Portland, OR restaurants for a soy- and corn-free vegetarian?
February 1, 2013 10:51 PM   Subscribe

We are going to Portland, Oregon next week. I am a vegetarian. I am allergic to corn and soy. My partner is an omnivore who eats everything except marzipan and raw animal/ocean flesh. What (aside from Natural Selection) are our can't-miss restaurants? Bonus for desserts! A few more details after the cut...

Corn allergy: means everything made from corn, including distilled vinegar, baking powder (which has cornstarch), powdered sugar (which has cornstarch), and obviously corn syrup. Soy allergy is pretty much all stripes of soy protein (tofu, tempeh, TVP, etc.) but not soy lethicin, thank goodness! In Los Angeles, land of the gluten-free, the soy allergy makes most non-Indian vegetarian restaurants complete no-go zones. I have heard rumors that in Portland I can get a seitan cheese steak, which excites me to no end!

I love ice cream as if it were my kidnapped child and if there were ice cream in town that didn't have corn syrup I'd be so thrilled. Salt and Straw, alas, is a total corn-syrup zone.
posted by rednikki to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and boyfriend is omnivorous enough that if he were starving he'd totally eat raw fish and meat. But if he's paying for it, he'd rather not.
posted by rednikki at 10:54 PM on February 1, 2013

I don't have any food aversions aside from being vegetarian by choice so I'm not positive about this but I'd guess Blossoming Lotus would be a good place to go.

I used to wait tables off and on for years at the India House. It's downtown on 11th and Morrison. I liked the food, ate it every shift and still go there from time to time.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:35 PM on February 1, 2013

I'd look into Portobello and will second Blossoming Lotus -- both creative, usually delicious vegan places that generally don't rely on soy-based fake meat. I think they both have some corn dishes -- Portobello's pizza does have a cornmeal crust -- but many of their dishes seem corn-free, and the menus change a lot. For a more casual meal, maybe The Whole Bowl, which has one item on the menu. (I don't think its secret "Tali sauce" has corn or soy, but I'm not positive.) For non-corn-syrup ice cream, try Oregon Ice Works.
posted by lisa g at 11:40 PM on February 1, 2013

If you are venturing into North Portland, please check out Proper Eats.
posted by ainsley at 12:26 AM on February 2, 2013

Well, the thing about Portland is that almost everywhere is vegetarian friendly -- you really don't need to eat at the veg*n-specific places people are recommending (unless you want to), and frankly, the vegetarian food at omnivorous restaurants is usually better. I travel to Portland pretty regularly and almost never eat at veg-specific places (except Natural Selection, which is really great). The catch, of course, is that waiters at busy omni restaurants can't always tell you what's in the food and veg places tend to be better tuned in to that kind of stuff when you ask. But I do find that many places in PDX -- even the kind that seve bacon wrapped foie gras -- are incredibly accommodating if you just call ahead or email.

A few places off the top of my head that are great and might suit your purposes:

Evoe is one of the most underrated restaurants in Portland (in my humble opinion). The menu changes all the time, but they always have a big blackboard full of seasonal small-ish plates. It's an open kitchen/chef's table kinda set-up with just a couple of cooks, who also take your orders and chat to you while they cook/you eat, so they will definitely be able to tell you what's in the dishes, and maybe even take things out if necessary. The only downside is that it closes at 7pm, so more of a lunch place.

Navarre: Also lots of small plates, many of which are very simple and vegetable focussed. And really good. It can get busy, but it's small and because they just bring stuff out as its ready, the servers should be able to chat and check things with the kitchen.

Ned Ludd: Probably the most stereotypically "Portland" restaurant (outside of The Woodsman, perhaps). Usually lots of small, vegetable-y plates (and from memory, will alter others without meat, but don't quote me on that), though the menu varies a lot so it might be worth calling first.

Park Kitchen: You would definitely want to call ahead here because their menu changes often and it doesn't have as many veg dishes as the above places, but again, the ones it does have tend to be very vegetable and grain focussed. their dishes tend to sound simple on paper, but are usually really creative and surprising. It's also really small and the staff really attentive, so I don't think you'd have any problems double-checking ingredients etc in the restaurant.

Those are places that immediately spring to mind as great for vegetarians and very accommodating. Beyond that, I would just read through some local guides (a few I think are reasonably reliable: Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, Eater), take a look at the menus that sound good, and if there's a dish on there that sounds like you could eat it, call them and check what's in it.
posted by retrograde at 2:45 AM on February 2, 2013

Suzette Creperie makes their own ice cream so I would just call and ask about the corn syrup. Yummy dessert crepes too! They might also be good for a soy and corn free meal. They make buckwheat crepes with lots of filling options.
posted by biscuits at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2013

Another corn-avoider! There aren't many of us out there. When I was first diagnosed, one of my friends said, "at least it's just corn, shouldn't be that hard to avoid." HA!

I'm taking a trip to Portland at the end of March, so I'm interested in what you find. The last time I was there in 2011, I did find some options. I will dig around in my emails to see what I found. I'm also emailing people right now to see what's out there. I will say that Cravin' Ravin' bakery is all corn and soy free, and most of their stuff is vegan. On the other hand, the woman at Piece of Cake initially told me that their stuff was corn free but then acknowledged that they used powdered sugar with corn starch. That may have changed since I was last there.

Of course, you're probably in Portland right now, so this won't be in time to help you.
posted by JR06 at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2013

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