This week O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, or OSCON, is happening in town. There will be a few parties and events around town, but most of the action takes place at the Oregon Convention Center (OCC). I was lucky enough to win a ticket to all of the sessions from the Linux Fund and will be attending events most of the week. It is a great chance to talk to several companies about jobs as well as connect with other Open Source professionals.
I'm really excited, except for one thing... The OCC and the neighborhood around it is pretty lame as far as vegan options and good coffee go. In general the mediocre coffee issue and lack of interesting food options pretty much affects everyone, just for vegans it is somewhat of a hassle. The OCC itself is a pretty nice place to be, but the food/beverage issue requires some planning.
I did contact O'Reilly and asked abut vegan options. They said that there would be buffet lunches and I should be able to get something. This kind of response always leaves me personally a little dubious since food often isn't labeled clearly and/or it means some hummus and pita. It also can quite often mean an assortment of raw veggies. All of those things aren't bad, but sometimes I find I'm still hungry!
My awareness of this really played into what suggestions I made for the catering for Open Source Bridge. Yes, we had hummus & pita, but as part of a really nice mezza plate clearly marked as vegan. We also were sure to offer soy milk as an alternative to dairy milk as well as vegan cookies and doughnuts.
Anyway, back to this week and being a vegan at a big conference in the OCC. I can say that closer to Lloyd Center (a mall) there is a Chipotle, which is a vegan option if you stick with the black beans (the pintos are cooked in beef stock). A little further away on NE 15th is Blossoming Lotus which features a fantastic all vegan menu with many raw options.
Another option to finding something beyond the conference buffet is to take MAX across the river into downtown (free from the OCC) and check out a food cart. Since we get 90 minutes for the lunch break, this option is possible and is a lot of fun. If you walk 2 blocks west up Stark from the First & Oak stop there are 3 food carts with very tasty vegan options: Just Thai (will be closed this Monday & Tuesday - they offer a vegan Thai Iced Tea made with coconut milk - yum!), DC Vegetarian, and Sonny Bowl. There are also food carts ("pods") at SW 5th & Stark and SW 10th & Alder. Many of the food carts in Portland have vegan options and offer excellent food.
That said, check out Stumptown Vegans for reviews of mostly all local places. They have a map on the site with restaurants indicated, including those food carts I mentioned, and it is a great resource for vegans in PDX. Also, just in time for OSCON, The Portland Vegan 100 a great list compiled for Try Vegan Week that mentions many, many tasty restaurants and dishes around town.
Really though, Christie and I are actually planning to bring a lot of food. We find that eating out all week tends to leave us feeling a little blah, so having food along really helps. This means that a recipe for my raw kale and garbanzo salad with pesto is forthcoming! We're also making up some tofu salad and my garbanzo & nori salad (mock tuna-ish). I may even write down what I did for those and post recipes too!