Alberta may be the neighborhood that most perfectly encapsulates what Portland as an entire city has experienced in the past decade, which is to say it's been a victim of its own success. For every classic bar, perfect restaurant or innovative shop, there's a franchise hawking some denuded approximation of the original. The incredible density of businesses draws vast crowds of tourists looking to fact-check Portlandia. And yet, agoraphobes aside, you'd have to be a miserable wretch not to find something to drink, or some artist or business owner to chat with. You don't have to like everything you find, and you wouldn't belong there if you did.
Aviary, 1733 NE Alberta St.
Solae's Lounge, 1801 NE Alberta St.
Pacific Green, 710 NE Killingsworth St.
Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St.
Northeast Alberta Street, lastthurspdx.org.
The important element separating Last Thursday from any number of lame art walks that happen around the city is the carnivalesque crowd of high-schoolers that converges on the neighborhood for some minor-friendly nighttime entertainment. It's tempting just to hang out on a bar stool given how long it takes to get a seat at most places, but you'd be better off staying on foot. On one corner, a woman and her daughters sell fantastic tamales out of a red cooler. In some unused parking lot, there's an impromptu dance club complete with DJ and an NBA player's personal brand of vodka. Stay outside and you'll find something good.
1733 NE Alberta St., 287-2400, aviarypdx.com. Dinner Monday-Saturday.
Four years after being named Willamette Week's Restaurant of the Year, Aviary remains one of the city's most ambitious and creative dining experiences. Aviary's spare concrete and white-walled interior serves a subtle reminder to guests: Your focus belongs squarely on the eclectic small plates, each a balance of Asian-inspired ingredients and Western techniques. $$-$$$.
5425 NE 30th Ave., 503-841-6968, beastpdx.com. Dinner seatings Wednesday-Sunday, brunch seatings Sunday. Reservations online.
Naomi Pomeroy's all-things-meat flagship restaurant Beast is a civilized establishment, and as such, one makes a reservation for dinner or Sunday brunch, then shows up at the appointed time to be seated at a long, wide, family-style table. Pro tip: Get the wine pairing. $$$$.
The Big Egg
3039 NE Alberta St., 971-373-8098, thebigegg.com. Breakfast and lunch Wednesday-Sunday.
With its tiny square-footage, weekend brunch rush, and finger-food menu, the Big Egg still feels a little like a cart. But with buttery-crisp grilled brioche around melty cheddar and that golden ooze of yolk, who cares? $.
827 NE Alberta St, 971-339-2969, cariocabowls.com. Breakfast-early dinner daily.
Compared to the caloric gauntlet of fast-casual restaurants just a few blocks away, Carioca Bowls is a quiet reprieve of fresh and vibrant hippie food. The namesake carioca bowls start with a puree of acai berries, to which you can add rainbow mountains of fresh fruit and other healthy supplements like peanut butter or chia. $.
5519 NE 30th Ave., 503-946-8592, docpdx.com. Dinner Tuesday-Saturday.
DOC is what fine dining in Portland ought to be: doting, delicious, not pretentious. Inside the cozy Concordia storefront, chef Brian Scibetta crafts simple yet creative Italian fare inspired by the Northwest's seasonal offerings. His four co-workers treat their guests, and each other, warmly, creating a comfortable, intimate environment. $$$-$$$$.
Grain & Gristle
1473 NE Prescott St., 503-298-5007, grainandgristle.com. Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, breakfast-dinner Saturday-Sunday.
Opened in 2010 as a collaboration between Ned Ludd co-founder Ben Meyer and Upright Brewing's Alex Ganum, Grain & Gristle's rustically decorated eatery is regarded as much for its tap list as anything on the carnivore-friendly food menu. $$.
1605 NE Killingsworth St., 503-764-9701, hatyaipdx.com. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.
The new counter-service space from Earl Ninsom of PaaDee and Langbaan serves the spicy cuisine of the southern Thai city after which it is named. Get two roti with one curry dipping cup, split a whole fried chicken and a 1.6-liter bottle of Hite. $$.
Jouk Li Jou Haitian CookShack Cafe
1505 NE Alberta St., 340-244-4802. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday.
At Jouk Li Jou, Mathilde Aurelien Wilson cooks the food she grew up with in the Beaumont region of southern Haiti. You can't go wrong here, but the $5 chicken, rice and pikliz (the Haitian answer to kimchi) plate offers a slow-roasted thigh pungent with garlic and the warm acidic notes of roasted citrus. $.
5513 NE 30th Ave., 503-894-9840, nonnapdx.com. Dinner Tuesday-Saturday, brunch Saturday-Sunday.
Well, damn it if this casual sister to DOC didn't make the best plate of spaghetti and meatballs we've ever eaten. Those meatballs were steaky and filled with fresh herbs, and those noodles had a springy suppleness we've rarely found in those numbered 5 and below. $$-$$$.
1625 NE Killingsworth St., 503-281-3700, podnahspit.com. Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, breakfast-dinner Saturday-Sunday.
Texas-bred Rodney Muirhead's sanctuary of smoke stirs an unshakable passion, and for good reason. The 'cuin' starts at 5 am. Sure, the best meat is the brisket—but the sausage link, two perfectly charred pork ribs and a quarter-pound of pulled pork ain't bad either. $$.
1615 NE Killingsworth St., 503-477-4676, teabarpdx.com. Breakfast-dinner daily.
This hyper-minimalist space looks like it was ripped from the pages of Kinfolk and primarily serves teas sourced from small family farms. You can try an austere bowl of matcha, the tea traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, or a somewhat more lively cup of boba (bubble) tea. $.
Tonallis Doughnuts & Cream
2805 NE Alberta St., 503-284-4510. Breakfast-late daily.
At Tonallis, a single-service home to both doughnuts and ice cream, it's all about the banana buttermilk bars with maple on top, which exist as a sort of singular, orgasmic substance melding sweetness with just enough savory weight to make you take the damn thing seriously. $.
2013 NE Alberta St., 503-719-6809, viachicagopizza.com. Lunch and dinner daily.
Hunting authentic Chicago-style pies in Portland will leave you hungry. This middle-dish shop—plastered with White Sox and Cubs cards—will not. Its slices are like wedges of mozzarella speckled with onions or sausage, or arugula and goat cheese for those seeking the artisan upgrade. $.
Bye and Bye
1011 NE Alberta St., 503-281-0537, thebyeandbye.com.
You're here for the patios. Both of them. This is the place whose owners and bartenders spawned Jackknife and Dig a Pony. When people come to drink and bask and chain smoke, it's possibly the best outdoor scene on the drag.
5424 NE 30th Ave., expatriatepdx.com.
It's possible to eat chef Naomi Pomeroy's Asian-inflected food without drinking and be satisfied. But let's be clear: The food is made for drinking and vice versa, and everything here is a journey from bitter to sweet, with lingering spice. $-$$.
Great Notion Brewing
2204 NE Alberta St., No. 101, 503-548-4491, greatnotionpdx.com.
Great Notion is the best beer bar ever to hit Alberta, even before it kick-started its own brews in December. Its IPAs are perhaps the most ambitious take on fruity, low-IBU brews in the state, with Juice Jr. and Ripe IPA ranking among the top five in our blind tasting of Portland IPAs.
Alberta Co-op Grocery
1500 NE Alberta St., 287-4333, alberta.coop.
Alberta hasn't always been the commercial district it is today. Alberta Co-op Grocery grew out of a group of neighbors' need for healthy food in their neighborhood. Since 2001, it's fended off Whole Foods and New Seasons by providing affordable organic produce and bulk foods.
2230 NE Alberta St., 971-544-7492, helloamelia.com.
Amelia specializes in vintage styles of women's clothing, specifically lines that are designed and made in America. You can find lines from Carolyn Hart, Hubris, and Clair Vintage Inspired, but the in-house line Amelia is well-loved throughout Portland. Amelia also offers complimentary tailoring to make sure the fit is perfect.
1408 NE Alberta St., 503-808-9910, moderndomesticpdx.com.
There's no reason to get stuck darning with your bent needle when you can sew for miles on a top-shelf machine. Sort of like a Sur le Table for sewing, Modern Domestic offers classes, machine repair, and even scissor sharpening, all to make you a more competent sewist.
1627 NE Alberta St., Suite 5, 503-282-0236, musique-plastique.com.
Resembling a walk-in closet with a cash register, Musique Plastique feels less like a store than a museum exhibit of a vinyl junkie's precisely curated personal collection of krautrock and early electronic music. It won't be long before you find yourself nerding out over Manuel Göttsching's 1984 electro-prog opus, E2-E4.
710 NE Killingsworth St., 971-242-8535.
In a time when some dispensaries look like the Apple Store and others the back of a Volkswagen bus that's following the Dead on tour, the best compliment for Pacific Green is that it actually feels like the diverse North Portland neighborhood in which it resides. A staff of young, cool, passionate budtenders give this shop a vibrancy the over-branded places can't match.
Northeast 22nd Avenue and Killingsworth Street.
Alberta Park, where sanguine crowds attempt to drag bike polo into mainstream sportsdom, where dogs run in wild, leash-free packs. Alberta Park, where 60-somethings train for 5k's on the jogging track and 20-somethings conceal Nalgenes full of white wine while lounging on thrift-store quilts. Alberta Park, where things are good and right.
Alberta Rose Theatre
3000 NE Alberta St., 719-6055, albertarosetheatre.com.
The Alberta Rose Theatre could have been lost to development during the 20 years it was closed to the public, so we're lucky it's still open. If you have any interest in poetry readings, world music performances, arthouse films, even the new Adidas skateboarding movie, this is the place to go.
2939 NE Alberta St., 503-281-9048, guardinogallery.com. Closed Monday.
As one of the anchor stops on the Last Thursday Art Walk, Guardino Gallery pulls a lot of foot traffic into a small storefront. Come on an afternoon or off day and you can spend more alone time with the paintings, sculptures, pictures and local crafts.
St. Andrew Catholic Church
806 NE Alberta St., 503-281-4429.
Portland has historically been a godless wasteland where the presence of St. Andrew Catholic Church sticks out like a sore thumb. But considering how much bland, neutered contemporary architecture is flying up around town, the diversity of the church's Gothic Revival architecture is appreciated.
In Multiple Locations:
Bamboo Sushi, 1409 NE Alberta St.
Bollywood Theater, 2039 NE Alberta St.
Boxer Ramen, 2038 NE Alberta St.
Case Study Coffee, 1422 NE Alberta St.
Collage, 1639 NE Alberta St.
Dar Salam, 2921 NE Alberta St.
Kim Jong Grillin, Northeast Alberta Street and 26th Avenue.
PedX Shoes, 2005 NE Alberta St.
Pine State Biscuits, 2204 NE Alberta St.
Red Fox Vintage, 3401 NE Killingsworth St.
Salt & Straw, 2035 NE Alberta St.
Townshend's Tea House, 2223 NE Alberta St.