Discover Something New at Home in Portland
Portland's inventive, affordable, locavore-focused food and drink scene has been making waves for some time, but a few especially hot neighborhoods -- the North Williams Bike Corridor, Division Street and downtown's West End -- have virtually reinvented themselves. Brand-new urban wineries, late-night izakayas and gastropubs, artisan ice cream shops and bakeries and farm-to-table restaurants are opening at breakneck speed, and the city's buzz factor shows no signs of slowing -- in early November, Vocative.com named it the best American city to live in for people under 35.
New Restaurant:Boxer Ramen
Celebrated local restaurateur Micah Camden opened Boxer Ramen in early November. It's the latest addition to his growing empire of reasonably priced dining spots for the trendy-foodie crowd that includes nearby Blue Star Donuts and the mini-chain Little Big Burger. This 30-seat noodle shop with playful murals serves affordable, hearty Asian fare, including "Really Spicy Miso" soup, tonkotsu-shoyu (a pork-soy-based broth), Japanese pickle salad and addictive mochi in several unusual flavors, from blueberry to tiramisu.
Newly Hip Hood: West End
In downtown Portland, the once-dowdy West End has steadily evolved into a retro-swanky tract of cool restaurants, shops and hipster hostelries like the Ace and Crystal hotels. The recent opening of Union Way, an enclosed, skylit arcade of stylish boutiques, has dramatically upped the neighborhood's retail cachet -- check out Quin (indie candy), Self Edge (vintage-inspired jeans), Little T (delectable baked goods), WILL (hand-crafted leather goods), Spruce Apothecary (body products) and the aforementioned Boxer Ramen.
Word on the Street
Now well under construction, Portland's sleek new transit bridge across the Willamette River needs a name, and locals are eagerly bandying about ideas ("A Bridge No Car" and "Hoof and Pedal Bridge" were two of the more colorful names suggested in a recent reader poll in the Oregonian newspaper). TriMet has set up a website encouraging the public to propose names for what will become the largest car-free bridge in America when it's completed in 2015.
Freelance travel and food writer Andrew Collins lives along Portland's white-hot Southeast Division Street restaurant row, where the latest outpost of "farm-to-cone" Salt & Straw ice cream opened last summer, luring him out for late-night almond-brittle-salted-ganache runs on a regular basis.
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