With Starbucks opening juice bars and Food & Wine devoting big glossy magazine spreads to proclaiming the best spots in the country to sip murky fresh-squeezed elixirs, plant-based tonics have never been so chic. Enter Canteen, the newest and least mobile addition to the beloved Sip Juice Cart family.
Whether or not heaven has kombucha on tap, I cannot say, but they definitely have Canteen’s “shots” beyond the Pearly Gates, because Red Bull has it all wrong, nothing gives you wings like a straight shooter of raw ginger or E3Live.
Fans of Canteen creator Brian Heck’s darling snub-nosed Sip juicemobiles, strategically placed to alkalize both the happy hippy crowd pouring in and out of People’s Co-op and the biscuits and gravy guzzling sinners skulking out of Pine State on Alberta Street, now have a cinder block ‘n mortar gathering place at which to order a Maca & Friends smoothie, pull up a chair, plunk down their 15-inch MacBook Pro, and rest their weary Toms-clad feet.
Just stepping inside the airy little Stark Street café makes you feel like a better person—the crisp scent of freshly pulverized greenery fills your lungs with dis-ease fighting chlorophyll molecules*, pitchers of ice water infused with lemon and cucumber slices refresh your plain tap water-tortured intestines, and the curved white marble bar supports glowing baskets of shiny produce even more beautiful than a Pottery Barn fakey.
The interior design scheme is light, bright and lovely, with clean lines (not counting the zany-walled bathroom), pale grey concrete floors, and a smattering of small round tables parallel to a cacti-lined window bar that affords you an excellent vantage point from which to lord your dietary superiority over the heathen meat, dairy and gluten-eaters spilling out of Bonfire and Baby Doll Pizza across the street. You know, if you’re into lording.
With the exception of the blond wood benches and hanging frames displaying jars of raw apple cider vinegar, sacks of brown basmati rice, and neat rows of coconut water, most everything in the cafe is white, so if you’ve been a very good vegan who has just sustained a sharp blow to the head before stepping inside, you could certainly be forgiven for believing for a split second that you’ve gone to heaven. Whether or not heaven has kombucha on tap, I cannot say, but they definitely have Canteen’s “shots” beyond the Pearly Gates, because Red Bull has it all wrong, nothing gives you wings like a straight shooter of raw ginger or E3Live.
Besides the shots, on the liquid side of things, choose between five vegetable-packed juices, everything from the affable pineapple-sweetened Summer Breeze to the garlic-kissed, beet juice-stained Super Veggie, which will make your liver stand on end and sing Hallelujah, or, if your more viscously inclined, get a smoothie—the Ginger-Berry’s zingy combo of antioxidant-blessed blueberries, strawberries, and fresh ginger will hook you on healthy.
Eats are simple and well-prepared—choose from the quinoa, kale and maple tempeh-based Portland Bowl, kimchi and red curry peanut sauce-topped Bangkok Bowl, or the Southern Bowl—a blend of brown rice, Soy Curls, collard greens and black eyed peas. There are three salads—the quinoa confetti with crisp apple, raisins, cashews and fresh mint is quite tasty, and for dessert, go crazy with the raw cheesecake or Pixie Retreat’s raw chocolate nutty buddy.
Whether you take up residence at the window bar or at one of the many surrounding outdoor tables (including several on the sturdily covered side patio for iffy weather), you’ll be sipping and soycurling your way to nutrition nirvana with some of the coolest kids in town—the attractive, stylish crowd makes for great people watching, with high hipster fashion ensembles and easily-eavesdropped on conversations about poetry nights, aerial classes, and falafel, and the accommodating staff is unwaveringly friendly, all of which makes Canteen an optimal spot to revitalize the soul while getting your recommended daily allowance of goji berries and flax oil.
**Not scientifically-proven, but I believe.
Owner: Brian Heck
Atmosphere: Casual, laid back vibe, cool kids hangout without the pretense.
Outdoor seating: Yes, there are numerous sidewalk tables and covered patio tables
Best Seat: One of the small round marble tables with a good view of the awe-inspiring super juicer
Noise Level: Quiet-moderate
Dress Code: Hipster casual
Bring the Kids: If they are into green smoothies and raw taco salads
Bathrooms: One, in the back of the restaurant, which contains a very funky black and white mural melange worth taking a look at.
Parking: Street parking is free and can be difficult to find in the immediate vicinity, during busy times expect to park a few blocks away
Teetotalers: Kombucha on tap, coconut water, Fentimans
Ideal Meal: Large Verde juice, Portland Bowl, Quinoa Confetti, Ginger-Berry smoothie, raw peanut butte chocolate chip cheesecake
Vegetarian Friendly: Certainly
Vegan Friendly: Definitely
Gluten Free: Yes
Good for the following occasions: Light Meal With Friends, Sipping on E3Live 'n Juice, Green Juice Recharge