Lents Is One of Southeast’s Most Fun Neighborhoods to Explore

Get a cannoli made to order, followed by a pickle on a stick at the ball game.

Lents Park (Michael Raines)

Back in 1998, the city designated the far Southeast Portland neighborhood of Lents as an urban renewal area (and then invested more than $200 million in it), and it shows. While its defining infrastructure is still Interstate 205 splitting the neighborhood in two, the neighborhood’s streets, housing and businesses are polished up and the neighborhood has much more to offer.

Holy Cannoli

At first glance, the cannoli at Bella’s Italian Bakery (9119 SE Woodstock Blvd., 971-255-1212, bellasitalianbakery.com) are nowhere to be found in the pastry case among the focaccia, coffee cake, and mascarpone sweet rolls. Turns out they are made to order—freshly filled with cold, creamy homemade ricotta to complement the golden-brown shells fried to a snap, the ends dipped in the customer’s choice of almonds, chocolate or pistachios. Bella’s has been a brick-and-mortar since 2018 after maintaining a consistent presence at the Lents International Farmers Market. That’s where owner Michelle Vernier first met the folks from Trailhead Roasters, which sources all of the beans for the bakery’s Italian espresso bar. As a Lents resident herself, Vernier says bringing community together has been the best part of owning Bella’s—regulars walk in for coffee and pastries or a sandwich, often kids and dogs in tow. “We feed the neighborhood,” she says.

Zoiglhaus’ Glow-Up

For folks who haven’t ventured out to Southeast 92nd Avenue in a while, Zoiglhaus (5716 SE 92nd Ave., 971-339-2374, zoiglhaus.com) has made some big moves since the pandemic. The brewery and German restaurant took the mandatory closure as an opportunity to renovate and turned the space into a giant food hall called The Zed, with nine kitchen options, including La Arepa (Venezuelan), Coco Garden (Thai) and Sherpa Kitchen (Nepalese). The play area for kiddos is gone, but the pavilion has a little stage with toys and blocks for kids to let loose while parents enjoy a beer. Come summer, the Zoigl-Pils or the Zoigl-Kölsch will hit the spot, or this weekend, the brewery and Sherpa Kitchen host a release party for the Himalayan Pilsner in honor of Everest Day. The party is 5-9 pm Saturday, June 1, at The Zed.

Grilled Meats With a Side of K-Pop

If there were ever a time to wear stretchy pants to dinner, it’s to an all-you-can-eat tabletop grilling dinner at K-Town Korean BBQ (5450 SE 82nd Ave., 503-444-7700, ktownhomebbq.com). For $38.99 per person, K-Town brings four meats at a time from a list of 33—chicken and pork belly in numerous marinades, plus short ribs, bulgogi, seafood and more adventurous fare, such as intestines—for two hours or until you beg for mercy, whichever comes first. K-Town also offers finite lunch and dinner portions, such as a $14.99 bibimbap bowl that came with half a dozen serviceable banchan to start. A TV on the wall playing music videos ensures that by the end of the meal, diners have brushed up on K-pop standards BTS and BlackPink and moved on to the latest craze, NewJeans.

Let’s Roll

So much inner-city bowling has gone high-end boutiquey that KingPins Family Entertainment Center (3550 SE 92nd Ave., 503-788-7889, mykingpins.com) is a relief—a huge, 32-lane alley with birthday parties, weekend cosmic bowling and a blinding arcade, all without leaving Portland proper. For more than 30 years, bowlers in the know have flocked to Larry’s Pro Shop, a centerpiece of the Portland bowling community, where the eponymous owner sells shoes, bags, gloves and balls, drilling the holes on custom orders himself. There are eight additional lanes located within the Taphouse, where there is mood lighting all day long, squishy couches, and cocktail and food specials (May special: taco pizza). Also, both the Portland and Beaverton KingPins locations participate in the national Kids Bowl Free summer program from May to September.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

At 38 acres, Lents Park (4808 SE 92nd Ave., portland.gov/parks/lents-park) has space for lots of free outdoor amenities—an off-leash dog park, a renovated playground with accessible play surfaces and equipment, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, a community garden and more. As of this month, the basketball and tennis courts are fenced off for six to eight weeks of renovation and repairs, a project partially financed by Nike and Trail Blazer donations. But since 2016, the highlight of Lents Park for many has been Walker Stadium, the home of Portland’s collegiate wood-bat baseball team the Pickles. On a summer evening, it’s hard to beat watching America’s pastime (and the antics of the charming mascot Dillon T. Pickle) while drinking beer out of a souvenir baseball bat and eating a pickle on a stick.

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