Molly Woodstock

Molly Woodstock has been writing and editing content for Travel Portland since 2014. Read More

St. Johns

Once its own town, this North Portland enclave is filled with homegrown shops and independent spirit.

More than 100 years ago, leafy St. Johns existed as a small, quiet town at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Today, the quaint North Portland neighborhood retains its small-town charm with its many locally owned shops, pubs and cafés. Pack a picnic blanket for an afternoon in Cathedral Park, cross the picturesque St. Johns Bridge and get ready to explore a lovely, lesser-known side of Portland.

Eat

Tucked away in the back of a Mexican grocery story and bakery, unassuming Taqueria Santa Cruz (located in the back of Tienda Santa Cruz) garners rave reviews from the city’s foodies for its enormous, budget-friendly tacos and burritos, packed with authentic flavors.

Sunny Girasole takes wood-fired eats to sizzling heights by baking its pretzels, nachos, lasagna, cinnamon rolls and (of course) pizza in a 600-degree wood-fired oven. Another perennial pizza favorite, the Signal Station serves hand-slung pies inside a repurposed vintage gasoline station complete with a spacious patio.

5 to Try

St. Johns Eateries

These five dining destinations in St. Johns are local favorites.

  • Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ

    This famous plant-based food cart satisfies comfort-food cravings with smoked tempeh rib platters, mock pulled-pork sandwiches and mac-and-cheese burritos.

  • Paiku

    Formerly a food cart, Paiku is known for its sweet and savory scratch-made pies and baked pancakes. The cozy St. Johns eatery offers brunch, dinner and a full bar.

  • DeHomis

    This popular St. Johns food cart specializes in Japanese comfort food, including Gyoza (pot-stickers) and Karaage ("ka-ra-a-ge"), deep fried chicken and miso soup.

  • Gabagool

    Formerly a food cart, this locally-owned Italian eatery prepares fresh, handmade pasta daily, along with Italian classics like potato gnocchi and a capicola-loaded sandwiches.

  • Falafel House

    This all-vegetarian Middle Eastern food cart makes its pita from scratch daily, along with decadent vegan falafel, shawarma and seitan gyros.

Play

Wake up at St. Johns Coffee Roasters, a cheery café brightened by colorful chalkboards and fragrant bouquets of fresh flowers. Peek through a window to see organic, fair trade beans being roasted on site in a sleek, blue, small-batch roaster.

One of the city’s most cherished green spaces, Cathedral Park attracts dog walkers, picnic goers, boaters and wedding parties. Mark your summer calendar for can’t-miss annual events like the free Cathedral Park Jazz Festival. Within an easy walk of the park, visitors can sample artisanal sweets from the Moonstruck Chocolate factory, and beat the heat with a summery kolsch in the airy tasting room of the Euro-inspired Occidental Brewing.

Explore More

Sauvie Island

Families can find an entire day’s worth of adventures on this island just northwest of Portland.

Find Frito pies, rockin’ bands and bourbon-spiked sweet tea at Southern-inspired bar and music venue The Fixin’ To. The patio of Leisure Public House, another favorite watering hole, hosts bocce ball and ping-pong matches late into the night. For a different kind of local brew, visit SOMA, a self-serve “kombucha speakeasy” featuring exotic rotating flavors.

St. Johns’ two top movie theaters were both built more than a century ago, but that doesn’t stop them from showing first-run films with classic style and cutting-edge cinematic technology Better yet, St. Johns Twin Cinema and McMenamins St. John Theater & Pub both serve local beer and buttery popcorn, along with hearty fare like pizza, tater tots and burgers.

5 to Try

Outdoor Attractions

Explore the flora and fauna of this North Portland neighborhood.

  • Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area

    At nearly 2,000 acres, Metro’s Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is the largest protected wetlands within an American city.

  • Pier Park

    Pier Park, located in North Portland's St. Johns neighborhood, is home to a public pool and an expansive park area equipped with a seasonal play fountain, a play structure, a covered picnic area, sports fields and an 11,000-square-foot skate park.

  • Cathedral Park

    Once a fishing and seasonal living site for Native American tribes (and a landing site of Lewis and Clark), this park offers fishing, a boat ramp and canoe launch, an off-leash dog area, paved paths and picnic tables.

  • St. Johns Bridge

    Built in 1931, this historic green suspension bridge connects Northwest and North Portland. The bridge’s picturesque dual, gothic-style towers inspired the name of Cathedral Park, believed to be one of 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the area.

  • Kelley Point Park

    Kelly Point Park includes a canoe launch, swimming and fishing along the beach, historical information, walking paths, picnic areas and vistas of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.

Shop

Photographers from around the globe make pilgrimages to Blue Moon Camera and Machine to peruse a veritable museum of vintage film cameras and one of the world’s last remaining optical printing labs.

Score threads for everyone along St. Johns’ lively Lombard Street: Women browse brand-name and designer pieces at Consign Couture and gentlemen try on tailored jackets and lumberjack-grade plaid shirts at The Man’s Shop, a historic gem open since 1940.

Gorgeous window displays tempt shoppers at Etcetera, a woman-owned shop sporting well-curated gifts and home goods. Another go-to spot for browsing, Salty Teacup brims with whimsical jewelry, soap, housewares and art, all handmade by Portlanders.

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