Where to Live Now

Neighborhood Guide: Division and Clinton

Stress-melting spas, restaurant empires, and Rocky Horror forever

By Fiona McCann and Margaret Seiler February 25, 2021

One of Malka's wild creations. 

Image: Mike Novak

Southeast Division Street (and its scrappy adjunct SE Clinton Street) is one of the most culinarily clogged thoroughfares in town—it’s where Andy Ricker started his now-shuttered Pok Pok Thai-street-food empire in 2005, and where the Reel M Inn has been satisfying chicken-and-JoJo cravings since long before that. (The first Stumptown Coffee Roasters opened here too, all the way back in 1999.) And this stretch boasts plenty of charming shops and Old Portland oddities to explore along the way. Plus stress-melting spas, leafy green hideaways, and the world’s longest continuously running weekly movie theater screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Clinton Street Theater (pre-pandemic, that is). 

The display case at Division Street’s Little T American Baker favors breakfast offerings like croissants, rustic tarts, chocolate chip cookies, and “slab bread,” a focaccia-style flatbread slathered in olive oil and sea salt. Be sure to take home a perfect crusty baguette. Find standout meatless Israeli dishes—often spiced with vivid green parsley-cilantro tsug and puckery mango-and-mustard-seed amba—at Aviv, or try the wild, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink creations at Malka. Grab a scoop of ice cream at Salt & Straw, every flavor wildly different, with luxurious texture, daring combinations, and an unmistakable taste of place—perfumed with everything from Steven Smith’s Teas and local beers to Olympic Provisions meat. 

Aviv ice cream

Image: Michael Novak  

For 20 years Village Merchants has been sucking up afternoons with hours of vintage hunting. Roam two stories and a patio packed to the rafters with furniture, potential prom dresses, ornamental baskets, funky jewelry, and cookware. A quirky analog realm of rare records, cassette tapes, and vintage audio gear, Clinton Street Record & Stereo is the spot to stock up on hard-to-find house, Italo disco, and darkwave (and get a quality old-school turntable).  Books with Pictures bursts with indie and LGBTQ titles, comics featuring kickass female and POC heroes, kids’ picture books, Marvel and DC standards, and small-run handmade comics. Shop Adorn sells flowy caftans, silk pants, and shift dresses from cult favorites like Prairie Underground and Splendid. 

Need a break from the restaurant/retail overload? Clean, sleek, and filled with light, the Scandinavian-inspired communal sauna Löyly melts away stress. Hang out au naturel during single-gender hours. 

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