Crisscrossing angular blocks make up the crux of the historic Woodlawn neighborhood, the oldest settled community in old Albina. The arrangement definitely has a bit of a labyrinthine, locals-only energy, but getting lost around here is entirely encouraged, and a perfectly charming way to spend an afternoon.
The Woodlawn neighborhood unfurls in all directions from the Dekum Triangle, where Classic Foods has occupied the iconic IceHouse building since 2011. Here, attached to commercial kitchens where they pump out fresh-made pastas, sauces and spice blends to a number of the city’s best restaurants, stands a Classic Foods Outlet Store (817 NE Madrona St., 503-234-9387, classic-foods.com) where visitors can score the same handmade artisan raviolis and fragrant seasonal pesto sauces served at some of the city’s favorite pubs, cafes and cloth-napkin restaurants. Notable mention: Black Rose Market (6732 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-894-9698) features unique bottles from local and Black-owned wineries, as well as an exceptional house-roasted coffee served from the north side of the building.
Best Breakfast Spot
The archetypal coffeehouse experience is alive and well at Woodlawn Coffee & Pastry (808 NE Dekum St., 503-954- 2412, woodlawncoffee.com) where a concise breakfast menu (quiche, oatmeal, eggs and bacon, etc.) is supplemented with all manner of fresh-baked pastries and espresso drinks. Reclaimed-wood tables line the high walls, where bespectacled MacBook users sip lattes and pick at slices of lemon loaf while the open kitchen in the rear of the space hums with activity. Vibe: dreams, ‘90s, etc.
Place to Get a Gift for Bae
Custom, no-minimum, made-to-order T-shirts, hats and totes are the pillars of business at Urban Kingdom (6359 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-954-1837, myurbankingdom.com), but its MLK storefront is more than a tidy custom print shop. It’s also a garment district-direct department store full of fast fashions, candy-colored luggage, sparkling costume jewelry, trendy shoes, and racks of racy lingerie.
Visitors from other ‘hoods regularly cross into the Triangle to sip Breakside beer from its flagship location, dine on American classics at the top-rated Firehouse, or sample the singular thin-crust pies from Good Neighbor Pizza, but my personal favorite Woodlawn plate comes from P’s & Q’s Market (1301 NE Dekum St., 503-894-8979, psandqsmarket.com), a market-deli-cafe with sidewalk and back patio seating. The plate in question is the house-smoked brisket sandwich, a supple meat mountain sopping wet with sweet-hot barbecue sauce and exploding with coleslaw confetti from inside the most pillowy potato bun of all time. Pro tip: It’s messy, so enjoy it in the seclusion of the back patio with a pint of the seasonal draft and a side of shoestring fries.
Start at the top of the Ainsworth Linear Arboretum (2105 NE Ainsworth St.), locally known as the Park Blocks, at Northeast Grand Avenue and Ainsworth Street, and work your way east towards 8th Avenue. Turn left into the residential neighborhood and, depending on the season, the third house from the southwest corner on 8th might be displaying its extensive, street-facing miniature dioramas (so get your camera ready). Keep heading north toward Holman Street, the next intersection, where a right turn will deposit you into Holman Pocket Park, a small garden lined with concrete benches that enclose the neighboring streets, creating a tiny bike boulevard. Follow the concrete curves of the park to the left and stroll straight down 13th Avenue to Woodlawn City Park, an 8-acre greenspace, playground, sports field and baseball diamond, where, on a clear day, you can see the flat, snowy peak of Mount St. Helens.
While live music fans crowd Woodlawn’s dive bar the High Water Mark and beer aficionados flood Breakside Brewing, folks who prefer a less raucous environment can order boozy slushies and curry noodles while they nestle into cozy couches, playing NES games on a vintage tube TV at Retro Game Bar (6720 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-271-8079, rgbpdx.com) Alternatively, faux-dive, pro-mixologist bar Tough Luck (1771 NE Dekum St., 971-754-4188, toughluckbar.com), a few blocks east down Dekum, hosts events like drag queen bingo nights and the occasional drag brunch.