Diverse elements flow through North Lombard Street, North Portland's bustling main artery. Glistening Range Rovers glide by on their way to the burgeoning neighborhood of St Johns while, to the east, Kenton continues to represent Portland's blue collar history. Between those neighborhoods, young immigrant families set down roots in New Columbia, and Nike-clad college kids jog under maple-lined streets in University Park. It's not the most dense or pedestrian-friendly area, but the businesses that settle here tend to invest in their community, making the whole better than its parts.
King Burrito, 2924 N Lombard St.
Portsmouth Pantry, 5003 N Lombard St.
3 Tracks Music, 7429 N Lombard St.
Rocks Box Contemporary Fine Art, 6540 N Interstate Ave.
Mock Crest Tavern
3435 N Lombard St., 503-283-5014, mockcrest.com. Breakfast-late daily.
On a Friday night, equal parts neon light, groaning blues guitar, and the aroma of meat sizzling on a flat-top grill flood the street in front of Mock Crest Tavern; no marketing firm could dream up a better ad campaign. Whether killing a few whiskeys alone at the bar, or shooting the breeze on the back patio with your friends, it's hard to have a bad night at Mock Crest. Order the best bourbon you can afford, dressed with ice, Coke, or however you like it, and drink it with the old blues cats as they catch their breath between sets.
5905 N Lombard St., 503-830-1515. Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, dinner Saturday-Sunday.
The best "drunken noodles," or pad ki mao, were made popular by Chinese immigrants living in Northern Thailand, and this transient history is probably responsible for why the best pad ki mao in North Portland can be found in a tiny noodle box that bucks any particular regional loyalty. $.
5328 N Lombard St., 503-285-7150, thefishwife.com. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-
Friday, dinner Saturday.
The Fishwife is not designed for young people, which is probably why it's so wonderful. Come for the amazingly fresh fried scallops and halibut, a serviceable bottle of wine, and when the server asks, "What kind of starch you want with your meal?" answer "Garlic mashed potatoes." $-$$.
2924 N Lombard St., 503-283-9757, kingburritomexicanfood.com. Lunch-late night daily.
King Burrito belongs to an American subclassification of the taqueria, where if you dare utter the word "authenticity" you'll catch a flying zapato to the back of the dome because everyone already knows the hamburger is better than the taco. The eponymous burrito is the size of a baby pig, and pending FDA approval, it could be the cure for being underweight. $.
5003 N Lombard St., 503-341-4688. Breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Sunday.
Portsmouth Pantry has all the amenities of a modern coffee shop with the soul of a beloved neighborhood cafe. Its espresso drinks are on point, and the cheddar biscuits offer just enough sustenance to make a light breakfast or afternoon snack. The fact that the electricity goes out when they run the dishwasher and air conditioner simultaneously only makes the place more endearing. $.
The Foggy Notion
3416 N Lombard St., 503-240-0249, thefoggynotion.com.
Long known for its raucous rock shows and reputation as a bartender's bar, the Foggy Notion is where many Portlanders poured one out when the bar closed last winter. Reopened under new ownership, the Notion has kept its signature glowing wall of booze, beloved trivia nights, and packed music calendar.
Roots Garden Supply
6850 N Interstate Ave., 503-285-4768, rootsgardensupply.com.
Roots Garden Supply has a storied reputation for having some of the deepest, uh, roots in Portland cannabis, particularly in regard to organic growing. The staff is large and knowledgeable, and it fosters long-term relationships with top suppliers.
6550 N Interstate Ave., 503-286-0343, homebrewexchange.net. Closed Monday.
Homebrew Exchange is for the young and flanneled generation of homebrewers. Though offering nothing particularly rare in the ingredients department, it does have almost everything you might need. The exchange also hosts the all-female Lady Brew Portland club.
3 Tracks Music
7429 N Lombard St., 503-673-3941. Closed Sunday-Monday.
The lively and diverse North Portland music scene has always been somewhat improvised, so the new specialty guitar shop 3 Tracks Music has been a welcome addition. Strum away on new guitars from National or vintage Gibsons, and pedals from Booshy Box and Catalinbread. You can also get your favorite guitar repaired or pick up some new strings in a pinch.
6550 N Interstate Ave., 503-890-8273, oregonictonic.com.
Oregonic Tonic has come up with the answer to the uninspiring and overly sweet kombuchas you so often find next to organic soy protein shakes at Whole Foods. Made in the naturally unpredictable homebrew style, Oregonic Tonic keeps it raw and racy.
7701 N Chautauqua Blvd.
The centuries-old conifers of Columbia Park feel almost like the columns of a Gothic cathedral. Driving by on bustling North Lombard Street, the park has a somber curb appeal. Those with no interest in religious imagery can kill an afternoon throwing iron in the horseshoe pits with a paper-bagged bottle of Old English tucked behind the backstop.
Rocks Box Contemporary Fine Art
6540 N Interstate Ave., 503-516-4777, rocksboxfineart.com. Noon-5 pm Saturday-Sunday.
This gallery brings a jolt of contemporary and new media art to its mostly residential neighborhood through short-term residency programs and exhibitions. Its Conceptual Oregon Performance School offers classes in experimental art forms such as web-based and performance arts.
University of Portland
5000 N Willamette Blvd.
The University of Portland campus is located on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River and Port of Portland, with downtown sparkling in the distance. It may have been founded as a Catholic university, but you can't tell by the row of unincorporated frat houses and front-lawn beer pong that stretches along Willamette Avenue. Wasn't college great?