Healthy Dining in Portland: An East Coast Foodie’s Guide

Whether you live near Portland, Oregon, have plans to go there sometime soon or are looking for ideas for future vacations, you’ll want to read this post! (Or just scroll to be tempted by the amazing food in the pics!).

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When we booked our trip to Portland, Oregon several months ago, and I told people we were going there, their responses were unanimous:

“You’re going to LOVE it there!”

“You’ll be with ‘your’ people.”

By “my people”, they were mostly referring to foodies that have some food preferences not so easily accommodated here on the East Coast (i.e,. gluten-free, dairy-free, organic). Portland is known for being a very allergen-friendly food city, so you can go just about anywhere and find gluten-free, dairy-free options.

Whenever Bill and I travel, we look for three things:

  1. Delicious, nourishing food
  2. Farmer’s markets
  3. Walkability & hiking

IMG_7081Portland happened to have the trifecta, so we couldn’t wait for the trip to begin. During the six days we were in Portland, we made the rounds and tried over a dozen different eateries, all of which offered and often specialized in gluten-free, dairy-free options that tasted as good as, if not better than, the originals.

If you’re traveling to Portland (or if you live there and want to check out some new spots) AND are looking for nourishing and delicious options, use this list as your guide.

Portland Farmer’s Market

Portland State University, SW Park & SW Montgomery; www.portlandfarmersmarket.org

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We had heard that this market was all the rage and were stoked to check it out on Saturday morning. We liked it so much that we spent three hours there. I love the energy of farmer’s markets. The people. The sounds. The colors. This market was no different.

We also made friends with one of the volunteers, Steve, who gave us some pretty stellar recommendations about places to check out while we were staying in Portland. It always pays to talk to the locals, the people who will send you somewhere other than the places all the tourists go. They tend to be way better (and less crowded).

What We Ate / Drank

  • Chai Donut (Petunia’s Pies & Pastries)
  • Everything Bagel (New Cascadia)
  • Honey Mama’s chocolate bars (Sample every chocolate! We bought a 4-pack)
  • Lentil Dal (Portland Curry Co.)
  • Strawberry Ginger Kombucha (Symple Foods)

Harlow Restaurant 

3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland; 971-255-0138; www.harlowpdx.com

IMG_71580C19EC8E-E8BF-43D9-8524-042A4B24666FIMG_6965Considering we ate here three different times and sat in on a cooking demo they did at the Farmer’s Market, this became our go-to spot. Everything they sell is gluten-free and dairy-free (win!), and they source their ingredients from local, sustainable sources.

We went there for breakfast twice and lunch one time but could have easily spent every meal there because they have such a variety of delicious options including smoothies, juices, bowls, salads, and sides. Their sister shop, Prasad Cafe, has a few locations downtown and their menus are pretty similar, so we were happy sticking with Harlow but would definitely check out Prasad on our next go around.

What We Ate

  • Betty Bowl (with a perfectly poached egg)
  • Chipotle Chili Bowl
  • Turmeric Toddy (iced or hot – I had both – SO GOOD!)
  • Strawberry Short Stack
  • Outlaw Scramble
  • Mercy Blues
  • Pesto Garden Scramble
  • Trail Mix Cookie

Portobello Vegan Trattoria

1125 SE Division Street, Portland; 503-754-5993; http://portobellopdx.com/

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Delicious. Italian food…Vegan.

Say what??

How could a restaurant with cuisine based entirely around cheese, pasta and bread possibly have options that a gluten-free, dairy-free eater (and her husband) could enjoy?

They did! We’re so glad we gave this place a shot. I’m glad we didn’t let its not-so-fancy storefront deter us from checking out what ended up being one of our favorite meals of the entire trip. For starters, our server, Corinn, was sweet and spunky as can be and guided us through the menu. With a variety of gluten-free options (including pizza!), we had plenty of options to choose from and enjoyed every single one – so much so that two dessert-lovers like us didn’t have room for dessert.

What We Ate

  • Beet Tartare with New Cascadia Gluten-Free bread (even Bill said that bread tasted BETTER than the regular bread)
  • Kale Caesar Salad
  • Tom’s Pizza on gluten-free crust
  • Bliss Tea

Blossoming Lotus

1713 NE 15th Ave, Portland; 503.228.0048; www.blpdx.com

FDC8891B-EBB2-4A9C-A3ED-85A23370021AWe picked a beautiful day to check out this restaurant in the Irvington neighborhood. Another dairy-free, gluten-free find, we were drawn in by the pictures of their live nachos on Instagram and Yelp! and knew we had to include them on our self-guided food tour of the city.

What We Ate

  • Live Nachos (man oh man were these good!)
  • Curry Bowl
  • Lotus Benedict

Departure

525 SW Morrison St, Portland; 503-802-5370; http://departureportland.com/

IMG_7155We’re Top Chef fans and have watched just about every season of the show. One of our favorite seasons featured Gregory Gourdet, who is now Executive Chef of Departure Restaurant. His inspiring story of becoming sober and prioritizing nourishing, quality food in that process was certainly one draw to bring us to this trendy rooftop restaurant in the heart of downtown. That, and Farmer’s Market Steve highly recommended it, too!

I loved that they provided both vegan and gluten-free menus in addition to the standard menu, so there was no shortage of options for appetizers, entrees or desserts.

What We Ate

  • Tandoori Spiced Scallops
  • Kani Avocado Roll
  • Shaved Collards Salad

Verde Cocina

Multiple locations; Portland Farmer’s Market; www.verdecocinamarket.com

0BB50060-A2CA-4E70-9E86-44324C75E942Farmer’s Market Steve came through again when he recommended we check out this place for a meal. Fresh, bright Mexican food with handmade, corn tortillas. Bill had a dish for breakfast at the farmer’s market and we liked it so much that we went back for a happy hour at their main restaurant a few days later.

What We Ate

  • Buenos Dias Breakfast
  • Sweet Potato-Black Bean Salad
  • Carne Asada Taco
  • Guacamole & Tortillas
  • Gringas con Mole

Nong’s Khao Man Gai

Multiple locations; http://khaomangai.com/

IMG_7147People flock to this food cart for what might seem like too simple of a dish. But simple done well and with the highest quality of ingredients can be simply delicious…and it was. They had a gluten-free option, too, so I was in!

How’s this description for your taste buds?

Poached, organic chicken with rice simmered in chicken stock and Thai herbs, served with sauce of fermented soybeans, ginger, garlic, thai chilies, vinegar, house made syrup and soy sauce. Garnished with cucumbers and cilantro, and accompanied by a light soup

What We Ate: Chicken & Rice with sauce (Khao Man Gai)

a.n.d. Cafe

5420 E Burnside St, Portland; 503-233-4550; http://andcafepdx.com

IMG_7150This was our last official stop and was a welcome meal after running a 5k through Portland that morning. Once again, we were given a whole menu of delicious dairy-free, gluten-free options. This place was a bit off the beaten path but well worth the run there!

What We Ate

  • Full Nest with 2 poached eggs
  • Hashtastic with a poached egg

Slow Squeeze Juice Bar

2880 SE Division St, Portland; www.slowsqueezejuice.com

IMG_6795Another gem at the Tidbit Food Farm pod, I swung by Slow Squeeze while I was waiting for my waffle to be finished. The turmeric tonic made with fresh turmeric root, carrot, spinach, apple, cucumber and ginger caught my eye and gave my immunity and digestive system a nice boost before enjoying my Smaaken waffle.

What I Drank: Turmeric Tonic

KURE Juice Bar

Multiple locations; http://kurejuicebar.com/

IMG_7146 IMG_6875This was another gem and a place we hit up twice on our trip – once for lunch, and then the next day for breakfast. They use organic ingredients and are, like so many other places in Portland, gluten-free and dairy-free, so I had lots of options to choose from. No matter time of day it is, you can find something at Kure to give you a nourishing energy boost.

What We Ate / Drank

  • Vietnum Bowl (recommended by Britt from Harlow)
  • Full Moon Salad
  • Eisenhart Smoothie
  • Bowl of the Gods Acai Smoothie Bowl
  • Green eLemonator Juice

Greenleaf Juicing Company

Multiple locations; http://greenleafjuice.com/

IMG_7153Another juice, smoothie, and acai bowl in the heart of Portland, I decided to check it out after seeing their menu of steamed soups. They use a broth of fresh-pressed vegetable juice – celery, carrots, etc. and steam it with an array of vegetables before blending it all in a high-powered blender. It was a little windy the day we stopped by, so a cup a soup was a perfect between-meal snack to hold me over.

What We Ate

  • Zen Shot
  • Spinach & Cauliflower Steamed Soup

Petunia’s Pies & Pastries

610 SW 12th Ave, Portland; Saturday Farmer’s Market; 503-841-5961; http://petuniaspiesandpastries.com/

A gluten-free, vegan bakery. It seemed too good to be true. It was our first purchase at the market, and while we were debating which goodies to purchase, a local came up to the stand and said, “They have the best donuts at the market,” as he noshed on a bagel from New Cascadia, a 100% gluten-free bakery. We were sold. Now, I wouldn’t say this was the most nourishing stop on the trip (after all, we were eating donuts!), but it was one that gave me the opportunity to try a food I hadn’t eaten in years, so why not? Live a little 🙂

What We Ate

  • Chai Donut (yes, please!)
  • Chocolate Mousse Donut

Back to Eden Bakery

2217 NE Alberta St, Portland; Tidbit Food Farm Food Truck Pod; 503-477-5022; www.backtoedenbakery.com

IMG_7152A gluten-free, vegan bakery. Again, I was in heaven! At the recommendation of our AirBNB hosts, whose son is gluten-free, we checked out this place…twice. They have a food cart at what was arguably the best food cart pod for healthy options (Tidbit Food Farm) as well as a storefront in the Alberta neighborhood. We went to both because…why not?

What We Ate

  • The Alberta Park Sundae
  • Peanut Butter Toffee Bar

Smaaken Waffles

2880 SE Division St, Portland; www.smaaken.com

IMG_7157In retrospect, our trip to Portland gave me an opportunity to indulge in some foods I never eat at home because of the lack of places that make them in Baltimore. If I want waffles, I have to make them myself or use Simple Mills boxed mix (so good!), so it was nice to have someone make me one for a change. ALL of their items can be ordered with gluten-free and/or vegan batter.

This was one of the food trucks at the Tidbit Food Farm & Garden (arguably the best food cart pod in Portland!).

What We Ate: I had the special, which was a gluten-free waffle with roasted beets, arugula, and an egg (subbed that in instead of the chèvre). It was fun and messy to eat…and delicious.

Vtopia Restaurant & Cheese Shop

1628 SW Jefferson St., Portland; 971-271-7656; http://vtopiancheeses.com/

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Shortly after posting a picture of our cheese plate from this place, my friend Yvette texted me, “The cheese plate is vegan?!?!?!? No lo creo. No entiendo!!” (Translation: I don’t believe it. I don’t understand!).

When you don’t eat dairy, cheese is one of the foods you miss because, well, nothing else really tastes or feels like cheese…except cheese. Having said that, vegan chefs have gotten incredibly creative with their recipes to reinvent the texture, consistency and tang of dairy-based cheeses by using ingredients like raw cashews.

What We Ate: Cheese Plate with 5 cheeses: Chive & Dill, Peppercorn Brie, Cheddar, Caramelized Onion Camembert, Chocolate Strawberry Brie with gluten-free bread, fruit compote, and pickled vegetables

Salt & Straw

Multiple locations in Portland and Los Angeles; http://saltandstraw.com

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Sometimes you wonder if the long lines outside of popular eateries are just another tourist trap. We decided to take the risk and wait in the 20-minute line (there was ALWAYS a line)…and it was so worth it.

Since I was a kid, my favorite ice cream has been mint chocolate chip. I had it in every birthday cake for as long as I can remember (you know, the Carvel cakes with the chocolate crunchies?).

Since removing dairy from my diet, finding a respectable mint chocolate chip ice cream that doesn’t have a funky aftertaste has been a challenge. So I was skeptical but open when I found out that one of Salt & Straw’s vegan ice cream flavors was none of there than Petunia’s Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream.

HOLY COW! It was worth the wait in every way. It lived up to every expectation – smooth, creamy, minty, crunchy, chocolatey and downright delicious. I didn’t want the magic to end.

Maple Parlor

3538 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland; 503-206-4757; www.themapleparlor.com

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Conveniently, it was a block away from Harlow, which made it the perfect stop for our first dessert in Portland. Not only do they have paleo ice cream options (the peanut butter hard serve is to die for!), but they have a toppings bar that is entirely gluten-free. Score!

What We Ate: Twist of Cashew Maple & Peanut Butter Cashew soft serve with Oregon Berry Compote and Granola

Eb & Bean

1425 NE Broadway Portland; 503-281-6081; www.ebandbean.com

IMG_7154Ice cream is such a treat for me because I rarely eat it but absolutely love it. Finding this gem right around the corner from our lunch visit to Blossoming Lotus was one of the highlights of our sweet treat experience in Portland.

What We Ate: Twist of Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding and Coconut Caramel Cream soft serve flavors topped with Honey Mama’s CocoNoNut bar and gluten-free, vegan cookie dough crumbles

Townshend Tea House

Multiple locations; www.townshendstea.com

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We stopped by this tea house on our last night there and were wowed by their tea selection. I’ve never seen so many tea options in my life! They sell tea, kombucha and coffee, and the vibe is super cool. I wish Baltimore had a place like this!

What We Drank

  • Tummy Tamer Tea (post Portobello dinner)
  • Chamomile Mint Tea

Places to Check Out Next Time

  • Ava Gene’s
  • The Bye & Bye
  • Gigi’s Cafe
  • Prasad
  • Xico

Non-Food Fun

IMG_7080Clearly, we like to eat…but we also like to do other things! Check out the list below for some fun ideas for things to do around Portland:

  • Cannon Beach (the rock from The Goonies movie!)
  • Cascade River Gorge
  • Living Room Theater
  • Powell’s Book Store
  • Saturday Waterfront Market
  • Bike Rentals (Nike has orange bike rentals throughout the city)
  • Jet Boat Tour (recommended but we didn’t get to do it)
  • 4T Tour (recommended but we didn’t get to it)

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8 Comments

  1. Steve

    I’m so glad I ran into you while I was having the New Cascadia bagel (my favorite!) at the Petunia’s stand. While I recommended a few places, you’ve given me a few places to try! Let me know when you’re back in town!

    Farmers Market Steve 🙂

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Me, too! You were 4 for 4 on all of your food recs, so we are so glad we ran into YOU! Let me know what you think of any of these places if you end up checking them out! 🙂

  2. Hi Rachel,
    Thank you for stopping by during your trip to Portland, and we’re so glad you enjoyed our market! There certainly are a lot of great vendor products to try. We hope you’ll visit us again next time you’re in town.

    Kelly, Portland Farmers Market

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Of course! I even got a farmer’s market shirt to preserve the memories 🙂 We really loved it and had a great time! Thanks for leaving some love.

  3. Amy

    Hi Rachel

    This is a great blog post! I had read about the vegan and GF Portand cimmunity. I enjoyed your first hand up close and personal highlights!

    Amy

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Thanks so much, Amy! I’m glad you enjoyed it. We would go back in a heartbeat!

  4. Wow, Rachel! Thank you so much for including us in your visit! Sounds like you had an awesome time in PDX! Let us know next time you’re in town and we’ll treat you to some more goodies. Now I have to check out some of these other places, too! Thanks for sharing — and thanks to Farmers Market Steve, too! We LOVE our farmers market folks!

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Anna, of course! We were glad we got to fit in two meals at Verde before coming back to the East Coast. We’ll definitely let you know the next time we’re in town. Wishing we were still there!

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