Sierrah Umhauer is all smiles when she steps out of her food cart. Wood paneled and with a small stained glass window embedded in the door, the small cart looks like something from the Enchanted Forest. Youthful, Umhauer begins talking immediately, introducing her dog that stands a few feet away, out of the sun in a shadow, and explains that she started a vegan food cart—the first in Bend—because she was always so picky when she went out to eat with friends.
"I was tired of being left out," she says, lamenting the lack of vegan options in town, but in a tone that is more whatcha-gonna-do than complaining.
What she did was start her own vegan food cart: The new and delightful Earth Below.
Although Umhauer has no real restaurant experience, and although the menu is still limited to three primary lunch entrees and five smoothies, it is a wonderful addition to the city's food cart collection.
Ironically, Umhauer explains, the cart she found—the adorable wood-paneled single-axel that looks like a cartoon owl could pop out at any moment—was formerly a barbecue food cart on the coast and, doubly ironic, she has taken the spot on NW Colorado Avenue adjacent to Mountain Supply that was previously occupied by Broken Top BBQ, a splendidly decadent and delicious barbecue joint (which recently relocated to Crux). A healthy option is perhaps a more appropriate coupling for the nearby outdoor outfitter.
Of the three offerings, we were drawn to two out of the three—the yam-based "avotato" sandwich and the stir-fry; on two different visits, no one in our party was curious about the wrap. The sandwich was massive: Large roasted yams layered with slightly blanched spinach; with a notable burn from the sriracha, and served on a toasted sourdough with great crunch; the sandwich did not leave any of meateaters wanting. It was a sandwich as hardy and tasty as it is clever. There was more than enough food that the side dish of apple cole slaw was left for a late afternoon snack.
Likewise, the stir-fry was surprisingly generous in its helping size—and gorgeous in its layout of brightly color and varied vegetables. Eating the colors of the rainbow—as recommended by doctors—was easy with this meal. Bright green beans dotted a lively bundles of bell peppers, red cabbage, green onions, and cashews.
The 20-ounce smoothies were also each enough for a (healthy) liquid lunch. With fun names and individually unique mixes (almond milk with strawberries, blueberries, and peanut butter for the "I'm Berry Nuts," and coconut milk with coconut flakes, coconut oil, honey, and avocado for the "Cooky for Coconuts"), they also offered a surprising variety of flavors and vitamins. Our calendar editor Hayley Jo Murphy's favorite was the "Cascade Sunshine," with strawberry, orange, and honey in coconut milk.
"It really does taste like a sunrise," she commented.
834 NW Colorado Avenue
Open most lunch hours