If you are thinking of making the switch to vegetarian or vegan but are not sure how viable or easy the upkeep of a plant-based diet is, then Portland is the place for you. Both Forbes and Happy Cow, a website known by most vegans for its handy information about good vegan eateries, ranked Portland as the number one most vegan-friendly city in the U.S.. Portland is known for its organic farming and wide variety of plant-based food. I set out on a mission to find the best one hundred percent plant-based restaurants in SE Portland so you don’t have to. At each place, I reviewed their most popular item as well as my personal favorite, and gave the restaurant an overall rating which covers price and quality.
DC Vegetarian, 5026 SE Division St.
Starting off with the closest location to Franklin, DC Vegetarian has been serving sandwiches and burgers to happy customers for quite some time. It’s open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Monday and Sunday, and features a good selection of outdoor and indoor seating. I ordered the Italian Sub, the most popular item on their menu. It’s $13 and is loaded with the works: vegan ham and cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, vegenaise, and mustard. Quality wise, I don’t think it is worth $13, however, what it lacks in taste, it makes up for in size. After eating one half of the massive sandwich, I was already full and had to box the rest up. My main criticism for both the sandwich and the bite I had of my friend’s burger was that the condiments were overpowering. I would give their Italian Sub a 6/10, and the overall restaurant an 8/10.
Whole Bowl, 4411 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
I won’t lie, I go to Whole Bowl at least once a month. This restaurant only sells one thing in two different sizes, but boy do they do a good job. The bowl in question is gluten, nut, and wheat free and can be made vegan. The container is biodegradable and they have wooden spoons available. Rice, beans, olives, cilantro, salsa, “Tali sauce” (named after the owner), avocado, cheese, and sour cream create a flavorful, healthy protein-packed meal. Whole Bowl has quite a few locations around Portland, but this is the closest restaurant in SE. It is open daily from 11a.m. to 9 p.m. I got the Big Bowl for $8 because it is ultimately more bang for your buck. The portions are more than fair and I personally love all of the ingredients. I would give their bowl a 10/10. It never disappoints and pricewise is very affordable. Although the food is great, parking can be a struggle and it’s frustrating that there is nowhere to sit and eat your food, making the overall location score a 7/10.
Next Level Burger, 4121 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
This redefined take on a classic burger joint is 100 percent vegan with a large variety of burgers, hot dogs, salads, and shakes. As advertised, all the ingredients are organically sourced and non-GMO. I ordered the most popular item, the Classic Chzburger with vegan pepper jack cheese. I noted it was one of their less expensive menu items, coming in at $8.95. I was shocked that it was the most popular item, because they have much better things on the menu. The patty itself was a bit dry and chewy, and the cheese ended up dripping off the burger and becoming a gooey mess. The burger was saved by the fresh tomato and lettuce, and the near perfect bun. I would give this burger a 5/10. My personal favorite menu item is the Maverick Burger, and it deserves an 8/10. The score would be higher, but unfortunately the price is just too expensive to allow a higher rating. There is rarely a line at Next Level Burger and the staff is very polite and professional. They also take the title of open latest on this list, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Because the food is so pricey, the overall restaurant score is a 7.5/10.
Moberi, 3646 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Moberi stands out for its sweet smoothies and açaí bowls, which are all dairy free and can be made vegan upon request. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I always notice how strong the air conditioning is in the building, which makes it a perfect option for a hot summer day. Moberi gives off a bubblegum pop vibe with trendy music playing, bright lights, and a solid pink wall. Their most popular item is their Moberi bowl, which comes in three different sizes. I would give the classic Moberi bowl a 8/10. It was good, but the goji berries on the top really lowered the score. They were too sticky for my texture preferences and didn’t really add anything taste-wise. My personal favorite item is their layered Peanut Butter Bliss bowl. I am a huge fan of bananas and peanut butter, so it became an instant hit with me. Plus, the chocolate chips were a nice touch. With all that being said, I would give that bowl a 10/10 for its reasonable price and hearty portion. Overall, Moberi deserves a 9/10 for its great açaí bowls, and very aesthetically pleasing location.
KaTi, 2932 SE Division St.
Creating authentic Thai cuisine without the use of any meat can be difficult, but a challenge that KaTi welcomes and excels at. From the outside, the building is unassuming and quiet. However, once you enter you start to get a feel for the actual restaurant vibe. The dining area is decked out with twinkling lights and soft music playing, giving a very ambient feel to the whole restaurant. The staff is very friendly and quick with their service. KaTi is completely vegetarian, and most things on the menu can be made vegan. It is open everyday but Wednesday from 12 to 3 p.m. and then opens back up again from 4 to 8:15 p.m. I spoke to the owner and she explained that “KaTi” means coconut milk in Thai, potentially symbolizing their commitment to healthy animal product alternatives. Their most popular item and my personal favorite intersect with the Pad See Ew. The noodles are extremely flavorful and rich. I like to get it with fried tofu and egg for extra protein, although the egg can be removed to instantly make the dish vegan. The Pad See Ew is $15 and for the amount of food you get, I would say the price is a little high, but still very reasonable. My only complaint is the spinach has a bitter taste to it that is slightly off putting. I would give their dish an 8/10, weighing price, taste and quantity. Bella Walker, a senior at Franklin and a long time vegan has only positive things to say about the restaurant. “I really like KaTi Thai. [I] definitely would recommend it to non vegans and vegans alike.” As a whole, KaTi has definitely won an 8/10 rating for their delicious Thai dishes.
And that’s it, my top choices for a plant based meal in SE Portland. Some honorable mentions are Harlow, known for their health shakes and bowls; Off The Griddle; The Dog House PDX, a food cart located off of 52nd and Division, that has an additional vegan menu (props to them); and Los Gorditos for having a vegetarian AND vegan menu along with plenty of meatless options. The main thing to remember when buying a vegetarian or vegan meal is to shop locally, support small businesses, and that it is just one of the many ways you can give back to the environment.