Overshadowed by the east side’s buzzy dining and shopping destinations, this string of sprawling, tree-shaded inner Southwest neighborhoods hide their own offbeat, mostly old school charms. First and foremost, busy SW Barbur Boulevard’s 66-year-old Original Pancake House, where pink-apron-clad servers tote a standout collection of tender pancakes in a wood-paneled dining room/culinary time machine.
A five minute drive north, nearly century-old sports pub Cider Mill & Fryer Tuck touts “the best fried chicken in Portland”—a claim supported with Rodan-size portions of juicy meat and spuds, both encased in an armor of salty, crunchy batter.
Work off your meals hoofing it up and down Spring Garden Park, a newish, two-tiered wonderland of whimsical play equipment, flower fields, and a Groot-like nest sculpture, carved into the side of a huge hill in the Multnomah neighborhood. Wave hello to Julie Richardson while you’re there: the owner of Hillsdale’s Baker & Spice café walks her dogs, a pair of Great Pyrenees mixes named Loki and Burt, through the park every other day.
“I’ve lived in Multnomah Village for 21 years,” says the baker. “We were a bit of a food desert until five years ago.” Now she heads to French Quarter food cart pod for Yoshi’s spicy tuna-shrimp rolls. (“I’d never thought in a million years there would be good sushi in Multnomah Village,” she admits.)
Across the street, a quaint main drag welcomes with a steadfast indie bookshop (41-year-old Annie Bloom’s Books) and Richardson’s go-to for boho scarves and well-priced jewelry (Sarah J. Handmade). A block away, one of the city’s largest beer selections hides inside dingy minimart John’s Marketplace. It stocks wine, too. “Go in with a picture of a bottle from a restaurant, and Mike, the wine steward, will find a case for you,” says Richardson.
After work in nearby Hillsdale, Richardson unwinds with a Woodboy IPA at Sasquatch or at Verde Cocina’s veggie-driven Mexican food. But she says that Sundays are when the hood comes alive, thanks to the year-round Hillsdale Farmers Market. “It’s small, there’s good parking, and everything you need is there,” says Richardson.