Tucked between two trendy Northwest Portland neighborhoods (the Pearl and Nob Hill), Slabtown is a unique mix of residential and industrial buildings. The trendy area, which boasts walkable streets, plentiful shopping, coffee, restaurants and art galleries, is within walking distance of many other local hot spots. From here, you can easily access downtown, the Pearl District, Nob Hill and Forest Park, either on foot or via Portland Streetcar. But feel free to stay put — everything you need can be found in this lively, friendly neighborhood.
Coined Slabtown in 1870 for a lumber mill on Northwest Northrup Street that cut trees into lumber, slabs. Once home to a lake and several marshes, Northwest Portland was filled-in in the early twentieth century with development continually changing the landscape. Today, Slabtown has shrunk in size to a handful of blocks, from Northwest Lovejoy Street to the south to the Willamette River in the north and Interstate 405 to the east, and sometimes as far west as the West Hills -but it depends on who you ask.
Where to Eat and Drink in Slabtown
Hearty breakfast options can be devoured at Besaw’s. This storied brunch spot originally sat two blocks away but closed in 2015 after 112 years in business. Locals were overjoyed when Besaw’s reopened at their current location in 2016, offering fortifying morning cocktails and elevated brunch classics.
For a lighter breakfast and caffeine fix, head to Commissary Cafe. Housed in a former film storage building, this locally owned coffee shop pays homage to the golden age of cinema. Marvel at the understated Art Deco decor while devouring a satisfying breakfast sandwich named after a Hollywood starlet. The espresso is carefully crafted by expert baristas (and the chocolate chip cookies are downright addictive).
Ready for lunch or an afternoon beer? Head to Breakside Brewery. Here, visitors can sip award-winning beers and eat pub grub made using seasonal ingredients and local producers, and you can do all that while basking in the sun on their rooftop patio.
Things to Do in Slabtown
Stop next door for local shopping at the Yo! Store. This adorable boutique offers a bit of everything, including quirky jewelry, luxurious apothecary products and baby toys. Also offered is their curated selection of new and vintage clothing for both women and “tinies.”
More local shopping can be found at beloved clothing boutique Folly. Fashion designer Sarah Bibb opened her cheery shop in 2008, providing visitors with Portland-made clothing, jewelry and accessories. A hefty portion of the store’s clothing comes from Bibb’s own line, which she creates right in the shop. Much-loved favorites include her line of gorgeous slips and dresses.
CoHo Productions has been putting on locally produced, artist-driven plays in their homey 99-seat theater space since 1995. Don’t miss the annual Summerfest, which highlights experimental solo acts and smaller cast shows. (Past productions include an all-lady cabaret version of Moby Dick.)
Portland has a well-established network of venues and theater companies and an increasingly dynamic and diverse small theater scene.
Portland is known for its rich creative community, and DIY makers. From these established museums that showcase the greatest fine artists, to the mailbox-sized galleries of passions, Portland displays all kinds of art and curiosities.
Portland’s musical offerings are diverse as the city itself, with options including indie rock, jazz, classical, pop and more.
Finish out your night at Solo Club. This cozy bar offers a menu of generously spiced, globally inspired dishes. Dig into their kofta sliders and za’atar popcorn while sipping on an inventive cocktail. (The drinks menu highlights amari and bitters, courtesy of co-owner and local bitters evangelist Mark Bitterman.) Although it’s the perfect late-night escape, Solo Club also offers an equally tantalizing weekend brunch.
Whether it's arts, beer and food, cultural communities, events or nightlife, culture in Portland takes many forms.
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