Vegan eats around campus


1924 S.W. Broadway

(Second floor)


Lunch Specials (from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) $6 and up

Dinner $8-$13

Beer and Wine? Yes.

Desserts? You bet!

To go or for here.

So, check it out. There’s this place on campus where you can go eat the food you love without contributing to the death of happy little animals. Well, there may be a few places on campus where you can do this, but only one where you can save the lives of livestock, improve the state of the earth and spoil yourself on the cheap at the same time.

I’m talking about the fabulous vegan lunch special at Baan-Thai Restaurant. I’m talking about the service. I’m talking about the atmosphere. I’m talking about the prices. Most important of all, I’m talking about the food. In fact, the food there may be the only thing that has kept me over the 100 pound mark over the last year.

These lunch specials hover around the $6 range, which suits me just fine. That’s just expensive enough to allow me to feel that I’m really taking myself out. The problem with this, if there is one, is that I keep finding reasons why I deserve to take myself out.

Sometimes I believe that the quiz I’ve just finished has drained so much energy from my soul that only the green curry special with eggplant, grilled zucchini, bell pepper, coconut milk and basil will ensure my survival. On other days it seems all too clear that any research I have to do will be an absolute failure unless preceded by the mighty “Thai Jungle” lunch special, which features that vegan standby, steamed tofu and veggies, topped with a rich peanut sauce.

The attentive and classy demeanor of the service at Baan-Thai induces the necessity of tipping well. Even this extra expense, however, can make itself fit in with the traditionally thin academic budget. The portions, you see, weigh in somewhere just under two complete meals.

You get, in the end, two complete vegan delicious meals for $6 with a $2 tip. That comes to roughly how much per meal?

Um, before figuring out such an intense math problem, I think I need to fortify my little gray cells with the pineapple curry, which includes green peas and lemon leaves in a red curry sauce.

I feel I should pass on a little word to the uptight. I know from a half-decade spent waiting tables on Hawthorne Boulevard that the moniker “vegan” means different things to different people. I can’t personally vouch, for instance, that every vegetarian ingredient used in these curries is free from animal-derived preservatives. Nor would I stake my student-loan debt, double or nothing, that the soap with which the silverware is cleaned lacks the slightest trace of whatever animal-derived thing it is that keeps the most hardcore of vegans from using most industrial cleansers. (Insert your own dirty hippie joke here, if you must.)

I can say, however, that every time I go in there, I get a great feeling from everybody working there, as well as the food they serve. I have no doubt the good people at Baan-Thai would answer honestly and helpfully any questions you might put to them. In the words of Joanne Stepaniak, author of “Vegan Vittles,” “Vegans are, at times, inevitably forced to choose between the minutia of ethical consistency and a realistic approach.”

Fortunately, thanks to Baan-Thai, those of us who seek to do right by our bodies and fellow living things don’t have to choose between our ideals, our taste buds and our pocketbooks. Ranging from mild to extra hot, Baan-Thai’s vegan dishes present us with the very best in all three. In short: Thank you Baan-Thai!

Baan-Thai also won “Best place to take your mother to dinner.”

Vegan runner-up

Abu Rasheed Lebanese

1921 S.W. Sixth Avenue


During my flirtations with veganism, I’ve often found, to my dismay, that the vegan versions of restaurant dishes amount to little more than bell peppers and iceberg lettuce. It was a great pleasure, therefore, when Abu Rasheed opened up in the old fruit-smoothie-serving Dungeons & Dragons lair.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Dungeons & Dragons. I consider myself a better person for having spent time as a second-level magic user with a “chaotic good” orientation. I’ve read and enjoyed “Lord of the Rings.” Sadly, none of this gets the job done on my belly the way some home-style falafel and hummus does.

The Abu Rasheed brand of Lebanese cuisine hits me like soul food. From the super-garlic hummus on up, these folks have assembled a menu destined to do right by stingy and finicky diners like myself. Those who find themselves spending 10-hour days on campus, but can’t bring themselves to pay for more than one restaurant meal a day, can find day-long satisfaction from one of Abu Rasheed’s reasonably priced lunches.

Abu Rasheed’s clientele reflects the crazy quilt of diversity that remains Portland State’s greatest asset. The restaurant seems to draw people from all over the neighborhood. During peak hours, I find myself distracted from my daily sports-page reading by the broad range of conversations surrounding me. Only one segment of the population strikes me as being underrepresented there. So, does anyone want to meet me there next week over some of that extra-dark coffee to play a little Magic: the Gathering? Baba Ganoush for the winner!