At Home in Portland's Southeast Hipster Haven"We wanted one of these really cute little Craftsman houses, and we pretty much got our dream bungalow. It was very quintessential Portland for us."
When it came time to set down roots, Katie Meyer planted them here, in Portland's Belmont neighborhood, along a funky stretch seeded by a streetcar route in 1888. Popular for its still-busy mix of shops and culture, Belmont retains its friendly Western charm, but with a splash of the aughts and an echo of the free-wheeling 1970s.
"We wanted one of these really cute little Craftsman houses, and we pretty much got our dream bungalow. It was very quintessential Portland for us," said Meyer. With its huge porch and fireplace, her southeast bungalow "is just super cute and we love it," she said.
Tucked in the quiet neighborhood behind Belmont, Meyer is at home here. Belmont Street's west end points downtown and toward the beaches she loves. To the east, it climbs to Mt. Tabor Park, a place of picturesque leisure — walking paths with views of Cascadian peaks, playgrounds and courts — that, in typically ironic Portland fashion, sits atop a volcanic cinder cone.
Meyer fell quickly in love with Belmont's western storefronts, a quirky mix of two- and three-story brick buildings interspersed by Victorian homes and the occasional cubist complex. A blend of food carts and drum shops, friendly pubs and music venues, Belmont is a place where old iron fire escapes hover over slick new streetlamps and bars like the Side Street Tavern, located just off Belmont on a sliver of Southeast 34th Avenue.
The eclectic mix on Belmont includes restaurants like Hoda's Middle Eastern Cuisine for authentic Lebanese as well as the vegan-friendly Paradox Cafe. Meyer picks Pine State Biscuits, a hip breakfast cafe whose scrumptious biscuits first found fame at the Portland Farmers Market, as among her favorites.
A night out on Belmont could start with dinner and end anywhere. Belmont's laid-back crowds drift from meals to dessert, music, pubs and games. The Avalon Theatre, a retro movie house ensconced in a classic nickel arcade, anchors the scene with its neon and big bulbs. Music lovers can take in jazz, blues and rock on the basement stage of the Blue Monk. The colorful Cosmic Soda Pop & Candy Shop can decorate any evening with animated candy stalls. Saint Cupcake offers its brand of edible art under frosting.
Cocktails can be found in the mid-century styled Aalto Lounge, Depression-era pub Circa 33, the cue-stick toting Belmont Inn and, to the east, 36-year-old traditional English pub the Horse Brass. Smokers take to the Pied Cow Coffeehouse, an elegant Victorian remade as a coffee and hookah bar. Any outing can also end quietly with a global selection of pure-leaf teas at Tao of Tea.
Meyer said she enjoys getting to know her business neighbors. She's joined the community by pitching in at the Belmont Area Business Association and coaching springboard diving at the Tualatin Hills Dive Club and the Matt Dishman Community Center & Pool in North Portland. Among the things she loves about Portland: its nearness to the Pacific and forests.
"We just feel a really strong connection to nature here," she said, adding that her tight neighborhood will help anchor her here in the long term.
Check out Katie's Portland.