One of the hippest most "Portland" areas of Portland is the Mississippi District. The area has a very hip, Portlandia vibe, yet also features upscale shops and restaurants. The area is popular year round but really seems to shine during the warmer months. Almost all of the bars and restaurants have outdoor areas that are perfect for hanging out at for awhile and meeting new people. The area has a friendly, welcoming vibe, and it seems every time I go there I both see people I know and strike up new conversations and friendships with people I'm just meeting.
The area is concentrated on Mississippi Avenue between Fremont Street and Skidmore, although most locals will refer to the surrounding streets as "Mississippi". Besides having great shops and restaurants to enjoy during the day, the area also has a booming night life and is a popular place to bar hop on Friday and Saturday nights.
One of the biggest draws of Mississippi is the annual Mississippi Street Fair, held every July (July 9th in 2016!). One Saturday a year the street is shut down from 10am to 9pm and packed with about 200 vendors and tens of thousands of people. There are live bands, performers, beer gardens, competitions, samples and tons of great things to buy and eat. The event is amazing and is one of the largest neighborhood events in Portland. It can't be missed!
Mississippi Pizza is the perfect place to go with friends and share a pitcher and a pizza. It is casual and relaxed, with lots of places to sit and catch up. They also serve single slices, so if you have a smaller appetite or a smaller group it is still a great place for a quick bite. They often have live music too, providing entertainment for your dinner. If you go in the summer they have a cute little outdoor area as well!
Portland is known for its food carts, so it is only natural that there is a food cart hub on Mississippi. There are 10 food carts inside of Mississippi Marketplace, making it a great stop for a large group with different tastes, or when you can't decide what you are in the mood for. Another great feature is that you can bring your meal into the adjoining bar Prost! if you order a drink, which can keep you out of the rain when the weather isn't great. Some highlights include Koi Fusion, a Korean fusion cart, and multiple southern food/bbq carts (one is all vegan!).
Brunch is royalty in Portland, and Gravy just might be the king. Expect long waits at Gravy, but your reward is fantastic food and friendly service. Biscuits and Gravy is of course a staple here, but they also have fantastic scrambles and omelets, and I love their smoothies if you are looking for something lighter.
Por Que No?
One of the most iconic Mexican restaurants in Portland is Por Que No?, with two different locations. Instead of serving traditional heavy, cheesy, generic Mexican dishes, they source fresh, local ingredients in order to serve lighter, more flavorful meals. They are famous for their tacos, which are cheap enough to try a variety. I always go for Bryan's Bowl though, and you can't miss their margaritas!
If you are looking for a down home southern restaurant with all of your favorite comfort foods, Miss Delta is your place. I personally was never a big fan of country food, but after going to Miss Delta I have changed my mind! I've only been for brunch, and they definitely don't have many vegetarian options, but I was able to put together a delicious plate of food for myself using just side dishes. For meat eaters though, you will be in food paradise!
Thai food is one of my favorite types of cuisine, but it can sometimes be a little hit or miss. Having been to Thailand, I know what authentic Thai food should taste like. I love the food at Mee-Sen Thai because it is light, fresh and flavorful. All of the dishes taste authentic and are packed full of delicious thai flavors. The atmosphere is great as well- they have a giant outdoor area that is great for enjoying the warmer months and people watching on Mississippi.
My very favorite thing about Prost! is the lively, energetic and friendly atmosphere inside the bar. Prost! has managed to curate a place where people come to unwind and have a good time, and where no one feels like strangers. With a huge menu of German style beers, great German food, and their famous boots of beer for sharing, it is always a great night at Prost.
Bar Bar is the neighborhood bar attached to Mississippi Studios, a fun music venue on Mississippi Avenue. It is the perfect place to stop for a burger and a beer before you see some live music, or a great late night spot to hang out even if you aren't going to the show. They have a huge outdoor area with shared tables (perfect to meet new friends!) and a lively atmosphere. They also have a great menu, making it a good spot for a meal as well.
If you are in the mood for a calmer, more laid back evening to enjoy delicious cocktails and catch up with friends, check out Interurban. They have an old-fashioned, retro vibe reminiscent of the prohibition era. Their menu is upscale and seasonal, and they are known for their whiskey cocktails. Enjoy your drinks outside on their patio, even in the winter thanks to their fire pits!
I'm obviously a huge fan of breweries, and Stormbreaker is definitely a can't miss when I'm on an Eastside tour. Their patio is large with tons of seating, and it is the type of place where I feel like I am always seeing someone that I know. They have a great food menu, so I like to go and hang out for the afternoon with a few beers and a delicious meal.
The Meadow is one of the stores that you go in based on the cool things you saw in the window, not really planning on buying anything, and end up realizing you need everything they sell! I never knew about all of the different types of salt available, and didn't know anything about cooking on salt blocks! Add in their insane variety of chocolates and home accessories and I'm officially hooked.
I have an obsession with plants, gardening and cute home accessories. Pistils Nursery contains all three and more, all wrapped in a very Portland, hip and chic vibe. They have a large selection of indoor and outdoor plants, plant-related accessories, as well as chickens! They have done an excellent job of curating all of their items that gives them a lust-worthy appeal, and they even offer design services! I haven't yet gone to one of their workshops, but that is next on my list at Pistils.
The ReBuilding Center
Although I haven't done any home restoration projects myself, I still love browsing through the ReBuilding Center when I'm on Mississippi and checking out all the cool, random items that they have. The ReBuilding Center is a non-profit store that accepts donations of items such as lighting, doors, windows, tile and other raw building materials and sells them at heavily discounted prices. Do yourself and your community a favor by recycling your items here and checking here first the next time you have a construction project!
I love stationery, and Lark Press has a very Portland vibe to their handmade paper products. Almost everything in their shop is letterpressed with a cool, hipster feeling. Their shop is carefully designed and curated and sells all sorts of handmade stationery items. They also do custom projects, such as wedding invitations and baby shower cards. Check out their brick and mortar store, or find their products elsewhere throughout the United States!