New Beijing

3962 SE Hawthorne, 238-4602

From the outside, New Beijing is indistinguishable from any other cheap Chinese joint; but inside it is a hidden treasure. The menu offers a plethora of hearty vegetarian options, including a lovingly prepared dish of broccoli in garlic sauce, and a flavorful fried tofu. Their vegetable egg rolls are outstanding; they look and taste homemade. New Beijing appears to be staffed solely by a gracious husband and wife team--the Chinese parents I never had--who won me over with their welcoming attitudes and extraordinary cooking. A rare wonder for Chinese food is the fact that I digested everything just fine, and avoided an evening of debilitating stomach cramps. EJ

Small World Café

722 N Sumner (inside Big City Produce), 546-3183

For North Portlanders, Small World Café is a godsend, with limited breakfast options nearby, much less in the middle of the neighborhood. The breakfast/lunch spot serves eggs all day, and offers an array of attractive options on their vegetarian and vegan friendly menu. Recently, I had the vegan black bean cakes with eggs, that came with a delicious side of fresh salsa and potatoes cooked perfectly. The cakes were a little "vegan" tasting, and would have been better with sour cream, but I did it to myself. Most compelling were the biscuits and mushroom gravy, which offered a huge moist biscuit and a deliciously creamy gravy that begged me to lick the plate. Lunch options like the avocado grilled cheese and daily soups are winners as well. KS

Laughing Planet Café

3320 SE Belmont, 235-6472

How many times have you ordered a tofu scramble in this town and been presented with something unfit to bring home to your Shitsu? The good news about Laughing Planet is that it starts to fill the hole where tasty, healthy PDX food should be. Their balanced, bright dressings and sauces are ladled over simple, steamed veggies and rice, or the "bowl" version of their burritos. Try the cilantro pesto! Leave the garish dècor behind, dine out underneath the sun, and add a few years to your life for cheap. SD