Enjoying Portland, OR with Gluten Free Kids {Travel Tips}

Portland-Oregon-Community-Map

Photo credit: peterbjornandjohn.com

We travel and move frequently for my husband’s job (he’s a special effects artist on movies) and one of the places we lived was in Portland, Oregon while he worked on the film, The Boxtrolls.  Because we are both gluten-intolerant, we are raising our girls on a gluten free diet as well.  So when we moved to Portland, I immediately scoped out as many of the family-friendly gluten free restaurants in town that I could.  PDX is known for its meat and beer, but there is also a fantastic health consciousness about the city, so we found no shortage of gluten free and veg food options.  Here are the restaurants we enjoyed the most.

Enjoying Portland, OR with Gluten Free Kids {Travel Tips}

Enjoying Portland, OR with Gluten Free Kids {Travel Tips}
BREAKFAST

You can get eggs and hash browns anywhere, but finding good gluten free pancakes can be tricky.  The Original Pancake House has locations across the US, many of which have gluten free pancakes on the menu.  But the mother ship, the ORIGINAL Original Pancake House is in Portland (pictured above) and you must go when visiting the city.  The restaurant looks like your grandma’s house and feels like it when you sit down inside.  It’s fantastically homey with wood paneled walls and coloring books for the kids.  It’s popular and also only takes cash, so be prepared for a wait and be sure to bring US currency with you, or you’ll have use the ATM at the gas station next door.

If you have grade-school kids (this is NOT recommended for young children, especially grabby toddlers) and want to have fun making your own pancakes on a Benihana-style table griddle, then go to Slappy Cakes.  They offer a gluten free/vegan pancake batter option.

The Original Pancake House
8601 S.W 24th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97219
503-246-9007
originalpancakehouse.com

Slappy Cakes
4246 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97215
slappycakes.com/locations/portland

Enjoying Portland, OR with Gluten Free Kids {Travel Tips}
LUNCH

For a modern, healthy lunch of salads, soups or rice bowls while shopping in the Bridgeport Village area of Southwest PDX, stop in at Native Foods Cafe.  I’m pretty committed to my Chipotle rice bowls, but the one I had at Native Foods knocked it out with its wider variety of fresh ingredients and more complex flavor combinations.

For a funky Portland hippy experience, I recommend Papa G‘s on the southeast side of town (our meal pictured above).  There is no shortage of flannel and tempeh in this place.  While the food takes a little time to prepare and the logistics of how you retrieve your food, etc is a little gray, it’s a funky spot that gives you a good taste of what makes Portland so unique.

If you need lunch on the run, try Burgerville.  They have several locations around Portland, some with drive-thru service.  They offer a substantial list of gluten free items.  Our family favorite is the spicy bean burger on the Udi’s gluten free bun.  The company sources local produce and is big on sustainability.

Enjoying Portland, OR with Gluten Free Kids {Travel Tips}
Most pizza joints in Portland offers a gluten free crust (Xtreme, Bellagios, Dominos, etc).  But for a fabulously fresh-baked thin crust, you MUST try the pizzas at New Cascadia Traditions.  New Cascadia is a full bakery that bakes loaves of bread for the local grocery stores and bakes yummy sweet treats.  Everything is gluten free and many of the items are also vegan.  Their odd location on SE 6th Ave takes you into a very industrial area of the city, but parking is easy and the food is totally worth it.

Native Foods Cafe
7237 Bridgeport Road
Portland, OR 97225
www.nativefoods.com

Papa G’s
2314 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
papagees.com

Burgerville
MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
burgerville.com

New Cascadia Traditions
1700 SE 6th Avenue at SE Market
Portland, OR 97214
www.newcascadiatraditional.com

portland-italian-restaurant

Photo credit: Trip Advisor

 

DINNER

If you haven’t been to any of the many The Old Spaghetti Factory locations around the US, it’s worth going once.  The food tastes processed and not very fresh, but the experience is memorable for little kids.  The restaurant offers gluten free pasta options and the decor is always a hoot (with a large train car in the middle of the dining room).

For a step up in Italian dining that is still family-friendly, try Pastini Pastaria in Bridgeport Village (in the same plaza as Native Foods Cafe).  The gluten free pasta options taste fresh and sophisticated (they do delicious things with grilled asparagus) and Pastini has GLUTEN FREE TIRAMISU.  Yes.  I don’t eat dairy often (okay, pretty much never at this point), but I did make an exception for the gluten free tiramisu and it was kinda worth it.

For a mega fun experience for kids, go check out the McMenamins Kennedy School.  It’s a wild facility containing a couch-filled movie theater, bar and restaurant.  Movie tickets are cheap and the restaurant offers gluten-free sandwich buns and pizza.  McMenamins is a goliath restaurant company with dozens of locations around Oregon and Washington, each uniquely themed.  If you can’t get into the Kennedy Theater, do try any one of their other locations because most, if not all, offer gluten free options (call ahead to the specific location to confirm).

The Old Spaghetti Factory
1925 NW Tanasbourne Dr
Hillsboro, OR 97124
osf.com

Pastini Pastaria
7307 SW Bridgeport Road
Portland, OR 97225
pastini.com

McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 NE 33rd Ave.
Portland, OR  97211
mcmenamins.com/1300-kennedy-school-theater

20130703_115311.1

Photo credit: Petunia’s Pies & Pastries

SWEET TREATS

For a sweet treat in a posh gluten free/vegan bakery downtown, try Petunia’s Pies and Pastries.  We sampled the treats and found them to be as beautiful and tasty as the bakery’s decor.

If you are down in Lake Oswego (a few exits south of the city), stop in at Kyra’s Bake Shop to sample her award-winning gluten free cupcakes.  If you like what you taste, she ships her goodies and has a cookbook you can buy to attempt the recipes at home.

Petunias Pies & Pastries
610 SW 12th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
petuniaspiesandpastries.com

Kyra’s Bake Shop
599 A Avenue
Lake Oswego, OR  97034
http://www.kyrasbakeshop.com/

20131006_144428 (2)
CAR SNACKS:

Whole Food’s Market has several locations around Portland so you can’t go wrong there.  But another great grocery option is New Season’s Market (pictured above).  It offers a really nice selection of local foods and tons of gluten free products (this is where we discovered New Cascadia Traditions baked goods) and very helpful staff.  The location we frequented in Hillsboro, OR always offered our girls stickers and free fruit at checkout.

New Seasons Market
Multiple Locations
www.newseasonsmarket.com

For a complete list of ALL of the zillion gluten free restaurants in Portland, Oregon, visit Gluten Free PDX.

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Allison Baltzersen

Allison Baltzersen is a green mama, raising her two little girls to enjoy childhood, ask lots of questions, and be kind to the Earth.

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16 responses to “Enjoying Portland, OR with Gluten Free Kids {Travel Tips}”

  1. Laurie P — March 24, 2015 @ 6:09 am (#)

    You covered quite a few places! I won’t be in Portland any time soon, but I do love helpful posts like this about certain cities……

    Reply

  2. kathy downey — March 24, 2015 @ 7:38 am (#)

    My Mom with be visiting her niece in Portland this summer with tell her about these places

    Reply

  3. Anne Taylor — March 24, 2015 @ 9:13 am (#)

    This is all super helpful! Oregon seems to have a great foodie community!

    Reply

  4. loucheryl — March 24, 2015 @ 5:24 pm (#)

    Our boys would LOVE Slappy Cakes! I would love to go on a road trip!

    Reply

  5. kathy downey — March 25, 2015 @ 6:46 am (#)

    Oh how I wish this was closer

    Reply

  6. kathy downey — March 27, 2015 @ 5:40 am (#)

    I would love to try Petunia’s Pies and Pastries.

    Reply

  7. Melinda L. — April 6, 2015 @ 12:47 pm (#)

    It’s great that more and more places offer gluten free options. Would let my cousin know about all the awesome options in oregon.

    Reply

  8. Stephanie LaPlante — April 12, 2015 @ 5:44 am (#)

    Some of these sound awesome!!!

    Reply

  9. Debbie S. — April 18, 2015 @ 6:54 pm (#)

    We have never been to Portland. I always enjoy reading your blog and the fun places you have been. It is always so interesting. These places look so warm and friendly and good food. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  10. kathy downey — May 5, 2015 @ 6:00 am (#)

    Wow,the food looks delicious

    Reply

  11. Nate — May 13, 2015 @ 2:06 pm (#)

    Thanks for sharing the tips

    Reply

  12. kathy downey — June 13, 2015 @ 10:07 am (#)

    The kids are sure to love the Slappy Cakes

    Reply

  13. Victoria Ess — June 15, 2015 @ 4:05 pm (#)

    I’m salivating! These are some great food options!

    Reply

  14. kathy downey — March 2, 2016 @ 8:17 am (#)

    Wow,they sure have a nice selection of food !!

    Reply

  15. Darlene W — August 9, 2016 @ 12:52 pm (#)

    great info to have I will pass it on to my niece

    Reply

  16. Debbie White Beattie — September 16, 2017 @ 2:10 am (#)

    It must be hard to travel with kids that have special diets but you’ve done a great job of scoping out some great places

    Reply

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