Multnomah Is Portland at Its Most Wes Andersonian

There’s no children’s wonderland in Portland to rival Thinker Toys.

If Multnomah Village were 10 minutes from the ocean, or a national park, every travel guidebook in Powell’s would offer tips on how to secure a hotel reservation in this quaint getaway. Instead, it’s 10 minutes from downtown Portland, so best of luck cobbling together a down payment for a foursquare on one of the hills surrounding the flapper-era main drag of Southwest Capitol Highway. (Thanks to Biden’s interest rates, the median home price just crept back under half a mil.) To talk like a local, note that the neighborhood is named Multnomah, but the business district is called Multnomah Village. In recent years, a smattering of multistory apartment buildings have snuggled in next to the shops of Multnomah Village, but this is still Portland at its most Wes Andersonian, and it’s pretty dadgum irresistible.

Hidden Gem

Only in Portland is “city’s second-best bookstore” a coveted title, but hear me out: The crown belongs to Annie Bloom’s Books (7834 SW Capitol Highway, 503-246-0053, annieblooms.com). If Powell’s is the city’s bibliophile temple, Annie’s is one of those mountaintop abbeys where the nuns brew their own beer. The lovingly curated shelves take you on a journey from Willy Vlautin to Michelle Zauner. Plus, there’s a store cat, Molly Bloom, named after the joyful hussy in Ulysses. Yes.

Best Breakfast Spot

Something of a fraught topic ‘round these parts, since Marco’s Cafe (7910 SW 35th Ave., 503-245-0199, marcoscafe.com) sits at the foot of the village and Fat City Cafe (7820 SW Capitol Highway, 503-245-5457, tomswbs2.wordpress.com/menu) a block upland. The ceiling of Marco’s is carpeted with umbrellas; the walls of Fat City are lined with license plates. (Look, if you have a low tolerance for whimsy, you’ve wandered into the wrong part of town.) Want a greater array of Benedicts? Go to Marco’s. Over 55 and in search of a deal? Fat City has the Geezer Grub, a $9.99 plate of bacon and eggs.

Place to Buy Your Child a Gift

Just visiting Thinker Toys (7784 SW Capitol Highway, 503-245-3936, thinkertoysoregon.com) feels like a reward for chores well done. There’s no children’s wonderland in Portland to rival this one: tin buckets overflowing with plush crabs and hedgehogs, one wall of Playmobil sets and another of scooters, even a thatched-roof cottage where kids can test the merchandise while playing house. It’s a one-stop shop for birthdays, Christmas and feeling young again.

Favorite Meal

You can go old school (the schnitzel at Otto and Anita’s), new school (smoked brisket and eggplant at the latest Sesame Collective joint, Yalla) or out of school (Yoshi’s Sushi sea scallop nigiri is served at a handmade Parisian food court called Multnomah French Quarter). But it’s telling that Tastebud (7783 SW Capitol Highway, 503-245-4573, tastebudpdx.com) serves pizzas out of a window, for just three hours each evening, and people can be spotted carrying away their boxes as if they struck gold. The wood-fired masterworks are topped with seasonal vegetables—this spring features an asparagus and pecorino pie that’s out of this world.

Outdoor Adventure

Even by the generous standards that have spoiled Portlanders, Gabriel Park is enormous: 89 acres, much of it a former dairy farm owned by Swiss immigrants whose countrymen founded Alpenrose. Half of the park is rolling meadows dotted with baseball diamonds, the other is an old-growth Douglas fir forest crisscrossed by hiking trails. All of it is comically idyllic. Is this heaven? No, Gabriel.

Watering Hole

Like an extinct antediluvian creature preserved in Jell-O shots, Renner’s Grill (7819 SW Capitol Highway, 503-246-9097) parties like it’s 1959 in a dark room that exactly resembles the best barroom you ever wandered into while tooling down the Oregon Coast. Don’t let the crusty vibes scare you off: There’s an array of local craft brew here, and an excellent club sandwich as big as your head. On a recent Sunday, the regulars watched Steph Curry demolish Sacramento while the barback described America’s most overrated cities. A lot of Portland institutions are inflated by nostalgia. Like Steph, Renner’s is the real deal.

Correction: The previous owners of what is now Gabriel Park were Swiss immigrants and dairy farmers, but not the family who founded Alpenrose. WW regrets the error.

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