August 31, 2010
Erin Floresca, Thymes Editor
I live near the Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge, so I don't make it to North Portland all that often, but when I do, I enjoy visiting Proper Eats, one of my favorite veg eateries in Portland. Each time I walk into Proper Eats, I feel like I've stepped into a 1950's hip jazz club, a quaint coffee shop, and an old-timey country store all rolled into one very pleasant establishment.
Proper Eats, located in the historic St. Johns business district, opened their doors for business in 2006 and has played an integral role in the North Portland community ever since. Owner James Hayes appreciates that deep connection. "I love the interactions with farmers and people in the community. Being able to order directly from a family farm and develop a working relationship with the producers of our food is very empowering," says Hayes. "Also, seeing customers time and time again and then meeting them in the neighborhood really makes me feel like I belong to something special. The continued support we get from so many people really makes it all worth it!"
Community support is what they get, and support is exactly what Proper Eats gives back. It shows from every angle of their business, even down to their very walls which are adorned with original artwork from local artists. Proper Eats also supports North Portland by providing high quality organic produce to the neighborhood. "In addition to that, we encourage people to try a meat-free diet," explains Hayes, "and by offering an (almost) entirely vegan menu, we fulfill a need for many vegetarian and vegan folks in the neighborhood as well as provide a nice resource for folks not familiar with vegan food but willing to try it out." The market features fresh, local produce, bulk items, juices, baked goods, eco-friendly cleaning products and beer. The cafť offers a tasty variety of vegetarian and vegan dining options. Arrive in the morning and you can delight in a cup of St. Johnís Roasters Coffee along with the heavenly Proper Breakfast Tempeh Scramble. Once lunchtime comes, you can lose yourself in the Raw Fajitas plate, or one of their many decadent wraps. At dinnertime, you might be privy to some live music as you sip on a tasty Syrah or Pinot Noir from a local winery.
Those of us who have partaken in the offerings at Proper Eats know that we are fed delectable meals, no matter what we order. But first-timers may get stuck deciding what to order because everything on the menu looks tantalizing. Why not just follow those who have come before you and order one of the more popular dishes like the Tempeh Reuben, NoPo Burrito or a Pesto and Veggie Wrap? "Although at night time, the Sesame Peanut Noodles, Tempeh Tacos and Cornmeal Tempeh Plate are also very well received," says Hayes. No matter what you order, youíre going to discover that the gang at Proper Eats have taken healthy veg dining to a whole new level of delicious!
Hayes loves what he does, and while he is pleased with how things have been going over the past four years, heís always seeking new ways to improve the offerings at Proper Eats. "I am very excited about our updated kitchen which helps us to get food out better and faster," he says. But he knows that what really makes the whole operation run is what lies at the heart of it allóhis remarkable staff. "I am also very grateful for all the really hard work my staff puts in to make sure Proper Eats stays running smoothly, and that I get time away to stay sane," explains a good-humored Hayes.
So, if you havenít been to Proper Eats yet, itís time to make a trip to St. Johnís and experience this vegelicious, community-centric establishment for yourself.
Proper Eats is open every day. Live Jazz Jam sessions are held on Thursday evenings from 7-10 p.m. along with other live music events on the weekends. Visit www.propereats.org for details about upcoming musical events, hours and a link to their blog.