Portabella or Portobello?

Warning: Lengthy and High Snobbery

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a food review, so I’m rewarding you with a 4 for 1 special!

However you spell this mushroom, it’s just about every restaurant’s answer to the dreaded vegetarian option (if it’s not a veggie burger). I hate it when people consider portabellas to be a meat substitute just because of the supposed “meaty” texture. Portabellas are not a meat substitute! They don’t have a substantial amount of protein! Restaurants should include an additional side of beans (because I am not giving up a deep fried or starchy side) to make up for the lack of protein. Sometimes the so-called meaty texture really grosses me out, and not many people cook them right, so I always find it disappointing when restaurants offer them as the veggie option. And why are they always marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette? I love balsamic vinegar, but seriously, can someone try a different marinade for once?!

Here are some of the local restaurants that I have tried that offer a portabella sandwich, along with maybe too much additional info. Please let me know about your portabella experiences at restaurants or your favorite recipes. Maybe you can make me a complete convert! Click on the restaurant titles to visit their sites or get more info.

Jaxon’s

This one makes the top of my list because it is consistently marinated and cooked perfectly. It is served on a wheat bun with mayo, jack cheese, and sautéed onions. I order mine without mayo because I HATE it (unless it’s flavored or in aioli form). If this combination doesn’t suit your fancy, Jaxon’s also offers the option of substituting a portobello or black bean patty in any of their burgers/sandwiches.

Their sides are also fantastic and can include curly fries, potato green chile soup, green chile mashers, southwestern rice, and more. Warning, the mashers are not always consistently good! On the other hand, their ranch dressing is always really good. The relleno rolls appetizer is a guilty, guilty pleasure that’s not to be missed. Green chile and jack cheese oozes out of these ridiculously delicious southwest-style eggrolls. Make sure to dip them in the accompanying chipotle ranch which has an unexpected sweet honey taste that rounds out all of the flavors. You can skip the salsa, it’s tomato-y, salty, and blah. Last, but in no means least, have a pint of their handcrafted microbrews. Andale I.P.A., Borderland Lager, and Silver Star Light are my faves. It can be pricey, so try to hit up $2 pint night on Wednesdays.

Fire (inside the Doubletree Hotel)

This was not my favorite, but for some reason I want to give them another chance. I gave them points for the cute name and the inclusion of other veggies. Someone else also told me that they really liked the sandwich. I think the restaurant must have been having an off day, because it was a Sunday, they seemed short-staffed, and had to deal with a lot of bowlers. The Doubletree Hugger (I told you it was cute) comes with portobello, red and green peppers, and onions. The sandwich was good, but it was a little burnt, as were my sweet potato fries. I was a little freaked out about the price on the menu ($10), but I was charged $7.95 and also got a bowler’s discount (score for looking like an out-of-towner!). Besides the salad option, they also have a pasta primavera entrée on the menu that sounded really good. This sandwich is no longer available : (

Crave

This restaurant wins the most overrated award from me! I’m sick of people raving about this overpriced place. I’ve eaten there twice and have yet to experience the wow factor beyond their creative décor (utensils hang from the ceiling). The first time that I ate there, they didn’t even have a veggie option other than salads and sides. I had a side salad, tomato basil soup, and sweet potato fries. The salad consisted of the usual greens, but came with a unique lemon thyme dressing which was sadly disappointing because I love lemon. It was bland and had a candy-like taste. Next, was a tomato soup that was way too sweet and also a bit bland, served with a goat cheese crostini. The sweet potato fries were good, but not great. This is because Ripe serves the best ones I have ever tasted with an amazing cilantro ranch sauce (yeah, I like my ranch dressing. A lot.).

Crave now offers a portobello sandwich with swiss cheese and paprika aioli. This meal almost changed my perception of Crave, but had so many problems. The portobello was sopping in marinade, making it way too vinegary and messy. Then, they put way too much aioli. They put a hefty amount of it on both sides of the bread making this sandwich even messier. I had to scrape a lot off. For my side, I chose the green chile mac and cheese that everyone always raves about. Again, overrated! It was good, but not something I would order again. They use tiny elbow macaroni, which I hate, and there were big stringy chunks of onion. It was a little rich even for my taste (I LOVE cheesy creamy things), and I’m pretty sure Velveeta was one of the main ingredients (not that that’s a bad thing). This cost me $11(!). It’s also one of the more expensive sandwiches! More expensive than the ones with chicken! I guess this place is only fantastic for meat eaters.

Cincinnati Bar & Grill

This was my least favorite because it was not very memorable, except for the burnt and greasy taste. I chose fries as my side, and they were also pretty boring. They tasted like frozen steak fries. The prices are pretty reasonable though. This place is better suited for your carnivorous friends and family. They can take advantage of their wing and shrimp specials on Sundays and Tuesdays. I hear the fish tacos are good, along with the buffalo shrimp. I guess you can just have a drink and stare at your friends eat. I miss the old Cincinnati menu when they had all those great burgers. The veggie burger was amazing and so were their fried veggies. I can’t remember which one I would order, but I think it had a chipotle mayo on it.

The Greenery serves a portobello sandwich with grilled onions, red peppers, and goat cheese on ciabatta bread. Sounds delicious, but I’ve never tried it because it costs $14 (!!!). It must come with some pretty high grade goat cheese.

Mesa Street Bar & Grill also serves a portabella sandwich during lunch time. The menu says it comes with roasted red peppers, avocado, and swiss cheese on focaccia bread. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds really good and has a reasonable price tag of $7 (includes fries). Apparently, they don’t update their website because this sandwich was no longer on their menu.

Create Gourmet Eats Food Truck offers 2 choices: you either create your own or you order the House Eats version which is a tender marinated portabella mushroom cap, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and mixed greens on a multigrain ciabatta bread for $7 (served with shoe string fries). For $1 extra, you can sub the fries for fresh asparagus or sweet potato fries. It’s delicious! Read my full review here.

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