINY CART EMPIRE of three locations turning out falafel sandwiches with caramelized onion and eggplant, which I think we can agree the world needs a little more of.

In addition to falafel sandwiches, Wolf and Bear’s offers sabich, an Iraqi-Jewish traditional breakfast featuring hummus, amba (mango pickle purée), sliced hard boiled egg, grilled eggplant, diced onion, cucumber & pickles, freshly cracked pepper, parsley and salad greens topped with tahini sauce & olive oil on a warm pita, $7.50. Why have I never gotten this? BRB, examining my life choices.

Specify vegan if needed. Salads are available if you’re gluten-free, including the GomasioHome made gomasio (toasted sesame, sea salt and nori), red peppers, red onions, shredded beet and carrot, raisins on mesclun greens with house tahini sauce. $6.50. Oh, I’d eat the heck out of that.

Ask for vegan if you don’t want yogurt, etc.

SW 10th Between Alder and Washington

3925 N. Mississippi Ave.

113 Southeast 28th Ave.


Whole Bowl

The Whole Bowl serves up simple rice and bean bowls. Yep, beans and rice, with some tasty toppings. Your choices?Large or small.

Each bowl has brown rice, beans, avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and “Tali Sauce.” Some people looooove the Tali Sauce, hence the popularity. Me? I can take it or leave it. But they’re perfectly good bowls! My husband gets them a lot when he’s working downtown.

Naturally, the bowls can be tailored to your taste–leave off the cilantro if you want, or veganize. All bowls are wheat-free.

3540 N Vancouver Ave.

4411 SE Hawthorne (some indoor seating available)

SW 9th and Alder

1100 NW Glisan St.

4615 NE Sandy Blvd.


Van Hanh Vegetarian Restaurant

Who likes fake meat? *dum dum dum dum dum dum dum* We like fake meat! Van Hanh isn’t your “Portland vegan” typical vegan restaurant. Nope, it’s a Vietnamese non-profit restaurant run by friendly nuns. Most of the menu is made of meat analogues. If that’s your thing, you’ll be in heaven. If not, you’ll still probably find plenty to eat.

Just relax, be polite, and enjoy your lemongrass “chicken” made and served by Buddhist nuns and volunteers. Allow a little extra time — the service isn’t known for being fast. If you don’t speak Vietnamese, you might expect a little confusion with your order as well.

Van Hanh vegetarian restaurant in Portland, Oregon \ vegetarianPDX

I’ve never been there, but now it’s on my list.

8446 SE Division St.


Strangely enough (I joke) they don’t have a website, so check these out:


Toro Bravo

Toro Bravo is often mentioned as one of the best restaurants in Portland, and it’s up there.

Tons of small plates to order, but not many entrees. That’s okay – this is a small plates kind of place. You will leave happy and stuffed. Just give me the radicchio salad (with green olive toast) and olive oil cake. But you can’t leave without potatoes bravas. And seared cauliflower might be nice. Bring some friends so you don’t have to be removed by stretcher.

On my last visit, the server took out her pen and marked all the vegetarian options on the menu. Isn’t that nice?

There will be a wait for your table, but they’ll take your phone number. Get a classic cocktail at The Secret Society just upstairs. It’s often said that the easiest way to get in is to show up right when they open at 5.

Inquire ahead of time for vegan and gluten-free options, as menus change often.

120 NE Russell


Tin Shed

The Tin Shed is one of those Portland breakfast institutions. Brunch is served until 3pm. Then they serve lunch and dinner, but I’ve never heard of anyone going there after breakfast ends.  I mean, I’m sure they do it! But brunch is the main event. Of course, you can expect to wait for it. At least you can have a cup of coffee while you wait. Go ahead and grab one from the self-serve station after you check in.

For many breakfast items, they promise: “We are happy to substitute ingredients to make your dish vegan and/or gluten-free. Tofu, egg whites and gluten-free toast subject to an additional charge.” Well, that’s mostly good news!

Bring your pup — dogs are welcome outside. There’s even a doggie menu if a treat just doesn’t suffice, and Tuesday night is Doggie Love Night, where dogs eat free with purchase of a person’s meal. If you pine for your own pupster, sit outside so you can enjoy the dog-watching.

Oh, and kids? They’re welcome, too, with a good-looking kids’ menu. Breakfast items are even customizable: Get a scrambled egg and wheat toast for $3, and add veggie sausage for $3 more.

1438 NE Alberta St.


Tasty N Sons

Tasty N Sons has topped the Best Brunch lists for years. John Gorham’s (of Toro Bravo) brunch joint serves dinner, too, and it’s all incredible. Just try not to order too much, because you’ll want to eat it all. Try ordering one egg dish and one potato dish and one sweet dish, maybe. Actually, just bring lots of friends so you can share. Dishes come out as they’re ready anyway.

For brunch, put your name on the list, then plan to enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood, because this is going to take a while, my friends.

For dinner… well, they’ve changed the menu quite a bit since the last time I had dinner there. You won’t find anything vegetarian in the “bigger” plates, and everything smaller is a carb or a salad. You could do just fine here if your bff wants to go there for her birthday dinner, but it’s not exactly a vegetarian destination at dinner. (Am I wrong? Please do prove me wrong! I love that when it means more tasty food for me.)

I’ve always had good service for vegetarian items at Tasty and Toro, with careful explanations as needed. Check ahead or ask for vegan and gluten-free options. This is a very meat-and-egg-and-biscuit-heavy brunch menu, but if you’re flexible I’d be surprised if they couldn’t whip up something vegan for ya.


3808 N. Williams


Sweetpea Baking Company

Sweetpea Baking Company is a dedicated vegan bakery in the heart of the vegan mini-mall, right next to Food Fight! I KNOW. If you’re vegan and you live in Portland and you haven’t gotten around to going here yet… I’m confused about your choices, but I’m not judging.

In addition to your pastries, they offer bagels, breakfast, and a light lunch. I’ve been known to stop in for a bagel with garlicky hummus. I’m not vegan, but I have never been disappointed by a pastry here. I’d take their berry muffins over any commercial muffin easily.

Fresh vegan doughnuts come out of the fryer at 9am on Saturdays.

You’ll find some wheat-free items in the case, including some gigantic cookies, but no cakes or cupcakes anymore.

100% vegan.

1205 SE Stark St.