On the day after Christmas I decided to test out Foursquare vs Gowalla here in Portland Oregon. My plan was to hit up as many vegan joints as possible during the day and check in with both apps.
I’d tried out Foursquare about 2 or 3 months ago when I saw San Diego blogger and vegan cutie Jenn Van Grove checking in all over town. I quickly got annoyed and didn’t give it a fair chance. So I figured I’d give it another whirl and a fair and honest review.
Foursquare’s motto is “We are all about helping you find new ways to explore the city.”
Gowalla’s motto is “Share your experiences and discover new places. Everywhere you go.”
Basically these two services allow you to document the places you are frequenting, and give advice to others about places they may like to visit in the future. Some of you probably don’t want others knowing what you are doing most of the time. These services can still be handy even if you don’t want to check in and log your whereabouts.
I’ll admit, from the beginning I already had a negative bias against Foursquare. I’m not really sure why, but it just didn’t strike me as something I’d really enjoy. In fact, it seemed a bit juvenile and a waste of time. I’m just trying to be honest here. So, I decided to drop that attitude and give it a whirl without the prejudice.
On the other hand, I had a bit more excitement about Gowalla. Not sure why, but I did. Maybe it was because I had heard that Gary V had a stake in it.
So here’s how the day after Christmas went down…
I started out with breakfast at Sweetpea Baking Company on 12th and SE Stark.
- Sweetpea Vegan Bakery
This place had a massive amount of vegan sweets and the display case looked so mouth watering it was hard to believe everything in there was truly vegan. I grabbed a slice of chocolate raspberry cake and a raspberry tart.
Both were delicious sweets for breakfast!
Right next door is a vegan grocery store called Food Fight Grocery. Another cool place.
I dipped in there and got an organic carrot juice to wash down the sweets for breakfast.
While checking out, the clerk told me I should check out Back To Eden on Alberta. I added it to the list and thanked him for the recommendation.
Then I headed over to my favorite vegan joint Papa G’s at 2314 SE Division. I got a sample of mash/gravy, sweet yams, carrots, millet and more in the hot food buffet (and shared a bite with the Papa G himself.
- Papa G’s Buffet is my favorite
He was grubbing down on some vegan nachos and let me have a bite. I almost couldn’t believe what I was tasting. Epic nachos.
As I left Papa G’s I remembered that there is a People’s Grocery Co-Op right around the corner and decided to dip in there for a moment.
I chatted with the sweet girl at the register and she pointed me in the direction of some raw chocolates. Raw cacao to be exact.
I love People’s and think it’s the best grocery store you can find.
Next, I had to hit up Voodoo Doughnut which I’ve been hearing so much about.
Apparently they have off the wall doughnuts with random stuff like Captain Crunch on top. They also have vegan doughnuts.
I opted for a maple bar and shot this pic in front of my old stomping grounds as a kid… Benson High School.
- Eating a vegan maple bar in front of my old high school
After wolfing down this tasty maple bar, I noticed the batteries on my iphone were getting desperately low from all the checking in to FourSquare and GoWalla. Time to get my charge on.
I headed over the Apple store near Lloyd Center and got myself one of those battery packs that you slip you iPhone into. It’s kind of bulky but gives me hours more life. Now I was ready to hit some more vegan spots.
Since I had just crossed into the NE part of town I figured I’d stroll on over to the Alberta district and check in. The Alberta area is a up and coming artsy area that has been rebuilt a ton over the last 10 years. It’s truly amazing to see what this neighborhood has become.
Back when I used to drive Radio Cab in the early 90′s, it was sketchy to even be walking on 15th and Alberta. Gangsters populated the area in droves and it wasn’t the safest place to be. Thankfully, the community has dumped a lot of money into improving the neighborhood and the artists that frequent and live in the neighborhood have really helped to make this place a special gem.
So, the first place I dip into is a place called Held Vegan Belts. I met this dude named Micah and we sat around and talked shop for about a half an hour. Very nice guy. I wanted to buy a belt but couldn’t find one my size. The holiday season had wiped him out of that size. I was glad to see he was moving product.
Next door is The Vita Cafe. The Vita has a bunch of Vegan options. By this time I was pretty stuffed but had a cup of black bean soup and a Laurelwood Red Ale. That beer is the bomb!
After the Vita I wandered over to the Back To Eden Bakery that the clerk at Food Fight had told me about. The place was small, cute, and very friendly. A few of the customers noticed my Osho mala and told me their story about how Osho had come into their lives as well. Groovy! I ordered a chocolate toffee type bar and waved good bye.
All day I had been hearing about this Vegan bar called the Bye and Bye. I couldn’t find their website so I linked to their Yelp write ups instead.
The beer was great, the food seemed average. I had the vegan meatball sandwich and wasn’t really that impressed. Maybe I had already eaten too much by this time of the day. The bread was crunchy and hard (and seemed like normal white bread buns) and the marinara was just okay. Cool bartenders though and I’d like to try out the rest of the menu. Just not today.
It was getting kind of late and my stomach was at full capacity. However there was one last stop that I had to include on the trip. I’ve been hearing about this place for well over a year and it was a must that I check it out.
The place I’m talking about is Casa Diablo. Casa Diablo is a vegan strip club in the NW industrial part of Portland. I’d heard great things about this place and couldn’t wait to check it out myself. I’m talking about the food of course
Major disappointment. The girls and the food. Since we are talking about food here I’ll leave out the gruesome stripper story for another time. Lets just say this girl was NASTY! What was even nastier was the lack of menu options. I basically settled for a frozen Boca burger that was probably microwaved. At least the topless bartender who delivered it to me was a sweetie.
Food rating = 2. The only reason it received a 2 is because at least it was vegan.
Stripper rating = 2. We did catch the end of the day shift though. That could have something to do with it. I’d give the girls another shot. The food, it blows.
So that was my experience running around town sampling vegan restaurants and bakery’s. Portland is so blessed to have so many healthy eating options. The truth is, I didn’t even make it to half the places I should have gone. During the week I tried some other great places like Blossoming Lotus as well.
So back to Foursquare vs GoWalla
During the day I tried to check in at each location with both services. Foursquare seemed to work out just fine. It accepted all my updates and the venues were easy to locate. I wish I could say the same for GoWalla. A few times it couldn’t detect my location or the restaurant that I was trying to check in at. It was a bit frustrating.
So for ease of use I’d have to say I preferred FourSquare. I’m not really sure if I’ll even use these services much to check in. Instead, they are pretty cool to just find interesting locations for whatever neighborhood you’re in.
Also, if you are a hot female I’m not sure either of these apps is the smartest idea unless you are willingly wanting to invite stalkers to your location. My advice, check in as you leave.
Cheers and beers,