West End: Insider Picks

Where West End Insiders Really Eat, Shop, and Play

The people who live and work in this oddball corner of downtown Portland explain its charms.

By Kelly Clarke May 15, 2017

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When she needs a chic dress, PICA head Victoria Frey heads across SW 10th Avenue to Radish Underground.

Image: Fiona McCann

You may just be passing through, but these restaurateurs, arts leaders, and tastemakers live and work in the West End every day. So we asked them where they actually end up over and over again in this neighborhood. Need even more recommendations? The PoMo editorial staff, which also occupies an office in the West End, dedicated an entire post to where we really eat lunch a while back....

Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko bar manager and author of The Bar Book
My favorite place to eat in the neighborhood is, without question, Maurice. We’re so lucky to have it, and I wish I took advantage of it more often. I don’t think it’s just one of the best restaurants in Portland; I think it’s one of the best restaurants in the world. Easily. But my favorite place to shop is Echo Audio. I don’t know if people realize this, but that shop is known nationally and internationally as being one of the best sources of audio equipment. And they’re right behind Clyde. It’s crazy. I wouldn’t buy any audio stuff anywhere else, even if I didn’t work a few feet away.

Victoria Frey

PICA executive director
PICA has been in the West End for six years. I love that it’s a walkable, urban neighborhood that still has an entrepreneurial feel. It’s not the Pearl District; it’s still got that sense that you know everyone at the shops. If I need a gift, I go to Tender Loving Empire, maybe Woonwinkel. If I need a dress I’m at Frances May or Radish Underground—sometimes I don’t ever leave 10th Street. And I love the food carts. When I was at Wieden + Kennedy I shopped at Whole Foods for lunch all the time. Now, I love the street culture that the carts create and that you can make any choice for lunch, from tacos to pho. Also, I like Masu—it has a beautiful room and it’s quiet. And Tasty n Alder—I love the Korean fried chicken. And, you know, we really pooh-poohed the idea of a Target coming into the neighborhood, but it’s really handy to have a pharmacy and a place to get batteries and cotton balls when you need them.


Today's coffee @ Mugshots Cafe しっかりめの味で美味しいです。 #portland #coffee #cafe

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Cheryl Poulsen

Security supervisor for the Pittock Building
“I’ve been the security supervisor for the building for 10 years. I mostly bring my lunch, but when I don’t, I always go to Mugshots [in the lobby of the Pittock Building]. All their food is great. I’ve never had a bad lunch there. I usually get salads. The chef’s salad [which includes applewood smoked turkey, a hard-boiled egg, and a creamy parmesan dressing]—you’ve gotta try it. I don’t go to the carts. I’ve seen what goes down in that parking lot.”

Micah Camden

Cofounder of Little Big Burger and Blue Star Donuts; co-owner of Boxer Ramen and Heart Pizza
“Aside from the close proximity to my own restaurants, living on West Burnside and 13th basically gives me the benefit of being central enough to all the other Portland boroughs—with everything I need literally a six-block walk in any direction.” Go-to spots? Camden’s got plenty: “Heart Roasters for coffee. Fuller’s for breakfast. Shalom Y’all for lunch. Powell’s Books for inspiration. Ruby Jewel for dessert … and Mary’s Club for boobies and booties.”


Explore the Fort, let your imagination run wild.

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Celeste Sipes

Owner of Radish Underground boutique
My favorite bar, hands down, is Cassidy’s. It’s totally underrated. They have a great happy hour and amazing service. It has that classic dark wood bar feel and it’s rarely crowded. I’ll kick myself for giving out my secrets when the word gets out, but it’s so good! Clyde Common has this drink on its [weekend] brunch menu called “Bowie Knife” [Jeffrey Morgenthaler's riff on a French 75] that is a near-perfect summertime cocktail. When I’m feeling brave I’ll ask them to make it for me midweek when it’s not on the menu—it’s that good.  

When my mom is in town it’s Maurice for lunch every time. My mom is obsessed with Portland food and needs the full experience—she gets very angry if she “wastes a meal.” She won’t shut up about how cute and perfect Maurice is. And the lemon soufflé is a full-body experience of pure joy. When I cart it, which I do at least once a week, I get a chicken shawarma from Sam’s Saj. If I don’t feel like I’ve eaten enough veggies that week I get the falafel which is equally as good—or cauliflower soup from Savor.   

I can get most gifts I need at Radish, but if I need something for a dude, Boys Fort is guaranteed to deliver. Sometimes I just go there to drool over their merchandising. It boggles the mind. How is it so good? It could be a “How To” showroom for merchandising. It’s a beautiful space, and I love the owners.

Kristan Kennedy

PICA visual art curator

The PICA staff is religiously dedicated to lunch at Huong’s, a food cart across the street. Each year we deeply mourn the temporary loss of their soups, which contain surprising little gems like smoked plums and lotus root, when the family takes their annual trip to Vietnam for New Year’s. 

Kure for its golden mushroom elixir (it cures workday weirdness), and Aesop for all of the smells. I think when we first moved in we drained Clyde Common of every one of their summer rosés. It’s technically across Burnside, but we will claim [gallery] Adams and Ollman as West End because we can see it from our window. Vitamin Shoppe, in that building across from Powell’s that used to be a Car Toys, is a treasure trove of health and beauty stuff—if you need tryptophan for all your curatorial travel they have it. 

And Georgia’s Grocery Store, because Vic [PICA head Victoria Frey] gets candy there on the regular and doles it out in hectic moments. Plus, we can always get a bag of ice there and it reminds me of the Portland I moved to in 1995, [back when] PICA founder Kristy Edmunds would get her daily Mountain Dew at Georgia’s and leave the can on my desk instead of a Post-it note, like “I was here, where were you.” 

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