Get to Know: Boise-Eliot
The Boise Eliot neighborhood is sometimes referred to simply by its major streets, Williams Avenue and Mississippi Avenue, which feature a unique culture and vibrant independent businesses. In fact, Boise-Eliot is a hotspot for day-to-nightlife, drawing in folks from all over Portland and neighboring suburbs for entertainment. If you’re looking for a neighborhood that has a bit of everything… Boise-Eliot is the place to be!
Like much of Portland, Boise-Eliot was settled by seamen and ship workers in the mid-1800s, and started as a thriving, river-side community. However, after the destructive 1948 Vanport flood, Portland’s Black community, which occupied Delta Park in poor conditions at the time, were forced to relocate to the Albina-Mississippi area (aka Boise-Eliot). The community was once again disrupted by the construction of the I-5 freeway, built directly through the neighborhood. Neglect and discrimination influenced the inescapable conditions of the area.
Finally, in 1990, community members and the Mississippi Historic District made grand-scale efforts to ensure Boise-Eliot was safe and prosperous once again. This included public safety measures, home improvement loans, a Down Payment Assistance Program, and the addition of the MAX! These changes have improved living conditions and brought numerous businesses to the area. They have influenced a change in demographic as well. From 2000 to 2010, the US Census showed a rapid decrease of Black community members who call Boise-Eliot home. This neighborhood is one of the iconic examples of gentrification in the city and it’s impossible to talk about the area without addressing the impact urban planning has had.
Rich with history, the Boise-Eliot area mixes historical Portland with modern innovation. With access to the neighborhood’s top attractions, the neighborhood offers everything an adventurous individual or an active family could want! Check out amazing restaurants, bars, local shops, and lush parks, condensed in this dynamic neighborhood!
Our Boise-Eliot Favorites
For weekend adventures, after-work drinks, or on a quick lunch break, Boise-Eliot is the place to be! There is always something new to explore on Mississippi Avenue. Check out a few of our favorite spots:
Restaurants and Treats
Head over to the Prost Marketplace Food Carts and avoid any breakfast, lunch, or dinner indecisiveness! There’s something for everyone (even the little ones) from Koi Fusion, Native Bowl, and Matt’s BBQ for meals, to Bloodbuzz for handcrafted cocktails.
At The Rambler, the food is as unique as the ambiance. The restaurant is a renovated 1920s bungalow-style home with a large, romantic patio. Start your meal with the cajun fried brussels sprouts with currants and garlic aioli. Make room for the pulled pork sandwich or vegan taco salad, topped with plant-based “ground beef”. If you’re in the mood for comfort food, order their grown-up grilled cheese, dressed with tomato, basil, and a balsamic reduction.
Bar Bar is a Portland staple for comforting classics, fried snacks, and great drinks. All their burgers come with a locally-baked potato bun and all the classic ingredients. However, you have to try the St. Louis inspired toasted ravioli, filled with cheese and crispy on the outside!
For your sweet tooth, Voodoo Donuts may hold the Portland notoriety award, but Blue Star Donuts on Mississippi Avenue has our stamp of approval.
After visiting the Prost Food Carts, grab a second round of drinks at the neighboring pub, Prost!, an authentic German pub with “bier” you won’t find anywhere else in the city. If you want to take your furry friend into the city, swing by Interurban for a bold, whiskey cocktail. The patio is dog-friendly and heated during the winter!
If you’d rather make yourself a cocktail at home, find specialty bitters and salts from The Meadow, packed from floor-to-ceiling with all kinds of interesting ingredients.
Shops and Activities
Once you find your perfect PDX home in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood, head to Sunlan Lighting for specialty light bulbs in a range of colors, dimensions, and wacky shapes. It’s the oldest standing business left on the street and the owner will be happy to chat with you about the rich history of the area. Afterward, head up the street to find beautiful houseplants and apothecary trinkets at Pistils Nursery to bring life into your home.
Keep an ear out this summer! The Mississippi Street Fair is normally held every year in July — so far the dates have not been set for the 2021 fair due to the Multnomah County COVID-19 restrictions, but we are anxiously awaiting news!
The Boise-Eliot neighborhood is one of our top picks for its proximity to the surrounding city attractions. There’s no need to travel out of the neighborhood for any of your daily errands — everything you may want or need is around the corner!. Swing by North Portland Bike Works for a new or used bike and bike repair workshop! Bike Works is a nonprofit business whose goal is to offer “thorough and friendly service to everyone regardless of their experience or knowledge of bikes”.
Community members praise the nearby public schools for their academics, diversity, extracurriculars, and overall safety. Top schools in the area include Boise-Eliot Elementary, Harriet Tubman Middle School, and Jefferson High School.
Popo & Archer Take Boise-Eliot
Your favorite pups are here again! After our dads got a beer at Ex Novo Brewing, we walked down the street for on-leash adventures at Lillis-Albina Park. We got pets from the kids playing on the playground and when the soccer field emptied out, we unleashed for a quick game of fetch! After getting all of our energy out, we napped in the grass while they ate lunch at the picnic tables.
For our second adventure, we took a walk through Irving Park. The paths are surrounded by garden spaces and “nature patches” fostering local plant life. We watched families and community groups playing horseshoe, tennis, and soccer on the fields… our dads wouldn’t let us join, but we howled and cheered on the sidelines!
The neighborhood is a hub of Portland culture with creative, energetic community members. Jam-packed with entertainment, incredible food, and serene parks, it’s a wonderful neighborhood for all!
The Boise-Eliot neighborhood is a bustling, lively area, but we have to account for history. We at Piece of PDX stand for diversity, historical transparency, and are working towards a more inclusive future for Portland! Check out Portland’s Anti-Displacement Action Plan for resources and opportunities to get involved in the movement.
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Eager to continue exploring Portland? Check out the Boise Eliot neighborhood guide for a list of great events and activities in the area!