The Clearing Cafe

Times Visited:Many

Tucked above the NW 23rd shopping district, The Clearing Café is a welcome addition to its neighborhood. Just a few blocks north of Food Front Coop on NW Thurman between 27th & 28th, this café is owned by the same people as the adjoined Dragontree Spa, who obviously follow the mantra that Portland can’t have enough coffee shops.

It’s been open for less than 2 months and this café still has a clean, new vibe. With a focus on ‘organic’, the shop is much more vegan-friendly than you’d probably even expect. If you’re like me, you quickly hope the label ‘organic’ has to do with the veg*n food scene, and in this case it certainly does. Not only is the food menu packed with organic vegetables but there’s a full juice and smoothie menu that features wheat grass shots and some vegan-friendly supplements. They use Ristretto Roasters beans, and all non-espresso coffee is made by press pot. You heard that right – they don’t serve Stumptown. Latte art is often practiced and who doesn’t enjoy that? Their teas are from Tao of Tea, another high quality, local-based favorite. Quite a few of their baked goods are vegan, and come from Crema; they offer soy and almond milk for drinks (50 and 65 cents extra, respectively), and two vegan paninis. The staff is vegan-friendly, too, and willing to turn that formerly chevre-stuffed panini into a vegan one. The made-from-scratch soup of the day is often vegan, and nearly always vegetarian and will be labeled as such on the menu board. Embracing seasonal produce, the soup is often vegan, and always vegetarian.
On one of my recent visits, I ordered a hybrid of the vegan Constantine and the (not vegan) Lincoln paninis. The employee was happy to tell me if their tapenade and pesto were vegan (yes! although pesto was out this day) The paninis are freshly grilled, or panin-ered if you will, to order, and served on local artisan breads. My sandwich was on a perfectly chewy and crusty ciabatta roll with kalamata olives, balsamic vinaigrette, dijon mustard, spinach, tomato, walnuts and pear. Each bite had just enough tear to it, and such a pleasant, almost fancy flavor. The Constantine panini ($6.50) typically comes with onions, tapanade, tomatoes and spinach. There is also a warm and gooey Bambino Panino ($3.75) with peanut butter and jelly that is vegan by default. I hope that if this shop gets enough vegan support and feedback, they’ll start stocking a vegan condiment or two as well. Just imagine vegan mayo or cream cheese on the Constantine!

The best dessert is the banana chocolate chip bundt cake.   A slice of that and my delicious, almost decadent almond flavored soy latte in this quiet, cozy and local-art filled cafe are enough to make me want to return, and I live across town. Hopefully their vegan sandwich options will one day match their range of desserts and juices, and I’ll have more of a reason to.

Vegan Panini and Soy Latte
November 008

Almond Soy Latte
November 004

Rating: 3 out of 5
Address: 2772 NW Thurman St Portland, OR 97210
HOURS: 6am-7pm Mon – Fri, 7am-6pm Sat, 7am-5pm Sun

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5 responses to “The Clearing Cafe

  1. I have been wanting to stop by every since we met at Beautiful Pizza! I am so happy that something veg friendly has cropped up in the neighborhood b/c NW sorely needed it. Do they have outdoor seating? This would be a great destination for me when walking my dog on the non-rainy days.

  2. Hi Christine – Fixed! Thanks : )

    Megan – It’s really a cute place, I hope you get to check it out – no outdoor seating though, at least not this time of year. There is a really comfy couch inside, however.

  3. Hi there! I am so excited to find this website! Our 3 1/2 daughter is severely allergic to dairy and so we are hyper aware and hyper sensitive to how much dairy is out in the world. Also, a lot of people don’t seem to “get” it, or they are somehow offended by her physical need to not have dairy, but that’s another comment! She is also allergic to wheat, which is a bummer. I am excited to see so many restaurants where we could take her. At this time, she is a meat eater, but she may change her mind in the future.
    Here’s my main question. When you are ordering a latte from a place that also serves dairy lattes, are you ever concerned about the dairy residue possibly remaining on the steaming unit? After ordering steamed soy for her, we’ve noticed her complain about her stomach and fear she is having a reaction. What do you tell coffee shops? How do you deal with this when you are ordering?
    Thanks so much! I’ll be back to visit often.

  4. Hi Sara,

    Any good barista should be wiping down the steam wand after using it, and it is then steam cleaned. As for the pitchers, although at chain/corporate shops your odds may not be as high, but local, independent shops are very high quality and often have specific pitchers for soy, that are very well cleaned.
    Personally, I’ve only noticed the nozzle not cleaned when going to a corporate coffeeshop, outside of Portland.
    If you notice cleaning not happening where you are going, I would recommend bringing the lactose intolerance to the shop’s attention.

    Hope it helps!

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