Portland has long been a place where diverse cultures not only converge, but are celebrated. A local hot spot that draws inspiration from abroad is also home to delights that can be found only in Portland. Reminiscent of Paris’ intimate passageways, clean Scandinavian architecture and Middle Eastern bazaars, Union Way, a modern arcade connecting downtown Portland’s West End with the Pearl District, opened for business in summer 2013. Converted from two former nightclubs, the corridor packs various businesses into a covered galleria that links Powell’s City of Books to the Ace Hotel.
With nine shops ranging in size from 187 to 1,500 square feet, the bright alleyway, lit with skylights, is the perfect bridge to connect the city’s newest shopping neighborhood, the West End, to the Pearl District, with its many boutiques and galleries. Danner, the iconic Oregon boot brand, has opened its first ever stand-alone retail shop in the alley, alongside high-end outfitter Will Leather Goods, another established Oregon company. The pair show off Portland style in a whole new light alongside Steven Alan — with its classic, all-American, casual apparel — and the gritty denim looks available at Self Edge. And keeping the body looking good, Spruce Apothecary, an offshoot of nearby Canoe, brings locally made beauty products to the lane.
Great food always draws a crowd in Portland, which is why some of the city’s most innovative tastemakers are setting their tables in Union Way. Boxer Ramen (from the founders of Little Big Burger and Blue Star Donuts) serves up piping bowls of noodles and broth with a background of whimsical art. Finally, big on flavor but small on floor space, 187-square-foot Quin puts new spins on old sweets, like popcorn-studded caramels and smoked cola gumdrops. Never tried those flavors before? Of course not — they’re only in Portland.