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Daily Crave

First Look: Portia’s Cafe

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Ever dine somewhere and, when a friend asks you later how it was, your initial reaction is to simply say, “Everything was so fresh”—as if that phrase sums up every flavor of every dish with high marks. It’s the feeling that comes only from a eatery that knows how to properly prepare and draw the right flavors out of veggies.

The cafe is simple and small, at first looking like an order-at-the-counter eatery. But you’ll be kindly ushered to a seat from the wait staff behind the counter. While the service is a bit leisurely, staff are helpful and can offer great insight into the menu.

My server spot-on recommended the Coconut Curry ($3.50/cup) with black beans, rice and veggies, which was bursting with curry flavor and just the right amount of heat. The coconut got a bit lost in all the flavors, but that didn’t stop me from quickly finishing the cup.

The SuperPower Lettuce Wrap is packed with guacamole, falafel, onion, carrots, sprouts and raw creamy cashew dressing. If you want to keep it raw, get the traditional lettuce wrap for $10. I opted to try the house-made gluten-free tortilla wrap for an extra $2. The bread was spongy and full of wheaty flavor, and it held the wrap together extremely well (better than most traditional tortillas I’ve tried).

And of course I threw in dessert. Portia’s offers several flavors of Cheezecake—creamy, cheesecake-like desserts without the dairy. The Berry-Berry Mango was like a smoothie in cake form. It was light with the right balance of sweet and tart. I never would have guessed it was raw.

A few other things that caught my eye and will definitely bring me back for a second visit:

-The Dipper Sampler—a combo of all four dips on the menu: hummus, guacamole, spinach-collard-artichoke, and sunny walnut pate (the latter a mix of sunflower seeds, walnuts, pickles, celery, lemon, olive oil and herbs).

-Raw Broccoli Soup—a blend of broccoli and avocado with herbs and spices

-Raw Falafel Wrap—house-made falafel with raw pickle, tomato, onion, lettuce and tahini

-Raw Notuna Wrap—nut, seed and veggie pate, with pickle, tomato, onion and stone-ground mustard

-Burrito (bowl an option as well)—black beans, brown rice, guacamole, lettuce, onion, salsa, Tofutti sour cream, Daiya cheese on a house-made gluten-free wrap.