Review: IKEA Cafe

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IKEA Café
10280 NE Cascades Parkway
Portland, OR
503-282-4532
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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Welcome to the world of IKEA. Yeah, Stumptown finally has our very own mega-shopping paradise, and along with that comes the meaty-goodness that are IKEA’s Swedish meatballs!

But there is more to the IKEA café than just the meatballs. The selections include baked salmon, daily entrée specials, a variety of sandwiches, a salad bar and an array of desserts—my favorite is the Daim torte. They also offer kid-sized portions of the meatballs as well the not-quite-Swedish mac and cheese.

If you are headed to IKEA during a lunch break to browse the massive store and you’re not planning on buying a giant armoire or something, you might consider taking MAX to avoid parking issues (seriously, there were more cops directing traffic there the first weekend they were open than in Old Town when Wu Tang Clan plays the Roseland).

When I recently dropped by for some lunch and shopping the line for the café was super-long, but it moved quickly through the cafeteria-style counter offering up desserts (desserts first, too tempting!), sandwiches, hot entrées and salad along the way. Honestly, I was not upset about the long line because I had a really hard time picking out what I wanted to eat: meatballs (the usual, but always good), the ribs (they just looked sooooo good) or the Caprese sandwich (like the salad, but on focaccia bread!).

I went with the Swedish meatball combo plate, as did my shopping/dining companion, and it lived up to virtual legend that surrounds the dish. Ten moist and tasty meatballs and red potatoes smothered in a nice gravy with lingonberry sauce on the side. Some people detest the lingonberry sauce, but I think it’s quite good, especially when it’s on a bit of potato. Ummmm.

Unlike the long line to get the food, there was plenty of seating once we had food on our trays. We found an empty table immediately, and I didn’t see anyone waiting or looking long for a place to sit.

If you are looking for just a quick bite to eat or a soda after a long day of shopping, IKEA also has a bistro near the checkout where you can get a hotdogs, coffee, soda, frozen yogurt, cinnamon rolls, etc. And, if you love those meatballs so much that you want more for home, you can get a large bag of frozen meatballs in the food market along with lots of other hard to find Swedish delicacies.

You might not think of IKEA when you are planning lunch, but if you are itching for a noontime shopping adventure, know that you can also get a tasty, inexpensive lunch in the process!

Pros: Swedish meatballs, yummy desserts, right on the MAX line, you can eat lunch and go shopping all in one place, inexpensive

Cons: Long lines, can get very crowded, parking

Link to Ikea’s website

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