Growing up in Portland, Oregon has always been a blessing. Not too big but not too small, with friendly neighborhoods and communities around every corner. Portland is actually the #12 most walkable city in America. One part about Portland that the local teens take for granted are the boundless streets to shop, eat, or just have a good time with friends. Being a curious high school student, I decided to put my native Portland senses to work and search for the best street in Portland that teens like me can go to have a chill afternoon. My rubric would include restaurant quality, affordability, entertainment level, lastly shopping appeal.
First on the list is SE Hawthorne. Located in my own neighborhood, SE Hawthorne can encapsulate the vision of a “Portland lifestyle.” In terms of restaurant quality, Hawthorne is definitely a 10/10. There is a large variety of eateries. Towards the East end of the street there is Thai Lemon, Apizza Scholls, Por Que No?, and Whole Bowl. Further West there is Mio Sushi, Pepinos, and several brunch spots. My favorite spot would have to be Little Big Burger which is more towards the West end of the street, but is one of the best burgers Portland has to offer. Hawthorne is great because it has two grocery stores to accommodate neighbors: Fred Meyer and New Seasons. Hawthorne also has a large abundance of cafes and coffee shops located on every corner. Whether it be for studying or just grabbing a quick drink, you’ll be covered. As far as affordability, all the restaurants listed are very affordable and great for anyone on a budget. For entertainment, there are many great places to stop by, starting with QuarterWorld, a newer arcade to the street. They are friendly to all and have quality arcade food that you wouldn’t expect. Next up is the Hawthorne Theatre. The Hawthorne Theatre has been around for almost 100 years, and is a great place to see a concert. They host local, or even out of state bands and performers. Another spot is the Bagdad Theatre. Only recently the Bagdad has started showing first run movies, with great food to add to it. Lastly, Hawthorne has a great shopping appeal with many little boutiques and clothing stores to choose from, such as Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange, and Presents of Mind.
Next up is Division, which is only a few blocks South from Hawthorne. Division, while a slightly newer development, is still a lively one. At the East end of division, restaurant quality is off to a good start with hot spots such as Los Gorditos, Petite Province, and once again my personal favorite, Little Big Burger. There are also great coffee shops like Good Coffee, Tea Bar, and the infamous Stumptown, which is one of Portland’s best coffee roasters. Division also has to offer some more high-end restaurants which are a little more spendy, but can be worth the extra cash. These restaurants include Yataimaru Maru, Xico, and Roman Candle. Division has a broad variety of places to choose from. After dinner, the most iconic Portland ice cream parlor, Salt & Straw, awaits, even though sometimes the line is all the way out the door. One thing to mention about Division is the loss of its food carts. The food carts were one of the best aspects of the street, but sadly, they were torn away earlier this year. Those carts had a lot to offer. As for shopping appeal, Division has a few shops here and there, but all more on the spendy side. And although Division may lack in entertainment value, it still shines in the restaurant department.
Across the river and settled behind a bustling downtown lies 23rd. This Northwest street is a trek to get to from Southeast, but is still a fun place to visit every once in awhile. 23rd would mostly be described as a shopping hub, so it does lack in entertainment. It has great clothing stores like Levi’s, Urban Outfitters, and Crossroads to begin with. It also has a Lush store, which is my favorite. If you’re looking for some home goods, 23rd is stacked with a Pottery Barn and a Kitchen Kaboodle. As far a restaurants go, 23rd has a nice little selection including Pizzicato, Papa Haydn, and Thai Bloom!. There are a ton of cute little coffee spots as well. 23rd is on the spendier side, but that’s to be expected as it’s in Southwest Portland. One specific part about 23rd that it is a little smaller so it’s not as overwhelming as most streets in Portland, and it also is very well kept and pretty almost all year round.
The last but not least street is Alberta. Alberta has always been one of the main hubs of Northeast Portland, that is known to once have been a very culturally diverse neighborhood. But due to gentrification, Alberta has changed a lot, as more and more “hipsters” start defining the area as their own. Alberta is filled with almost 20 blocks of amazing restaurants and shops, such as Stella Taco, The Waffle Window, Pine State Biscuits, and Bunk Sandwiches. Tons of variety to choose from in terms of price as well as goods. Alberta has an abundance of coffee shops like Cafe Vita, Proud Mary, and Case Study Coffee. The best parts of Alberta all come together in the summer for the famous Last Thursday fair. Artists, musicians and performers line the street from 15th through 30th Avenues. Galleries hold their monthly openings and restaurants and bars hang new artwork for sale. Last Thursday is the largest art event in Portland as well as the most entertaining place to buy local art. The monthly Alberta Arts District festival is now in its 18th season. The best part of Last Thursday’s has always been that the people of Portland all come together, no matter the background, to have a good time. And a good time it is.
Finally, according to the rubric, the best all-around street to hang out at would be Hawthorne. The food is local, fresh, and has a variety of styles to choose from. The entertainment is never ending, and could satisfy anyone looking for a fun time. The best part is the affordability. Every store ranges in price, mostly favoring on the cheaper side which accommodates any class, especially teens on a budget. Lastly, shopping appeal is substantial, with great second hand clothing stores to buy from and little local shops to browse around in. Other than being my favorite, Hawthorne will always be an essential addition to Portland’s street culture.