Portland’s Alberta Street

Alberta Street in the 50’s and 60’s was a vibrant community of local shops, jazz clubs and restaurants. Kids would find a refuge from their parents in The Alameda Theater Movie House. And the Alberta Streetcar line, which opened in 1905, had just been converted to a bus line in 1948. 

Photo from http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/9576

Roslyn Hill grew up in the this supportive, energetic community and had moved away as an adult. In the 1990’s, she returned to find most of the buildings boarded up, with metal bar windows and graffiti. The neighborhood had lost its spirit. The gangs had moved in and had made walking down the street dangerous. 

Roslyn Hill was dismayed to see that despite downtown’s renovations, the Alberta district remained derelict. In an effort to create change, she bought a property on NE Alberta and 14th and turned it into Roslyn’s Garden Coffee House. Through her development background, she knew that if a street looked like there was crime, crime would come, but the same goes for making a street look nicer. If you take off the bars and put in more windows the street becomes inviting. She encouraged her neighbors to do just that. The neighborhood became more appealing and safe and the locals started to take back the streets by patronizing the shops and restaurants. 

Roslyn Hill, named “The Queen of Alberta,” bought up several blocks of properties on Alberta street and encouraged the new business owners to put in more glass windows and support artists in the neighborhood by opening up galleries and restaurants. 

Artists are more than happy to move to dangerous neighborhoods if they’re cheap enough and Alberta in the 90’s was just that. NE Alberta and 15th was said to be the deadliest intersection in Portland. By welcoming artists into the neighborhood, the feel of the neighborhood started to change.

A co-op opened on the corner of NE Alberta and 15th in 1997, solidifying the change to the neighborhood. For better or for worse, the gentrification had begun. The first Last Thursday Arts Walk on Alberta street was also held in 1997. Although it’s morphed in something else entirely, it marked a change in the neighborhood. 

In 2000, the City of Portland adopted a Streetscape Project with some funding going to Alberta street. Community members wanted to see building murals, public art and beautification projects. Today, the murals are representative of the current businesses and the history of the neighborhood. 

“A Voice to Be Thankful For” Artists: Eatcho, and Jeremy Nichols, 2014, (28th & Alberta)

Depicting Women of the Civil Rights movement: Coretta Scott King, Ruby Bridges, Ruby Dee, Angela Davis, and Maya Angelou.  

Check out our Alberta Arts District Food Tour to learn more about the art and taste some off the amazing food Alberta street has to offer. 

Article by Alexis Moore Eytinge

25 things to do in Portland Oregon

Here are 25 of my favorite things to do in Portland.

Whether you’re entertaining or just need to explore a little more of this awesome city,  this list of things to do in Portland should keep you busy for awhile.  They are in no particular order.

Powell’s Books-

Powell’s is the worlds largest independent bookstore.  So the biggest small one I guess.  It’s huge, it’s in the structure of an old parking garage, and has a great coffee shop to read books and sip a latte.  Go here.  One the corner of SW 10th and W Burnside.  Open till 11pm everyday!


Japanese Gardens-

5.5 acres of manicured gardens with 5 Japanese style sub-gardens.  This place is very peaceful and beautiful.  It’s a great stroll and offers a nice view over downtown Portland at the Garden pavilion.   They regularly have events from different artists  in the gardens.  Check the website for more info.


Downtown Art Museum-

It’s the oldest art museum on the west coast, and the seventh oldest in the US.  The permanent collection has over 42,000 pieces.  There is always a major traveling exhibit on show.


Voodoo or Blue Star Donuts-

Voodoo is the shop that really put Portland on the map for donuts.  They put bacon on a maple bar, got plugged on the travel show, and bamm, instant huge lines around the block.  BlueStar however, is newer and took the artisan-local-ingredients-approach to making donuts.  Think “Blueberry Bourbon Basil”.  It’s been a huge success as well with 5 stores in Portland, 2 in LA, and 7 in Tokyo.

http://www.bluestardonuts.com/  http://voodoodoughnut.com/


The Portland Science and Technology Museum is perfect for kids with a variety of hands-on exhibits.  They also have the after-dark events for adults which basically adds beer and food to the exhibits.  They regularly have rotating exhibits that are worth the entrance fees alone.


Portland ZOO-

Portland’s Zoo has a few things I haven’t seen at other zoos.  A very good elephant exhibit, an anaconda, a Northwest exhibit with back bears, condors, & cougars, and a pretty good primate section with a cool orangutan.


Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden-

As the name implies, this is a garden full of Rhododendrons.  It’s also located right on the crystal springs lake, offering nice views, a couple walking trials and good bird watching.  It’a a relaxing spot to sit and take in the view over the lake with the golf course in the back ground.  Also look for the infamous nutria or coypu rodents here.


International Rose Test Garden-

A huge rose garden with more rose varieties than you could ever imagine existed.  My favorite is the wing ding variety.  The Shakespeare garden is one of my favorite spots to sit and take in all the flora and roses.  Here is the entire list of roses so you can check them off as you walk around.  -List of roses here-

-rose garden park info here-

Pittock Mansion-

The Pittock Mansion is a French Renaissance-style château in the hills behind downtown Portland.  It was original built and owned by one of Portland’s elite, Henry Pittock.  He owned the Oregonian newspaper a long time ago.  You can go inside and visit the intricate and detailed interior for 8 dollars.  The grounds are open to the public for free, and offers on of the best views over all of Portland.

– Pittock Mansion Info Here – 

SE Hawthorne Street(Between 25th and 40th)

SE Hawthorne street has a very diverse collection of shops.  The area is known for some of the more colorful residents in Portland.  Come for the vintage clothing stores, local coffee shops, and tattoo parlors.  Definitely check out the Baghdad theater, and the adult soap box derby (if your visiting in August).

-SE Hawthorne info here-     -Soap Box Derby Here-

Pearl District (and 3 NW parks)-

The Pearl District is one of Portland’s most dense, walk-able, and livable neighborhoods. There are many art galleries, restaurants, bars, and local shops to keep someone occupied for a good while.  One of the best things about the pearl are three awesome parks along NW 10th avenue.  Start at Jamison Square and head north 2 more blocks to Tanner Springs Park, and just 1 more block north you’ll end up at the fields park.

-Pearl info here-

Portlandia Statue-

The Portlandia Statue is the second largest copper statue in the US.  She would be 50 ft tall if she was standing up.  The statue is located in an odd spot on the front of the Portland Building on SW 5th, but is still impressive to see.  If you go into the Portland building and up to the mezzanine level there is a little history on the statue, and a life size replica of the statue face.


The Grotto-

The grotto is an outdoor Catholic shrine and walking path in NE Portland.  Even if your not into religion, this place is worth checking out just for the meditation room.  The meditation room is a quite space with huge floor to ceiling windows that looks north over the Columbia river.  If you visit in December you can check out the festival of lights.

– Grotto info here – 

Saturday Market-

The Saturday market, which also is open on Sundays now, is a outdoor market where you can buy goods made by local artists.  Everything from wood home decor, to local board games, to glass jewelry, you’ll be able to find your local gifts from Portland here.  The Market is located on SW Naito right near the Burnside bridge.   March 1st through New Years Eve.


Portland Farmers Markets-

There are over 40 farmers markets happening all over Portland.  The most popular one to visit is located at Portland state University (PSU). The  PSU market is the “flag-ship” farmers market in Portland.  Here you’ll find all your local fruits and veggies, as well as local food artisans, and some chef demonstrations.  If you want to see where the cities best chefs get some of that amazing fresh produce, this is one of the best things to do in Portland.  Open 8:30 – 2pm on Saturdays.


– PSU Farmers Market Here –

Tom McCall Waterfront Park-

The Waterfront Park is a large 36 acre park sitting on the west-side of the Willamette river in downtown Portland.  This used to be a large free-way type road, but in 1974 Portland decided to make it into a little bit of green space.  It’s a great place to walk on any given day and has a great path that connects around to the other side of the river.  If you want a good 3 mile jog with some good views and good people watching this is the spot to do it.

–  Water Front Park Info – 

Portland Chinese Gardens-

The Chinese gardens in the Old town / Chinatown district of Portland are a walled off city-block (about 45,000 square feet), with a open air manicured Chinese-style garden inside. The Chinese gardens are one of the many relaxing things to do in Portland. There is a tea-court on the north-side where you can have traditional Chinese tea and relax while overlooking the garden space.


Forest Park Portland-

If you feel like getting out into the woods of what basically looks like the middle of the Cascade range, go for a hike in Forest Park.  The municipal park is the largest in Portland and one of the largest city parks in the US.  You can really feel like your miles away from the city while still being within city limits.  Forest park is one of the great hiking things to do in Portland.  Start at the trail-head at NW 29th Ave & Upshur St for a good introduction.

–  Forest Park Info –

First-Thursday Portland (Art Walk in Pearl District)-

During the first Thursdays of every month from March through December, NW 13th  between NW Davis and NW Johnson, is closed to car traffic and turns into a street fair with music, art, and some food.  Participating art vendors show off their works, some of it for sale.  The galleries around the area are usually open and free for the afternoon as well.

–  First Thursday Info – 

Portland Last-Thursday Street Fair on (NE Alberta)-

The last Thursday Street Fair is held every month between May and October on NE Alberta between NE 15th and 30th Ave’s.  If you’re looking for artistic things to do in Portland, head to last Thursday on NE Alberta.   This monthly event has grown to be one of the largest art events in Portland, taking  up 15 blocks.  Last Thursday is a community grown event promoting local artists, musicians, and performers.  This is a good community event and place to get out and see a lot of everything Portland all at once.  The larger street events are seasonal and only run June, July, & August.

–  Last Thursday Info Here – 

NW 21st & NW 23rd Aves-

The areas on  NW 21st and NW 23rd between W Burnside and NW Thurman, is a great area to take in some of Portland’s great shopping.  It has a lot of boutique shops, fine dining, home decor shops, and specialty ice cream shops.  It is also know as Nob-Hill, or the alphabet district.

–  Nob Hill Info Here –

Antique Malls in Sellwood-

If you like antiques, some of the biggest and best stores for all things old and nostalgic, can be found in the SE Portland neighborhood of Sellwood.   The neighborhood is very walk-able and the antique stores are relatively close together.   If you’re thinking Portland might be a good spot for thrift shopping, you’re right.  Thrift store shopping is one of the more unique things to do in Portland.  Start your pickin’ at Stars.  Located on the corner of SE 17th and SE Milwaukee.  From there follow SE 17th north and you’ll find half a dozen more stores to rummage through.

–  Sellwood Antiques Info Here –


The 4T trail is a route that combines the Train, Tram, Trolley, and Trail.  You ride the MAX, use the Street Car, take the arial tram, and hike to council crest park.  It will take about 4 hours, with 2.5 miles of walking.  Buy a $5 all-day pass through one of the Max or Street car stops, and then buy a tram ticket for $5.  This is a very good way to explore some interesting corners of the city, and take in some great views too!

– 4T Trail Map Info Here –

Blazers Game-

If you like basketball, this is a good town to be in.  The Blazers won the championship a loooong time ago in 1977.  Even though it’s been awhile since we’ve seen some glory, this town has some of the best fans in the NBA.  Buy tickets online, at the box office, or try your luck with some of the scalpers out front of the Moda Center.

–  Portland Trailblazer Info Here –

Kennedy Soaking Pool-

If you haven’t been to a McMenanmins Property, the Kennedy School is a great place for an introduction.   The Kennedy School is an old 1915 elementary school converted into an eclectic hotel, bar, event space, cigar lounge, movie theater, and soaking pool all wrapped up into one unique spot to spend the day.  The soaking pool uses chlorinated saltwater.  Apparently this makes it more buoyant.  Spend the day soaking, then grab a beer, see a show, maybe a movie, get some food, oh and might as well just spend the night too.  The soaking pool is one of the more local things to do in Portland.  General public over age 18 welcome daily, 10 a.m. ’til 8 p.m.

–  McMenamins Kennedy School – 

There are of course many more things to do in Portland other than just these 25 things.  Hopefully this gets you started.

Celebrating The Humble Filbert

Oregon HazelnutsWe Oregonian’s are quite fond of our local hazelnut orchards, which makes sense when you consider they bring to life our beloved state nut.  As fall wanes and Christmas approaches we’ve suddenly found ourselves in the thick of nut season, and with a whopping 99% of all U.S. hazelnuts hailing from our very Willamette Valley, that means there are a lot of the little guys to be found.  Local restaurants and food carts feature our pride and joy in seasonal dishes, chocolatiers chop and grind ‘em for truffles and treats, and shops roast and candy them before stuffing fancy packages to sell as holiday gifts.  Even the shell is precious to our northwest culture, as it can be found in many-a front yard as mulch and a protective barrier against slugs and snails.

Lucky for us – and thanks to some pretty sweet weather conditions – the 2013 hazelnut harvest brought in a record haul with production up almost 8% from last year.  What does this mean?  Why, party time, of course!  Enter Mt. Angel’s Annual Hazelnut Fest December 7th & 8th, featuring everything Oregon, including your Eat Team’s very favorite subjects: seasonal food, Willamette Valley wines, and Oregon brews!  Buy local, eat local, be local, and everybody wins!

Until next time, we are Allen Jones and Angie Johnson, and we love to EAT!

Portland Tour Guides Portland Food Tours Logo

Eat Adventures Food Tours offers culinary and sight-seeing excursions around Portland in into Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Mt. Hood, and beaches.  For additional tour information please visit our home page.

Podnah’s Pit: For the Love of BBQ

Have you ever had a run-in with food so miraculous it could pass as a near religious experience?  A meal so amazing it haunted your dreams for weeks, leaving you to wake utterly ravenous, and terrified that you may never taste it’s sweet deliciousness again?   Rest assured that you are not alone.

A friend of ours had been hassling us for weeks about this place called Podnah’s Pit up on Killingsworth, using such flowery language and exaggerated detail that we were sure he had to be embellishing his stories just a wee bit.  “Oh, the ribs are amazing,” he would say in half-trance while rubbing his belly and licking his lips.  It wasn’t hard for him to convince us to check it out (really, he had me at “ribs”) and we agreed to meet him for a late dinner last Saturday night.

It took nearly an hour to get seated – something not uncommon for Portland’s more popular restaurants – and by the time our chance to order was up the waitress almost reduced my friend to tears when she announced they were plumb out of ribs.  “That’s it”, we thought while watching our neighbors mow down on the very last order of the tender, fall-off-the-bone goodness we wouldn’t have the opportunity to taste, “our night is ruined.”

Boy, were we mistaken.  Podnah’s Pit BBQ is hands-down one of the best places I’ve ever eaten.  Everything – and I really mean everything – we ate was mind-blowing, from the two-inch thick pork loin I ordered, to the brisket on Allen’s plate that had been smoked for 10 hours.  Collards, BBQ beans, and green chili mac & cheese.  Pints of Oregon brews, slices of pecan pie, and cornbread so buttery and sweet you could eat the whole tin.  We walked out at closing with shaky knees, bulging bellies, and a full-grown infatuation with our new favorite place in town.

I could go on for pages – about how the pit crew drags their rear’s out of bed at 5:00 every morning to get the meat going, or all the press and acclaim Rodney Muirhead has received since opening the joint back in 2006 – but time is short and I only grow more hungry with every word typed.  Instead, I encourage you to try Podnah’s yourself, and then report back to us about your eating adventure!

Until next time, we are Allen Jones and Angie Johnson, and we love to EAT.

Olé Latte Coffee: A Newfound Passion and the Art of Coffee

PictureI recently had an opportunity to interview Todd Edwards, founder of the Olé Latte Coffee cart, and is sometimes one of our stops on the Portland Food Carts & Neighborhoods Tour.  Todd’s outgoing and friendly personality naturally draws people to him, and while we chatted he remained busy whipping up special drinks for his regulars and offering samples to a couple of Texan’s who were vacationing in what they called their “favorite city”.  The following is glimpse into a day in the life of a Portland food cart owner, offered from Todd’s perspective:

When did Olé Latte Coffee Begin?
We’ve been at this location for the last two months, but we originally opened last May over at NE 20th and Everett.  When we got the call to come down here we jumped.  We waited for 9 months to get into this pod, and it’s turned out to be the perfect spot for us.  How our cart fits here, it’s like the end of the rainbow; exactly where we should be.  Everything has worked out perfectly.

What made you choose a food cart?
I’m from Portland, and I originally considered doing a brick & mortar café but it can be a really tough environment.  It’s common to over commit into a 5 year lease before you establish a name for yourself, whereas the food cart is an affordable opportunity where you can get a name for yourself and build a following.

Are you interested in expanding in the future with other food cart locations or possibly even a cafe?
I am interested in both, but right now I’m more interested in opening up more food carts because I’m having a lot of fun with this type of business.  I think the next project will be to build an event cart, so I haven’t committed to any specific food pods yet.  I’ve recently been approached by a couple of other businesses who would like to partner up and open a café – which is a very intriguing idea especially as they’re already established in the Portland area – so that could be a future possibility.  I’m excited to get another mobile food cart going first though.

Have you felt any push-back from the local businesses? 
None.  Everybody has been really receptive.  The reaction has been more “we’re so thankful you’re here!” rather than “why are you here?”  The support has been such a blessing for us, and I couldn’t be more elated about being here.  At first I thought there might be a little static, but there just isn’t.  I’ve even had some of the other coffee shops come up to say “hi” and check out what we’ve got going on that’s unique and promising.

What has it been like being a part of the food cart community? 
The carts that are close to us are very community involved, because we’re all looking out for each other and making sure that we contribute to the good of the pod.  Most everyone that I’ve visited with, even at the other lots, has been extremely receptive and friendly.  We’re all in it together, and everyone has been great about helping us and promoting our cart.

About how many customers do you serve a day? 
I’ve been serving, on average, between 50-75 customers a day.  We’re just starting out at this location, only two months in, and we can already measure our success.  It isn’t just new people coming by; there are people who have become regulars that come up not just once, but two, maybe three times a day to get something from us.  It’s been exciting.

Why coffee?
Because I love wine.

Truthfully, it really was wine that drew me into the coffee business. I’ve always loved the way the grapes were grown and harvested; how the climate affects each one of the grapes every year making that wine different and unique.  You go to the wineries and get the special wine from their single vineyards, the stuff that hasn’t been blended.  That’s the same thing we’re doing here, but with coffee.  It’s the exact same concept.

I had no idea until last year in February when I was going to go open the café, and then I realized I should just start smaller.  But what could I do?  That’s when I decided I wanted to do coffee in the morning and wine in the evenings.  I asked myself if I could love coffee as much as I love wine, and I’ve discovered that I can. So I dove into it headfirst without even looking to see how deep the pool was, and I discovered that the pool was so deep.  I could go anywhere and learn about so many different things, I had no idea.  I’ve found that the more I understand, the more I want to keep discovering new coffee and trying new things.  Roasting, creating new recipes… it’s boundless.

Has that been the thing that’s surprised you the most about this journey?
How much I love coffee?  Yeah, absolutely!  I still love wine, but I’ll tell you, I have a true passion for coffee now.
Todd and his crew are available daily for smiles, samples, and downright delicious coffee.  Olé Latte Coffee is located at 1003 SW Alder Street, in Portland, and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OleLatteCoffee?fref=ts .

Exploring the Pacific Northwest One Bite at a Time

Portland Tour Guides Allen & AngieAs the official start of tourist season approaches, we wanted to take a moment to introduce the foodie duo responsible for bringing regional culinary tours to the Portland area.  My name is Angie, and I work alongside my husband Allen to fill peoples bellies while showing off some of the natural treasures that make this area so wonderful.  Together we act as your humble guide/driver team, cruising through the Columbia Gorge, alongside the Pacific Ocean, and around the streets of Portland, all while sampling some tasty northwestern grub.

Our love for food was fully realized during a stint abroad, where we found that the sole purpose of our daily explorations revolved around tasting anything and everything we could get our hands on.  From hand-made Chinese noodles, to Ecuadorian guinea pig roasted over an open flame, we ate our way around the globe returning to our homeland eager to share our love for food and travel.  As luck would have it, one of our favorite places in the world had become a foodie destination in its own right.

In recent years Portland has enjoyed a wealth of national admiration for a budding culinary scene, as well as a steady stream of praise from food and travel personalities who frequently feature the city’s eateries on their shows.  Amidst all this recognition, other areas in the region have quietly upped the ante, taking full advantage of the local bounty and creating menus so fresh they change daily.

Celebrating these restaurants and their chefs became our mission, and thus began the Eat Adventures Coastal and Mt. Hood regional food tours.  Additionally, we recently added the Portland Food Carts & Neighborhoods tour as a half-day option for guests with busy schedules and a curiosity for the food truck phenomenon that’s unique to our city.  So come spend a day with us, exploring the natural and culinary beauty of the Pacific Northwest, one bite at a time.