The Sudra doesn't serve Indian food, whatever they try to tell you. Nowhere that cheerily offers a sweet-but-sadistic strawberry habanero sauce with your "calabacitas" kofta is an Indian spot. It is instead a lovely take on pan-vegan cuisine informed by the cultural interests of sociology students and yogaphiles: Latin America, India, the Middle East.
Luckily, the Sudra eschews the cuisine's customary bowls in favor of varied platters ($12 large/$8 medium) whose sides include kale with tahini dressing, lime-cilantro sauces and earthy anasazi curry beans. Those calabacitas balls subject the Indian malai kofta dish to the fajita treatment, pairing hearty zucchini-squash nuggets with bell peppers and onions and a note-perfect, sweet-spicy tomatillo chutney. The terrific pakora plate—cauliflower and broccoli pickled, breaded and fried—comes with a startlingly jammy blueberry-mint chutney, in a sweet-savory mash-up that makes no good sense. Still, I kept coming back for more chutney.
The cocktail list, meanwhile, is formed to the palates of those accustomed to juice-bar fare—drunks with a health-food fetish—offering tongue-needling ginger mixed with whiskey and cider, tequila with beet juice, and drinks with blueberry puree.
But of all vegan places in Portland, the Sudra is the one most likely to lure those whose diets range as free as a Portland chicken: One simply doesn't miss the meat or milk. And with its cozy, tasteful bar décor, one might happily meet there for a novelty cocktail—or more likely a beer. Though the bar takes its name from the lowest of Indian castes, allow me to be the first to say: Untouchable, my ass. I'd eat off their dishes anytime.
EAT: The Sudra, 2333 NE Glisan St., 971-302-6002, thesudra.com. 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.