Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard’s colorful residents work hard to keep the area reflecting their indie spirit. As a result, you won’t find many chain restaurants here, so plan on eating adventurously.
The best example of this is The Waffle Window, quite possibly Portland’s most playful dining spot. A literal hole in the wall, demarcated by a blue door, the popular snack spot doles out smiles in the form of waffles overflowing with bacon, cheddar and jalapeño — or dipped in peanut butter and chocolate.
Equally adored, ¿Por Qué No? usually has a line out its door, and for good reason. The street-style tacos pair perfectly with margaritas and boozy sangrias; the guacamole is made to order; and house-made sauces liven it all up. Served amid eye-catching art, or on its cozy patio rain or shine, their authentic Mexican fare is a great way to quickly fuel a local adventure.
Self-serve sundae shop The Maple Parlor invites visitors to build their own soft-serve masterpieces, with ample options for those avoiding gluten, dairy or refined sugar. Choose from tasty toppings like sesame balls, raw fudge and candied bacon.
At the east end of Hawthorne, Apizza Scholls’ reputation for serving some of best pizza pretty much anywhere was confirmed by a visit from Anthony Bourdain himself. The restaurant’s round beauties feature toppings like cured pork shoulder and goat horn peppers. But arrive early and expect to work up an appetite in the usually long line.
Harlow, a spin-off of the Pearl District’s veggie and gluten-free stronghold Prasad, woos eastsiders with decadent, yet health-focused fare. Try the lemon poppyseed pancakes and a coconut cider, or the “rawsome” veggie burger and rich smoothies like the Retrospection, loaded with almond butter and cacao.
Right in the middle of Hawthorne’s busiest stretch, 3 Doors Down Café, beloved for its lengthy happy hour, is another serious food destination, with ingredient-driven, Italian cuisine, like their house-made ricotta cavatelli and mussels and clams ladled with spicy plum-tomato sauce.
But wherever you are on Hawthorne, great coffee is likely within arms’ reach. The Fresh Pot, which adjoins Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, is a favorite place for enjoying an espresso alongside a paperback. Further east, Albina Press, pouring up rich mochas, cocoas and heavenly cappuccinos, also serves WiFi data to its laptop-toting customers. A second outpost of Coava Coffee provides coffee-lovers with locally roasted single-origin coffee and espresso, plus single-origin mochas made with a custom blend of shaved and powdered Cocanu chocolate.