No matter where you stand on the management issues that have plagued their public image, the Calendula Café continues to be an incredible vegan oasis, offering a menu that caters to an array of dietary needs often neglected. --Raw foodie? You're covered. --Wheat, sugar, or nut allergies? Sit right down! At Calendula, one will find a pleasant balance between health and creativity with just the right amount of decadence thrown in--chocolate mint milkshake, anyone?--As if this weren't enough, they also have a social conscience: no GMOs, a commitment to organic ingredients that are locally farmed, 100% recycled paper goods, and an extensive in house recycling and composting program. Stand back in awe, for their halo shines bright with all sorts of goodness. ET
722 E Burnside, 233-7855
When I first arrived at Bossanova, I was skeptical. There were very few people in the bar/restaurant and I didn't get the impression it was packed the day before, either. This led me to believe the food might be slopped together by the bartender in between mixing my drinks. Oh, how wrong I was. The steak was perfect Painted Hills beef, grilled deliciously and placed lovingly on a pile of mashed red potatoes. The meatball sandwich was enormous, and filled with scrumptious homemade balls of beef. Likewise, the baked ziti with spicy sausage delivered the heat, not to mention the mountains of cheese and tender noodles. And JHC, the antipasti platter was enormous and loaded with olives, mushrooms, proscuitto, peppers, and more. I would recommend Bossanova's food in a heartbeat, and the bar itself is a hidden Portland treasure. Play billiards while you overlook a dancefloor filled with flailing tango enthusiasts, and feel like you've been transported into a 1950s Havana. KS
1932 NE Broadway, 288-3333
Julie Colosso doesn't just serve up tasty tapas at her Northeast Broadway location. "We try to be as active in our local community as time allows," says Julie, "including the Sullivan's Gulch Neighborhood Association and the Northeast Broadway Business Association." Community involvement doesn't end there. Colosso donates to Alameda and Irvington neighborhood school auctions. It sponsors The NW Experimental Film Festival by Peripheral Produce, has supported PICA for nearly seven years, and recently donated food for the workers and musicians involved in the tsunami relief show at the Roseland.
When you're drinking Two Brothers Big Tattoo Chilean red wine to go with your sherry roasted pork or braised beef, Two Brothers donates 50 cents of every bottle sold to the Breast Cancer Foundation. Julie also works with local farmers and independent businesses, including Grinning Goat Farms, Wild Things, SuDan Farms, Painted Hills Beef, and Carlton Pork.
For a mellow setting that helps symbolize the casual neighborhood dining vibe of the city, Colosso is hard to beat. Bet you didn't know you were helping some worthy causes, too. PA
112 NW 9th, 227-2158;
or Eleni's 7712 SE 13th, 230-2165
This amazing Greek restaurant lands itself in the "good" category for one important reason: it's amazingly good. Eleni's has an incredible list of appetizers including homemade stuffed grape leaves, flaky filo dough stuffed with feta, and a delicious appetizer made up of gigantic lima beans sautéed with olive oil, tomato, and spices. For a main course, try one of Eleni's titillating seafood pastas, made with incredibly fresh sea treasures and sprinkled with sharp feta. Or if you're in the mood for a big piece of meat, sample the lamb, rabbit, or anything from the ocean--everything they create is impeccable. If Eleni's were a man, I'd marry him. KS
Gotham Bldg Tavern
2240 N Interstate, 493-2646
Sure, we could go on and on about the tiptop food. Or, we could salivate about the modish ambiance and swanky service staff. But really, what makes the Gotham Building Tavern--a bar spin-off from the popular Ripe family-style dinners--is that it's the classiest bar in town in close stumbling distance to the Max line. Opening end of March. PB
719 SE Morrison, 872-9696
Sure, Nicolas is a great restaurant, but so is La Villa, and while both restaurants serve similarly delicious fare, Nicolas stays packed while La Villa is often empty. Why? No good reason. For lunch, La Villa serves a huge falafel for only $3, a huge, delicious lunch buffet filled with Mediterranean delights, and for dinner the restaurant is as cool, calm, and relaxing a place as anyone could wish for. Plus, the family that owns this place is so nice that you may want them to adopt you. KS
Lovely Hula Hands
938 N Cook at Mississippi, 445-9910
It's an eternal dilemma--we want the fancy meal but without the surrounding fancy artifice. We want the romance, but without looking like we're trying too hard. And we want a relaxing atmosphere, while wanting the staff to give a crap. For my money, the answer is Lovely Hula Hands--an unassuming, subtly romantic, high-end restaurant for those who hate high-end restaurants. The dining room of the refurbished 1910 four-square house puts you in close contact with other diners, but the ambience and accelerated quality of a perfectly prepared Painted Hills ribeye, or half chicken with smashed potatoes and caramelized sweet onion marsala sauce makes this the place to be when you feel like you can't belong anywhere else. WSH
10 NE 28th, 232-3555
Not only does Navarre donate food to local youth organizers P:ear, but they're one of the most well-rounded and delicious restaurants in town. An evening at Navarre is always an experience, ordering plates of olives, a dish of pork with prunes, potato pancakes, trout cooked in parchment, and--don't tell PETA--but the reviled but heavenly foie gras. Every time I've eaten at Navarre I've had a great experience--beyond the food, there's just something about being there that always makes my companions' stories more interesting. Then again, maybe it's all the red wine. Either way, I'm sold. KS
Old Wives' Tales
1300 E Burnside, 238-0470
Established 25 years ago, Holly Hart's Old Wives' Tales is more than a kid-friendly, vegetarian-friendly place to dine. Since its beginning, it's been ground zero for Portland's feminist, gay/lesbian, and environmental activist community.
OWT puts its money where its mouth is. They provide meals to P:ear once a month. The Humane Society and New Avenues for Youth are other organizations close to Holly's heart. For the last two years, she's supported radio stations KBPS, KMHD, and KBOO by providing gift certificates to people who pledge a certain amount.
Even the menu itself has a sense of community, with entrees for just about every diet and ethnic preference. For breakfast, its Dragon Toast (dairy-free, wheat-free waffles) Moroccan oatmeal, or East Indian tofu rancheros. For lunch, sesame roasted yams or an artichoke and olive Greek melt.
Visit, and you'll get the sense that you found something pretty cool on Burnside, though you may wonder why more restaurants aren't this selfless. PA
9895 SE Sunnyside Rd, Clackamas, 652-7875
Who knew you could eat vegan (and delicious) in Clackamas? The Milky Way, an unimposing little cafe in a strip mall, employs all sorts of amazing fake meats (eel, tuna, turkey) in their bagel sandwiches and they make vegan milk tea and crazy wonderful dairy-free smoothies to boot. This is a destination spot that begs you to make the drive, vegan or not. KS
Piece of Cake
8305 SE 17th, 234-9445
In Sellwood, Piece of Cake is giving that neighborhood an old-timey quaintness that you're just not gonna get from nearby Mike's Drive-In or Wong's King Chinese take-out.
Piece of Cake boldly states they offer "delicious cakes and healthy choices." Doesn't seem like the two can go together, but they do. Their list of vegan wheat-free cakes is considerable, including Irish oat and apple raisin. The carrot cake is moist and tasty, but the best of the bunch is the Black Forest. They round out the offerings with vegan wheat-free walnut praline and almond praline tortes and bars. Need to satisfy your sweet tooth without gluten? Boom! Gluten-free chocolate cake. Need something sugar free? Bam! Sugar-free chocolate cake, and sugar-free/wheat-free chocolate brownies.
Of course, if your diet can handle just a good ol' fashion cake, your choices grow exponentially. You can't go wrong with any of 'em, but the marionberry poppyseed and banana pineapple will definitely make your grandmother jealous. PA
5008 SE Hawthorne, 232-6333
The next time you're meeting one of your would-be dream girls or guys who you cyber-met on Lovelab, hook up with 'em here. Sapphire Hotel is hands down one of the most romantic and welcoming bars in town, and since they're non-smoking, you can hold off revealing your nasty addiction until date two. Order up a glass of wine or a cocktail and a cheese plate and/or Meze platter, and if all goes well, you'll be having one of their chocolaty desserts by 11 and a second dessert (wink) by midnight. KS
Seasons and Regions
6660 SW Capitol Hwy, 244-6400
You can drive by Seasons and Regions a dozen times and not realize what you're missing. Chef, owner, and--according to his business card, Intergalactic Soup Jedi--Greg Schwab dishes up some amazing regional specialties in his tiny cafe-like space. His Dungeness crab and scallop sauté, and honey-ginger and lime Chinook salmon are recommended.
Just stopping in for the food, you wouldn't realize how important Greg's surrounding Southwest community is to him. Greg goes by the textbook definition of 'local,' donating regularly to nearby Wilson High and the Jewish Community Center. His giving doesn't stop there. He recently gave ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) an extremely generous supply of gift certificates for a Valentine's Day fundraising event. --
Hopefully guys like Greg are part of an increasing wave of restaurateurs that positively affect their immediate community. It's good to know there's a nice guy behind the latkes. PA
3135 NE Broadway, 281-8337
Even though the weather's been nice, most of us haven't been able to enjoy the sun as much as we'd like. Why? Well, our stupid jobs of course, which annoyingly use up all of those wonderful daylight hours. Suggestion: if you're missing the sun, head over to Sweet Basil and replenish your mind and body with a delicious plate of Pad Thai on their lovely foliage decorated patio. And try some creamy, spicy green curry, or if you're adventurous, the duck. Everything is extremely fresh and elegantly presented--although I will warn you, if you even order "medium spicy" your mouth will be on friggin' fire. Be warned, and eat up. KS
18 NW 3rd, 241-8823
If you're the sort of person who considers themselves health conscious, yet often dines in bars, you know it doesn't take long for the greasy fries and garden burger dinner to get old, not to mention pudgy. Tube lovingly combines its deceptively affordable drink menu with bar food that manages to be comforting, tasteful, and a lot friendlier to non-carnivores than the token, aforementioned garden burger or grilled cheese sandwiches. Vegans can actually satisfy their beery hunger here, with Tube's infamous vegan ham and cheese Panini, the density of which is easily balanced by a tangy, nutty side salad. Likewise, you'll also find real meat at the Tube, in the form of hot dogs (they have vegan dogs, too), or a turkey Panini--options that won't offend your health like a chicken fried steak ordered during a blackout. MS
412 SW 4th, 226-3400
Veganopolis is wonderful because they make meat-free eating delicious, and they're even more wonderful because they don't bore you with boring vegan politics. Instead of blanketing tables with anti-carnivore literature, this big, bright cafeteria fills your table with food--which as owners George and David say, is what it's all about. Soon enough this little breakfast/soup and sandwich spot will be cutting out the breakfast and staying open a little later so you can grab one of their amazing Reubens on your way home to veg. "Veg"… get it? Man, that was lame. KS
22 NW 4th, 274-0160
Morbidly situated, in that it's snuggled up to Good Taste, the Chinese restaurant with glazed red dead duck corpses dangling in the front window, Vegetarian House is like a pristine oasis within the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood. It's painted a soothing green, and staffed with gentle soft-spoken representatives of a curious religion--the restaurant offers free pamphlets filled with strange pronouncements like "You may eat fish if you like, but fish is not a vegetable." No indeed, nor will you find any here, where nearly every Chinese takeout fantasy a vegan ever had can be fulfilled (pot stickers, Szechwan pork, won ton soup) thanks to V House's arsenal of gluten. Plus they have a plethora of crisp vegetable dishes and soups, a wicked vegan hot and sour soup, and of course tons of tofu. It's tempting to try every type of meat substitute on the menu, but it can occasionally be tiresome eating through an entrée-sized dish of fake meat you're not crazy about. A great way to get started with a sample is via the lunch buffet, where you can try a number of imitation meats without commitment. MS
3024 NE Alberta, 335-8233
The great thing about Vita is the efforts they make to use as much organic and local produce as possible. It's good news for vegans, vegetarians, and even carnivores that watch what they put in their bodies. Vita also takes the time to donate to silent auctions held by local Northeast-area schools, and is active in supporting both P:ear and KBOO, whenever they come a'callin'. --
If you stroll into Vita looking for a light lunch, try the white miso soup with organic tofu and a salad with either the lemon tahini or orange miso dressing. If you want something heartier, but still healthy, the veggie Reuben with grilled tempeh or the vegan lasagna will do the job. Vita is more than tolerant of meat-eaters, so don't be shy about ordering a hormone-free Jimbo burger, with a fried egg and bacon on top.
The restaurant's service is usually pretty snappy, but if you're stuck with a little bit of a wait, turn to the 'Food for Thought' glossary on the back of the menu. that way, you can impress your earthy-crunchy pals when you pronounce 'quinoa' correctly. PA