CLOSED: Backspace Cafe

  • Veg-options Veg-options
    ( 9 reviews )



115 NW 5th Ave (at NW Couch St, in Chinatown District), Portland, Oregon, USA, 97209

Serves meat, vegan options available. A small, locally owned cafe, gaming venue and gallery with gaming computers, wireless internet access, live music some nights, and a rotating gallery of visual artist. Simple, casual, spacious. Sit inside or out on sidewalk. Menu features Stumptown coffee, pastries including vegan ones, sandwiches, salads, soups, a few main entrees, and snacks. Vegan options are marked on the menu. Location is next door to Someday Lounge which has a similar food menu and is owned by the same owner. Reported closed to HappyCow.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, American, Take-out, Non-veg

9 Reviews

First Review by rccourtney

Backspace Cafe, Portland - Edit

I like this place. Its more than an eatery with the stage for bands etc to gig on and the pinball tables and the likes at the back. Wifi is free and there are PCs for those without a laptop. Most of the menu appears to be vegan going by the marking against each dish. Too bad its not 100% vego. The atmo is mega chilled.

Pros: Vegan friendly, More than an eatery, Free wifi

Cons: not 100% vego

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Good Place for Chilling-Out - Edit

I had read about this place on happycow and decided to stop in on my Portland trip a while back. Here's my Backspace Cafe review.

It was my first trip to Portland, and I had eagerly mapped out a string of restaurants I'd want to visit while there, and this was one of them.

The space is quite big, and the atmosphere is relaxed. The patrons are mostly young people using computers. Not really a restaurant, but more of a coffee lounge and computer and gaming zone.

There is a glass case display of baked goods including vegan ones. The food menu offers a good amount of choices. My husband and I got a lentil soup, a mac n cheese, and the meatballs and sketti. Everything vegan. The lentil soup flavor was good but the lentils were a bit hard. The mac n cheese was UNLIKE mac n cheese but rather a spirals pasta with a watery yellow sauce that's suppose to be the cheese. As a pasta it was alright but not passable as mac n cheese.
The meatball and sketti was okay. The noodle was al dente (firmer than my preferrence), and the sauce was on the salty side. The presentation of the food, however, was appealing. We also had a strawberry cupcake, and that was yummy. The cafe gets it from a local baker.

Backspace serves Portland's famous Stumptown Coffee brand.

Pros: friendly service, relaxing space

Cons: food could be better

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Went for an Event - Edit

I went to Backspace for a presentation of experimental animation my wife was involved in. I liked the size and atmosphere of the place. We sat in comfy couches. They had Dragonfly Chai, which is one of my favorite vegan chai mixes because it's not overly sweet, so I had a soy chai.

I ordered the vegan mac&cheese, since I wanted something comforting and fun. I couldn't eat it -- it was WAY too salty for me. It didn't taste cheesy at all, unlike many excellent vegan mac and cheeses I've had. The yellow sauce was salty with a spicey herb flavor. I ate the noodles that didn't have much on it, and couldn't finish the rest, very disappointed.

The salad that came with it had too much oil in the dressing for my liking, and I had a hard time eating that either. Generally I eat pretty much everything and like everything I eat, so this is really rare for me!

It's unusual that I don't order the nachos; however, if they have the same "cheese" sauce on them, I don't think I would like them.

One person I was with, who is not vegan, got a real cheese quesadilla with beans and vegetables, which is probably pretty hard to screw up. The other person I was with, another vegan, had a large salad with a green goddess type dressing and also enjoyed it. However, I was very disappointed and left hungry. Really a first for me ever visiting a vegetarian restaurant!

The staff was not particularly helpful or friendly. They didn't communicate with us about where we were supposed to pick up our food when it was ready, and were pretty short with us, answering my questions about the food as if annoyed by them.

I think my partners enjoyed the place far more than I did.

I may give them another try, but many of the things on the menu that looked interesting to me were advertised with that vegan cheese sauce, and I really didn't like the flavor.

Pros: Fun Atmosphere

Cons: Poor Service, Salty, Too Much Oil

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Vegan Hipster paradise! - Edit

My teen son and I stopped in on this cool spot and were VERY pleased. This spot has good food, but the vibe is cooler. This is a photo of the vegan nacho's, and we also had some vegan chocoalte cip cookies and my son the vegan club sandwich. Have a little time when you go, you will enjoy the setting.

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Backspace Cafe - Edit

Service was not the best at Backspace. When I ordered my food they didn't tell me it was ready. Other than that the sandwhich was okay. I only went there because Veganopolis was closed down.

Pros: Internet Cafe

Cons: Fairly well service

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I really wanted to try it... - Edit

I was so excited to try Backspace! The space was really cool (and HUGE!) but I was disappointed when my boyfriend and I had to wait for an hour until they started to serve food (they don't serve food until 4pm - we got there at 3pm). Just because we wanted to try it so badly, we waited around and, when 4pm rolled around, we asked for a menu and the woman informed us that it's a limited menu because they are updating their kitchen (or something like that). I had looked at their menu online and many things looked SO good, but none of their smaller menu had any of those things. We left to find another place to eat. I still really want to try this place when they get their kitchen back, so I'll come back and revise!

Pros: Good space, Good-looking menu

Cons: Staff a bit unhelpful, Need to post food-service times, Need to post their menu changes

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Lousy food and service - Edit

I ate here the other day with some friends, the food was terrible, lacked flavor and substance! Our server was very surly and didn't seem to care about his customers. Coffee was fair, atmosphere is lacking. This place should cater to people who do not have any taste. Will never go back

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Wow surprised there are not more reviews! - Edit

This is a really cool place near the Tube. We had the Tofury Cranberry Cucumber Sandwich and the Grilled Sandwich and both were REALLY GOOD. There was a band setting up to play there, punk rock it seemed. Its a neat place, cement floors, outdoor seating, looked like free wifi. There were a lot of people on laptops, I think they even repaired computers in the back. Top notch food, though!

Pros: Sandwiches

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Awesome food! The best vegan caesar salad ever! - Edit

I loved this place. The food is simple, flavorful and the prices are reasonable. Their caesar salad was the best I had ever had, garlicky croutons, rich dressing-yum! I did however, go to get another caesar salad before I left town and they were out of romaine lettuce which I found quite odd for a restaurant that seems to have a large proportion of sandwiches and salads. I had the gobbler sandwich which was tofurky slices, cranberry sauce and vegan cream cheese with lettuce and bread. I would go here all the time if they were located in my home town.
The only downside was the dirty bathrooms.

Pros: Yummy food, reasonable prices, good location

Cons: dirty bathrooms

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