I almost missed my chance to eat at the fantastic Vita Cafe. My short visit to Portland was nearly over, with nothing left to do but get me to the airport on time later in the afternoon. My clever friend remembered that Vita Cafe was one of the restaurants on my secondary list (I had a “must eat at” list and a “if I can fit it in” list) and she realized that it was directly on our way to the airport. How perfect. I was going to get to leave this town as full and satisfied as when I came in!

Vita Cafe serves primarily, though not entirely, vegetarian and vegan fare. They’re organic, local, sustainable, blah, blah, blah…. you know the drill, most all of these places in Portland are doing the right things whenever possible, and I think that’s awesome. But seriously, as I’ve told you time and again, I’m really most interested in the eating of it all… so let’s eat!

Vegan Portland- Vita Cafe

Vita Cafe is almost synonymous for one of the dishes they are most famous for, their vegan biscuits and gravy. The biscuits are homemade… the most amazingly fluffy, tender, chewy and delectable biscuits I’ve ever had. Not being a Southern girl or anything like that, my primary schooling in what biscuits are supposed to taste like came in the form of the artery-clogging offerings provided by Kentucky Fried Chicken when I was a child. I know, gross, but you’ve got to admit their biscuits were tasty, especially back when you didn’t know any better. Now imagine that tastiness times about a million, now double it in size, subtract the lard and trans-fats, and add in a healthy dose of “made with love by people who care”, and you might just come close to fathoming how delicious these massive biscuits are. And I haven’t even told you about the gravy yet.

The gravy can only be described as heavenly. I have no idea how it’s made, all they tell you on the menu is that it’s made from almonds, yes… almonds! It didn’t really taste all that much of almonds to me, it tasted like thick, sumptuous, nutty, slightly spicy & slightly salty gravy. Not too salty which I can’t hang with, but just right. A more well-spoken reviewer might describe it as “full of flavor” or “well seasoned”. I’ll just tell you that it rocked my world. The gravy comes heartily smothered over the two giant biscuits, turning the whole thing into a moist mountain of lumpy, chewy fulfillment. My words and not-so-great photo are not doing any justice here, this was truly one of the best things I ate on my whole trip and I will be fantasizing about it until I can return to Portland again and indulge once more.

Now, you didn’t expect me to just order biscuits & gravy and head on home, did you? Of course not. The other items that caught my eye as soon as I was handed a menu were the corn cakes. You know how I am with corn, I am powerless against it in it’s many forms. Resistance was futile.

Vegan Portland- Vita Cafe

Here we have the Thai Corn Cake: with sliced bananas, ginger, cilantro and coconut syrup. Just when I was thinking that nothing on earth could possibly taste better than those biscuits, this giant plate of love arrived. Basically it’s a huge corn pancake with the bananas, ginger and cilantro cooked right into it. It was perfectly crispy around the edges and soft and warm in the middle, each bite filled with exciting and surprising flavor combinations. The coconut syrup took this not only out of this world but all the way out into the far deep inner reaches of outer space. It was creamy and thick and within a few seconds I had it slathered all over this beautific corn cake.

Vita Cafe was a top-notch establishment with more vegan offerings for breakfast, lunch & dinner than you could shake a stick at. If I was a local, I’d totally be a regular (though I don’t know that I’d make it much farther into the menu than the biscuits).

And thus concludes this installment of Foodeater Does Vegan Portland. I had such a great time and ate so many excellent meals… I hope you all have enjoyed tagging along on this fun vegan quest with me. I’m already looking forward to my next Portland visit! For now though it’s back to lovely Los Angeles for a while, and not a minute too soon considering just how many incredible L.A. meals I have yet to tell you about. I’ll just need a moment to digest…

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4 Responses to “Foodeater Does Vegan Portland, V.9: Vita Cafe”
  1. quarrygirl says:

    wow, i am insanely jealous and am now looking into a portland vacation very soon. it sounds like you weren’t there long, but even still, your gustatory adventures drove me mad! btw, forget what a “well-spoken” reviewer would say to describe that gravy…….boring! i dig the heart-felt, vegan foodie frenzy that was your post. glad to hear a restaurant on your second string list winded up being out of this world. aren’t pleasant surprises wonderful?

  2. I love those vivid descriptions! I haven’t had biscuits in years, but this review is definitely making me crave them…

    And that corn cake! I never ever could have dreamed up such a thing, but it looks and sounds so incredible that I don’t ever think another pancake I eat can live up to it… Guess I need to make my way to Portland!

    Can’t wait for your report on L.A. eats!

  3. FoodEater says:

    quarrygirl: I’m almost too embarrassed to reveal how many days I was in Portland, because then the whole world will know in just how little time I was able to consume all this food. Let’s just say that I was truly a fiend on this trip and leave it at that ;)

  4. quarrygirl says:

    The gravy at vita cafe totally lived up to your description. Thank you soooooooooooOOOOooOOo much for telling me about this place. We went only because you suggested it and we both LOVED it.

    BTW, I have been eating like a fiend in Portland too. Ya gotta, right? 3 huge meals a day LOL!