By LEAH BELL-JOHNSON
Nestled in the heart of SE Portland lies the lively yet quaint neighborhood of Richmond. Richmond’s borders extend north to Hawthorne Blvd, south to Powell Blvd, west to 29th St, and east to 52nd Ave. It sits just a few blocks shy of Mount Tabor and is the geographic epicenter of Southeast Portland.
My brother and I moved to Richmond almost a year ago and could not be more pleased with it. The area is a welcome change from the steady rumble of downtown Portland where we had previously lived. The quiet streets and ample outdoor spaces have become a refuge from the bustle of the rest of the city.
SE Division St runs through the heart of Richmond— and being the street I live closest to— is the focus of my neighborhood tour. As a major hub for tourism, shopping, and eating out in SE Portland it produces a steady hum of activity and often draws a crowd. It’s not all hustle and bustle though, there are plenty of opportunities for respite and many chances to explore the smaller pockets of Portland.
Coffee is always a reliable place to start, and Richmond, like any good Portland neighborhood, is not short of them. My personal favorite is Good Coffee, whose name, while somewhat presumptuous, does not disappoint. Good Coffee has a wide selection of coffee drinks and teas as well as pastries.
Tall windows comprise two of the shop’s walls, letting in ample light even in the dreary months while a wall of trailing philodendron plants make it feel like a human-sized terrarium. It’s a lovely spot to take a beat, sip a chai, and watch the scenes of the neighborhood drift by.
Those looking for something a little heartier in the morning have a myriad of options at their disposal. For breakfast I highly recommend Petite Province, a little French-style bakery and cafe a stone’s throw from Good Coffee. Having shamelessly tried a significant variety of the pastries they offer, I personally endorse the spinach and feta croissant, the almond croissant, or the blueberry and cheese danish. They also offer a sit down menu with many great choices.
Nothing follows eating a good portion of your body weight in butter quite like a good walk. Luckily the southeast edge of Richmond is very close to Mt. Tabor Park, a 190-acre park surrounding Portland’s very own dormant volcano. Many trails traverse the sides of Mt. Tabor, leading to the cinder cone’s summit which offers a lovely view of the city. Most frequent Mt. Tabor during the daytime but I prefer visiting the park around dusk, especially in the spring and summer.
Once the crowds have ebbed but the air is still warm and you can watch the lights of the city glitter under a burnt orange sky as the sun sets. An entertaining side activity for your outing is to see how many dogs you can pet from the base of the park to the summit (those diligent enough will easily make it into the teens).
As day eases into night, you’ll likely be getting hungry and luckily the great neighborhood of Richmond is there to accomodate you. There are many crowd favorites located along Division street, including Pok-Pok, Bollywood Theater, and Salt and Straw. However, there are many alternatives that won’t have you rubbing elbows with every citizen / visitor of Portland.
Some include Whisky Soda Lounge: an extension of Pok-Pok (same chicken wings, shorter wait times), Kim Jong Grillin: a food chart serving Korean fusion (get the Bibim Box, no question), and Yataimura Maru: a Japanese style pub food joint (if you bang on the drum at the entrance the employees are obligated to shout the customary Japanese store greeting, “Irasshaimase!”).
In addition to many wonderful shops, restaurants, parks, and coffee shops, Richmond offers many ways to get involved and help out your neighbors. Vibe Studio is a community-based art space that offers classes for both kids and adults, striving to “connect local teaching artists who are passionate about bringing their love of music and visual arts to the students they work with.”
You don’t have to be an art teacher to help out though, Vibe seeks out people of all artistic backgrounds to assist in classes, volunteer at workshops, or help out in the studio garden and at special events. You can apply for positions online or visit the studio space on 55th Ave and Division St.
Another great volunteer organization near the Richmond neighborhood is Friends of Mt. Tabor Park. They offer multiple volunteer opportunities within Mt. Tabor Park, such as Weed Warriors: held on the last Saturday of every month from 9 am to noon, March through October. Volunteers of all ages (those under 16 require an adult chaperone) gather at the visitor center and are dispatched to remove invasive plant species and help restore native ones. Those less willing to get down and dirty have the option of working the visitor center or keeping an eye on park activities as a foot patrol volunteer.
Regardless of your preferences, Friends of Mt. Tabor Park offer the chance to get out, take advantage of the nice weather, and help maintain one of Portland’s prime outdoor spaces.
So that’s my tour, hopefully it has piqued your interest and inspired you to come check out some of the many wonderful things Richmond has to offer. I look forward to seeing you around the neighborhood!