The Observatory

The Observatory is a popular place.

During happy hour, dinner, or later into the evening, as Montavilla bars and restaurants start to fill up, The Observatory is Most Likely to Fill First. For a long time, it was a place where I’d check in, hear how long the wait was, and decide to go elsewhere. Ironically, maybe, I’ve only gotten in since we had the toddler: happy hour at 4 pm, or lunch at 11:30.

I don’t mean to scare you off — I mean, it’s full of people who DID get seats, after all, and they’re all there for a reason. If there’s a wait, they’ll take your name and number and you can stroll down the strip in Montavilla, or wait “around the corner.” That’s the bar in the back (Over and Out), where you can hang while you wait for your table. An extremely similar menu is available back there, but kids aren’t allowed, and instead of sipping cocktails in front of mirrors and artfully draped curtains, you’ll be sipping cocktails in front of pinball machines.

We visited The Observatory at lunch recently to try out the veggie burger as part of my research to find out the best veggie burger in Portland. What we found — and I’ll elaborate on this in a later post — was a solid effort, with impressive structural integrity, if a little tall/thick. The patty is vegan, but if you’re not, I’d recommend adding cheese for a buck. I gobbled up the crispy sweet potato fries, a $.50 upcharge at lunch.

Veggie burger at The Observatory in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

You know a lounge has a reputation when you peruse the bar menu and think, “Oh, I’ve heard of that!” The Capricorn’s reputation precedes it: vodka, strawberry puree & black peppercorn syrup with a salt and pink peppercorn rim served up ($7.50).

Also semi-famous is the oregano fry bread, which I’ve never tried, but have heard lots of good things about.

And with that, we’re nearly at the end of the menu for vegetarians. Salads,  a grilled cheese, and that well-known veggie burger are about it. But if you’re looking for a cool place  — that’s not overly hip or trying too hard — The Observatory is worth the stop.


Have you been to The Observatory? What’s your poison?



  1. Erin says:

    You went to the Observatory and didn’t get the fry bread?!!! You must return immediately! It really is as amazing as everyone says!!

    • Kelley says:

      Ugh, I know, but we both got veggie burgers! We live out Parkrose way, so we’re in Montavilla quite a bit. We’ll be back!

  2. pechluck (@pechluck) says:

    I’ve never been but the Capricorn and fry bread are calling my name. F likes the Veggie Burger at Deschutes, I like the version at Portland Penny Diner tho we also hear good things about the one at Veritable Quandry, have you had those?

    • Kelley says:

      Luckily, it’s pretty kid-friendly during the day, too, if you happen to have one with you. No kids’ menu, but they have high chairs and brought my toddler a covered cup with a straw.

  3. Create/Enjoy (@SuzannahStanley) says:

    Ooh, finally, a review of a restaurant I’ve actually been to! 😉 I went to this place for happy hour once and got a delicious chicken liver mousse pate – it was not long after I started eating meat again and was so excited to see nutrient-dense organ meats on a restaurant menu! I loved the decor at this place, too!

    • Kelley says:

      I’d almost say they’d go well together, but that sounds like a lot of carbs at once. Cheese plate to the rescue!

    • Kelley says:

      You know, I’ve never actually been there after dark, but I think they have lights that resemble starst. During the day, there’s a lot of light due to the high ceilings and tall windows. It’s also on Mt. Tabor, where I suppose there’s a lot of stargazing going on.

    • Kelley says:

      I have to report that I dipped the end of my veggie burger in ketchup, and then dipped that in the tiny crumbs of sweet potato fries. Not my proudest moment, but maybe my best bite of the meal.

Leave a Reply