The best thing about wandering through Portland is that I can always expect the unexpected no matter what street I end up on. The vibes on Northwest 23rd are completely different than the vibes on Stark. It's refreshing to have so many different neighborhoods that make this city seem so much larger than it actually is. My friend and photographer for the day, Jacob Moser, took me on a tour of Hawthorne, a well-known street in Southeast Portland.
A good day of exploration should always start with a little something sweet. We got our sugar fix from Blue Star Donuts, a brioche-donut bakery serving fine flavors and organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Drooling yet? We ordered the Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Valrhona Chocolate Crunch flavors with Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee. I’ve never tasted anything like the Blueberry Bourbon Basil confection and it was simply amazing. I loved the neutral modern decor of the Hawthorne location and that the staff played 90s jams for us all to bop our heads to.
While walking down Hawthorne, I tried to think of what the street reminded me of, but the thing is, Hawthorne is a street all its own. Thrift shops are sandwiched between dive bars, vintage movie theaters, record stores, coffeehouses and yoga studios. I imagine having all of these businesses on one street makes it incredibly easy to live a hipster lifestyle. All it takes is one look at major landmarks on this street, like Bagdad Theater, to fully realize Hawthorne's funkiness.
Jacob will admit any day of the week that thrift shopping is his thing, but I need a little more encouragement to brave the quirky collection of clothes that fill these vintage shops. Between Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange and Red Light Clothing Exchange (And I’m only mentioning a few! There are many many more to choose from), Hawthorne is a thrifter’s paradise. We found everything from gently used pieces by brands we know and love, to truly obscure items that only the most fearless of fashionistas could pull off. Red Light was named Portland’s Favorite Vintage Store by The Portland Mercury and it was easy for us to see why. Trendy dungarees, groovy graphic tees and perfect penny loafers are just some of the many gems to be found at this iconically red-walled shop. While I didn’t find anything for my wardrobe this time around, I did leave Red Light with a lot of style inspiration.
By the time we had finished scouring the racks of Hawthorne’s thrift stores and new clothing boutiques, Jacob and I were ready to refuel. Offering fresh conscious cuisine and a rustic-chic atmosphere, Harlow was an easy choice. Although Harlow has soups, salads and entrees, it was the “bowls” that really sold us. My Chipotle Chili Bowl included steamed greens, brown rice, quinoa, chipotle black bean chili, guacamole, scallions, cilantro, house chimichurri and jalapeño cashew cheese. Everything we had was delicious and perfect for those with vegan and gluten-free diets. Even my Strawberry Blonde cocktail, which was part fruit smoothie, felt healthy to drink.
There’s a lot of hype about Hawthorne and I’m happy to say that this artistic avenue has endless adventures for the local hippie and visiting urban sophisticate. Delicious donuts, cool clothes and happy hours galore await anyone who’s interested in strolling down this Portland promenade.