While we're happily going about our urban downtown life in SW Portland, a whole other world is turning on the other side of town, and the other side of the Willamette River, in the NE Alberta Arts District. The fun and funky neighborhood revival that's taken place there over the years has created several blocks of homegrown, shops, and galleries, and of course restaurants - many of them vegan or very vegan-friendly. While Alberta St. is well known by Portlanders, visitors might easily overlook it if they're staying in a different part of town. We're still new in town, but we've made the drive up there several times now, specifically for the food! We'll be going back often to explore the other businesses, and to graze our way from one end of the street to the other.
Every restaurant we've visited in the Alberta neighborhood has been one we want to go back to. The Tin Shed Garden Cafe is a dog and human friendly eatery with a big, covered outdoor patio, complete with a livingroom-style fireplace, lots of water bowls for the pups, an inventive varied menu with lots of vegan options, and even a special dog menu. We loved it, and even though we didn't have our dogs with us, there were at least seven others dining near us, which just seemed like the way it should be.
We really enjoyed the Fungus Among Us - a rich, gooey, toasty portobello sandwich, and the Baby Beluga - a rich bowl of tiny black "beluga" lentils, sweet potato, jasmine rice, fresh spinach, and yellow curry sauce. There were other dishes we will go back for soon, maybe next time with the dogs.
Vita Cafe is destined to become one of our favorites, with many vegan options, and most menu items easily customized. The welcoming atmosphere is enhanced on warm days by large open windows across the front, the service is efficient and friendly, and the food is really good. We popped in for a late breakfast, and sampled the Faux Turkey Florentine and the Country Comfort. Both meals were like a party on a plate. What's not to love about vegan hollandaise or gravy? I mean, really.
If you can even think about food at this point, be sure to visit the wonderful Back To Eden Bakery. Everything they offer is vegan, and gluten free, which will make a lot of gluten sensitive non-vegans happy too. They offer lots of delightful looking pastries, as well as lunch, smoothies, and un-dairy ice cream. We only had a couple of cupcakes on our first visit, but we'll absolutely be going back to explore the menu further.
I think you have the idea. Alberta Street is a happening place for anybody interested in good food and a good time. I have a long list of places we need to try, and will want to spend days there just strolling the sidewalks and poking into shops and galleries. The area may not be exactly hidden, but you're sure to find a few gems of your own when you take the time to visit on your next trip to Portland.
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