There are many places you can go as a vegan where you think you have choice. But I don’t think I knew what choice was until I arrived in Portland. Just within the small neighborhood of Belmont where we were staying there were several vegan places to eat. Even at the non-vegan places it seems that vegan items on the menu were all but guaranteed.
But despite having all this choice, there was one place that was so good we went back twice during our short stay.
Sweet Hereafter doesn’t look any different to any other bar from the outside, and even from the inside, this could be any regular bar with a fairly standard dark wooden interior; semi-outdoor and outdoor seating toward the back for enjoying a warm evening.
The word vegan isn’t prominent anywhere on it’s signage or branding. You’d walk in expecting usual pub fare and maybe a few vegan options (because you’re in Portland). But open the menu and you’ll have to double take. Everything here is 100% plant-based.
The menu has a decent mix of easy pub fare like a Mac n Cheese (the best Mac n Cheese ever; more on that soon) and Meatball and Buffalo subs as well as a few more unique items like a tofu Bahn Mi and Jerk tofu bowl.
We quickly found our favourites and then ordered the same thing on both visits. The buffalo sub was layered with delicious strips of marinated seitan beef, salads and ranch dressing. The taste was mind blowing and the texture of the vegan meats was on point. This incredibly satisfying sub came with a side of corn chips and salsa and keeping with what we’ve noticed so far in the US; the portion size was huge (and excellent value).
The real star of the show was the Mac N Cheese – easily the best we have ever had (so far). The flavour seems to have been incredibly carefully crafted, delicately balancing the nutritional yeast, paprika and beer (yes, that’s right, beer) in what seemed to be a potato – cashew based cheese sauce. The dish was sprinkled liberally with a nut parm and gently baked. Again, the portion was huge, and is served in the baking dish.
The bahn mi was what you’d expect, but with a bit of extra spice than other bahn mi we’ve had. And again, America we need to talk about your serving sizes, because this was at least twice the size of most bahn mis we’ve come across (the entire sub, rather than half a sub).
The staff and other customers here were friendly (like pretty much everyone in Portland) and happy to engage in conversation. While discussing the Mac n Cheese the server wanted to reinforce that the whole thing was plant-based – of course, that’s why we were there.
Sweet Hearafter is the kind of place every adult vegan wants to have in their city; great food, a few beverages, and a warm social environment. This is a must-visit in PDX.