Many thanks to Holiday for hosting this meal. As always, all opinions are my own.
Portland is the perfect place to be vegan, vegetarian, or vegetable focused as there are so many veg-friendly spots in town. One of the latest additions is Holiday cafe on Division Street, and this one has a great story behind it. This charming, plant-adorned space wasn’t always a veggie retreat. Nope, for a long time it was home to Roman Candle Baking, where Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson baked up artisan breads, pastries, and wood-fired pizza. Earlier this year, it quietly transformed into a vegetable centric cafe before they officially rebranded as Holiday in May. Why? Because Duane Sorenson is now vegan!
Earlier in the summer, I had the pleasure of meeting owner Duane and his sister-in-law Heidi Lieberman who manages the day-to-day at Holiday cafe. Between sips of Tiger Grass juice, Duane, who happened to be wearing a tiger t-shirt at the time, chatted excitedly about the launch of Holiday and how great he feels to be vegan. Welcome to Vegan Club, Duane! Of course, there are always naysayers when a restaurant embarks on such a dramatic change, but now that the dust has settled, Holiday cafe is now a go to spot for fresh, healthy eats and sips.
I was recently back at Holiday to taste the latest iteration of Chef Ryan Kennedy’s menu. Holiday cafe is 100% gluten free and vegetarian, mostly vegan with the exception of eggs that can be added on to several dishes. (I know many vegans are hoping that gets phased out. *fingers crossed*) We tasted a little of every section on the menu: plates, salads, bowls, toasts, and pastries. The menu is constantly evolving, but based on what I’ve experienced so far, everything at Holiday is beautiful and delicious with a heavy emphasis on the ingredients. There’s nothing better than food that looks good, tastes good, and is good for the body. It doesn’t hurt that Holiday cafe reminds me of Nix, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC.
Fully loaded toasts are so in these days. At Holiday cafe, you can opt for the classic avocado toast with seasonal shaved veggies or the foraged mushroom toast with caramelized onion and thyme. I’m a ‘shroom lover, and I’ll be getting an order of the latter all for myself on my next visit. Chef Ryan Kennedy does mushrooms so well, and funnily enough, he was wearing a mushroom print shirt during the tasting.
As much as I love to show that vegans don’t just eat salads, sometimes, I’m really do enjoy a good salad. Featured here is the asparagus salad with baby gem lettuce, carrots, and espelette vinaigrette. I enjoy the crunch of snap peas, but I’ve never had them as the star of the show. On the right is the snap pea salad with carrots, radish, ginger, chickpeas, and miso vinaigrette.
If you’re hungry, I recommend going for one of Holiday cafe’s bowls. The buddha bowl features locally-made pea tempeh, kale, sprouted rice, cucumber, basil, cashew cream, and pistachio. The zen bowl combines sprouted rice, dal, cauliflower, pickles, and chermoula. Both enjoyable and filling with different flavor profiles.
One of my favorites on the menu was the kimchi crepe with cabbage, carrot, scallions, and mushrooms tucked in there. That’s another dish I’ll be ordering next time I’m at Holiday. The kelp noodles make the perfect noodle bowl for a hot summer day. They’ve got a fun crunch and with tomato, cucumber, pine nuts, avocado pesto, and chili, it’s refreshing and satisfying.
At Holiday cafe, they’ve got plenty of beverages from Stumptown Coffee to locally brewed kombucha, but the raw cold-pressed juices are the way to go. The initial juice lineup includes Tiger Grass (get your greens in!), Bunny Love, Strawberry Lemonade, and Root Punch. Everytime I peek at their Insta, I seen a new juice so I’m sure there’s something for every juice drinker.
For those with a little bit of a sweet tooth, Holiday cafe offers quite the selection of vegan and gluten-free baked goods, including scones, muffins, brownies, cookies, and shortbread. They’re sweet, but not too sweet. I’ve never been a fan of shortbread, but the shortbread they’re serving at Holiday is fantastic. I especially love the hint of lime in there. And if you like dessert for breakfast, you’ll enjoy one of Holiday’s raw vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free cheesecakes. Of course, you gotta snap a photo first because aren’t they so lovely?
Note: This post is in collaboration with Holiday. I was invited as a guest to this establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review and all opinions expressed here are my own.