Where to Live Now

Neighborhood Guide: Kerns and Laurelhurst

A historic movie theater, a showstopper park, and crazy brunch lines

By Morgan Westling

Music Millennium 

Image: Michael Novak

The east side's Kerns and Laurelhurst neighborhoods share a boundary, and a commercial spine that runs along NE and SE 28th Avenue from Stark to Glisan, but that's about where the similarities end. 

Tucked among commercial properties, Kerns features large, Craftsman-style homes that have been transformed into multifamily units. The mostly single-family homes in Laurelhurst vary between classic bungalows and stately Craftsmans, and they come with some of the highest real estate prices in the city. 

Image: Michael Novak

Both established residents and fun-seeking youngfolk are drawn to both neighborhood by the excellent food and drink options, plus plenty of parks and entertainment options, all within easy walking distance. Start your morning on NE 28th with an eggs Benedict or a breakfast sandwich at City State Diner and Bakery, or, for an even more savory choice, grab a custom hero sandwich with your choice of sauce around the corner at 24th and Meatballs. 

If music is your thing, you can visit Music Millennium on E Burnside Street and search for your favorite album on LP, 8-track, cassette, or CD. Open since 1969, this is the oldest record store in the Pacific Northwest. Another kind of music store, just down the street, is Cedar Mountain Drums, offering handmade shamanic and Native American–style hoop drums, rattles, talking sticks, smudge fans, and other tools for ceremony and healing. For clothing and accessories, try Banshee, a well-loved vintage clothing store in Kerns or the nearby OKO, which sells vintage, antique, and Portland-made jewelry curated by owner Lisa Mangum. 

Neighborhood residents have high praise for the under-the-radar pizza at Dove Vivi, known for its stoneground cornmeal crust. Date-nighters can hit up La Buca on 28th for large-portioned Italian pasta dishes or Han Oak for tasty Korean dumplings and hand-pulled noodles. The truly committed can brave the bananas brunch line at Screen Door for stick-to-your-ribs Southern faves. 

Laurelhurst Theater

Image: Michael Novak

Sweet toothers are well-served in the neighborhood too: The Pie Spot offers seasonal pies, savory pies, gluten-free pies, and other sweet and savory treats and Portland-staple Fifty Licks serves up their signature Chocolate AF and Thai Rice Pudding flavors from a big bright corner location on E. Burnside and 28th Prefer your sugar in drink form? At Tropicale, you can sip a fresh piña colada out of a pineapple shell and (and maybe even get caught in the rain.) 

After dinner and dessert, take a trip back in time by catching a first or second-run show at the historic Laurelhurst Theater built in 1923. If you have time to spare earlier in the day, the centerpiece Laurelhurst Park spans 27 acres, including a large pond, an off-leash dog area, towering trees, and paved walking paths, plus summertime concerts and festivals.