You’ve got a happy, multi-generational horde of visitors in town for the holidays. You’ve hit Powell’s Books, the Portland Art Museum's amazing Laika show, and probably Zoo Lights. Now what? Peruse our Neighborhood Guides for many, many (sooo many) ideas on where to eat, drink, shop, and—most importantly—soak up the city’s pure weirdness. Here are three neighborhood snapshots to get you started down the rabbit hole (psst: click the neighborhood name to access the full guide).
For most visitors, downtown Portland is just the launchpad from which they explore the city’s patchwork of neighborhoods. But amid the central city’s staid maze of banks, federal buildings, and big-name stores hides a vibrant pocket of high-end, locally owned boutiques; fancy, semi-secret bars; amazing food carts; and old-school, only-in-Portland spots.
Hot Spots: Wildfang, Courier Coffee, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Crystal Ballroom, Maurice, Pepe Le Moko, Rich's Cigars & Magazines, Blue Star Donuts, Mary's Club (for very open-minded, 21+ groups)
From cult fish sauce wings to deliciously oddball ice cream creations, SE Division Street (and its scrappy adjunct SE Clinton Street) is one of the most culinarily clogged thoroughfares in town—and it boasts plenty of charming shops and Old Portland oddities to explore along the way.
Hot Spots: Pok Pok, Salt & Straw, Ava Gene's, La Moule, Xico, Reel M Inn, Clinton Street Theater, Xtabay, Words With Pictures, SheBop (see Mary's rules above), Parfumerie, Secret Forest (it's so, so weird)
From fancy brunch spots and bars to an eclectic bonanza of locally owned shops, this area is a gold mine for wanderers with a hunger for Portland culture writ large. It’s a booming area, with massive new condo projects popping up like dandelions where only a decade ago you may have found empty lots and storefronts. Much of the unsettled feeling of the area comes from its bitter legacy of displacement. Historically one of Portland’s few black neighborhoods, it was gutted by decades of so-called urban renewal and construction, with gentrification eventually pushing many of Albina’s long-time residents out of the area all together. So, yeah, it’s complicated. Enjoy this area, but don’t forget your history.
Hot Spots: Lovely's Fifty Fifty, the Rebuilding Center, Sloan's, Dawson Park, Tasty n Sons, Sunlan Lighting, Ink & Peat, People's Pig, Prost! & Prost! Marketplace Cart Pod, Secret Society Lounge, Wolf & Bear's, Mississippi Studios & Bar Bar, Flutter, the Meadow, Paxton Gate