Where to Live Now

Neighborhood Guide: Nob Hill and Slabtown

New condos, old favorites, art house cinema, and one not-so-spooky Witch's Castle

By Margaret Seiler

Forest Park's Witch's Castle

Sitting in the shadow of the Fremont Bridge ramps, Slabtown’s new construction on the former Con-way trucking company’s empty lots has created an insta-neighborhood served by a new New Seasons grocery and welcoming restaurants, including the vegetable forward G-Love. The booming population is catching up with the Portland Streetcar, which has been looping through Northwest since 2001.  

In the overlapping Nob Hill neighborhood bustles with both transplants fresh in town and Old Portland types who remember when these streets weren’t lined with boutiques and Biketown stations, and it’s grown even busier in recent years as a trucking company’s old parking lots in neighboring Slabtown see new life with apartment towers and airy new commercial spaces. 

Mornings in these hoods can mean a perfect pastry at Ken’s Artisan Bakery, or a full eggy breakfast with a cocktail or two at Besaw’s. For lunch, grab a foldable slice at Escape from NY Pizza. Find your happy hour destiny in a three-block stretch of NW 21st home to North 45 and the beloved patio at Twenty First Ave Kitchen and Bar. Settle in for dinner with a side of belly-dancing at Marrakesh, or get to know a local James Beard Award–winning chef at Paley’s Place. Have that nightcap at cozy (as in tiny!) M Bar or mosey over to Breakside Brewing’s taproom. Revive with teenagers out late at Coffee Time or indulge in some late-night cake at Papa Haydn. Then collapse. 

Outfitting a place? Northwest is home to local standby Kitchen Kaboodleplus furniture-and-décor-packed Manor Fine Wares and a newly expandedfour-story Restoration Hardware. Outfitting a person? From Oh Baby Lingerie to Sloan Boutique, this district has you covered. Top it off with unique jewelry at TwistGem Set Love, and Betsy & Iya, and just the right pair of frames at Fetch Eyewear, which donates its profits to animal welfare organizations. 

This bar-heavy hood can be hopping at night, with lines for Cinema 21’s art-house screenings and packed private karaoke rooms at Voicebox. Find a more anything-can-happen karaoke feel at Mazatlán’s Bar & Grilla few blocks south just off of Burnside (technically in Southwest). 

Heading west, the bustling commercial zone gives way quickly to low-slung apartment buildings and lovely old houses—and then the green curtain descends and you’re in Forest Park. For a starter hike, find the Lower Macleay trailhead at the end of NW Upshur Street, and follow it to the Stone House, an old Works Progress Administration bathroom that’s also called the Witch’s Castle.  

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