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Today we cheated on Hawthorne Blvd and crossed the bridge to eat at an old favorite, Vegetarian House. One thing that I have noticed by eating at a bunch of new places is that most are not really that great for lunch. But rather than just complain that they aren’t, I figured I should explain exactly what I am looking for in a lunch spot.

1. Cheap. One of the things that is awesome about eating lunch out is lunch specials. The midday meal is often less expensive than eating out for dinner, or even breakfast, so ideally, the restaurants serving lunch should recognize that. To put a value on it, I want to pay less than $10 per person for everything (this is Portland!)

2. Fast. Obviously walk up and order type places are the best for grabbing a quick bite. Sit down restaurants are not out of the question, but we should be seated quickly, waited on quickly, and ideally have the bill dropped off before we finish eating.

3. Variety. An ideal lunch spot has different options. I love lunch buffets (such as Vegetarian House) for this very reason, and I am sorry to report Hawthorne is somewhat lacking in this department. The Indian buffet formerly on the corner of 39th moved to Belmont, and then stopped being a lunch buffet, and aside from that, I don’t know of any. If anyone has suggestions, please, let me know!

4. Quality. It should taste good. Obviously.

As you can see, I have simple needs. And sometimes I just want to go to the lunch buffet at Vegetarian House, the total package. Here’s the details.



22 NW 4th Ave

Vegetarian House on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: October 16, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Veggie Options: Um, it’s called Vegetarian House. The carnivore in me wishes they served meat, but you can enjoy looking at dead chickens hanging in the window of the place next door.

Speed: It’s a damn buffet so it’s up to you.

The selections on the buffet vary, but you can always expect spring rolls, mixed veggies, tempura veggies, low mein and friend rice. There are usually two more entrees (some are definitely better than others) and then a various soup of the day. My only real advice would be hit this earlier, rather than later, as the quality definitely deteriorates over time. It’s open for 11- 2:30 and costs $6.50 per person including tea.

So everyday around 11:45 I realize I am starving and that can only mean one thing, it’s time for lunch. I try really hard not to get into a rut or going to the same few places everyday, since Portland is a veritable restaurant wonderland and I often finding myself googling where I should go. Sometimes I will type in “awesome lunch specials” or “best Portland lunch” and usually it recommends places on the other side of the bridge, which I really have to want to try to go to. Anyway, I end up at new places often, and it’s always interesting to see the difference in the lunch menu. Sometimes its just a few less thing than dinner, sometimes less expensive (sometimes not.) And of course since I share my office with a damn tree hugger, vegetarian options are always a concern. So in addition to writing about extreme things, I’ve now added a lunch category to my blog and I will proceed to post my reviews of everywhere we try.

To get started I am going to make a short list of pre approved places, which is really for my own personal benifit (sometimes it’s just too hard to think or be creative so I can always just check back here.)  So my favorites are:

 Thai Thai. Wins not only because of it’s close proximity (right up the street on 14th and SE Stark) but for its soup and $6.50 lunch special. I like the spicy noodles. The tofu is a little bit dry though, I usually opt for chicken.

Indian Chaat House. Even though this one is on the other side of the bridge (12th and SW Yamhill) the lunch special is worth it. More food than you can eat in one sitting, changes every day, and it’s only $5.50. Now I always complain that it justed to be $4.25, but that’s still cheap. Oh yeah, and it’s completely Jared-approved.

Pepinos. This is probably my favorite mexican joint, on 39th and Hawthorne. You can get a burrito or tacos with chips for under $6, they serve beer for those rough days, and it’s pretty quick. Veggiewise they have a lot of unique options, and there is a salsa bar.

Vegetarian House. So I like meat, like really, a lot. But the lunch buffet at Vegetarian House again makes it worth the trip across the bridge (it’s on 5th and W Burnside.) This one is $6.50, but for all you can eat and includes tea. They also play weird Chinese TV, so you sort of feel like you are getting cultured.

 Mio Sushi. There are a bunch of these, but I usually go to the one on 42nd and Halsey. They have a pretty decent lunch special menue (ranges from $6-$9), though I often just splurge and get rolls. The crunch roll is pretty much the best thing ever and as it turns out, sushi isn’t that expensive if you don’t get booze.