4428 Indianola Ave.
Columbus, OH 43214
Probably Columbus’ first prominent restaurant that catered specifically to vegan diners, Portia’s Cafe has a bit more competition these days, but it keeps a leg up for the creativity it brings to the table. Just about everything on the menu is gluten and dairy-free, and the restaurant remains popular for those reasons. At a time when more people are interested in eating healthy, it seems many are frustrated by the same boring use of ingredients over and over. It takes a creative eye to really come up with something different. Portia’s, for its part, delivers on this.
The menu uses lots of vegetables in unexpected ways, to sub in for certain ingredients. Some things to try:
- Pad Thai: Using gluten free noodles, this dish instead has a special pad Thai sauce that includes coconuts blended with ground raw almonds and miso. Has the same savory feel of pad Thai.
- Burrito Bowl: Pretty close to the real thing! But that’s easy to do. This one features black beans, brown rice, guacamole, lettuce, onion, salsa and vegan sour cream and cheese substitutes.
- Falafel Wrap: An in-house herbal falafel forms the core of this dish. It includes raw pickle, tomato, onion, lettuce, and raw tahini sauce add a lot to this one, and it’s best as a lettuce wrap.
- Hummus: A nice spicy mix of chickpeas, sesame seeds, lemon and sea salt. Best with some carrots and celery.
- House Salad: Mixed greens & in-season veggies. Lots of alfalfa sprouts in this one.
- Garden of Eden Salad: More elaborate. Mixed greens and veggies, onion, a mix of seeds, nuts and raisins all topped with clover sprouts. A nuttier, heavier, more herbal salad.
- Cheezecake: A signature dish! The cake itself is cashews, lemon, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla, with a luscious soft texture. The crust is made of dates and nuts.
The restaurant makes each dish to order, and given its relatively small size, things can sometimes get a bit more crowded on the weekends. There isn’t too much of a problem with that, though, as long as you know in advance. I found everyone there to be very nice and even with a line people were accommodating and patient. It should go without saying, but they’re understanding to further dietary restrictions.
Porita’s cranks the creativity up to an 11, and that’s great to see; because good vegetarian food isn’t about just imitating or trying to make the same kinds of dishes with substitutes. This place is about taking good ingredients and making them into their own kind of cuisine. Creative, interesting and exciting.
It doesn’t lend itself to be found in north Clintonville, but Portia’s has an excellent menu and a niche. Columbus needs this kind of restaurant, which works to turn vegan cooking into its own, unique, genre of food. Give it a try!
- Specifically good for people looking for vegan food. There aren’t many similar restaurants in town, so this one will comparatively be a heaven for a vegan diner.
- Great for gluten allergies, most of the dishes here can accommodate that.
- The desserts are a must!