Chances are that if you've sampled the bakery case at a Peet's Coffee Tea, you're already familiar with the addictive nature of vegan-staple Black Sheep Bakery's flavorful applesauce muffins and "buttermilk" scones. But the PDX company's expanded its offerings at the bakery's 10-month-old Northeast cafe (adjacent to its commercial kitchen)—with sandwiches, salads, soups and even meat. Indulge in the Sheep's pseudo-healthy banana bran muffin, the Smart ($2), or the cookie-cake hybrid perfection of a peanut butter chocolate chip bar ($1.75) with a cup of coffee or tea. But don't sell the cafe's savory side short. The vegan egg (scrambled-egg-style tofu) and sausage sandwich ($4.50) is not only delish for vegetarians, but for anyone who wants a break from cholesterol-saturated breakfasts. The tofu sausage is a bit dry, but its fennel and black pepper bite is rounded out nicely by what tastes like Indian spices. And the vegan biscuits and mushroom gravy ($4.50) is pure Saturday-morning comfort.
There's a range of salads ($3 small/$6 bigger), and a half or whole sandwich ($4-$6.50) ready for customization. The tasty, sauce-saturated housemade barbecued tofu and smoky tempeh bacon with silky-smooth hummus, on herbed focaccia, is a great place to start before piling on the organic produce. If you're lucky, you'll stop in when the thick, creamy tomato soup ($3.50-$4.50) is on offer. It's the perfect receptacle for sandwich-dunking bliss (and if the fake stuff just isn't for you, real cheese is an option, too).
The inviting cafe uses local and organic products when possible, and while the bakery's venture into deli-style food is a great start, there's still room for improvement—owner Amanda Felt and her thoughtful staff are constantly tweaking the menu (goodbye, vegan frittata!). The food can range from a disappointingly bland black bean soup to dead-on authentic spicy and sweet Buffalo-style tofu with creamy vegan blue-cheese dressing. Sometimes there's only one person working out front, which can make for a slow morning wait.
That's not a problem, though. Felt says Black Sheep's goal is simple: "to bring everyone to the table." When the food is this affordable and wholesome, it'll be hard to find a place to sit.