Where to Live Now

Neighborhood Guide: Brentwood-Darlington

Towering firs, religious resting places, and one legendary cart pod

By Margaret Seiler

An "Order Here"sign with an arrow, affixed to a surface covered in comic book images

The bar top at Misdemeanor Meadows in Brentwood-Darlington

Hugging the county line south of Duke Street from SE 45th to 82nd and formerly known as Errol Heights, Brentwood-Darlington was annexed as part of Portland only in 1986. On a plateau above Johnson Creek and below Mount Scott, the area was long plagued by rutted mud roads, a dodgy water and sewer system, hastily built and substandard wartime housing, and frequent hazel brush fires. A 1992 city report detailed some of the effects of longtime civic neglect, but also called Brentwood-Darlington a place where working-class people “can raise their families and a safe, attractive environment ... where people of diverse backgrounds and interests can feel comfortable and accepted.”

A stone fountain with a chapel awning and gravestones in the background

The Congregation Shaarie Torah Cemetery

Indeed, today the neighborhood’s elementary schools, Whitman and Woodmere, are among the most ethnically diverse in the city, and it’s home to both a pair of sun-soaked historic Jewish cemeteries (Congregation Shaarie Torah and Kesser Israel) and the century-old, fir-shaded Apostolic Faith Camp Meeting Park, packed with tiny cabins that fill a few times a year for Pentecostal Christian conferences. Around the corner, find another sort of religious experience at a punk show at Misdemeanor Meadows, a bar and music venue opened in 2018 (its name is a reference to “Felony Flats” which has been a derisive nickname for some parts of Southeast Portland), where a portrait of Lemmy Kilmister hangs over the comic-book bar top and a glowing Millennium Falcon greets you on your way to the bathroom. For more of a bar-bar, head to the Hidden East, tucked behind a Space Age gas station, also on SE 52nd. Pick up a new hobby nearby at the Starlight Knitting Society or the Brentwood Community Garden, or try a martial arts class at G.I.R.L.S. Gym.

A column at the end of a bar decorated with signs, photos, and a bell

Rocky’s Sports & Spirits

The Cartlandia pod, at the intersection of SE 82nd Avenue and the Springwater Corridor multiuse path, is a city treasure, and was one of the first cart pods to have its own bar. But there’s quality grub at the corner of 72nd and Flavel, too, between the Birriera Jalisco food cart (try the consomé!), Three Sisters Nixtamal for take-home tortillas, and the Coney sauce hiding on the menu at Rocky’s Sports & Spirits, a bar run by the former owner of Nick’s Famous Coney Island on Hawthorne. The many shopping and eating lures of 82nd Avenue and SE Woodstock Boulevard aren't too far away, but there's still plenty to be found within this mostly residential swath of Southeast, where the median home sales price has lurched up 45 percent over the past five years and where gearhead project cars might sit on a lawn next door to a hippie homestead with chickens and solar panels.