When the streets are thick with rush-hour auto traffic, biking can feel like swimming upstream. That's why we love the shot of bike friendliness that Black Sheep Bakery infuses into the morning bike commute with its counterculture version of the drive-thru espresso shack.
The new shop, opened New Year's Day in a Southeast Portland ActiveSpace building, features a bike-thru window where two-wheeled travelers can fuel up with espresso, bagel sandwiches and sweets, all without getting out of the saddle. There's even a "bike-thru special"—a 12-ounce coffee, muffin and patch kit for $6. They also sell stylish black snot rags ($3), something this cyclist could definitely use.
All the pastries here are vegan but not advertised as such, luring those who scoff at such affronts to classical pâtisserie into the fold. None of the treats we tried suffered from this ascetic touch except for the cookies, which are kind of a bummer without the butter. The blueberry cornmeal muffin ($2) is wonderfully light and moist, and the natural viscosity of peanut butter and maple syrup makes the peanut butter chocolate chip brownie ($1.75) rich, smooth and habit-forming.
Get a protein hit from a breakfast sandwich ($4.75), which on our visit contained McDonald's-style (but tastier) square eggs studded with sweet onions and fragrant veggie sausage and topped with cream cheese. For lunch, try a turkey or baked barbecue tofu sammy, both $4.75 (add chips and a brownie for $1.50).
The coffee comes from Peet's; not a surprise since the company's Portland outposts carry Black Sheep products (as do Tiny's and New Seasons). The espresso menu hits all the basics and is on par with any typical cafe. Be warned, though: There's only one person currently manning this pit stop, so service can be slow.
Next time car culture's got you down, pedal down to the Black Sheep for a cocoa and a reminder that someone's looking out for you, even if the drivers in the right-turn lane aren't.
Black Sheep Bakery, 833 SE Main St., 473-8534, blacksheepbakery.com. 8 am-3 pm Monday-Friday. $ Inexpensive.