People and Places

Great restaurants, fun events, and really nice people - I know lots of them.

From Hot Dogs to Fabulous Falafel

The old Der Wienerschnitzel a-frame on Meridian Ave in San Jose has started a new life as Flying Falafel. It's all vegan and gluten free, and it's a terrific addition to the Bay Area vegan food scene.

An Amazing Meal at Harvest At The Bindery

This is about as minimalist as a restaurant review can get. Harvest at the Bindery in Portland. Go there. Right now. This is some of the most artful, elegant, delectable food in all the land, in a lovely rustic-fancy, relaxed setting, created and served by intelligent, thoughtful people, and priced so reasonably you can go for a special occasion, or for no real reason at all.

The Art of Pieology in Portland

Although Portland is famous for its abundance of vegan eateries (which Rick and I support at every opportunity), I get especially giddy over finding intentionally vegan options in non-veg restaurants.

Flying Elephants on the Bridge

The Elephants Delicatessen chain is pretty big around Portland, and we have a new location to love now, in the South Waterfront, on the west end of the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge. After a liesurely walk across what's been dubbed "the Bridge of the People," we stopped for a snack at the new Flying Elephants, which is right next door to Starbucks in the gorgeously modern new Collaborative Life Sciences Building and Skourtes Tower. It's a perfect place to sit outside on a nice day, sip a beer, glass of wine, coffee, or tea, have a bite to eat, and watch the world go by.

Cupcake Jones

An easy walk or streetcar hop from our apartment, is one of our favorite stops for a sweet treat. Cupcake Jonesis not an all vegan bakery, but they do make some of the best vegan cupcakes I've ever tasted. They offer three vegan flavors - Vanilla, Chocolate, and Red Velvet. I don't play favorites where cupcakes are concerned, but Rick has a special weakness for the Red Velvet.

Riding the Divide - for the Animals

While a lot of people go vegan for the sake of the animals, and lots of those folks are influential animal rights activists, few take "active" to the extreme that my friend Carrie Thompson is about to. Beginning in July, Carrie will set out on a 2-3 month long bike trek, following the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which runs from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

Petunia's at Case Study Coffee

We like to go to the Case Study Coffee on 10th, near the "designer" Good Will store, the grand old public library, and the less chic, but sometimes handy City Target. Case Study a coffee roasting company, so you know the coffee is good. It's also one of the nicer places to grab a little table and hang out for bit while you sip your espresso and people-watch through the big windows.

Lunch at Los Gorditos

I love Mexican food, but I get tired of asking if the beans are made with lard, or if the rice is cooked in chicken broth, or if anything at all can be made without cheese... It's exhausting, and I'm often not sure I'm getting accurate answers, especially when there's something of a language barrier, which there sometimes is in a place that serves good, real Mexican food.

Dining Out at New Taste of India

Dinner with friends is even more fun when we get to try someplace new to us. We're lucky to have friends here who have lived in Portland a long time, and know lots of vegan-friendly places to take us. New Taste of India, not too far from us, on Macadam, was a great surprise. They also have two downtown food cart locations, one of which turns out to be right across the street from where we live. Who knew!

Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland - Portobello Vegan Trattoria

When asked to suggest a great place to enjoy a fabulous vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Portland, I instantly thought of Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This well known and popular Portland restaurant will be offering a four course prix fixe Thanksgiving feast for $45 per person.

Portland Vegfest is Right Around the Corner!

Portland VegFest, "Oregon's premier plant-based food and lifestyle event," is coming to the Oregon Convention Center November 14th and 15th. By my calculations, this will be the 7th Vegfest to be held here. And from what I saw last year, the good people at Northwest VEG are experts at putting together an event of this size.

You Don't Know Jackfruit

Can I say "freaking" here, you know, in that way, without offending anyone too terribly much? I hope so, because I'm going to. I recently had lunch at The Happy Hooligans (formerly Happy Bamboo) in San Jose. This all-vegan sit-down-or-take-out restaurant is practically hidden in a strip mall on Branham and Ross, across from a big Safeway. But once you find it, the comfort food they advertise really delivers. In fact, you can also get your food delivered through at least a couple of services, including DoorDash

Eating Vegan (Pizza!) in San Jose

If you've been with me for a while here, you know that I often come to my old home town of San Jose (yes, I do know the way), to visit family. I'm the only vegan in the clan, so I usually end up eating a lot of salad, as nobody else is interested in finding vegan places with me.

Vtopia is the New Happy Place for Vegan Cheese Lovers

We. Love. Cheese.
And yes, vegans have pretty much had to do without (good) cheese up until just the last few years.

There's a New Vegan Food Cart in PDX - Loving Juniper

Vegan food is everywhere in Portland, and food carts might be as prevalent as coffee places and micro-breweries, which is saying something. Rick and I peruse the food cart pods often, but it can be exhausting to look over dozens of menus on a single street corner in hopes of coming up with something potentially vegan. Hallelujahs happen when someone thinks to combine vegan with food cart, and plops it smack in the middle of a herd of meaty establishments.  I love a good menu as much as anyone, but when it's lunchtime and I'm hungry, I just want to order and eat without having to ask a bunch of (probably annoying to the proprietor) questions.

Vegan Beer and Food Festival Wrap-Up

If you thought about attending the L.A. based Vegan Beer and Food Festival's first visit to Portland, Oregon, and didn't, kick yourself squarely in the behind right now, and promise yourself you'll go next year. It was somuch fun, and there was so much amazing food, drink, shopping, and music, it really needs to be at the top of every vegan's must-go list. If you're merely veg-curious, this is the festival for you too, because it's all about fun and ridiculously good food that also happens to be vegan. Nothing preachy about it. It's a party, and a darn good one, set in a perfect spot on the Willamette River, next to the new bridge, at Zidell Yards.

Pigging Out at DC Vegetarian

Picking up where Eating Vegan In Portland left off, Rick and I finally took a friend's suggestion and visited the DC Vegetarian food cart on SW 3rd Avenue in Portland, between Stark and Washington. We'd been told that their Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger was pretty incredible, so we stepped right up and ordered two. It was a good choice.

Crossing the Bridge to Harlow

Rick and I were looking for a new place to have breakfast, and stumbled across Harlow in the latest issue of Portland Monthly Magazine. Most of the time we stay in our own walkable neighborhood, but the trek to Harlow would require us to cross the bridge to the east side of town. Oh dear... We rarely cross the bridge because it means taking the car out, but we were hungry for something new, so away we went, and it was so worth it.

Exploring the Alberta Arts District

This is a special edition post, requested by RelayRides, as part of their Hidden Gems page on Pinterest. I have to admit that I'd not heard of RelayRides until they contacted me. I'm so glad they did, because I think it's something Rick and I might be able to make use of! It's a peer-to-peer way of sharing cars, and it makes a lot of sense. Whether you own a car and want to rent it to others when you might otherwise just leave it parked, or if you don't own a vehicle, but want to rent one affordably from time to time, this could be a good way to go. We've actually considered selling our car since we moved to Portland, since public transit is so easy and efficient. But now we have another option! With RelayRides we could have our car when we want it, and let it earn its keep when we don't need it. Pretty brilliant plan.

Rice Junkies

We stopped in at Rice Junkies for a quick lunch in the Portland State University district. This little hole in the wall seemed to be super popular with the student crowd, and with a certain business sector as well. We fit in somewhere in the middle, and were pleasantly surprised with the quality and tastiness of the food.

One Vegan Morning in Portland

I might start sounding like a spokesperson for a Vegan Portland Chamber of Commerce campaign. Is that bad? I can't imagine how, when there's so much to share about this unusually veg-friendly city. If I repeat myself every so often, it's because a place is so darn good we have to go back rather than explore something new. Trust me, there's a lot of new to explore, and we're doing it. My heart and stomach are in this job!

Portobello

We enjoyed another marvelous meal at Portobello recently, with Rick's brother and his wife, who were down from Seattle and in the mood to celebrate our return to the northwest. Portobello is the perfect all-vegan place to celebrate anything at all, or to simply have some of the best food Portland has to offer. It's casual-fancy, not snooty-fancy, so feel free to wander in in jeans, or dress to impress your date. The staff is friendly without being perky or overly present, the atmosphere is relaxed and calm, and the food is famous far beyond the boundaries of Portland. They also offer a nice selection of wines, beers, and local organic spirits. I plan to eat there as often as possible, and to try absolutely  everything.

Laughing Planet

Laughing Planet is quickly becoming another of our favorite Portland food haunts. This casual eatery is not all-vegan, but vegan and GF items are clearly marked on the menu, which offers bowls, burritos, soups, salads, smoothies, and even beer. We love beer! There are several locations in Portland to choose from, as well as two in Eugene and one in Corvallis. (We're in Oregon now - did you catch that?)

A.N.D. Cafe

Our search for a real breakfast, beyond the Road Trip Smoothie, took us over to the other side of the river to A.N.D. Cafe. I don't have the whole story yet, but it's pronounced "A.N.D." rather than "And." I think it's more like "A and D," as in two people who started the place, and I can't explain why things like this matter so much to me. I'll ask more questions next time, and there will be a next time. This popular little vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free restaurant is not in our neighborhood, but it's well worth the short drive.

Veggie Grill to the Rescue

It's exciting being in a new town with so many vegan delights just waiting for us to find them. Part of the reason we decided to give Portland a try is because it's so famously vegan friendly. Little by little we'll make our way to as many vegan and veg friendly restaurants, food carts, bars, bakeries, and cafes as we can find. And yes, I'll tell you all about them!

Pho Green Papaya in Portland

One of the many reasons Rick and I decided to "date" Portland for a while is because it's such a wonderfully vegan-friendly city. We've only been here a few days, and we're still staying in a hotel, which means we have to eat out most of the time. Our favorite go-to comfort restaurant is Veggie Grill, and I expect we'll be found there quite often. But yesterday we were near the convention center looking for lunch, and fortunately had friends to recommend a little spot nearby that they had recently tried. Pho Green Papaya is the kind of inconspicuous place we might drive right by unless we knew better. I'm so glad we took our friends' advice and stopped in.

Vegan in Flagstaff - Red Curry Vegan Kitchen

It's our first day out, traveling from Taos, NM to Portland, OR. When Rick and I do road trips, we bring a lot of food for snacks and meals. More on that in another post. But when we roll into whatever town we're calling Home for the night, we like to see what's happening in the local vegan restaurant scene. Tonight in Flagstaff, AZ, we got really lucky. We've been here many times before, and always enjoy the energy of the town itself. College towns tend to be more awake and alive than some places, and Flagstaff really has it going on with Northern Arizona University at the center, plus excellent skiing, hiking, and all things outdoorsy, and it's proximity to the Grand Canyon.

Feeling the (Cafe) Gratitude in Santa Cruz

I'm on a short visit to San Jose, CA, where I grew up. No trip back home is complete without a day (or more) in Santa Cruz, where I spent a lot of time as a kid. Honestly, I don't know why I've never just moved to Santa Cruz, or somewhere in the general area. I absolutely love it there. And after my trip "over the hill" the other day with my darling niece, Kelsey, I love it even more.

A Little Friendly Activism

I'm not really the activist type, unless you consider cooking and sharing good vegan food activism. I actually feel that my specialty is "kitchen activism," but the other day I was asked to participate in a "tabling" with our local Vegan Meetup group.

My First Big Gig as a Chef

Weeks of preparation, menu planning, shopping, and recipe testing finally brought us up to the big event on Saturday night. The benefit dinner I cooked for my friends at Reason2Hope was a terrific success! If you're with me on Facebook, you might have seen the pics already. If not, here you go...

Gambia on My Mind

I'm up to my nose this week in preparations for my first real gig as a chef. Our friends Mary and Dan made connections in Gambia some years ago, fell in love with the place and the people, and started a non-profit foundation called Reason 2 Hope. I know exactly how they feel, and so admire the education-focused work they're doing there. I haven't been to Gambia, but I have been to Ethiopia, and I know what a huge difference a few dollars and an open heart can do in places like these. So when Mary asked if I would be willing to volunteer my services in the kitchen for an evening, to raise funds to rebuild a school that has fallen to ruins, I jumped up and got to work almost a month before the big event.

Happy Vegan Birthday to Me

I had the nicest birthday dinner with Rick and a few friends earlier this week, at one of the best restaurants in Taos. Getting a good vegan meal in a restaurant in New Mexico is no easy thing, but with a little planning it all worked out beautifully. There's a trick to dining out that vegans need to get comfortable with, and that's simply calling ahead and asking for what you want. More often than not a restaurant with a good chef will be more than willing to either modify an existing dish for you, or come up with something new. And the more we ask for vegan fare, the more restaurants will realize there are lots of us out here, hungry and looking for someplace to spend our money. The smart ones will feed us!

Eating in Portland - Portobello

I'm in Seattle now, but still have some Portland places to rave about before moving on. Portobello was much talked-about at VVC2013 last weekend, so we made sure to make time for it. Next time you're in Portland, I recommend you do the same. We arrived a little before opening time, so popped in next door for a beer at the Beer Mongers while we waited. It's a great little spot that looked to be super popular with the locals. We liked it too!

Portland Wrap-up - Voodoo Donuts, Veggie Grill, a Simple Kure, the Vegan Mini Mall, and a Grand Departure

Our last day in Portland was a doozy. Good thing I went for a nice ling run in the morning, because the rest of the day was all about food. Voodoo Donuts was on the must-do list, but we knew we didn't really want to start our day with a sugar bomb, so we headed over to Veggie Grill first. Sure, it's a chain, and sure, you're starting to see them everywhere, but so what? I think it's wonderful to have a shining familiar food-face in a strange town, a place where I know I can eat and enjoy anything on the menu. And I like that they don't make a big deal out of being vegan. They call it plant-based, but leave it as almost an afterthought. Brilliant, says me, to keep it as inclusive as possible for the largest number of people possible. If everybody ate more vegetables, even accidentally, the world would be a better place. And I'm quite sure my burger and sweet potato fries would please darn near anybody.

Eating in Portland - Blossoming Lotus

I've been wanting to eat at Blossoming Lotus for over a year now - ever since I took a 10 day cooking immersion with Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion, who was part owner of the place at the time. We finally had the chance to go while visiting Portland this week, and it was well worth the wait, even though Mark is no longer involved. I don't care what kind of food you favor. If you like delicious, creative, beautiful food, and you find yourself in Portland, go to Blossoming Lotus.

Eating in Portland - Sizzle Pie

One of the reasons we're so enamored with Portland is the food. There are so many vegan restaurants here, and others that are quite vegan-friendly. I love to cook, but we also love to eat out and see what other people are cooking. That doesn't work out so well in Taos, but it sure does here, in sunny Portland, Oregon. (OK, I fibbed about the sunny part. It's been mostly rainy and grey the whole time we've been here, but we really don't mind.)

VidaVeganCon Day 3

We finished up VidaVeganCon yesterday with another terrific round of classes, and more delicious food. I ended up taking a total of 3 food photography classes, so I really hope to see some improvements in my pictures. And my last class of the day was on SEO optimization, which has always completely kerbobbled me, but now I think I understand it a little bit better. We'll see. I want huge numbers of readers. I know they're out there, hungry for some good food news!

VidaVeganCon Day 2

Another day, another cranial-gastric overload. It's all in a day's work, my friends, and it's a job I intend to keep.

VidaVeganCon Day 1

Day one of VidaVeganCon was terrific! We started with a room full of vegan food companies offering samples of everything from nacho cheese, to kale chips, to "chicken" pot pies, to truffles. I tasted every single thing, and will talk more about my faves soon. The goodie bags they gave to all of us are actually grocery bags, filled to the top with vegan treats and snacks and cheeses and cookies and cereals. Honestly, I could eat all week on what they gave us. But will I? Noooo!!! There are too many vegan restaurants in Portland to pass up. Coming from Taos, where we barely bother eating out anymore, I'm in Vegan Nirvana here. I might stay. I don't even care about the rain. At least not today.

Finding Vegan on Travel Days

As I mentioned in my last post, we were able to find a wonderful abundance of vegan food in Las Vegas. I'm now quite certain that with a few polite questions and a willing server, a hungry vegan can find a good meal almost anywhere. We have to ask though. They can't read our minds.

Eating Well in Las Vegas

I'm checking in today from sunny Las Vegas. I so needed this trip. Not only for the sun, the pool time (I'm at the pool now), and the family gathering, but also for the food. I needed to be assured that there are other vegans in the world, and that there's life beyond trying to find good vegan food in New Mexico. Amazingly, the rumors I've heard are true. Las Vegas, being the Universal Capital of Excessive Excessiveness, has so many things I do not want to eat, but also has an incredible amount of wonderful vegan fare. Since we're with a large family group, we need to find places that will please everyone, from hardcore steak eaters (eek!), to long-time vegetarians, to Rick and me, The Weird Vegans. 

Is Your Booze Vegan?

Here it comes - 2013. Are you ready to celebrate vegan style? The food part is relatively easy - or will get easier as you go along. Promise! But what about your favorite Tasty Adult Beverages? Over the last couple of festive weeks I've heard countless people say something like, Well at least wine is vegan! Hmmm... well... maybe... I hate to burst their bubbles - or yours, for that matter - but the truth is, not all booze is vegan. "Vegan Drinking" is sort of an advanced concept, and may not even fit in with your healthy reasons for going veg in the first place. That's fine. No judgements on either side of this fence. But if you do choose to partake in a celebratory toast or two, you might want to be aware that animal products are commonly used as filtering agents, and even as actual ingredients in some libations.

New Vegan Option in Taos

Old Martina's Hall, which was once Old Martinez Hall, has been struggling to open for a long time. Small town bureaucrats with big egos stood in the way as long as they could, but eventually sanity won out, and this beautifully renovated historic building, just across from the famous Ranchos Church, is finally open for breakfast and lunch. We've been hearing good things about it, but of course I was skeptical about there being anything on the menu I could actually eat. We popped in over the weekend to check it out, and found many pleasant surprises.

Vegans In Santa Fe

We love going to Santa Fe. Compared to Taos, it's the Big City, with far more shopping options, and at least two vegan restaurants. There might be more, and the search continues, but we're always happy to go to one (or both!) of our favorite places whenever we get the chance.

Vegan in Cabo

Living vegan in New Mexico is not quite the same as staying vegan in Old Mexico. I thought it might be challenging to spend a week in Cabo San Lucas with a group of mostly meat-eaters, and although I was right to a certain extent, I actually did really well. We stayed at Solmar, a nice, small-ish all inclusive resort on the quiet side of Cabo, away from the "spring break" beach. This was my first time doing the all inclusive thing, and I really liked it because it made life so simple for us. The service, food, and drinks were great, but it took me a couple of days to figure out how to get what I actually wanted. The menu options for me were kind limited, so I just stuck with what worked, and was okay with it being a little repetitious at the hotel. Trips into town to restaurants were more adventurous.

Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cooking with Chris Maher

I took my first ever cooking class yesterday, through Cooking Studio Taos, with local celebrity chef,  Chris Maher. It was Middle Eastern Vegetarian cooking, and it was an amazing experience. There were only 5 of us in the class - two couples, and me. I was actually sort of surprised by the couples things, but of course there must be lots of pairs who enjoy cooking together. Rick and I do too, sort of... but our kitchen is really a one-person place, and I often joke when friends offer to help, No thanks! I cook alone! Maybe I should have that printed on an apron or something. In Chris Maher's kitchen, I definitely did not cook alone, and I loved every minute of it.

Vegan Video Stars

Talented, inspired, creative, silly, fun, amazing self-produced Vegan Video Stars are popping up all over the internet, and some of them are really worth watching. Not only do they offer some great vegan education and recipes, they do it with style and humor. The entertainment value alone makes it worth checking some of them out, even if you're not vegan. I'll get you started with three of my favorites.

Vegan Hot Springs Getaway

It's not always easy being vegan in New Mexico. Most of the time I cook at home, and now and then we'll go out for Thai food, or make do with chips, salsa, and guacamole if we're out for margaritas with friends. When we travel, we take some of our own food along for the ride, and trust that we'll find something - at least a salad - on restaurant menus along the way.

Bo Rinaldi

I was listening to an interview on The Aware Show the other day, with Bo Rinaldi, who has been vegan for 50 years or so. It was great. The guy is very down to earth and engaging, and really knows his stuff. He's the chef who co-founded Vegan Fusion with Mark Reinfeld, and Mark is the one I'll be taking cooking classes from in April. It appears that the interview is no longer available to listen to online. Dang! I really wanted to share it with you here. But since I can't, I'll share the two things I heard that really made sit up and listen.

Guest Blogger, Paul Graham

Have you been reading Eating Vegan in Vegas? I think you should. Paul Graham is a friend from high school, who happens to be vegan, and happens to live in Las Vegas. He's taken it upon himself to spend an entire year blogging about his dining adventures, and what he has to share with us is just wonderful. Even if you never go to Vegas, you'll be inspired by all the beautiful meals Paul shows us. And on Sundays he tends to cook for us at home, which gave me the idea of letting him do some of my work for me, while I direct traffic back to his blog. Today he's made pizza, and I love pizza, so I want to share this one with you. Live, from Las Vegas, the beautiful Spinach, Mushroom, Sundried Tomato & Grilled Artichoke Pizza.