Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bend: Vegan Food

We didn't put a lot of planning into this trip to Bend (we had it scheduled for a while, but only tentatively until fairly close to the week of), but we intended to focus on three things, essentially the things that make Bend just a version of Portland: being outdoors, drinking beer, and eating vegan food.

The last actually proved the most challenging, simply because drinking beer requires eating some food at the beer establishments, so we basically spent a couple days totally stuffed and didn't go to everywhere we planned. But here's what we did manage to fit in.

Mother's Juice Cafe

This was our first stop after checking into the motel*, and though the food menu looked good (not all veg, but vegetarian options plentiful and clearly marked), we just wanted something to tide us over until the first brewery. Instead, we looked to the smoothies and juices. 

Unlike many places which commonly use a yogurt base for smoothies, the majority here are dairy-free. I had a small Ida Red - cider, berries, apple, banana, mango sorbet. It must have been the sorbet that really made it creamy (especially considering it didn't have dairy). Really very good. I'm kind of picky about smoothies - I don't like "weird" combinations or ingredients, but there were several fruit focused smoothies that sounded good to choose from.

Abe had one of the juices, Fuel - beet, cucumber, spinach, ginger, lime. And wow could you taste the ginger! Even when set on the table, I felt like there were ginger fumes still wafting towards me.

The setting here is a converted house, with lots of cafe style seating options inside. We hung out for a little bit on a comfy couch to plan the rest of the day. 

Next Level Burger

This is a 100% plant-based burger joint! (That's opening a Portland location soon!) The employees made sure we knew this when we walked in and started perusing the menu ("Did you know our menu is all plant-based?" "Yep, that's why we're here!")

I had the original Next Level burger, while Abe tried the Tangy Tempeh burger, along with sharing fries and a fountain drink. I really liked the NL burger - both texture and taste can really vary with veggie burgers, but this one hit the right spot on both counts. The tempeh burger, not so much for me - something weird about the texture - but Abe liked it.

They're all about sustainability here, with compostable and recycling products (I think there wasn't even a "trash" receptacle at all). The fountain drinks are Maine Root natural sodas, plus there are other options like kombucha and raw juices.

Sarah's Raw & Vegan Cafe

While primarily serving smoothies and juices, they had a selection of food, as well as selling other local products (e.g., lip balms, sun screen, etc.). Also in a converted house, it shares space with a chiropractor, and the entrance to both is in the back. We found parking in the somewhat limited space in front, but we then found there is a small parking lot behind the house (entrance on Staats St., I think).

They are beyond sustainable here, with the only disposable item needed a straw (and of course, if we were local we could have brought out own glass straws). They charge a deposit for the glass jars (though we ate in so didn't need to), and even had cloth napkins/towels for use instead of disposals. 

We were helped by Sarah herself when we stopped by for breakfast on our way out of town; I had a strawberry banana (again, anything fruity is usually good with me), and Abe had the Athletic Endurance smoothie. Though I don't love all of the super-alternative health stuff (allegedly medicinal smoothie blends, juice cleanses, etc.), I can definitely support other aspects of their business model like smoothies in general and their dedication to eco-friendliness.


Though not as hippie as our other non-brewery meals, I'll throw this in here so it's mentioned. This is a local middle eastern restaurant, with plenty of veg options. We did the mezze for two, choosing: hummous, babaganouj, curried tempeh salad, falafel, karnabeet, and spinach pie. So much food! All very good (I didn't love everything, but that's on my palate-of-a-12-year-old, not the restaurant).

*Side note: We stayed at the Day's Inn, as one of the cheaper options. I'm pretty sure I've stayed at locations of the franchise before without issue. But this one was a little iffy. Felt safe and clean enough if price is the biggest factor, but wouldn't return there myself. 

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