Mark Your Calendars – Coming Gluten Free Events

Here are some gluten-free events coming to Portland Oregon in the next few months:

May 7 – The Portland Metro GIG Gluten Free Fair

This is the 2011 incarnation of the annual Gluten-Free Fair to benefit the Portland Metro Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), Mid-Willamette Valley GIG of Salem and Gluten Free Friends of McMinnville. More detailed information can be found at this page on Grain Damaged. Every year they have booths set up where you can sample local (and not-so-local) gluten free goods, hob-nob with other gluten-free foodies, and enter drawings for awesome gluten-free gift baskets.

Where:
All Saints Catholic Church
3847 NE Glisan St. Portland Oregon
In the GYM

When:
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 – 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Entry Fee:
$5 per person, $10 per family (of two or more)

June 12 – Rudi’s Summer Road Trip BBQ in Lake Oswego

We heard about this one from Kyra at Crave Bake Shop:

Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery is doing a summer road trip and I’ve been helping them coordinate a GF BBQ on Sunday June 12th at Millenium Park in Lake Oswego. It is free and all ages and open to the public and there will be live music and lots of lunchy foods, like BBQ gf hotdogs and hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches etc (from them) and desserts (from me). And did I mention that it’s FREE? we’re finalizing the details, so I’ll be sure to get back to you, but it looks like the event will be from 11:30-1:30 PM on the 12th. Flyer to come!

Events at Lamb’s Markets

Speaking of Grain Damaged, they have the lowdown on some gluten free events happening at Lamb’s Markets.

Gluten Free Crepes on Alberta – Suzette Creperie

We’ve been to a couple of creperies in Portland, both in the food cart form, and also in the more traditional restaurant form. Suzette Creperie is almost a cross between the two. In back is an airstream trailer where you give your order and also where the crepes are prepared. The dining room is in the front, and is warm and homey with a nice atmosphere.

Suzette Creperie in Portland Oregon - NA Alberta

To get to the airstream, you start on Alberta and walk down this sort of alleyway to order. Suzette got points for volunteering up front that they share cooking surfaces between the gluten-free and the regular. That was very cool. But yes, sadly, the crepes here are not for the very sensitive – like basically all the other crepe places we’ve reviewed here. I’m sensitive enough that I “get glutened” now and then, but I had no trouble with the food at Suzette. At the same time, we can’t recommend Suzette to the very sensitive.

Suzette Gluten Free Crepes

On the good news side, Suzette shows films on Friday nights. They’ve been doing Hitchcock movies lately. We caught North by Northwest the first time we went, and Vertigo on our second visit. During both visits, everyone was extremely friendly and the staff was attentive. Our food came out in a reasonable amount of time and was the right temperature. We liked the Suzette crepes a little better than crepes at the other places we’ve reviewed for two reasons. A) They have adventurous flavors, and B) They’re a little thinner and more tender.

Gluten Free Savory Crepe

Sorry for the bad photo. It was kind of dark in there. Suzette makes 3 kinds of crepes. First there is the standard buckwheat crepe, which has gluten. Second, there is the vegan crepe (which also contains gluten). Third, there is the gluten-free crepe, which we need to find out the vegan status on. The gluten-free crepe costs a buck more. Did we mention that Suzette has plenty of vegan options? It would be pretty easy to get a vegan meal there.

Suzette has some pre-made crepe flavor combinations, but also gives you the ability to create your own crepe by choosing between a number of ingredients. On the savory side, we tried the Smoked Salmon (which has salmon, goat cheese, spinach, and capers) and also created our own with Gruyere, marsala soaked figs, and prosciutto on one night and goat cheese, marsala soaked figs, and prosciutto on the other night. I preferred the goat cheese over the Gruyere, but then I’m a sucker for goat cheese.

The Normandie Gluten Free Dessert Crepe

As with other crepe places, it may be a good idea to share your crepes. If you get a savory crepe AND a dessert crepe, it’s going to be too much for one person to eat, really. We got our own savory crepes and then split the dessert crepes. For dessert, we tried the chocolate peanut butter crepe on night one, and the Normandie on the second night. The Normandie has lemon butter, topped with cider-poached pears, creme fraiche ice cream, and cider caramel sauce. We both agreed that the Normandie was significantly better than the chocolate peanut butter crepe, which we found to be way too peanut-buttery and not enough chocolaty.

We also got decaf coffee with our dessert crepes and were very happy with the coffee at Suzette. So yeah, good coffee, good crepes, and a laid back, friendly atmosphere. The thing we liked best about the Suzette was that we felt transported. That is to say that it gave us the feeling as if we were traveling somewhere, and had found a fun place to eat. The combination of the atmosphere, the adventurous crepe flavors, and the friendly people (not just the staff, but we had nice interactions with patrons) made for a great experience on both nights we visited. We’ll probably be back for more.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free friendly but Ask Questions! Shared cooking surfaces.
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Add $1 for the gluten free.

Suzette Creperie
www.suzettepdx.com
2921 NE Alberta St., Portland OR 97211 / 503.473.8657

Restaurant Review: Pastini Pastaria Redux

We reviewed Pastini about two years ago when I first started this blog, and it was kind of a disaster. I was just now writing an email to someone where I told them about how I hate giving bad reviews. I just naturally want everyone to do well. At the same time, when we have a bad experience at a restaurant, we have to be honest, and I try to make sure that I am specific about what went wrong with the hope that the owner will be able to fix it. Although I doubt that I can claim credit for the improvements at Pastini since we last visited, they definitely took care of my two main complaints.

Gluten Free Flag at Pastini Pastaria

When you get a plate of gluten-free pasta at Pastini Pastaria, they bring it out with a little flag to mark that it’s gluten-free. That’s awesome! That way everyone knows that it’s gluten free and you won’t end up with food getting mixed up, or bread being added to the dish. Our other main complaint with the restaurant in our last review was that the pasta had been overcooked. They definitely solved that problem as well. Another score.

Pastini Pastaria cocktail

In case you’ve missed Pastini, they are an Italian restaurant chain based in Portland. They have four locations in Portland, and a location in each of: Beaverton, Tigard, Bend, and Corvallis. We went to the Pastini on NE Broadway near 14th. Check here for a map of locations. Here is their gluten-free “menu,” which is more like a page that talks about their gluten free pasta and Tiramisu.

The restaurant is popular. We went there with our friends, who go there a lot. Pastini has a lot going for it. It’s a little family, a little upscale, and a little casual. They have a full bar. It’s got a happy energy. It’s a popular place so there’s usually a little wait before you get seated.

Pastini Gluten Free Ziti

Sienna got the Capellini Primavera, which is a simple dish with zucchini, mushrooms, sweet peas, roasted peppers, broccolini, fresh basil and garlic. She got it with gluten-free Ziti pasta and had them add chicken.

Pastini Gluten-free spagetti

I decided to get the gluten-free Spaghetti with Marinara, which is my all-around favorite way to eat pasta. Our friends got the Ziti Vegetariano, which is pasta with zucchini, tomatoes and yellow squash tossed with olive oil, garlic, tomato pesto, fresh herbs, and Kalamata olives. All of our dishes were delicious. The pasta was cooked just right, and the sauces were rich and flavorful.

Our waiter was very helpful and knowledgeable. As we mentioned in our past review, Pastini takes basic steps to prevent cross-contamination, like boiling the gluten-free pasta in different water. Our dishes came out in a reasonable amount of time and everything was the right temperature. Now I just need to talk them into making the meatballs gluten-free!

We didn’t sample the gluten-free Tiramisu, but our waiter told us that it’s a very popular item. I, for one, love and miss Tiramisu, so it’s only a matter of time before we give it a try. But we had other dessert plans that night. For the vegetarians and vegans out there, you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of vegetarian options, and the menu is also rather vegan-friendly.

We’ll have to go back sometime soon to solidify our feelings about Pastini, but this visit left us with a much more positive feeling about the place.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-free Friendly but Ask Questions!
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same.

Pastini Pastaria
www.pastini.com
Multiple Locations

We want to know: Do you have a favorite gluten-free Italian restaurant in town? Have you been to Pastini Pastaria? Let us know in the comments!

Restaurant Review: Around the Table

Reader Chris got our attention by posting a rave review of Around the Table on one of our restaurant comment pages that is linked from our Restaurant List. Around the Table is in Camas, Washington. We liked the look of the menu and also the place itself has an interesting look, being in an older building with unfinished brick walls and high ceilings.

The first hint that we were about to have an unsatisfactory evening came not in the form of food, but in temperature. The place was freezing. I’m kind of a big guy, and I’m the sort of person who is always too warm, so if I think a place is cold, it’s like a walk-in refrigerator. We both had the feeling that we were sitting under an air conditioner. When we complained to our waitress, she said that they would turn the heat up, but added the disclaimer that it would take a little while to come on because it was an old building. To be honest, we never felt any heat. If anything, it got colder. It must have been 50 in there.

Despite the temperature, we decided to press on. I ordered a cocktail, which wasn’t very good. The menu is in “small plate” format. So you can pick a bunch of different items. The menu is almost all gluten-free. They also have gluten-free bread so that you can eat their sandwiches. Appetizers are referred to as “really small plates” and give you a couple bites. We were told by our waitress that we could probably get a “really small plate” and then three or four “small plates” and that would be sufficient to feed two people.

Here’s what we sampled: Chorizo Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates, Curried Butternut Squash & Chickpeas, Pear & Gorgonzola Salad, Roasted Broccoli, and Our Famous Smoked Turkey Sandwich. For dessert we had to try the gluten-free Pear Tart.

The Chorizo Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates were good, but the Roasted Broccoli was a disaster. By disaster, I mean that someone had taken broccoli, burned it, refrigerated it, microwaved it until it was almost mush, and then left it to get room temperature before serving it. The Curried Butternut Squash & Chickpeas were also basically lukewarm and had also obviously been microwaved recently. The flavor was OK, but the texture was pretty weird. The yogurt on the squash was watery and strange.

The one thing going for the salad was that the greens were fresh. Otherwise, the dressing was uninspired, the pear slices came from a pear that wasn’t ripe and so they were rubbery and tasteless, and the roasted pecans were stale. Stale like stale popcorn.

I don’t know about anybody else, but when I go to a fancy restaurant and order a turkey sandwich, I don’t expect it to come with sliced processed turkey. There was bacon and a slice of apple in the sandwich, so you would expect it to be flavorful, but frankly, the sandwich was dull. The gluten-free bread was good.

At this point, we were expecting Gordon Ramsay to show up and pitch a fit. Since the dessert was unusually gluten-free, we decided to give it a try, even though by this time we were a bit worried about how it would be. What we got was a freezing cold, plated slice of what might have been an OK pear tart, although it would have been fairer to call it a cheese cake with pear slices.

gluten-free pear tart

Ignoring the cold, the atmosphere was kind of strange because they had music playing and something about the acoustics of the place made it sound like we were on top of a disco. Our waitress was kind of inattentive, and was either put off by our complaining about the temperature, or was just naturally frosty to match the temperature of the venue and the food, we couldn’t figure out which. On the plus side, she was helpful when talking to us about what was gluten-free on the menu.

Our experience at Around the Table was so singularly dissatisfying that we are still scratching our heads over it. I can think of only two other comparable experiences we’ve had: Dinner at Francis (which is now closed) and our Horrifying Valentines dinner at Wild Abandon. Sienna went on an Internet search to see what other reviewers were saying about it, and found strangely mixed reviews. People seem to either love the place or complain about how their entire meal had been murdered in a microwave. Maybe it depends on what night you go there? The bad news is that the place is expensive and thus not worth the gamble, at least in our book. Sorry Around the Table.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-free Friendly but Ask Questions!
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same.

Around the Table
aroundthetable.net
316 NE Dallas Street, Camas WA / 360.834.0171

We want to know: Do you have a favorite gluten-free friendly sandwich in town? Have you been to Around the Table? Let us know in the comments!

Restaurant Review: Horn of Africa

We were alerted about Horn of Africa by reader Gaile at Fidgety Budgie, who reviewed Horn of Africa on her website, here. It sounded like an interesting place to check out. I don’t have that much experience with African food, and so it’s always an adventure to try. Regular readers will know that I’m on a diet to lose weight because of some minor health problems, so our ability to go out to eat has been curtailed quite a bit, and we always pick places we want to review when we do go out.

The Horn of Africa has a little something for everyone on their menu. Besides the variety of African chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, they also serve the standard Mediterranean favorites like kebabs, gyros, and falafel. Their falafel plate is the vegan choice. Gaile mentioned in her review that, on her visit, there were worryingly few customers at prime dinner time, but we didn’t find that to be the case on our visit. The place is just a block or two north of NE Alberta on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and is easy to find. The decor is a little dull and the ambiance is strictly no-frills family dining. Our one biggest complaint of the night was the speed (or rather, slowness) with which everything happened. On the plus side, almost everything on the menu is gluten-free, and our waitress was very friendly and helpful.

Bajiya - gluten-free chickpea fritter

For an appetizer, we got Bajiya. These are described as “Seasoned patties of ground garbanzos and split peas, lightly fried.” Of course, our first choice would have been the Sambusas (which are basically Samosas by another name), but we were pleased to find that the Bajiya was a lot like a Samosa. This item was tasty, hot, and had obviously been prepared right then, so our expectations were raised. If you order these, however, keep in mind that you only get one patty per appetizer. They are only $1.00 but still, if you are expecting a more appetizer sized appetizer, you might order extra.

Gluten Free African Flatbread

The next thing I got excited about is that they have gluten-free flat bread. It comes out in rolls like this. The bread is spongy like something made with rice flour, but is very flavorful and reminded me of the teff bread we made a long time ago. It has a yeasty flavor that is very reminiscent of light rye bread. It’s the perfect thing for sopping up some sauce to go with your next bite. Our waitress mentioned that we got lucky that they had it when we visited, and that it’s the sort of item where they can make sure to have some available if you call them the day before.

Horn of Africa Gluten Free African Food

For our entrees, we ordered the Keluna with Wild Salmon and the Marakha Lukku. The Marakha Lukku is described as “Chicken breast stewed in house-made Beri-Beri Sauce with garlic and onions.” Beri Beri is a sauce made with a lot of spices like cardamom, peppercorns, fenugreek, ginger, and the like, combined with wine, oil, and hot chillies. I ordered mine “medium spicy” and felt like it was pretty mild. The chicken was well done, but I felt like the dish ended up being a little one-dimensional. Like it needed some veggies, or maybe some yogurt on the side.

Horn of Africa Keluna with Salmon

The Keluna is their fish dish and comes with whatever happens to be in season. It is described as “Seafood in season marinated in Zanzibar-style herbs and spices, pan-seared and stewed with fresh vegetables.” This dish was a little bit like a curry but had its own character. We both really liked it and felt that it was the superior dish of the two. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the veggies were excellent.

All in all the food was good, and it seemed to me like it had been prepared when we ordered it. I have to mention as well that their rice was really awesome. As I said, the waitress was friendly and informative, but it seemed like it took a long time for our food to come out. Checking other reviews on the Internet, it seems like we’re not the only ones who have had this problem. We thought that the food was good, but not spectacular. I would summarize our feeling about the restaurant as “satisfied and curious to try more, but not blown away.”

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-free Friendly but Ask Questions!
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same.

Horn of Africa
www.hornofafrica.net
5237 NE MLK Blvd / 503.331.9844

We want to know: Do you have a favorite gluten-free friendly African restaurant in town? Got a teff bread recipe for making flat bread? Let us know in the comments!

Food Carts: Grilled Cheese Grill and Perierra Creperie

Before I get too far into either of these reviews, it must be said that although both offer “gluten-free” items, neither dedicates a grill to them. So beware if you are celiac or really seriously gluten sensitive. You’d best steer clear. I debated whether or not to review either of them due to this fact, but I do know that there are people who follow our blog who don’t have to be quite so careful. Also, it’s good to know either way. So there you go.

The Grilled Cheese Grill on NE Alberta

You know how sometimes you won’t really have an appetite for something until a series of events makes you think about them? For instance, one day your significant other might make him or herself a grilled cheese sandwich and then the next, one of your co-workers will eat one and talk about how wonderful it is. That happened to Sienna recently so we visited the Grilled Cheese Grill on NE Alberta so that she could have a grilled cheese sandwich.

The Grilled Cheese Grill offers gluten-free bread. They use the rice bread that you can get at Trader Joe’s. The menu is interesting. They serve everything from a super-simple grilled cheese sandwich, to a four-cheese sandwich, to something resembling a meatball sandwich, to the “Cheesus Burger.” The Cheesus is a hamburger made of two grilled cheese sandwiches with a meat patty in between. If it isn’t already, this sandwich should be on the This is Why You’re Fat website. Besides the standard sandwiches on the menu, a person can also choose to build their own from of a list of ingredients. Their Creamy Tomato soup is not gluten-free, which sucks.

Sienna got the straight-up normal grilled cheese sandwich and I got the Moondog. This is Provolone, Hard Salami, Pepperoni, and Chopped Olive & Pepper Tapenade on bread. In my case it was on the Trader Joe’s rice bread, of course.

We both enjoyed our sandwiches. The problem I have with the Grilled Cheese Grill is that it is so easy to make a grilled cheese sandwich yourself. I could see going to this place if you’re wandering around on Alberta with some friends and you decide that it would be fun to get some grilled cheese sandwiches together. They do have some adventurous grilled cheese sandwiches which might make it worth a trip, but otherwise you might as well grab some cheese out of the fridge, grab some of your gluten-free bread, and make your own. You’ll get the added bonus of being able to have some gluten-free tomato soup with your sandwich.

Final verdict: We thought that they were good, and would be curious to try some other sandwiches. We would like them better if they had a dedicated gluten-free grill.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: No Dedicated Grill – Unsafe Depending on Your Level of Sensitivity.
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Add $0.75 for GF bread.

The Grilled Cheese Grill
http://www.grilledcheesegrill.com/
1027 NE Alberta Ave / 503.206.8959

Perierra Creperie on SE Hawthorne

Next up is Perierra Creperie. Crepes are one of those things where it seems like there’s a small population of people who love them, and then the rest of the world doesn’t really care much. I belong in the former group, although I do love dessert crepes, I don’t really love them enough to go out of my way to get one. Perierra is on SE Hawthorne next to a couple of other food carts.

I think it’s pretty standard to sort crepes into two groups: the sweet and the savory. Here are some examples of their crepes. On the sweet side, Perierra has lemon & sugar; strawberry, cream cheese and honey; walnut, honey, cardamom, and coriander; and a S’More Crepe. On the savoy side, they have Gorgonzola, pear, walnut, and honey; ham and Gruyere; fig, prosciutto, Chevre, and honey; and a crepe with smoked salmon, cream cheese, arugula and lemon. They also have some very adventurous shakes. For example, they have a avocado and sea salt shake and the very interesting sounding basil and coconut milk shake.

Despite anything they may say about keeping their gluten-free crepes separate, I watched as our crepe chef poured the gluten-free batter onto a grill she had just used to make a standard crepe, so beware.

We thought the crepes were good, but both of ours were crunchy and thick, so it was almost like eating something in an ice cream cone. This may be the style of the place, but both of us were used to crepes being thin and soft. I checked out what other people were saying about them on the Internet, and it seems like a lot of people have the same experience. I should mention that it happens that the gluten-free crepes are vegan and so it’s possible to get vegan crepes here.

As with the Grilled Cheese Grill, we both felt that their offerings were good, but not amazing. Maybe another go with some different choices would change our minds. If you love crepes and don’t mind the shared equipment, then I don’t think you can go wrong with the Perierra.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Unsafe Depending on Your Level of Sensitivity.
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Perierra Creperie
Perierra Creperie Facebook Page
SE 12th & Hawthorne

We want to know: Should we continue to include restaurants that aren’t exactly gluten-free safe? Have you eaten at either one? What did you think? Let us know!

Restaurant Review: The Radio Room on Alberta

Reader Allyson notified us of gluten-free options at the Radio Room on Alberta, so we went to check it out. Their dinner menu has a number of gluten free items, but their brunch menu does not, so make sure you go there for dinner. Besides a regular dining area, the Radio Room also has a lounge and an upper deck.

The radio room itself has more of an upscale bar atmosphere, sort of like Echo on MLK. The decor is half ’50s diner and half Interview Magazine. When we visited, they had various old school punk and post-punk playing at a comfortable volume. So, the Sex Pistols, Ramones, and other such bands. They have a very long cocktail list, and quite a long menu. The gluten-free offerings can be listed rather quickly. They are: Bacon Wrapped Prawns, Cab Calamari, Radio Wings, Baby Artichoke Salad, English Beet Salad, Mashed Potatoes Side with Gravy, Ahi Tuna Tacos, Stuffed Chayote Squash, and for dessert, a chocolate mousse dubbed “Chocolate City.” After some discussion, we learned that the Caesar Salad could be made gluten-free by omitting the croutons.

Our waitress was very nice and knowledgeable. She answered all of our questions about the menu and in the case of the Caesar Salad, came out with a ingredient list, which was very reassuring. She also informed us that they have a dedicated fryer for their gluten-free fried items, which is really awesome.

Although our tipster, Allyson, recommended the Ahi Tacos and English Beet Salad, we decided to eschew convention and get a Caesar salad and two openers instead of any of the entrees. This is in part because we both love bacon and also because I’m a man on a mission to find some good gluten-free calamari.

The Caesar salad, as you can see, had a heck of a lot of cheese on it. While the lettuce was fresh and the olives were tasty, we felt that the salad was a little too dry and were wishing that they put more lemon juice and some anchovies in it. The Bacon Wrapped Prawns were interesting. They came with a raspberry-chipotle dipping sauce. I thought that this was a very novel combination, but we both agreed that the sauce didn’t go very well with the bacon for some reason. Maybe it was just us, though. I could see someone really getting into the combo. Sienna felt that the prawns were undercooked, because the texture was a little gristly and springy. The Calamari was good. It was way better than the Calamari at the Hawthorne Fish House and came with a very nice tartar sauce. At the same time, like other gluten-free Calamari we’ve had, it was a little tasteless. Sienna commented that someone should try making a gluten-free beer battered Calamari.

As you can probably tell by the above, we ended up feeling like the Radio Room’s gluten-free offerings were good but not awesome. We did end up feeling like it would be a great venue if you wanted to go out drinking with a bunch of friends and get some bar food. For that purpose we would definitely recommend it.

We want to know: Do you know of any other bars with gluten-free menu items? Have you eaten at the Radio Room? What did you think? Let us know!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Radio Room
http://www.radioroompdx.com/
1101 NE Alberta Street / 503.287.2346

Restaurant Review: Por Que No Taqueria

I’m always pleased when I can write up a review on a place we’ve been to a bunch of times, because then I feel like I’m probably not going to steer anybody wrong. I’m also usually pleased to find that (unless you want a burrito) Mexican food is usually pretty easy to go gluten-free. You can get around the burrito problem by getting one without the tortilla and and eating it like a rice and beans plate with chips. Finally, I’m especially happy to report that Por Que No Taqueria has gluten-free fried fish tacos! Not only do they have fried fish tacos, but the fish is the breaded kind. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Por Que No View

This is the pleasing view you’ll see when you enter Por Que No on Hawthorne. Everything in the restaurant seems to have been salvaged from somewhere and then artfully placed in a chaotic way that puts me in the mind of an island retreat.

The Line at Por Que No Hawthorne

This is the not-so-pleasing view you’ll see when you enter Por Que No on Hawthorne. To be fair, the line moves very quickly, and for some reason there always seems to be somewhere to sit, even though the restaurant seems full to the gills every time we visit. It is a very popular spot. At Por Que No, you order at the counter. They give you a number and then you sit. Within a reasonable amount of time your drink and food shows up.

Horchata at Por Que No

I like their Horchata.

Salad at Por Que No

Their salad is very attractive, and includes a generous amount of avocado. We don’t feel like it’s their strong spot, however. While it’s good, it isn’t excellent. Sienna had a problem getting one without hot sauce and had to send hers back a second time.

Gluten-Free Fish Tacos and Carnitas

Here’s a serving of three tacos. Two of these are carnitas and the third is their gluten-free fried fish taco. The carnitas tacos are mostly meat with a little veggies, onion, and some cilantro. I think they must make their own corn tortillas at Por Que No. The corn tortillas are really awesome there. The fish taco is sort of what I call “Baja Style,” which I first became acquainted with on a trip to San Diego. So there’s fried breaded fish, cabbage, and some kind of white sauce. On the Por Que No fish taco I had, there was also some pineapple. All the tacos were awesome, flavor-wise. Sadly there wasn’t much fish in the taco. My taco had a single piece the size of my thumb. Sienna’s was a little better, but we still felt like the taco to fish ratio was off the mark. We also feel like the tacos are a little expensive for what you get.

The person who helped us at the counter knew exactly what I was talking about when I asked if the tacos were gluten-free, and I ended up feeling like it would be a safe place to eat as long as you asked questions about what you are ordering. As with any place that serves things that have gluten in them, be careful and remember that there’s basically always a chance of cross-contamination. The nice thing about Mexican food, though, is that they don’t use a lot of wheat – except for the tortillas and desserts.

We’ve been to Por Que No a bunch of times and have also visited their other place on Mississippi. Although we have a few issues with the place, the food there is awesome, and it has a really good energy. Now you can add gluten-free fried fish tacos to your Portland eating experience!

We want to know: Have you eaten at the Por Que No? Do you feel like Mexican is generally pretty easy to modify for gluten-free eating? Have you had any of the other entrees at Por Que No? Let us know!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions.
Times we have visited: 4+ (So we feel pretty good about our score.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Por Que No Taqueria
http://porquenotacos.com/
3524 N Mississippi Ave Portland, OR 97227 / 503.467.4149
4635 SE Hawthorne Blvd Portland, OR 97255 / 503.954.3138

News Bites: Gluten Free Hipcooks and New Cascadia Location

Hipcooks Announces Gluten-Free Class

First up, regular readers will remember that Hipcooks and we put up a survey asking what sort of gluten-free class our readers would like. The results are in and Monika has created a gluten-free cooking class. Portland is the first branch to get it! Don’t forget that some of their other classes are also gluten-free. Here is the current Portland class list.

The gluten-free class will be at 6 – 10 PM, August 9 in the Portland Oregon Hipcooks at 3808 N. Williams, Suite 120.

Here is the class description:

Our first Gluten-Free themed Class! You asked for it you got it! Meals on the go, bread-like baking, and dessert making. Also, most are also dairy free, with the exception of a little butter from time to time, so that’s how we’ll roll. This extra-long session has input from our in-house nutritionist, offer advice on meal-planning, and will come with a wonderful take-home cookbook packed with recipes and GF tips.

* No-wheat quiche
* 2 fun pastas with 2 fun sauces
* Adventures with Quinoa and other grains
* No-wheat breadsticks, and sandwich making
* 2 great cakes

Featured drink: Wine is GF!

We love Hipcooks. Check out our reviews of some of their gluten-free cooking classes.

New Cascadia Bakery Location Open

Next up, New Cascadia Traditional Bakery has announced that they are moved into their new cafe/bakery as of July 3. They have been updating their progress on their blog.

The new location is 1700 SE 6th Ave at SE Market (that’s two blocks south of Hawthorne). Besides their awesome gluten-free baked goods, they are serving Stumptown coffee and espresso drinks, and will have WIFI. We love New Cascadia Traditional Bakery and hope to visit soon! They are also planning an opening party, so we’ll be on the lookout for that.

Check out our past gluten free reviews and news about New Cascadia.

Restaurant Review: Pix Patisserie Redux

Yes yes we already reviewed Pix Patisserie a while back and gave it a rave review. It’s just that we’ve been back a few more times, taken more photos, gathered new relevant information, and also finally got to try their other gluten-free dessert, the Aphrodite.

Gluten Free Dessert place

First off, I went to the Pix Patisserie on N Williams with a friend of mine who is allergic to a long list of items that happen to be in a lot of desserts. He’s allergic to almonds, hazelnuts, apricots, apples, pears, peaches, plums, kiwi, cherries, soy protein, and most beans. By “allergic” I mean that he carries an Epi Pen around in case he goes into anaphylactic shock. It’s expired, but he still carries one. I felt lucky because I knew what I could eat there, but he needed to have a rather long discussion with our waitress, which involved going over to the case. The waitress was really cool and friendly, and knew what was in all the desserts. Eventually they were able to find something my friend could eat, which was a good thing for my friend.

Gluten Free Desserts at Pix Patisserie

This is what you call dessert pron at the Pix Patisserie on SE Division. The chocolate-colored dessert there on the far left is one of Pix’s gluten-free offerings, the Aphrodite.

Aphrodite at Pix Patisserie

The Aphrodite is a “drunken” cherry in chocolate mousse, with a layer of cherry mousse. The bottom is made of a chocolate flourless biscuit that has been soaked in moscato. All this is in a chocolate shell. If you like chocolate mousse and cherries, this is the dessert for you. I loved mine and would eat one again anytime anywhere, but I think that for my tastes, the Concord is better.

pix-macaron-dscn3480

They also have amazing Macarons at Pix Patisserie. These are gluten-free and really have to be tried to be believed. They are air-light, crunchy and chewy at the same time. The macarons at Pix are so good that they were featured in a Sunset Magazine article on macarons recently.

Pix Sugar Dish

Stir your coffee at Pix Patisserie

Some more things we love about Pix Patisserie:

  • The coffee.
  • Cool closing sugar dishes.
  • Tiny spoons to stir your coffee.
  • The Rosemary Mocha.

Yes you read that right. The Rosemary Mocha. When I asked our server if the Rosemary Mocha was good, she replied, “We wouldn’t serve it to you if we didn’t think it was good.” And it was.

We want to know: Have you been to Pix Patisserie? We love that Portland has awesome little places like Pix. Do you have any favorite items on their menu? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 4 (So we feel good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Pix Patisserie
www.pixpatisserie.com
3402 SE Division St, Portland, Oregon 97202 / 503.232.4407
3901 N. Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227 / 503.282.6539