Portland’s Westside, Part 4 – Northwest & Nob Hill


A beautiful Nob Hill home in NW Portland, Oregon

Continued from
Portland’s Westside, Part 3 – Chinatown & Old Town

The original source of our crush on Portland can be attributed to the Northwest quadrant of the city.

Before we saw the Hood River, or Mt. Hood, or the farmland of the wine country, we stepped out of our car onto NW 23rd Avenue and it was all over.  Our little yuppie hearts sang with joy.

Fluffy trees strung with winking lights.  Unique (well, mostly) shops and restaurants housed in tidy brick buildings and Craftsman houses with second-story, whitewashed porches.  Historic homes with lush gardens.  And all surrounded by one of America’s greatest public parks.

Seriously, people — it’s like the city-fantasy trifecta.

Nob Hill, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Portland, is also known as the Alphabet District.  From Burnside up, you’ve got Couch, Davis (one of the fathers of Portland Cement), and so on.  This makes getting around easy, and also serves as a Portland history lesson.  NW Hoyt (as well as the Hoyt Arboretum), for instance, was named for Ralph Warren Hoyt, Portland’s most famous/notorious County Commissioner.


Heron House Bed and Breakfast

Here you’ll find some of Portland’s most elegant historical architecture, like the homes of the city’s founding fathers and the neo-Byzantine Temple Beth Israel,  a 150 year-old Reform temple on NW Flanders.

After staying downtown and on the Eastside (more on that soon), this time we wanted to play at living in Nob Hill.  So, we chose to stay at Heron Haus B & B, a huge, vine-covered 1904 home that was renovated in the mid-80s.  Tripadvisor’s recommendations about it had been kind of spotty, largely due to the acidic owner; even after experiencing her on the phone (not a good time) we decided to brave it anyway, for the neighborhood.

Upon our arrival, we were relieved to find that ding-dong, the witch was gone:  The property had been purchased three weeks earlier by a pleasant, bespectacled sixty-something woman named Pam, who took pride in her culinary education.  Our third floor room, the Mahaina, was huge, with a living room area, fireplace, double sinks and a great big bed.   The city views were spectacular.  Sunday breakfast (Saturday we ate at The Heathman downtown) was a delicious square of homemade quiche.

However, if this is your first visit to Portland, be warned that Pam doesn’t know her way around Portland at all.  She can be of little help to you with directions or recommendations, so keep my posts and map links handy.


View from behind the bar at 23 Hoyt

Down the street on NW 23rd Avenue, you’ll find:

  • 23 Hoyt (pictured here), a swanky joint that’s attracted a string of locally-famous chefs, and makes delicate cocktails with local spirits like Aviator Gin
  • Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe (526 NW 23rd Avenue), part of a small chain known for adorable and holiday-specific sculptural renderings in chocolate, marzipan, and more
  • Jo Bar & Rotisserie and Papa Haydn, a pair of connected restaurants — the former is more of a low-lit bar and bistro scene, while the latter is more of an airy, Austrian-themed affair.
  • Bellini’s Spaif you need a massage with your vacation, be sure to ask for Chris
  • BeWon Korean Restaurant, a pretty, elegant room with soothing colors that smells like a spicy version of heaven — we flipped for the bulgogi (a stir-fried beef dish big enough for two) that comes with 9 traditional condiments, and for  the sweet potato glass noodles
  • For dessert, try Alotto Gelato, practically next door
  • Just about every doodad and bauble at 3 Monkeys is affordable.  Have fun trying on everything, and move carefully in this overstuffed space

Portland, Oregon’s NW 23rd Street

Two blocks over on NW 21st Avenue, it’s all about food and drink. Check out:

  • Besaw’s, a local favorite, there’s a wait for every meal
  • Blue Moon, a lavishly painted cog in the local power wheel, McMenamin’s — a great place to try local beers
  • City Market, which, with Zupan’s up on Burnside at 23rd, would be our local, fancy-pants grocery source

Just lately, a micro business-district has cropped up at NW 24th Avenue & Thurman.

On Thurman, be sure to visit cozy and lovely Dragonfly Coffee House, which not only has great coffee with nary a trace of bitterness, but is also decorated with wine-colored walls and glass dragonflies.  Outside you’ll see cute dogs and serious bikers, and inside, political debates fly (albeit politely).


The Dragonfly Coffee House on NW 21st Street

Around the corner on 24th, pop into Oxalis, a garden, jewelry, clothing, and book store set in a blue-gray Craftsman house and open every day from 10 to 6.

Oxalis, a gift-and-garden store

Oxalis, a gift-and-garden store

Owned by bubbly Portland native Leslie Bressler and her daughter Holly, Oxalis is the place to come to find out what grows best in Portland, which local political officials have had the most positive influence at home and around the country, and all about the value of doing something kind for others. You’ll find a smile, a perfect necklace, and colorful, handmade scarves and hats.


Continued in
Portland’s Westside, Part 5 – Washington Park

See related posts
Portland’s Westside, Part 1 – The Pearl District
Portland’s Westside, Part 2 – Downtown
Portland’s Southeast Side
Portland’s Northeast Side
Portland On Our Minds
Falling Into the North Willamette Valley
By the Seaside…Oregon
TWT Travel Binder: Oregon


  1. francine I. says:

    I wish I lived closer to Portland and/or had the time to visit! You make it sound so full of everything I enjoy doing (like eating well!) Someday I’ll experience first-hand what is making me salivate today.


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