As any aficionado of the Rose City will tell you, the best way to have a particularly Portland experience isn't by hitting up big-name restaurants or well-known night spots. Instead, casually scope out the scene at street level. With that in mind, we've picked three excellent streets as starting points for your next urban adventure in Oregon.

Hawthorne: Classic Portland

Coava Coffee Roasters via Website

Bagdad Theatre

Take one step into the surreal space of the Bagdad (either the movie theater or the adjacent mural-covered bar) and you’ll understand the spirit of Portland quirkiness on a whole new level. Don't forget: This is the town that inspired everything from The Simpsons to Fight Club. Bagdad is owned by the mysterious McMenamins. They just don’t build places like this anymore  or anywhere.

Where: 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
More info: +1 503-249-7474


The White Owl Social Club 

White Owl has been perched just two blocks off Hawthorne for decades. As one of Portland’s classic hangouts, it serves great food (for “vegans, vegetarians and omnivores,” as they say) and supplies us with local liquors like New Deal vodka and Burnside bourbon. But the best thing about this place might be its copious back patio seating. Bring the lot. 

Where: 1305 SE 8th Ave.

When: Daily, 3 p.m.-late
More info: +1 503-236-9672


Coava Coffee Roasters

You might think the best coffee in America is in Seattle, but fanatical baristas this side of the Columbia are giving them a run for their money. With an open industrial space just off Hawthorne that embraces the concept of craft, Coava exemplifies the pinnacle of barista culture right now. It’s thoughtful, it's smooth and it's impressively passionate.  

Where: 1300 SE Grand Ave.
When: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
More info: 
+1 503-894-8134


Alberta: Dining on the Rise

Salt & Straw via Facebook

Petite Provence

Possessing a passion for fresh French pastries and unbelievably good brunches, Petite Provence is a foodie’s paradise. With its impressive bakery and spacious seating, it’s rightfully emerged as an Alberta Street favorite. Lucky for Portlanders, the street has been enjoying nothing short of a gastronomic renaissance in recent years. And every renaissance needs its icons.  

Where: 1824 NE Alberta St.
When: Mon.-Thurs. & Sun., 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
More info: +1 503-284-6564


Salt & Straw

Right across the street from Provence is a spot for some of the most creative ice cream out there. Salt & Straw never ceases to impress visitors with exotic flavor combinations that result in unexpected bliss. Whether you try a simple cinnamon snickerdoodle or the strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, it’s not an overstatement to say that you’ll never think the same way about ice cream again.

Where: 838 NW 23rd Ave.
When: Daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
More info: +1 971-271-8168


Bamboo Sushi

If you’d rather eat something lighter, but still want to be blown away by inventive flavors and impressive ingredients, Bamboo might just be your best friend. Here, the pros take the best of traditional sushi prep and combine it with more modern, sustainable styles in order to create an experience that’s as delicious as it is uniquely Portland. 

Where: 1409 NE Alberta St.
When: Daily, 4:30-10 p.m.
More info: +1 503-889-0336


Mississippi: Bar Central

¿Por Qué No? Taqueria via Facebook

Bar Bar

Given the super-saturated brewery scene at the moment, it's easy to forget that some of the best beer in Portland can be found in actual bars. Case in point: the beloved Bar Bar. Not only does it offer great brews and a signature wine-and-Scotch menu, Bar Bar also has a back patio and connection to the musician-run venue Mississippi Studios. How’s that for keeping Portland weird?

Where: 3939 N. Mississippi Ave.
When: Daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
More info: +1 503-288-3895



Moloko knows exactly how to enchant a visitor with its 4-7 p.m. happy hour, cucumber-infused vodka, massive Miami Vicelevel fish tank and DJs. But the cool drinks and eccentric ambience aren't all you'll find at Moloko. Kick back or turn it up and meet some interesting Portland-area professionals. 

Where: 3967 N. Mississippi Ave.
When: Daily, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
More info: +1 503-288-6272


Por Que No

Sometimes the best thing after an exceptional bar night is an equally exceptional taco. If that is what you seek, you will be well taken care of over on Mississippi. Por Que No's team is as passionate about flavor as it is about sustainability. The staffers pride themselves on using only line-caught fish and employing local suppliers for other ingredients. Save the world. Eat a taco!  

Where: 3524 N. Mississippi Ave.
When: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
More info: +1 503-467-4149

By Jesse Van Mouwerik

Berlin-based illustrator and columnist Jesse Van Mouwerik is an avid fan of art, whisky sours and being alive. When the aliens land, he will draw them a picture.