We started our last day in Portland with a trip to Washington Park. The weather was so awesomely fall-ish and their were plenty of crunchy leaves on the ground. We hiked through the park to the rose garden which has a bazillion different varietals of roses all in one spot. The garden also provides an awesome panorama of the city. The Japanese Garden is what we really wanted to see and it really lived up to the hype. It was so lush and quiet. Here is the quintessential shot of me ambling over a babbling brook:
Coming from L.A., the vibrant greenery was a shock to my senses. In Southern California it’s easy to forget that other parts of the U.S. have bright green grass and real trees with leaves. I didn’t photoshop the colors in the photo below one bit! I’m gonna go ahead and stamp Washington Park with a “must see” for when you visit Portland.
For lunch we headed to the Alberta Arts District, a super cute part of town that is very reminiscent of Silver Lake/Echo Park here in L.A. We opted for the very-highly recommended Vita Cafe.
I started off with some really good herbal ice tea that was served, adorably, by in a mason jar.
I ordered the mac ‘n’ cheese with added broccoli. It was very bland and wasn’t even remotely cheesy. It was more of a plain cream sauce than anything else. The broccoli was also plain–there was no seasoning in sight.
My boyfriend ordered the nachos and could not stop raving about them. I agree they were pretty damn delicious.
The biscuits and gravy were ordered were not so delicious. In fact they were downright inedible. The gravy was waaaay oversalted. It had absolutely no flavor beyond the power-salt. The biscuits themselves were the sort of dense hockey pucks that would earn you an F in your basic high school Home Ec class. I should have sent them back but, as it were, my hangover zapped me of the energy to do so. I was really surprised because I have heard so many people rave about this dish at Vita Cafe. I know people claim that Portland has the best vegan biscuits and gravy, but I don’t see how anyone could beat Flore’s version down here. Overall, Vita Cafe was a definite disappointment for me.
Conveniently located a couple doors down from the disappointing Vita Cafe is the adorable and teeny-tiny Dovetail Bakery.
It was hard to choose from the selection of treats, but I finally opted for a cinnamon roll and an apricot-millet muffin to bring back to L.A. The cinnamon roll turned out to be everything that the one from Sweetpea Baking Company was not: soft, flaky, and oozing with cinnamon-sugar goodness.
The apricot-millet muffin was perfect; the millet added a nice crunch. It kinda makes me want to add millet to every baked good I make.
There is no doubt that Portland is a very cool city, and I had a great time there. I know I was only there briefly and only ate at a small percentage of the city’s vegan joints…but I can’t help but question the city’s “Vegan Mecca” title. I much prefer my L.A. restaurants to the ones I tried in Oregon. However, PDX definitely has us beat when it comes to baked goods. We need to open more all-vegan bakery storefronts for sure. And where oh where is our vegan donut shop?!