It's worth digging below the grit and glamour to know the history of the Pearl. Nearly a century after Union Station started the industrial takeover of a residential area known as Couch's Addition, Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy immortalized the neighborhood as an addict's living room. Now, the Pearl has Portland's densest concentration of boutiques, tourist destinations and upscale urban housing. Warehouses here turned into posh houseware stores, lofts and some of the city's best retail shops. Still, the Pearl stays true to the name a gallery owner gave it, inspired by the crusty buildings housing precious artists. Between the art, the breweries and the West's biggest bookstore, there's a discovery for every type of person.
Eat: Mediterranean Exploration Company, 333 NW 13th Ave.
Drink: Fat Head's Brewery, 131 NW 13th Ave.
Shop: Powell's Books, 1005 W Burnside St.
Go: Portland Center Stage, 128 NW 11th Ave.
Must: First Thursday.
1314 NW Glisan St., 503-228-9535, andinarestaurant.com. Lunch and dinner daily.
The tapas-style menu at the Pearl's always-crammed Andina makes good use of Peru's native ingredients and Spanish influence. Show up when the doors open or after 9:30 pm if you don't have either reservations or a spare hour. $$$.
303 NW 12th Ave., 503-241-5300, caffeumbria.com. Morning-early evening daily.
Emanuele Bizzarri's small glass and steel cafe is the undisputed home of fine dark roast coffee in Portland thanks in no small part to his commitment to traditional, Italian-style dark espresso. Stop by for a cup and hang out in the brick-lined corner set aside specifically for soccer viewing. $.
Cool Moon Ice Cream
1105 NW Johnson St., 503-224-2021, coolmoonicecream.com. Lunch-late daily.
Not every craft ice-cream shop needs to reinvent the wheel. Cool Moon plays to ice cream's traditional strengths and sticks to fairly traditional flavors like mint chip, birthday cake and the four varieties of vanilla that rotate regularly. $.
Irving Street Kitchen
701 NW 13th Ave., 503-343-9440, irvingstreetkitchen.com. Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, brunch and dinner Saturday-Sunday.
At Irving Street, fried green tomatoes share table space with salmon just as they've always appeared in Cascadian kitchens, only now the tomatoes are laid over a bay shrimp remoulade, and the salmon is sake-glazed with a mint-yogurt sauce that pirouettes over your tongue. $$$.
Mediterranean Exploration Company
333 NW 13th Ave., 503-222-0906, mediterraneanexplorationcompany.com. Dinner nightly.
"When a restaurant is new and sterile, it's missing something," says chef John Gorham. "There's something about a building that starts taking on the flavors and smells of the ingredients you're using." Today, this Israeli-slash-Mediterranean restaurant is the best restaurant in the Pearl, and probably the best Mediterranean restaurant the city has ever seen. $$-$$$.
Oven and Shaker
1134 NW Everett St., 503-241-1600, ovenandshaker.com. Lunch-late night daily.
Oven and Shaker's winning formula combines thin, crispy and beautifully charred Neapolitan pies with a creative list of cocktails in four categories—fresh, dry, strong and free (as in little to no alcohol)—that covers all the bases. The result is a steady crowd pleaser, smartly decked out in dark wood and burnished metal. $$.
231 NW 11th Ave., 503-227-2421, theparishpdx.com. Dinner Wednesday-Sunday, lunch Friday-Saturday.
The Parish has been one of the city's oyster palaces since opening in 2012. It remains a top destination even as options have multiplied, offering raw beauties from local waters as well as Canada and New England. Start with a dozen and a seafood-friendly French muscadet. $$-$$$.
422 NW 8th Ave., 503-223-7275, parkkitchen.com. Dinner nightly.
Your first bite at Park Kitchen is never something you ordered. Unbidden, Scott Dolich's kitchen always delivers a flip phone-sized portion of something fresh, as if the chef sent it just for you. In a tight-quartered, open-kitchen room, Park Kitchen still defies expectations. $$$-$$$$.
102 NW 9th Ave., 503-827-0910, pearlbakery.com. Breakfast-early dinner daily.
The Pearl's best outpost for baked goods and a Portland Farmers Market all-star, Pearl Bakery has been baking fine loaves and pastries for almost 20 years. Don't skip the sourdough or the macarons. $.
926 NW 10th Ave., 503-841-5463, yamasushiandsakebar.com. Lunch and dinner daily.
Yama's extensive menu of special rolls is part dinner and part amusement park. Its concoctions are visually striking, with component flavors that complement rather than compete. Just one pick paired with a thoughtful selection of nigiri should scratch that raw-fish itch for days to come. $$-$$$$.
1411 NW Flanders St., 503-224-1700, 10barrel.com.
10 Barrel's Bend-brewed beers are on tap, but you should drink what head brewer Whitney Burnside creates in-house. She has a knack for no-nonsense lagers and good instincts for experimentation, especially if you like your beer dark or sour. Enjoy on the best rooftop patio in Portland.
210 NW 11th Ave., 503-296-4906, deschutesbrewery.com.
With all the great new breweries in Oregon, it's easy to forget how good Deschutes' beers are. Come hungry, because you won't find a better plate of salmon in the Pearl. An Inversion IPA on cask will remind you why you like beer.
Fat Head's Brewery
131 NW 13th Ave., 503-820-7721, fatheadsportland.com.
Brewer Mike Hunsaker has fashioned Ohio-founded Fat Head's into one of our city's truly great breweries, whether for its shotgun blast of experimental seasonals, or Hunsaker's absolute mastery of IPAs. Hunsaker's Semper Fi-PA, dedicated to his Marine veteran father, was voted No. 1 in a blind taste test of all Portland IPAs. Plus, the pub food is surprisingly excellent.
232 NW 12th Ave., 503-241-4009, hamletpdx.com. Closed Sunday.
Hamlet, a cocktail lounge that serves rare imported Spanish hams like the prized Iberico de Bellota, is a perfect happy-hour spot on weekdays from 4 to 7 pm. Order the beautifully marbled La Quercia prosciutto for just $5 per thinly sliced ounce and well-made cocktails for $8, down from $12.
Low Brow Lounge
1036 NW Hoyt St., 503-226-0200.
You're welcome to join the party at this timeless not-quite-a-dive as long as you understand that Low Brow's mantra, "It's not for everyone," translates to "Don't be a pain in the ass."
1015 NW Everett St., 503-445-8109, teardroplounge.com.
The rare Portland bar where you'll feel out of place in a hoodie, this is the place to drop by if you're out for a night in the neighborhood and wearing a shirt with buttons, because Teardrop makes some of the very finest cocktails in the city.
The Good Mod
1313 W Burnside St., 503-206-6919, thegoodmod.com.
There's midcentury modern and then there is the Good Mod. In its top-floor showroom and workspace, the Good Mod carefully restores true mid-mod pieces like Ray and Charles Eames' classic Herman Miller side chairs, and creates midcentury-inspired originals. Note: The prices are well within the "for big kids only" range.
1323 NW Irving St., 503-416-7476, lizardloungepdx.com.
A veritable warehouse of top-shelf lumberjack and jill clothing, like $200 blue jeans, Lounge Lizard lives up to the latter part of its name. There are endless racks of flannels, so make yourself at home while your significant other picks hard-to-find brands like Nau and Nudies with help from the friendly staff.
1015 NW Couch St., 503-226-0220, lucy.com.
Founded in Portland in 1999, Lucy makes some of the only women's activewear to rival Lululemon. Its leggings pass the sheerness test, and its prices are more reasonable, making it a pick for studios, trail runs or Sundays.
Mabel and Zora
748 NW 11th Ave., 503-241-5696, mabelandzora.com.
Women of a certain lifestyle who are looking for Diane von Furstenburg and Spanx before a night out at Teardrop will gravitate to this mainstay boutique's chandeliers, gilded mirrors and awe-inspiring dress selection. It balances the bougie with class, carrying owner Tiffany Bean's own line as well as jewelry from local designers.
Made Here PDX
40 NW 10th Ave., 503-224-0122, madeherepdx.com.
The name says it and the location makes it. Next to Powell's Books and a central streetcar stop in Portland's most tourist-dense area, Made Here is the city's biggest one-stop shop for everything Portland-made, from sunglasses to stationery, scarves, salts, beers and a tiny ax.
Pearl Specialty Market and Spirits
900 NW Lovejoy St., 503-477-8604, pearlspecialty.com.
Are you a home mixologist who is in need of rare liqueurs or a stock of obscure bitters that will rival Teardrop's? Pearl Specialty will cover your niche booze needs, the barwares to make them and the cigars to enjoy alongside the fruits of your labors.
1005 W Burnside St., 503-228-4651, powells.com.
A 1.6-acre city of books, Powell's still anchors the center of Portland's shopping district, a testament to our nerdisms and bibliophilia even as the Pearl and West End become increasingly more stylish. A massive remodel made Powell's main entrance into a retail store for paraphernalia, but the four stories of books remain largely unchanged.
410 NW 14th Ave., 503-697-3330, snowpeak.com.
This 50-year-old Japanese brand's only American store was ushered into Portland by a family who swore by high-end, lightweight cookware as the future for serious exploration of the outdoors. Since then, they've started a haute couture clothing line for weekend warriors and the Wieden + Kennedy set.
320 NW 10th Ave.
Two artistic pillars—painted by a Greek railroad worker, saved from demolition in 1998 and relocated to a posh urban square—are all that's left of the Lovejoy Ramp that connected the Broadway Bridge to the Alphabet District.
Portland Center Stage
128 NW 11th Ave., 503-445-3700, pcs.org.
The only Portland theater that can rival Broadway-scale productions, Portland Center Stage is actually two stages housed inside the Armory Building, which looks like a castle and takes up a full city block. Inside, a full bar, cafe and art gallery entertain patrons at intermission from shows like the annual Santaland Diaries.
Tanner Springs Park
Northwest 10th Avenue and Northrup Street.
The semi-aqueous Tanner Springs Park is both the only remnant of the Pearl's history as a wetland, fed by streams that ran down the hills of Southwest Portland, and a marvel of landscape architecture, thanks in part to its art wall made of reclaimed train tracks and fused glass.
925 NW Davis St., 503-525-9642, yogapearl.com.
One of Portland's poshest yoga studios, Yoga Pearl shares space (and an owner) with Prasad cafe and a smattering of wellness services. You can shop top yoga brands, feed your body with juice and kale bowl, stretch in one of the city's few Ashtanga classes, and get acupuncture—all without leaving the building.
In multiple locations
Everyday Music, 1313 W Burnside St.
Popina Swimwear, 318 NW 11th Ave.
Tilt, 1355 NW Everett St.
Verde Cocina, 524 NW 14th Ave.