It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty: ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the U.S. and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers––homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz.
Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from Ben & Jerry’s plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
The tea aficionados at J-Tea personally visit small farms in Taiwan and China, sampling a wide variety of seasonal oolong teas for stocking their cozy shop. The exact menu of specialty oolong, herbal, and green teas varies according to the season and the crop, including the chocolaty aged wu-yi, which is stored in earthen-clay vessels for 15 years to eliminate exposure to light and tea-crazed howler monkeys ($3/cup, $10/0.94 oz.). Infuse a hovering nose with the nutty aromas of smoke and wood of the charcoal-roasted oolong ($2/cup, $10/1.87 oz.), or savor the fruity latticework of the Emerald City oolong #38 ($3/cup, $8/oz.). Also available is an assortment of brew devices, tea mats, and storage vessels that transform any kitchen into a teahouse and keep the purity of tea from being corrupted by the rebellious teenage coffee beans in the next cabinet.
A stripe of bright green skirts each LimeBerry's ceiling, leading patrons' eyes to a bank of stainless-steel dispensers framed in petite tiles. There, patrons fill paper cups with swirled ribbons of fro-yo flavors, such as rich chocolate truffle, tart wildberry, and creamy cake batter—up to 15 varieties in all. Confectionery caravans then move on to a toppings bar where they load on up to 80 choices of edible provisions, including warm fudge, fresh fruit, nuts, and marshmallow cream. Bright-green chairs host noshers beneath framed action shots of blueberries sticking triple backflips off a Yurchenko vault.
Head Chef Bac Thien cooks up a menu of pan-Asian specialties that leans heavily on the culinary traditions of Vietnam. That means showcasing pho soups, grilled meats over rice noodles, and chicken wings accompanied by sweet mangosteen chili sauce. Diners will also find a handful of dishes from Thailand and India made, like everything else, with fresh ingredients from local sources whenever possible. To round out the ambience, modern paintings hang from the dining room walls and brighten the day of guests on a lunch break from Intel's Jones Farm Campus or art critics that don't feel like dealing with lines at the Portland Art Museum.
You might find Li Doyle up very early on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday morning, making all of the breads and jams for Lili Patisserie's ever-changing breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus herself, combining them with cage-free eggs and local, organic produce whenever possible. Her challah bread becomes chicken club sandwiches or Cuban-style sandwiches, and her handmade ricotta gnocchi wind up on beds of sautéed spinach with san marzano tomato sauce.
In addition to fresh, seasonal items such as wild, line-caught coho salmon, Doyle prepares vegan and gluten-free options. Bright-red chairs and vintage-style furniture give the seating area a quaint european vibe, like the butter churn currently haunted by the ghost of Louis XIV.
The Heart Cart fills the bellies of mobile munchers with a stocked menu of vegetarian specialties, striking a balance between nutrition and flavor by putting a gourmet spin on fast food. Located on the corner of 2nd and SW Stark in downtown Portland, the sizeable, sky-blue snack stop dishes out plant-based entrees and sides that are gluten-free and sourced from local farms. Organic, hand-mixed spices join forces to add extra layers of flavor to each bite, burrowing their way into the Thai-style squash of winter spice curry and the sautéed kale of coco-kale-namon. The staff also serves water poured from the all-natural pipes of coconuts.