Family Supper: Eat Your Veggies
If your New Year’s resolutions include getting in more meat-free meals, check out these two family-friendly vegan eateries.
La Vida Veggie
As I stepped into La Vida Veggie restaurant in Beaverton with my 10-month-old and 3-year-old, I had a good feeling. It was lunchtime and delicious cooking smells wafted through the small, homey space. La Vida Veggie recently changed its menu to be strictly plant-based. And the dishes we tried are proof that vegan food doesn’t have to be a tasteless imitation of the “real thing.”
The seitan cheesesteak ($8) was a huge, messy affair. With its meaty, housemade seitan (a savory pseudo-meat made from wheat protein), gooey, cashew “cheese” spread and hefty grilled bread, the sandwich rocked. And it came with a large side salad studded with chunks of apples and sunflowers seeds. I also tried the walnut-meat taco ($3.50), which was equally tasty. This supersized taco on a thick corn tortilla was stuffed with spicy nutmeat filling, guacamole, pico de gallo, pickled cabbage and cashew cream. It was incredibly satisfying and I’d eat it again in a heartbeat. (A word of warning: This is not an establishment for those with nut allergies.)
My 3-year-old tried the bean and cheese quesadilla from the $5 student meals menu (available for students of any age). I opted for Daiya vegan cheese for 50 cents more. The meal (a terrific value) included a side salad or apple slices, and a small orange-berry smoothie with the most kid-friendly of accommodations — a short straw. Her baby brother gnawed on a few of her apple slices while she plowed through the quesadilla and smoothie. Her comment on the meal: “Mama, I like my lunch.” Other student meals include grilled nut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, and pita, hummus and veggies.
My only regret is I was too full to try one of their raw, vegan cakes. The red velvet looked especially good.
4925 SW Angel Ave., Beaverton. Monday to Saturday, 10 am-8 pm. Also at Beaverton Farmers Market on Saturdays. lavidaveggie.com
Native Foods Café
This mid-sized chain that started in SoCal has opened outlets at Clackamas Town Center and Bridgeport Village. As the cheery cashier at Clackamas told me, it’s a completely plant based restaurant. They make all their proteins from scratch including seitan, tempeh, “chicken”, cashew cheese and “bacon”. Pro tip: Ask for the nut-free menu if you’ve got anyone with nut allergies.
I tried the Native Oklahoma Classic ($9.99), which needed more flavor. More of the BBQ sauce and melted cheddar would have helped. The chili powder seasoning blend on the fries kept the meal from tipping over to bland. However I can’t say enough good things about the bun the sandwich was served on. Unlike most burger buns that have the texture of a fluffy sponge, this whole-grain bun had actual heft and flavor.
My 10-month-old tried the kid’s mac ‘n cheese ($4.99). He dug the high-fiber, gluten-free “super pasta.” I liked the fact that the kid’s meals came with the healthy options of organic brown rice or steamed veggies, in addition to the more typical seasoned fries. I chose the veggies and my little lunch buddy happily chowed down on bits of cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini. Native Foods also gets high marks for kid-friendliness. They had a slew of high chairs at the ready and the staff all made faces at my baby as they passed our table.
I wrapped up my meal with a peanut butter parfait — a creamy pudding layered with crumbles of banana bread and chocolate chips ($3.99). I’m a sucker for anything peanut-butter flavored and this sweet treat hit the spot.
Bridgeport Village and Clackamas Town Center. Open daily, 11 am-10 pm. nativefoods.com