In tenth grade I got my drivers license and began spending most of my free time in Portland, shopping for CDs and frequenting the $4.98 vegan buffet at Little Lad's. So how did I overlook Silly's? I'd never heard of this vegan-friendly East End institution until I moved north, two hours away from the falafel, pizza, and desserts I might have devoured as a teenager.
Though the restaurant serves meat and dairy, Silly's makes vegans and vegetarians feel welcome. The thoughtful, creative vegan menu got my mouth watering, so while we ran errands in Portland last weekend we made sure to stop in for lunch.
The shaded, kitschy backyard garden was busy on a Saturday afternoon. Our table offered a prime view of flowers growing in a polka-dotted bathtub. A family of sparrows arguing in a nearby tree drowned out most of the nostalgic 80s music.
I ordered the Zoomazoom wrap, which featured falafel fried to crispy perfection inside an enormous white flour tortilla (brown rice tortillas are also available). Thanks to plenty of raw spinach, lettuce, tomato, onion and olives, this falafel wrap felt a little healthier than most. The creamy, mildly spicy sauce was a change of pace from rich tahini dressing.
We shared the Peppakalaspinavegandocious, a colorful pizza with a puffy, filling crust. (Our server repeated the order back to us with obvious joy--he'd been practicing that one.) A creamy basil sauce that tasted like it was made with white beans was hidden beneath spinach, roasted red peppers, kalamatas, garlic and fresh tomatoes. I'd probably skip the sauce next time, because it made the center of the crust soggy, and the garlic and olives drowned out its mild flavor. For a few bucks, you can add Vegan Gourmet mozzarella to any pizza, but with all those vegetables, this one didn't need it.
The best and most surprising part of my meal was a thick, heavenly nutmeg milkshake made with Soy Dream and Organic Edensoy. I'm usually put off by the strangely sweet, beany flavor of soy dairy products, but in this shake I couldn't detect anything weird behind the nutmeg. Silly's has a shake to suit any palate, from classics like coffee and strawberry to the more adventurous cranberry sauce, molasses, curry, and tahini. The chai flavor is next on my list, along with a slice of dark chocolate vegan cake to go.
While vegans can't eat everything on the menu, Silly's has more than enough to keep us entertained and well-fed. Silly's earns a triumphant four on the chickpea scale!