Kenton was built out of necessity as a company town. Set down on the Columbia at the junction of several rail lines, the city was designed to be Portland's meat-packing and transportation hub, and serves as such to this day. Many port and rail workers call the neighborhood home, which is why a walk through Kenton will find you a neighborhood of beer halls and comfort food, barbers and thrift shops. And in the background of it all, the drone of engine noise drifting over from Portland International Raceway, where people drag race their souped-up classic cars to blow off steam after long weeks of hard work. .
Swift and Union, 8103 N Denver Ave.
World Famous Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick St.
Give and Take Resale, 8128 N Denver Ave.
Portland International Raceway,
1940 N Victory Blvd.
Po'Shines Cafe De La Soul
8139 N Denver Ave., 503-978-9000, poshines.com. Breakfast and lunch Monday, breakfast-dinner Tuesday-Saturday.
Many Portlanders are familiar with the ethereal hush puppies at Po'Shines Cafe De La Soul, or the superb chicken and waffles. But the reputation of Po'Shines as a North Portland institution goes beyond the footprint of its Denver Avenue cafe or Moda Center concession stand. Founded by the Celebration Tabernacle church in Kenton, Po'Shines offers underprivileged youth the chance to learn culinary skills through its community-building Teach Me to Fish program. You may not feel particularly healthy downing a rack of sticky St. Louis-style ribs, but your comfort food coma will feel a little less lethal knowing your money helps the community. $.
Cason's Fine Meats
8238 N Denver Ave., 503-285-4533. Breakfast-early dinner Monday-Saturday, lunch Sunday.
The Northwest is far from the heart of pork barbecue country, but the tradition has found its way to Kenton at Cason's Fine Meats, a butchery and BBQ joint that seems to have been transplanted direct from St. Louis. Get a rack of ribs before they sell out for the day. $.
1915 N Lombard St., 503-283-4141, heavenlydonut.com. Open 24/7.
If you want a fussy, overpriced reimagination of a donut, there are plenty of places downtown. What Heavenly Donuts lacks in artisanal execution, it more than makes up for with munchies-friendly 24-hour service and apple fritters the size of your head. $.
Posies Bakery & Cafe
8208 N Denver Ave., 503-289-1319, posiescafe.com. Breakfast-early dinner daily.
Posies is a beloved neighborhood joint that carries Ristretto Roasters coffee and a jaw-dropping selection of pastries, avocado toast and sandwiches made in-house—usually served in the eye of a hurricane of children on Saturday and Sunday mornings. $.
Swift and Union
8103 N Denver Ave., 503-206-4281, swiftandunion.com. Lunch-dinner Monday-Friday, brunch-dinner Saturday-Sunday.
In a neighborhood the size of Kenton, a place like Swift and Union is indispensable. It's polished enough to bring your in-laws, while being casual enough for a Friday night when you don't quite feel like heading into town but still want an on-point steak frites with a beer you've never had before. $-$$.
8303 N Denver Ave., 503-286-9242, kentonstationportland.com.
Kenton Station feels like the bar next to a Greyhound bus station in a city where Greyhound is the fastest way out of town. For those attracted to a certain brand of Portland grunge, few places are left with drinks this cheap and food this satisfying.
2135 N Willis Blvd., 503-719-6826, portlandparkside.com.
Parkside is small, but it play to its intimacy. The place gets packed for weekly events like Wednesday-night trivia and all-day happy hour on Mondays. During the winter, there's even an cozy, reservation-only prix fixe dinner series that heavily features local farmers market produce.
World Famous Kenton Club
2025 N Kilpatrick St., 503-285-3718, kentonclub.com.
The best endorsement of the Kenton Club's credentials is the 2 pm crowd. Before most people are even off work, the smoking patio is buzzing, and the video lottery machines are unilaterally occupied. And when the day-shift bartenders get off work, they hang out watching lucha libre—Mexican pro wrestling—on the bar TV. Get here soon or don't. This isn't a place that gives a shit.
Give and Take Resale
8128 N Denver Ave., 503-954-2221, giveandtakeresale.com.
Give and Take Resale isn't really the type of place you go to find something specific. Be prepared never to put away your phone because each bit of bric-a-brac is stranger and more Instagrammable than the last. Need a penguin-shaped vintage wicker laundry hamper? Check. A terrifying midcentury Turkish marionette? You can find everything you don't need and more.
2024 N Argyle St., 503-899-0052, salvage-works.myshopify.com.
In a city that goes by the name Stumptown, it stands to reason there used to be a lot of lumber lying around. Salvage Works finds that lumber—by stripping down old barns and abandoned buildings—cleans it up and sells it by the foot or as beautiful furniture and home wares.
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center
8371 N Interstate Ave., 503-286-9449, disjecta.org. Open noon-5 pm Friday-Sunday.
Having played host to such visual artists as Andy Coolquitt and Peter Halley, and national musical acts like the Shins, this North Portland gallery is a major contributor to Portland's contemporary art scene. The space commands national-level exhibitions, even from its local artists.
New Columbia Bicycle Skills Park
North Woolsey Avenue and Trenton Street.
With wooden berms and rock trails, the New Columbia Bicycle Skills Park introduces kids to a way of bike riding that doesn't involve dodging traffic on Lombard Street. This community-built park has tracks and obstacles for pint-size riders of all skill levels.
8417 N Brandon Ave.
Kenton Park is a sprawling green lawn ringed with massive conifers. While many take advantage of the backstops or jungle gym, the park's most appealing feature is its vastness, and the ability to sprawl out on your own stretch of lawn out of earshot of others.
Portland International Raceway
1940 N Victory Blvd., 503-823-7223, portlandraceway.com.
If the wind is right on a weekend afternoon, you can hear motors revving from Portland International Raceway as far out as St. Johns. The source of these noises vary, from amateurs drag racing their neon-lit, modified Acuras, to the clinically insane Jedi who make up the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association. This is the beating heart of red-blooded American fun in Portland.