Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gluten Free in Portland, Oregon

We spent Labor Day weekend in Portland, Oregon, one of the best cities in the United States for gluten free dining.  After our plane landed and we rented a car on Friday, we had dinner at Bang Bang Cocktails + Curry, a 100% gluten, dairy, and peanut free restaurant.

My husband and I both agree that the best thing we ate in Portland were the drunken wings with sweet soy, fried garlic, and fried shallots from Bang Bang.  We started with two order of wings, but ended up ordering a third before we left.  They were crispy, a little bit sweet, and overall, some of the best wings I have ever had.  If we lived in Portland, I could see us dining at Bang Bang several times a month because of the drunken wings.

I also enjoyed their spring rolls with crab, pork, noodles, and spicy cashew sauce.  I don't think I have had a fried spring roll since my celiac diagnosis, so I was super excited to try this dish, and it did not disappoint.  I especially loved the spicy cashew sauce, which had the perfect level of heat for me.

We also ordered Chinese broccoli with garlic, ginger, Thai chili and a soft egg.  I had totally forgotten that I am not a big fan of Chinese broccoli until I saw and tasted this dish, which was decent, but a little too bitter for my taste.

My daughters and I split two orders of the pineapple curry with fried chicken.

It was good, but I preferred the green curry with fried chicken, prawns, and herbs my husband ordered.

Bang Bang is only open for dinner, or we would have gone back for lunch on Labor Day before we flew back to California.

They have great happy hour specials if you like to dine early like we do at 5:00.

After dinner at Bang Bang, we headed to Back to Eden Bakery, a 100% gluten free and vegan ice cream and dessert shop.  Next door, they have a Cafe that serves brunch, lunch and dinner.

After reading a great review on the Find Me Gluten Free app, I decided to order a chocolate lavender shake, which I did not enjoy, because the taste of lavender was way too strong for my liking.

On our second visit before we flew home, I ordered a build your own sundae with vanilla soft serve, chocolate cookies, and maraschino cherries.  I love that the soft serve at Back to Eden is soy instead of coconut based, but they do have Coconut Bliss available in several flavors if you need to avoid soy.

I loved my sundae, and was impressed with the snickerdoodle cookie I bought the first night after I decided not to drink the rest of my milkshake.

Every morning while we were in Portland, I had a New Cascadia plain bagel with butter for breakfast.  Twice, we visited their bakery, and on Labor Day, we had one of their bagels at Kyra's Bake Shop.

My gluten-eating husband and I loved their vegan bagels, which are boiled, like any good bagel should be.  They are made with tapioca flour, millet flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum, yeast, salt, brown sugar, and white sugar.  They currently come in four varieties - plain, sesame seed, poppy seed, and everything. They are light, yet have the chew a boiled bagel should have.

I also liked the cinnamon roll we tried on our first visit, but my favorite sweet was their seasonal apple scone with cinnamon glaze, which I hope to recreate at home with my scone recipe.

We loved New Cascadia's bagels so much, I bought two bags on Sunday to bring home and freeze.

I have defrosted them and toasted them, and defrosted them and heated them in the oven.  Both ways, they are great, but with the oven method, they have to be very well heated to bring them back to the right consistency.  New Cascadia recently started shipping their bagels, which makes me happy, because they are the best bagels I have had since my celiac diagnosis.  You can order them from FoodyDirect here.

On Saturday, we had lunch at Thrive Sauce & Bowls.  Like Bang Bang, their menu is 100% gluten free, but they do serve beers with gluten.  Thrive is only open for lunch (11:00 to 4:30), and is closed Sundays and Mondays.

 I was excited to eat at Thrive, because they serve tempura battered prawns, which I have not eaten since my celiac diagnosis over nine years ago.

I loved the breading, and the sauce they were served with, which I also ate with the tempura battered avocado we ordered.

For an entree, my daughter Katie chose the poblano gnocchi special.  The gnocchi were interesting, but no one in our family liked them enough to order them on future visits.

My daughter Emma picked the Vietnamese sweet chile lemongrass noodle bowl with chicken, which she really enjoyed.

My husband ordered the Thai coconut yellow curry noodle bowl with greens, seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrot, scallion, peanuts, cilantro, and a soft egg.  For protein, he added grass fed steak.  Mitch highly recommends this dish if you ever have a chance to dine at Thrive.

I picked the Japanese rice bowl with brown rice, seasonal vegetables, teriyaki sauce, pickled vegetables, fried shallots, seaweed, and cilantro.  I added a soft egg and grass fed steak, which were my favorite parts of this dish.  I ordered my bowl without sesame seeds, and should have requested it without seaweed, because I did not enjoy the greens, which reminded me of Chinese broccoli.  The rice and the sauce were good, but I would have preferred more rice and fewer vegetables.

Kyra's Bake Shop, the only 4-time winner of Cupcake Wars, has been on my gluten free bucket list for a long time.

All of the baked goods at Kyra's are gluten free, My daughters and I ordered dairy free hot chocolate cupcakes with a toasted marshmallow meringue.  You would never know these cupcakes are gluten free, and I would have a hard time passing this flavor up on future visits.

My husband enjoyed one of Kyra's Food Network cupcakes, the cherry balsamic black pepper.

I also recommend the big pink cookies, which we bought to go.

On Labor Day, we had breakfast at Kyra's Bake Shop, which is open 7 days a week from 7 AM to 5 PM.

I rarely drink coffee, but I enjoyed my iced decaf mocha with some added simple syrup for a little more sweetness.

My husband and I shared a chai spice scone, a cinnamon roll, a cinnamon sugar donut, and a New Cascadia toasted bagel.

We both thought everything was good, and I had a hard time picking a favorite.

Because we had eaten so much for breakfast, we had a late lunch at the Hawthorne location of Corbett Fish House, a 100% gluten free restaurant with great reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app.

We started off with an order of their Monterey Bay calamari, which is sprinkled with Parmesan.  It was good, and I liked the addition of the cheese, which definitely added some flavor to the dish.

We also liked the deep fried cheese curds, though the curds on the bottom of the dish were swimming in grease, so we skipped eating the bottom layer.

I love fried foods, but too much of a good thing can be bad, especially when you have nothing to balance it with, and the fried foods lack seasoning.  Both of my daughters ordered chicken strips with sweet potato fries.  The breading on the chicken strips was tasteless, and desperately needed some salt.  The girls did enjoy their sweet potato fries, but I thought they were just ok.  If I am going to eat sweet potato fries, I want them to be extra crispy shoestring fries, or they are too soft for my taste.

My husband and I shared a basket of fried clams and beer-battered cod with garlic fries, which had so much garlic on them, they were almost inedible.  The clams and fish, like the chicken, were completely lacking in seasoning.  Keep in mind that I am a bit of a fried food snob after living in Orlando for eight years and dining at Raglan Road, Cookes of Dublin, and Trattoria al Forno at Disney World.  My husband loved every gluten free restaurant I dragged my family to except Corbett Fish House, and he grumbled about it for two days after we dined there.

After our lunch on Sunday, I stopped at Petunia's Pies & Pastries, a 100% gluten free and vegan bakery in downtown Portland for dessert.  I was in the mood for ice cream, but Petunia's soft serve is coconut based, so I decided to skip it.  I ended up choosing a berry crumble bar, which was decent, but not something I would order again.

While we were driving around the city, we spotted Fat Head's, one of our favorite restaurants from our hometown of Pittsburgh.  They have an extensive gluten free menu, and in Pittsburgh, they take all the right precautions to prevent cross contamination.  I would have loved to have dined there, but I was craving healthy food after Corbett Fish House.  You can read my Fat Head's review here.

On Labor Day, we planned on dining at Ground Breaker Gastropub, a 100% gluten free restaurant, but it is closed on Mondays.  Before we flew home, I had lunch at Prasad in downtown Portland.  All of their food is gluten free, but like so many restaurants in Portland, they serve beer with gluten.

I enjoyed a Lucy Blue smoothie with rice milk, blueberry, and banana while I waited for my meal.

The Utopian Dream Pasta with shredded green papaya, carrots, kale, and broccoli tossed in an almond butter Pad Thai sauce was really good, but it could have used a little bit more of the sauce.

I did order a peanut butter cookie, but I could taste a hint of coconut from the coconut oil it was made with, so my family was happy to eat it for me.

I do miss Orlando, but I am loving the travel adventures we are having on the west coast.  In Portland, we saw Cirque du Soliel's touring show KURIOS, which was the main reason we were there over Labor Day weekend.  It was an incredible show, and we loved visiting Pittock Mansion, the International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, Multnomah Falls, Trillium Lake, Timberline Lodge, Powell's City of Books, and Willamette Valley Vineyards.  Their Riesling is one of my favorite wines.

We had a great time in Portland, Oregon even though it was almost 100 degrees every day, and there was some smoke from several fires in the area.  Thankfully, the mornings were cool, so we were able to enjoy outdoor activities earlier in the day.

There were so many other 100% gluten free restaurants I wanted to try in the Portland area, like Verde Cocina (a favorite of local blogger Grateful Celiac), GF Chef, Pines Coffee, Cultured Caveman, Butterfly Belly, Pollo Norte, Kiwan Cafe Rio, Prasad's sister restaurant Harlow, Jouk Li Jou, and Liberated Baking.

A big thank you to Chrystal from Gluten-Free Palate for recommending restaurants and places for us to explore in Portland.  You can read her food reviews here.

What are your favorite restaurants for gluten free dining in Portland?


  1. Thanks soooo much for this post. I live near Eugene and so far I've made a few visits to Ground Breaker (SO great) and New Cascadia (now making deliveries locally- woohoo!). And Kyra's- I knew about her before finding this post. Oh my those cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate cupcakes. Tomorrow, we are heading to Portland to the zoo but (duh, duh, duhhhhhh... ) Ground Breaker won't be open. So I looked at Verde Cocina and they now have a cart AT THE ZOO. Problem solved! Thanks for all of your posts. You help me plan meals in Orlando, Anaheim and other places that my family can enjoy right along with me.
    Amy from Oregon

    1. 😊😊😊 You’re welcome! Some day I hope to try Ground Breaker Gastropub!