Saturday, March 15, 2008

Where to eat vegetarian in Portland, Maine

As a vegan and a food writer who works for a weekly magazine in this foodie city, I get asked all the time about the best places for vegans and vegetarians to chow down. In general, I’ve found that Portland restaurants are really waking up to the growing number of people (vegetarian and not) who want to eat plant-based meals. So you won't be left with a bowl of white rice at most restaurants. But if you're looking for more than one veggie option, here are my top 10 picks:

1. Green Elephant-This is Portland's only all-vegetarian lunch and dinner spot and is located in the Arts District.
2. Silly’s - Casual spot in East End with diverse menu and robust selection of vegan fare.
3. Pom's Thai Taste Restaurant & Noodle House - Huge selection of Thai dishes, noodles and sushi, make sure to order the vegetarian white sauce. Located in Arts District.
4. White Heart - This hipster lounge in the Arts District serves up amazing food at reasonable prices. The drinks are killer too.
5. Pepper Club/Good Egg Cafe - Portland's oldest vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurant. Located in East End.
6. Flatbread - A Northeast pizza chain, this eatery (right on the waterfront in Old Port) offers organic and vegan options.
7. North Star Cafe -At the base of Munjoy Hill, this East End coffee house + live music spot has great veggie sandwiches and soups.
8. Fat Baxter’s - East End market and store with emphasis on local and organic. Sandwich counter offers yummy veggie food.
9. Artemisia - Studio District dinner spot with tasty vegetarian options.
10. Mesa Verde - Located at 618 Congress St. in the Arts District this Mexican restaurant offers organic food, vegetarian options and amazing smoothies. (Sorry, they don't have a website.)

14 comments:

Oliver said...

One question about The Green Elephant, which we loved. Perhaps you may know the answer, but no problem if not...

Why do they call themselves a vegetarian bistro, when all of their dishes bar one dish is vegan? It seems that vegan, for most Americans, is deemed too strong a term and may alienate diners/people in general. Perhaps that isn't the case here but people seem to by-pass that designation if possible - well in my experience (we're from Europe). I'd have liked to have seen (atleast) a vegetarian and vegan bistro....wishful thinking!!

Good to see you on the vegan meet-up, where I saw your link...

Avery Yale Kamila said...

Hey Oliver,

Thanks for checking out my blog!

I've never asked Dan or Bob, but I'd guess it was a marketing decision. Most people have met a vegetarian and have an idea of what it means. But vegan still has a punk rock edge. It retains a flavor of the unfamiliar.

Case in point: After 17 years of watching me eat vegan fare, my dad still doesn't know how to pronounce the word.

Dan said...

Thanks for your question. Actually, the decision to call the Green Elephant a vegetarian bistro, as opposed to a vegan bistro was not orginally a marketing idea, but I can see how that conclusion could be drawn. Asian cuisine does not by nature use very many dairy products, and usually in Asia being vegetarian already implies that one does not eat egg. While developing the menu it occurred to us that it was easy to adapt most of our dishes quite effortlessly for a vegan diet. It all happened rather organically. Thanks for your inquiry.

Avery Yale Kamila said...

Hey Dan,

Thanks so much for clearing that up. I can't wait to eat at Green Elephant again! I'm still lusting after more of that luscious vegan cheesecake.

Jen said...

Thanks for the list! I love Silly's and we're trying Green Elephant this weekend!

Anonymous said...

eat blue mango veegie burgers at many local portland restaurants!

Jere said...

I went to the Green Elephant last month and I got a tempura fiddlehead salad with Thai coconut dressing. It was the best salad I've ever had. Can't wait to go back!!!

Tammy said...

I have a question for you: where can a good vegan to get a decent brunch on Sundays? I realize that serving up a vegan friendly brunch takes some commitment with not using eggs, milk, butter, bacon... but in this town of amazing restaurants, you would think someone would do it. Green Elephant has brunch but they told me it was more traditional breakfast...Artemisia has a salad, but I want a vegan waffle that I don't have to cook myself... any thoughts?

Avery Yale Kamila said...

The Pepper Club (which goes by the name Good Egg Cafe in the am) has a wonderful vegan-friendly breakfast/brunch. I love their vegan hash with tempeh. Another decent option is Bintliff's. They have veggie homefries that you can order without cheese and you can request soy milk with their granola, etc. I haven't seen anyone doing vegan waffles. But since making tasty vegan waffles is so easy, it seems only natural that one of the market savvy restaurants will step up to fill this opportunity!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an older post, but I just came across it via portlandfoodmap.com (and doing a "vegan" search from there). I've been vegan since '95 and am originally from Maine but have lived in San Francisco for many years. On my infrequent visits to see family in Maine I always try to get down to Portland for a day, and this post gives me lots of options for restaurants to try! Just what a visitor like me appreciates, so thank you. Glad to see Portland is getting more friendly to we veg*ns. -Jeff Gibson

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to suggest an update, Fat Baxter's is now Rosemont Market.

Still with an emphasis on local and organic food, but none of the sandwiches are vegan. They do always offer a vegetarian sandwich and the excellent hummus and vegan bread option make it easy to make your own meal.

Between Silly's, North Star and Rosemont- living vegan is easy as pie on Munjoy.

Michelle said...

What about Little Lad's at Monument Square? I know it's not "quality" but you can't argue with their prices or their enthusiasm :)

Tammy said...

Just wanted to add something here... a local favorite of ours - Burrito in Westbrook, has started offering breakfast & lunch. While they so not market themselves as a veg restaurant, they do offer several dishes which are easily made vegan including their new tofu breakfast burritos - yum!

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