Eat Your Way Through East Portland’s Vegan Destinations

Eat Your Way Through East Portland’s Vegan Destinations

While downtown Portland gets all the attention for its popular vegan-friendly spots, outer East Portland is one of the most economically and racially diverse parts of the city, and that includes food. From restaurants to delis, cafes and bakeries, East Portland boasts a plethora of destination restaurants and local favorites. And despite being systemically neglected by city and state legislators compared to the rest of the city, from poor infrastructure and lack of road safety measures to inadequate resources, the dining scene continues to expand with many restaurants springing up. even during the pandemic. Now, it’s home to some of the best Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese food in the city, some of the best food carts in the city in several notable pods, and a number of exciting international markets.

However, the neighborhood is not famous for its vegan food in the same way. Along 82nd Avenue and beyond is a growing collection of plant-based restaurants and food carts with everything from inventive sushi to loaded sandwiches.

So when looking for exceptional vegan food across 82, it’s best to walk the neighborhood. Make a weekend full, tackle the vegan hub that houses the Food Fight Grocery and Collective Oregon Eateries pod in one day, and spend the second day hanging out further south near Cartlandia and southeast Powell. In true Portland fashion, a fun way to tackle this tour is by bike: Biketown has several electric bike stations you can rent around the neighborhood between stops. Or, if the premise of riding a bike a few miles after eating a bunch of vegan mozzarella sticks sounds off-putting to you, hop in a car; We promise you won’t spend too much time driving between stops. Take this guide as a cue to take a day trip to the east.

A man in a mask looks out the window of Gnarlys orange cart.

Gnarlys at the Collective Oregon Eateries, or CORE, group of food carts
Latisha Jensen/EPDX

Day one

jet black coffee

11150 NE Weidler Street
Portland, Oregon 97220
(503) 889-0739

To start your vegan food journey, especially if you need a hot drink in the morning to just get going, head to Jet Black Coffee in the Gateway District. Jet Black collaborated with Water Avenue Coffee to create their own custom blend of medium dark color with hints of chocolate. If coffee isn’t your thing, they’re also stocked with Portland teas.

Jet Black sources cakes from places like Shoofly Vegan Bakery, Sweetpea Baking Company, Bee’s Cakes, and Bowery Bagels; those in the mood for something sweet should opt for a Shoofly Cinnamon Roll; otherwise, stick with a Vtopia Cashew Cheese Everything Bagel.

After your morning coffee and snack, meet up with Jet Black neighbors at Food Fight, a vegan grocery store that’s been around for nearly two decades. It’s usually well-stocked with fresh vegan snacks made by local chefs, like Ice Queen popsicles or Cultured Kindness cheese.

Rad Magic Submarines

11150 NE Weidler Street
Portland, Oregon 97220
(971) 256-8422

In the same lot directly next to Jet Black Coffee is the Rad Magic Subs cart. While Rad Magic Subs offers a solid selection of sandwiches filled with vegan deli slices, dairy free cheese and vegetables, the first time you visit there should be Rad Magic, filled with cucumbers, vegan cream cheese, balsamic marinated mushrooms, red onions , tomatoes and Mama Lil’s Portland peppers, all shredded between a freshly baked French muffin from nearby An Xuyên Bakery. If you’re not too hungry yet, take it with you for a picnic.

Oregon Diners (CENTER)

3612 SE 82nd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97266

Before the next spot, you may want to work up an appetite, so this would be the perfect time for a stroll through Mt. Tabor Park, a 25-minute bike ride, or a 12-minute drive west (remember to bundle up). Once you’re ready for more food, drive or bike for about 10 minutes to a new food cart serving Beyond Burgers and vegan sushi along 82nd Avenue.

Collective Oregon Eaties, or CORE, is a large food hall and cart that opened in early 2021. It’s home to several interesting carts that make suckling pig and Hainanese chicken sandwiches, but vegans will also find plenty of great options here.

The exceptionally hungry can head straight to Gnarlys, an all-vegan cart that specializes in burgers and deep-fried sandwiches. The car was previously home to the tropical-themed Sharks Cove; now, visitors to Gnarlys hop into the cart to buy vegan mozz sticks, loaded fries, and burgers. Opt for the “sallyweaver”: Piled with spicy Violife provolone, mock bacon and crispy onions, dripping with barbecue sauce, the flavors evoke summer barbecues. It’s particularly well-suited for a pint from the Breakside Brewery cart just a few yards away.

If back-to-back sandwiches and burgers seem daunting, right across from Gnarlys is Mitate, serving Instagram-worthy sushi out of his lavender-painted van. You’ll find a familiar but improved veganized California roll, but you’re here to be bold, right? Head over and order one of the coaster rolls, which use Portland-made Ota tofu plus sautéed mushrooms, baked kale, and a black bean, garlic, and truffle puree.

If it’s not too cold, sit on the covered patio or head to CORE’s modern indoor dining room – this is a good opportunity to take a quick bathroom break. From here, head east to Kelly Butte for more bucolic hiking, biking, or strolling until you’re ready for dinner.

Yuan Su vegetarian

11140 SE Powell Boulevard
Portland, Oregon 97266

End your day with a bang at Yuan Su Vegetarian at 112th and SE Powell. Make sure you show up with a big appetite and maybe a few hungry friends. Yuan Su Vegetarian has veganized a wide variety of Chinese-American dishes. The extensive menu (with large plates of food) is divided into the typical “pork”, “chicken”, “seafood”, “veal” and, of course, tofu. It may fool your carnivorous friends, but trust us, it’s vegan.

If it’s your first time, ask for one of the combination plates, so you can try more than one dish. No. 1 has a good variety: sweet and sour chicken, beef and broccoli, and vegetarian ham fried rice, with a crispy spring roll. Or you could convince your friends to share their plates with you and yours with them.

A bowl filled with Van Hanh's round noodles, fake meats and coriander

Hue Spicy Noodle Soup at Van Hanh.
Waz Wu / EPDX

Day two

Van Hanh Restaurant – Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine

8446 SE Division Street
Portland, Oregon 97266
(503) 788-0825

Sleep in late and start your tour with lunch the next day in the bustling Jade district of Van Hanh. A Buddhist nun transformed this former temple into a Vietnamese vegan restaurant serving meatless pho and egg rolls stuffed with mung beans and tofu. However, the spicy Hue noodle is the thing here: thick, round rice noodles swirled between chunks of vegan meat and tofu in a rich, spicy, bright red broth.

After lunch, spend some time shopping in the Jade District: stop by the giant Fubonn Asian Mall for some pantry staples or self-care items, or the Portland Nursery for a stroll through the impressive selection of plants.

Taqueria Los Gorditos

8319 southeast of Powell Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97266
(971) 288-5903

When hunger strikes during your shopping spree in the Jade District, grab some Mexican takeout from Taqueria Los Gorditos to take to Lents Park for a picnic. Taqueria Los Gorditos has a full complementary vegan menu with soy rizo burritos and soyrizo tacos, but here, go for the vegan sopes, harder to find in other Mexican restaurants or vegan places. Sopes are deep-fried, hand-spread corn dough topped with beans, a vegan protein option, vegan sour cream, lettuce, tomato, onion, and cilantro. Do not forget to ask for a variety of hot sauces; Los Gorditos offers some, depending on your tolerance for spices.

Wicked Garden Alchemy

8145 SE 82nd Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97266

When you’re ready to wrap up your vegan snack weekend, leave Lents Park and head a few miles south (15-minute bike ride, 10-minute drive) to another food cart pod, Cartlandia. Here, Wicked Garden Alchemy, a pop-up cart turned cart, churns out Beyond Burgers sandwiched between cinnamon buns and vegan meatball grinders, all with a witchy vibe.

What stands out about this place is the “potions, spells and elixirs” menu, a fun selection of mixed drinks with clever and spooky names like Frankenstein, a mint matcha and Oreo. The must-try is Hellraiser, a coffee drink mixed with caramel and Biscoff cookies, with a scoop of dairy-free milkshake on top. It’s a sweet end to the weekend.

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