Peppered with locally owned shops, cafés, bars and galleries, this Northeast Portland street is famed for its monthly Last Thursday street fair, but offers entertaining options any day of the month.
Alberta businesses pack in late-night crowds during the monthly Last Thursday street extravaganza — expect some of Portland’s best people-watching here (especially in the summer months, when the road is closed to traffic and crowds fill the street). The Alberta Street Fair, held in August, features live music on multiple stages, more than 150 local vendors, kids’ activities, a beer garden and more.
Anchoring the neighborhood’s east end, the Alberta Rose Theatre offers up live music, comedy nights, art house films and other events — there’s never a bad time to stop in.
Bars & beyond
McMenamins Kennedy School is a 1915 grade school transformed into a comfy and offbeat hotel, complete with a restaurant, movie theater, outdoor soaking pool and no fewer than five bars. Continue the back-to-school theme with a trip to the Grilled Cheese Grill, a food-cart-plus where you can eat your sandwich — be it a Kindergartner (plain grilled cheese) or The Cheesus (a burger berween two grilled cheese sandwiches) — on a converted double-decker bus. Across the street, you can learn about vegan bar food at The Bye and Bye, where the options range from a brown rice bowl with barbecued tofu and Brussels sprouts to a crave-worthy chili pie of Fritos topped with vegan chili, sour cream and cheese.
Get an education in saké at Zilla Saké House, where the 70+ varieties of saké include offerings from SakéOne, located in Forest Grove, west of Portland. Let the experienced staff pour you a flight; they can also recommend the best pairings from the sushi menu.
Reward yourself for good behavior at Salt & Straw, where ice cream gets the gourmet treatment; it’s worth the wait in line for a homemade waffle cone filled with original flavors like pear with blue cheese.
More treats are in store at Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery, where the Tahitian vanilla sugar salted caramel apple pie was named one of America’s best by Leisure + Travel in 2013. The shop, which stays open late, also serves savory pies, sandwiches, coffee and cocktails.
Get your craft on
This being an arts district, it’s the perfect place to pick up some supplies (and skills) for your own artistic endeavors. Boutique art-supply store Collage offers inspiring DIY products and free demonstrations on weekends to help you create new treasures to take home.
Aspiring to join Portland’s numerous successful Project Runway contestants — or just wanting to sew yourself some new duds? Visit Modern Domestic for sewing classes and open sewing hours on their fleet of Bernina machines; a few blocks east, you’ll find a wide range of material at Bolt Fabric Boutique. Next door to Bolt, yarn shop Close Knit wins fans with its inspiring sample projects, great yarn selection and friendly staff.