Times Visited: Many
Chaos Cafe is a fresh, welcome face to Portland’s veg restaurant and coffeeshop scene, especially for SE Powell. The cafe embraces local arts – from its mission statement on the menu, the names of food choices, events, the mural outside, to the decor and scrapbook-style menu itself.
Now that Red & Black Cafe has shut it’s doors in my SE neighborhood, I’ve felt ‘okay’ to become a regular. It already had its own vibe on my first visit, and that was still present on my subsequent ones. You walk in, check out the sweet coffee bar, and find a colorful table, corner or booth to sit in. I’ve been on a Thursday evening, with diners slowly showing up for open mic sign up later on and for their first Sunday brunch, which added specials, mimosas and french toast with a vegan option to the regular menu. I know I won’t be able to fully describe what a lovely and fulfilling, delicious experiences I’ve had there, but I’ll try.
The waitress I’ve had recently is incredibly friendly, and vegan, to boot. While there are eggs and cheese throughout the menu, vegans have many set and veganizable options with tofu and tempeh sandwiches, scrambles, veggie bowls, soups, specials and desserts. My favorite dish so far has been The Long Ranger, a dinner item that is available after 5pm. It’s not often that I don’t gripe about paying $9.50 for a meal, let alone at a cafe, but I still won’t. This plate was lip smacking good, from the crispy, seasoned tempeh, to the spicy Creole sauce, the fluffy quinoa, to the tangy greens and thin carrots sticks, I was enjoying every bite. If anything, I would have appreciated more sauce to mix with the quinoa, but there was just enough for me to be content. There is also Bragg’s and Secret Aardvark hot sauce on every table, so spice and salt at will. I only wish the bowls on the menu could come with this sauce! Or that they sold it, bottled. Alas, it’ll bring me back again.
The Nutty Bean burger ($7.50) is a housemade patty in a pretty pink color with the flavor of herbs, earthy nuts and a bit of sweetness and comes on a bun with a side salad. But enough with that, back to the tempeh! Definitely one of the tastiest tempeh meals I’ve had in Portland. The tofu scramble ($6) is a wholesome, cubed tofu style stir-fry with veggies, a side of toast and fresh fruit. It is lightly spiced and flavored, and a great light take on a standard breakfast. I also had a small Red Zinger juice ($2.50) that paired well with my scramble – a fresh blend of organic beets, apples, ginger and garlic.
Oh, young veg*ns across the street at Grover Cleveland high at SE 26th & Powell – you are LUCKY! Ignore the Burgerville across the street (even if they do have a vegan burger) and hang out here! (quietly, please) Chaos Cafe offers a casual and comfortable dining experience that’s like Proper Eats meets Paradox. It is such an adorable, vegetarian cafe, and makes me so happy to be in. I’ve never had to wait for a table, but I would.
They have open mic night on Thursdays in an attached space, and live bands and dancing on Friday and Saturday. Now open for Sunday brunch from 9am-2pm, and you’ll see me there again soon.
Rating: 3.75 out ot 5
Address: 2620 SE Powell Blvd. Portland, OR
Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 9am-2pm