What do you want your life to look like? When you picture it, are you spending time traveling to the places you want to be, or are you already there? Is there one activity you think about over and over again, or are you always visiting somewhere new?
If you are an experience seeker who loves the destination more than the drive, you want to live in a central location, and Portland’s Northwest District is at the center of it all. You’ll find the Pearl’s art district to the east, Downtown’s cultural hub to the south, and two of the city’s biggest natural areas to the north and west less than 10 minutes away.
A central location is great when you want to go outside of it, but what about staying in? You want a walkable neighborhood with plenty of local options, and that’s where the Northwest District excels.
You don’t want to go far for breakfast. We get it. Let’s be real, travel is a lunch luxury. You’re either hustling to work on an empty stomach or woke up hungry. When you live in the Northwest, you’ve got multiple fast and fine dining options on every block.
Leave Voodoo to the tourists. You’ve got places to go and you need a deep-fried pastry, stat. Blue Star Donuts + Coffee on Lovejoy is the Portlanders’ donuts shop of choice. You live in the neighborhood, it’s time to start eating like it.
You got up early and you’ve got time for a real breakfast. Their tagline is sassy, “You eat here because we let you,” but the service is class. We love the real corn beef hash with hollandaise but the Stepping Stone is famous for their plate suffocating pancakes.
So you’re fed and ready to explore, but you need the lay of the land first. The Northwest District covers several different neighborhoods including Nob Hill, Slab Town, Willamette Heights, and part of Forest Park Northwest District.
What are they known for and why should you pay them a visit?
Neighborhood Style: Historical Homes and Warehouses
Things to do:
Highlight: Many homes in the neighborhood date back to the early 1900’s. Willamette Heights was the site of Portland’s first housing boom, and many of the original structures remain intact.
Neighborhood Style: Industrial Buildings meet Bohemia
Things to do:
Highlight:The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum is a Slabtown legend that blends equal part arts museum, gift shop, and roadside attraction into a great place to spend an hour.
Neighborhood Style: Family Homes meet Boutique
Things to do:
If you like healthy eating, you know that flavor is everything. Making a vegetable medley bowl taste cohesive can be difficult without the usual trappings of fat, salt, and sugar. Great flavor and green living is the mantra at Laughing Planet, even if their logo looks like it immigrated to Portland from a space-themed fun center in Missoula.
Frequent Mentions: Affordable Cost, Vegan Friendly, Large Portions
You don’t really have to mind your manners when you eat pizza, especially when it’s this crispy. Please Louise is dedicated to the best kind of pizza, one with a thin crust and an audible crunch. Helmed by Chef Brian Lamback of Tasty n Alder fame, you’re in for a culinary treat. With a limited number of pies compared to a chain, what they’re missing in variety, they make up for in flavor. We recommend the fennel sausage pie.
Frequent Mentions: The Vibe, The Pie Crust, Great Appetizers
Guy Fieri has been here, so Industrial Café & Saloon either sells reliably tasty American food, or discount hair products. There aren’t any rules about frosted tips, so come bring your pet, grab a seat, and enjoy outdoor seating on the patio or indoor seating at a table or bar. It’s a great place for classic Americana with an elevated flavor profile and hearty portions. They even raise their own beef.
Frequent Mentions: Great Service, Unique Atmosphere, Amazing Burgers
That’s good corn beef. You’re taking hash to another hashalistic level. A man has hash issues when he’s got his own little special hash pan. Oh, that’s good hash. You get the tenderness of the onions, bell peppers, a little green onion, you get that freshness. Just enough potatoes to legitimize it, now that’s good hash.
Source: Guy Fieri - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
You’ve signed your lease on an apartment for rent in NW Portland, and now you’re ready to live like a local; but if you really want to discover the heart of a district, you have to visit its locally-owned boutiques.
NW 23rd Avenue was listed by U.S. News as one of America’s best shopping streets. Tripsavvy and Oregon Live said the same, so it must be true! What are some favorite local shops in the Northwest District?
If you want to support local artists, make Tender Loving Empire your first stop. This record label/local artist and goods store has been empowering community members to follow their passions since 2007.
Over 1,000,000 people have walked through our doors and seen the work of the 2000+ artists we’ve showcased, and the 400+ local musicians we’ve featured. By the end of our 10th year, we will have released 70 records and 5 comic books and made thousands and thousands of fans for the bands we represent. We’ll be employing over 35 people. We’ve paid over $2,500,000 to artists and have seen dozens of them be able to quit their day jobs and do what they love for a full time living.
Source: Jared and Brianne Mees - Owners of Tender Loving Empire
You’ve been searching for a holistically minded pet store for your dog and cat, and you’ve found one. The Northwest District is home to Hip Hound, a store specializing in organic, natural, boutique food, treats, and treatments for your pet. It’s a go to for area pet owners whose hounds are on a raw food diet.
This jewelry shop began as a merger between Paul Schneider and Laren Eulau, two artists who worked as a potter and weaver before opening Twist. They used their relationships with local artists to create and curate a shop dedicated to jewelry as an artform. The collection is highly curated, ever changing, and has even won owner Paul Schneider the Cindy Edelstein Award at COUTURE in 2018.
Blush first opened in 2006 and was a passion project for original owner Deborah Hayes.
“Opening a store where my colleagues and I could pursue our passion for make-up artistry, the best skin care and help people from Portland and all over the world find their own true definition of Beauty. For me, for work, that is the dream.”
Source: Deborah Hayes
As one of the first beauty shops in the area to offer small-run and boutique cosmetics in addition to services including threading, it brought a new way to do beauty to NW Portland. When Deborah decided to start the next chapter of her life, two customers reached out to her in order to purchase Blush Beauty Bar and continue its legacy.
You’ve eaten two meals+, toured district neighborhoods, peered into houses older than your parents and purchased a vampire hunting kit. What’s next for a Portlander like you? Dinner.
There’s a classical feeling to an old-school style chophouse. RingSide Steakhouse has that certain je ne sais quoi—it’s hard to pin down, but you know it when you see it. RingSide feels like taking a step back in time, where everyone takes pride in their work and the food and service feel luxurious in their flavor and presentation. Open since 1944, the restaurant will soon undergo renovations for the first time.
Frequent Mentions: Exceptional Service, Perfect Steaks, Dark Lighting
As any Guy Fieri will tell you, flavor town doesn’t have to be an expensive place to live. Lucky Labrador Beer Hall pulls double duty as one of Portland’s best breweries and a great place for cheap but tasty bar food. We recommend the pulled pork sandwich which is absolutely stuffed with meat and topped off with a tangy, vinegary, in-house made sauce.
Frequent Mentions: Excellent Beer, Dog Friendly Patio, Good Sandwiches
What’s better than an amazing sushi roll? A roll that’s made using 100% sustainably caught fish. Sustainability is Bamboo Sushi’s specialty, and everything on the menu follows this mantra. Becoming the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in 2008 took hard work and dedication. That same care and attention goes into everything they make, earning Bamboo Sushi top marks from Portland eaters.
Frequent Mentions: Green Machine Rolls, Friendly Staff, Great Steam Buns
You don’t have to do everything in one day. You’re a local now. Take your time, mark your calendar, and make sure you don’t miss out on these neighborhood events.
Community festivals are one of the best ways to get to know one. Slabtown wears its industrial roots on its heavily tattooed sleeve, and they celebrate their heritage every year with the Slabtown Community Festival.
The neighborhood got its name from the industry that spawned it. Logs used to be processed into lumber across Slabtown, and the slab ends were used as a cheap heating source by locals. This annual gathering of neighborhood businesses and residents come together to celebrate Slabtown’s unique shared history and future as a growing residential district.
Every year around the beginning of September, Vaux’s swifts come to nest in Portland as they make their way from Canada to South America. This specific group of swifts can top 16,000 and is thought to be the largest migrating group of Vaux’s swifts in the world. They make their temporary home in the smokestack at Chapman Elementary School on NW 26th Ave, and that’s where you come in.
Every year students from the school, members of the Audubon Society, and curious Portlanders’ get together to watch the swifts return to roost roughly an hour before sunset. The Swift Watch takes place at the school’s lawn, and free parking is available at Montgomery Park and SELCO CCU. If you live in the NW District just grab a blanket, jacket, and binoculars—it’s all you’ll need to enjoy the show.
Holland Residential is proud to manage multiple apartments in the Portland metro area. Providing amenities for our residents that inspire community and ownership over their free time is what luxury living is all about. We hope you’ll consider a Holland Property for your next apartment home, where you can enjoy easy access to the local NW activities you love both right at home and further afield.