Where to live now

Neighborhood Guide: Montavilla

Northwest-inspired muffulettas, home improvement tools, and pizza and a movie

By Margaret Seiler

Sebastiano's Sicilian Deli's Northwest take on a New Orleans muffuletta

Image: Michael Novak

Originally called Mount Tabor Villa and known today by a portmanteau of the abbreviations on old streetcar signs, Montavilla hugs the east side of that dormant volcano, from I-84 south to Division Street. The bungalows and ranch houses here are more modest than the ones on Tabor’s western flank with the downtown-skyline view. The neighborhood’s heart, along one-way parts of SE Stark and Washington, offers a whole city in just a few blocks, from the pizza-slinging Academy Theater to handyperson havens Mr. Plywood and Vinje’s Sheet Metal to a farmers market to friendly taverns where your risk of becoming a regular is high, whether you crave the sports screens at Thatcher’s or the primo tap list and sushi menu at Roscoe’s.

Also along that stretch, Union Rose highlights local designers, jewelry makers, and artists, Cactus Records & Vintage and Beanstalk Resale offer a trove of secondhand finds, and Ya Hala will make you an incredible Lebanese meal or, at its attached La Bouffe International Market, set you up with the tools and ingredients to make your own. Around the corner, Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli opened midpandemic and has already built up a cult following for its piped-to-order cannoli and Northwest take on a New Orleans muffuletta. Feeling like starting your own eatery, or just hoarding for the next quarantine? Just across 82nd, a brand-new Smart Foodservice grocery hawks 50-pound bags of flour and vats of soup base to get you started.

But there’s more to Montavilla than these few blocks. Catch a play or learn an instrument at Portland Metro Arts, and then take the gang to the old-school Stark Street Pizza Company. Or grab a slice at newer-school East Glisan Pizza Lounge in Montavilla’s northern reaches, on a stretch of Glisan that’s home to a mom-and-pop appliance store, corner dispensaries, and nearby specialty food shops Bui’s Natural Tofu and German-inspired Fressen Artisan Bakery. Plenty of culinary delights are also hidden amid the car lots and other auto-focused businesses along 82nd Avenue, including the ’60s-era former Safeway that’s now a Hong Phat supermarket; King’s Bakery for Chinese mooncakes, pork buns, and egg tarts; and a sideways mini-mall at Harrison Street that runs the gamut from frozen treats (Zero Degrees) to Cajun heat (My Brother’s Crawfish). 

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