La Bonita Mica Grohn
Sure, at most parties you're just going to throw out a bag of chips, maybe some dip, and if you're real fancy, a Safeway veggie plate. But then, of course, there are those rare occasions when you need something special, something delicious, something that befits an event that will not soon be forgotten Well, that's where the following scrumptious catering establishments come in.

La Bonita

2839 NE Alberta, 281-3662

Okay, let's say--God forbid--you're getting married. Can you think of anything more gastronomically grotesque than serving "steak or chicken" at your reception? You are certainly more interesting than that! Give your nuptials, birthday party, bar mitzvah, or orgy that extra dash of spice with Mexican catering from La Bonita. The fine folks at the Boneet are super easy to work with, and--if you're in to good-looking people--they also happen to be HOT.

Liven up that reception or gathering with a taco bar; warm corn tortillas ladled generously with onion, cilantro, and your choice of meaty asada, porky carnitas, or non-fishy tasting fish. Rice and beans are the natural side-order, but you should definitely not pass up a big bowl of guacamole, which for my dough is the best in the city. La Bonita also happily provides both red and green sauce to top off your already saucy guests.

However! Whether your party is big or small, it will undoubtedly be a hit if you order a heapin' helpin' of vegan tamales. Call a day or two ahead of time, and the gang will put together a load of moist, mouth-watering tamales stuffed with sauteed vegetables that are so delectable, it will even make your meat-eating Uncle Manny rethink your hippie-lovin' lifestyle. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Nicholas Restaurant

318 SE Grand, 780-2645 or 235-5123

Anyone who has lived in Portland longer than a month has tasted the delicious Lebanese delights of Portland staple Nicholas. But have you ever had them cater your party? No, probably not. Party platters include your choice of garlicy bowls of humus and perfectly bitter baba, overflowing plates of tangy grape leaves, Phoenician Pizza (ground beef with tomatoes, onions, parsley, spices), mini spinach pie pockets, chicken, lamb, or beef skewers, taboule, or sweet flaky baklava. There's always something for your vegetarian friends, and you know you're getting great food. Prices are about eight bucks a person for an actual dinner and go down with the party style fare. The real perk of Nicholas' catering however is that you can order one or two items as a supplement to you own food, and they only need 24 hours notice. KATIE SHIMER

Divine Cafe

1200 NE Broadway, 314-9606

Also known as "a vegetarian paradise," the Divine Cafe's catering menu is loaded with variations on the tempeh and tofu theme, spanning a wide spectrum of cultural styles. For those party animals too drunk to use utensils, there's the Barbecue Tofu Sandwich, a hearty chunk of food smothered in grilled red onion, cheddar cheese, and of course, spicy homemade BBQ sauce. For those who like a little civilization mixed in with their munchies, there is a long menu of delicious salads. The Soba Salad is loaded with smoked tofu, tender brown rice, and mixed veggies, all smothered in a delectable ginger-jalapeno dressing. The Tempeh Salad is a highly-recommended blend of marinated tempeh, spinach, and mushrooms smothered in a creamy yogurt dressing.

If Divine's menu doesn't have what you're looking for, you're still in luck; according to company owner, Rose, there are NO limits to what they can prepare. You can order ANY kind of food, from any nationality, and Divine will prepare it as long as the order is placed at least three weeks prior to the event. Lovers of Korean, Japanese, Indian, Italian, any other ethnic food, and even MEAT, can place their order, and the Divine Cafe will find a way to fill it. JUSTIN SANDERS

Food in Bloom

223-6819

I live in a world were words like compote, mélange, and table cloth equal yuppie, and flambé is almost always an accident. So what were we to do upon realizing our shindig was going to need food a bit more tantalizing than whatever we could batter and fit in the FryDaddy Jr.? It was time to put on our adult pants and hire a caterer. At our first meeting with Food In Bloom, we presented our handler, Erin, with a difficult proposition. We needed almost entirely vegan food that would, through taste, presentation, and sheer mass, convince our ardent meat-eating families they weren't being nutritionally deprived. Erin worked with us tirelessly getting a grand mix of food together. We had roasted vegetable tart tatin, composed nicoise salad, and sesame glazed tofu, all expertly presented and served by Food In Bloom's friendly and professional staff. Dare I say it came off better than my proposed dueling deep fryer nugget buffet and keg-a-thon.? Our friends and families happily ate and drank like hogs. I've got the bill to prove it. JOSH HOOTEN