3023 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 97211
Price: cheap (nothing over $10.50)
Kids: Very Kid friendly. Coloring and kids menu provided. $1 for anything on kids meal from 5-7pm every day. Most kids items are $4.50 normally.
Last Friday, we decided to try Vita Cafe. Not knowing much about the place, I didn’t know what to expect, except that if it is a vegan cafe owned by the same people that run the amazing veggie restaurant Natural Selection. So therefore, it must be good. Sadly, I was disappointed to find it did not live up to those expectations.
Natural Selection is a fancy restaurant, and I knew that Vita Cafe was not, but I was hoping the imaginative menu and environment would be similar. Vita cafe is inside a nice, spacious building, classic Portland style, with high ceilings and an open feel. Wood tables and vinyl seating give it a relaxed, cafe vibe and the walls were decorated with barbershop pictures, I am guessing it’s former life. NE Alberta has become a very hip destination in the last 10 years, and it is no surprise that a vegan restaurant is now in place of a barber.
The menu runs the gamut. We were there for dinner, but the breakfast and lunch menus are available too. Their menu is huge. For dinner, the fare is mostly burgers, pastas, soups/salads, and vegan substituted meals like biscuits and gravy, fish and chips (tofu is the “fish”) and sandwiches. Entrees include Spiced Salmon cakes, noodle bowl, and stews. We had a large Supergrain Salad and the Italian Pasta. The salad was overloaded with dressing, more than is necessary, it was seriously drowning. Besides that, it was awesome…loaded with quinoa, pumpkin seeds and a dollop of guacamole in the middle. The Italian Pasta was very bland, although the kale and the veggie sausage were tasty. I needed to add hot sauce to flavor it up (my wife accuses me of having no tastebuds, but that is neither here nor there haha). Our kid ordered the Mac and Cheese off the kids meal, but it was not very good either, bland and unflavored. The menu is so huge, I hate to diss on the restaurant too much, there are lots of interesting choices, but it feels like they are spreading themselves too thin with all of the options.
As bland as the mac and cheese was, I was happily surprised at the kids choices, especially when they are $1 each between 5-7pm everyday. Burrito, grilled cheese, pasta, veggie burger, etc are offered. Coloring and high chairs are available.
We had a very good fruit smoothie, but beers and wine and a full bar are here also. They had 5 local beers on tap.
Our service was good. We didn’t have to wait, at 6pm on a friday night. I wouldn’t take a first date here, but a night out with the family, this place is mellow, at least you don’t have to wait, which is all too common these days. The vibe in the place is very, I hate to say hipster, but I don’t know any other words. Just seems like the environment is a bit holier than thou, and that comes across in their food too.
Vita Cafe would be perfect to have a coffee, maybe a lunch, use the wifi and hang out for awhile, I guess I was expecting more for our dinner stop. It’s a great place to take the kids. I liked the prices, and the fact that a table is available at anytime, that is key. It is a cafe after all, I should have known. Literally.
See pictures below!