Sip Down the Rose City’s Historic Mississippi Avenue
If there’s one area that captures the bohemian spirit and creative spark that defines Portland, it’s the Historic Mississippi District in the Boise neighborhood of North Portland. You can easily spend the day wandering between vintage stores and boutiques, garden shops and galleries, and countless culinary destinations on the leaf-canopied Mississippi Avenue. Most of the 60-plus shops and restaurants are locally owned and operated, and some dwell in historic Craftsman-style bungalows.
The eclectic mix of merchants offer everything from artisan chocolate and cast-iron skillets to specialty tea and terrariums. Like the neighborhood, the drinking and dining scene here has a maverick streak and a sense of joie de vivre with outdoor patios, secret gardens and bicycling baristas. You’ll find flavors from around the world, but with a taste that’s pure Portland.
9 A.M. Perk up at the recently opened Jory Coffee Co., where coffee geeks will delight in the pour-over only menu — served hot, iced or bubbly. The 350-square-foot, Scandinavian-style multi-roaster also dishes up pastries and avocado toast. Prefer a side of history with your morning brew? Order an espresso at The Fresh Pot, a renovated drug store and soda fountain, where you can sip your Stumptown coffee seated on an original swirl-around bar stool. If you crave something sweet with your cup of joe, look for the “Keep Calm and Eat Donuts” mural, and you’ve found Blue Star Donuts where you can indulge in the popular BBB donut that combines blueberries, basil and Bulleit bourbon or the Hard Apple Cider Fritter.
9:45 A.M. Ask any local where to eat breakfast and they’ll send you to Gravy, one of the city’s most beloved breakfast spots, known for made-from-scratch comfort dishes ranging from short stack buttermilk pancakes to savory smoked salmon hash. The nearby Verde Cocina serves up a hearty huevos rancheros and papas con chorizo, plus chilaquiles and breakfast tacos for the weekend-only brunch. Farther down the avenue, you can dine without the line (and with your faithful hound on the patio) at Interurban, a bar featuring pre-Prohibition era cocktails, an extensive whiskey list and delicious weekend brunch. Order on the wild side and try dishes made with local game like the rabbit hash or biscuits and gravy served with boar sausage.
11 A.M. From any of the brunch spots you can coast a few blocks to reach one of the city’s most enchanting culinary emporiums, The Meadow, founded by nationally renowned selmelier (salt expert) Mark Bitterman. This European-style shop has 120-plus varieties of gourmet salts, a world of artisan chocolates, cocktail bitters, boutique wines and beautiful bouquets of flowers. Across the street, you can support the printed word at Another Read Through, the neighborhood’s indie bookstore, then walk a few doors down to Mr. Green Beans, a one-stop shop for home roasting supplies from quality raw coffee beans to pour-over brewing systems.
12 P.M. A brew with a view? Yes, please. Sip your first beer while soaking up the city skyline from the outdoor patio at Ecliptic Brewing. Tenured brewmaster and owner John Harris — a beer legend formerly of Deschutes — gets to combine his love for brewing and astronomy at his newer venture with signature beers including Carina Peach Sour Ale and the popular Starburst IPA. A short skip away, you can join the revelry at StormBreaker Brewing — known for turning out hoppy IPAs and satisfying stouts. At the far end of Mississippi, make a point to toast at Prost!, one of the city’s most popular beer gardens. Set in a charmingVictorian, the German beer bar offers brews like Franziskaner Weissbier and Warsteiner Dunkel, plus perfect pairings that include Bavarian pretzels and bratwurst mit sauerkraut.
2 P.M. From this end of Mississippi, you can revive yourself with a taste of the sea at Olympia Oyster Bar, a Parisian-inspired space named for the petite oyster native to the Pacific Coast. Or, two blocks down, you can ogle artisan creations at MadeHere PDX, a shop dedicated to highlighting Portland-based designers and makers. In addition to cocktail syrups, micro-roasted coffee and myriad sauces and salts, you can find biscuits for canine friends made with repurposed spent grains harvested from Portland breweries.
3:30 P.M. Pop by Townshend’s Tea Co. for a quick palate cleanser. Set in a rehabbed 1940s carpentry shop, the teahouse offers classic teas, bubble teas and the popular kombucha (the summer seasonal strawberry basil can’t be beat). To extend this wellness moment, cruise by Pistils Nursery, an oasis of country in the city where you can find rare flora, botanical art and fancy chickens clucking around the urban gardens.
4 P.M. Whether your happy hour begins with wine or tiki cocktails, there’s plenty of options within a short few blocks. The 650-square-foot, wood-paneled Sidecar 11 has cheekily named drinks like Oh Harvey You Cad and So Riveted By You. At No Bones Beach Club, you can soak up the island vibe with thatched umbrellas, tiki cocktails and tropical vegan fare — highlights include the pineapple radish wontons and the golden beet poke. For tapas, Radar Restaurant is calling.
6 P.M. Get a taste of classic Northwest at the fetching Quaintrelle with rotating creative vegetable-driven plates and dishes that spotlight local ingredients like the Dungeness crab toast, or the popular sheep cheese dumplings. For a casual vibe, join the crowds at ¿Por Qué No?, the city’s most celebrated taqueria. And yes, in case you are wondering, it is worth the wait.
9 P.M. Always save room for dessert. Especially when Ruby Jewel is in the neighborhood. Famous for their ice cream sandwiches, the equally delicious scoop menu features flavors made from all-Northwest ingredients. Because the night is young, add one last stop and make it Mississippi Studios, an intimate venue for live music in the city, also known for a rousing patio scene at its sidekick Bar Bar.
This article originally ran in the print summer 2018 edition of Sip Northwest.