A short but bustling commercial corridor, North Mississippi Avenue is most commonly known—to outsiders—for the one day a year when it bursts at its seams (seriously, some 30,000 people turn out) with music, merriment and local street vendors during the annual Mississippi Street Fair, held each July. To residents and insiders, the burgeoning business district has sprouted—like weeds once did from the numerous empty lots along the strip—since the turn of the century. As Mississippi Avenue traverses the Boise neighborhood from north to south, gentrification has changed the face of this traditionally minority neighborhood with glossy new high-rise apartments, chic foodie and hipster hangs, live music venues, and a bevy of bars, boutiques and brewpubs. Although the masses may descend on Historic Mississippi Avenue just once each summer, there are plenty of reasons to check it out on the other 364 days each year.

See and Do

  • Cirque du Cycling

    In a city obsessed with bikes, Cirque du Cycling is Mississippi’s summertime offering. Creating a block party-like atmosphere, you’ll see plenty of ambitiously decorated bikes, self-modified trikes, and other pedal-powered modes of transport during the family ride to Peninsula Park. Then, let the races begin! The cargo bike race kicks things off followed by the main attraction, a high-speed race on a two-way course, while the night definitely hits the finish line in the beer garden.

  • Mississippi Ave Street Fair

    The most jam-packed gathering of the Portland summer street fair season, the Mississippi Ave Street Fair is a fun time featuring a bevy of food and craft vendors, bars spilling out into the street, and a quality offering of local bands curated by the indomitable Mississippi Studios. And although the main drag is crowded as all get-out, you can find some respite inside the shops of your favorite Mississippi retailers who, through their business association, make the whole thing possible.

  • 2nd Thursdays

    With First and Last Thursdays already occupied by other artful events in ‘hoods across town, Mississippi Avenue has staked its claim on the second Thursday of each month. Hanging art in galleries, boutiques, waiting rooms and cafes, 2nd Thursdays feature local works of art at various locations along the drag, as well as beverages and hors d'oeuvres, for several evening hours. Find monthly updates about who’s hosting what on Facebook.

Eat and Drink

  • Ecliptic Brewing

    825 N Cook St.
    Portland OR 97227

    Oregon craft brewing pioneer John Harris’ 14,000-square-foot, 15-barrel brewpub aims to one-up what other brewpubs already do well, namely by producing great beer and high-quality eats delivered with exceptional service. Harris’ food menu is seasonal, so the sides and some of the entrees come and go, but you can always find staples like sweet and spicy drumsticks, barbecue brisket sandwiches, and the kitchen’s increasingly famous Ecliptic burger (pancetta, red onion, gruyere and Russian dressing). And you can always expect to choose from around a dozen oft-rotating, risk-taking, Harris-brewed beers on tap, as well a list of signature cocktails. Harris is also slowly rolling out events for the community, including food-themed Lunation dinners, telescope parties and Ecliptic’s Beer Mile. There’s also a menu for the kids and it’s happy hour all day on Mondays.

  • ¿Por Qué No? Mississippi

    3524 N Mississippi Ave.
    Portland OR 97227

    There is no specific region of Mexico that guides the flavors utilized in the dishes at Bryan Steelman's taqueria. "It's totally all over the map," he says. What you will find on his menu are a variety of bean and rice bowls, tamales and tacos, as well as fresh guacamole and housemade salsas, hot sauces, aguas frescas, horchata, and hand-formed tortillas and chips, the latter of which are deep fried not in canola oil but in the far tastier rice bran oil. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays, and there's even a kids menu for the finicky who've yet to embrace their inner spice. Steelman also remains committed to sustainability by locally sourcing all the chickens, cows, shrimp, fish and pork that make up the majority of the dishes you've come to love.

  • Radar Restaurant

    3951 N Mississippi Ave.
    Portland OR 97227

    For years, Lily Tollefson and her husband, Jonathan Berube, have been splitting their time between the nation's coasts. They were most recently in Long Island where they helped run the Lobster Inn, a restaurant owned and operated for 43 years by Tollefson's father, Skip Radar Tollefson, before he sold it and retired in 2011. The couple has since returned to Portland and opened the small plates bar, Radar, as a tribute to Tollefson's dad. (Radar really is his middle name, she says, adding that all of her father’s sisters and brothers have long been named for nautical terms.) The 36-seat space will feature a food menu that rotates every two weeks with an emphasis on seafood, like a bluefish pâte that spotlights bluefish caught by a fisherman in Long Island and shipped overnight to the City of Roses. The bar also features signature cocktails made with imported spirits that British sailors and merchant marines would've quaffed while in port a century ago. And because her family and husband are soccer fans, European and local matches will be constantly screened on the bar's two televisions and, when it's warm outside, projected onto a big screen on the 20-seat back patio. 

Shop

  • Black Wagon

    3964 N Mississippi Avenue
    Portland OR 97227

    Sarah Shaoul's children's boutique specializes in selling items she and her staff consider both "timeless and classic." In other words, Black Wagon sells the kind of books, clothes and kid-friendly furniture that you'll want to pass on to your grandchildren. But the shop's magic ingredient, Shaoul says, is its customer service. Not only will she and her staff help you find the perfect gifts and educational toys for the kids in your life, chances are they'll remember your name, your child's name, and what you purchased your last time in, whether you live around the block or visit Black Wagon but once a year. 

  • Flutter

    3948 N Mississippi Avenue
    Portland OR 97227

    Flutter, the lifestyle store for those with eclectic tastes, has been around since 2006. But in 2013, longtime Portlanders and store employees Sara Kolp and Cristin Hinesley (who also owned Palace of Industry) bought it. (Kolp was there before the doors were open, and Hinesley showed up for work just a few weeks later.) Among the men’s and women’s vintage clothes for sale, you’ll find all kinds of little treasures—from art books, tarot decks and toys (music boxes, toy pianos and tiny accordions), to pomades, perfumes and soaps from Hinesley and Kolp’s apothecary department, to scented candles that come in a variety of unconventional scents (like cedar, sage and star anise). And when you stop by, don’t forget to say “hi” to King, the store’s old, fluffy, gray shop cat.

  • Mr. Green Beans

    3932 N Mississippi Ave.
    Portland OR 97227

    There's no better place to get a good cup of coffee than in the Pacific Northwest, and few cities take as much pride in a good cup as Portlanders do. But these days, you don't always have to swing by your favorite cafe because Trevin and Ginny Miller will supply you with all the goods—and expertise—you need to make your own cups right in your kitchen. In addition to carrying more than 42 varieties of raw coffee from all over the world, the Millers will outfit you with roasters, brewing devices, coffee delivery systems (French presses, pour overs), and the training classes necessary to give your own special coffee blends the characteristics that best suit you.

  • ReBuilding Center

    3625 N Mississippi Avenue
    Portland OR 97227

    Find just about any item—from doors and windows to appliances to toilets, sinks and tubs to roofing and siding—you need to complete your home improvement projects at this community nonprofit. And don’t fret about the cost: Prices are kept low because the salvaged and reclaimed materials are donated to promote affordability and sustainability.

  • Sunlan Lighting

    3901 N Mississippi Ave.
    Portland OR 97227

    In 1989, Kay Newell, aka “The Light Bulb Lady," opened Sunlan Lighting, making it the oldest single owner-owned businesses on what's now become a bustling commercial strip. What's inside is a collection of light bulbs for every occasion, including lone decorative bulbs and strings of holiday, party and patio bulbs, as well as therapeutic light bulbs powerful enough to mimic natural sunlight, which is something Portland doesn't get much of, Newell jokes. But, it's what you see from the outside that brings potential customers inside: Newell's known for her elaborate and illuminating window displays that, for years, have provided a compelling subject for anyone with a camera.

Insider's Tips

  • Breakfast/Brunch at Miss Delta

    The woman on the wall fixin’ to chug a whole lot of Tennessee whiskey is the aunt of Miss Delta co-owner Nick Weitz. In fact, all the people in all the photos on all the walls—save for the big one of Elvis—are relatives of Weitz and his business partner, and Alabama native, Marcus Oliver. So yes, Miss Delta’s a family place, even if a fair portion of their family of guests includes the restaurant industry’s transplanted orphans looking to get their brunch on after a long night of serving tables or working the line. In a way, the spot’s made for them—and all you other late risers—because brunch lasts well into the afternoon and features hearty eats descended from the deep-seated (and deep-fried) Southern belief that only big breakfasts can properly fuel you through your day. Even the standard classic combo (eggs, starch and meat) is trumped up here by way of buttermilk biscuits in lieu of toast, grits in lieu of home fries, and a long link of andouille sausage prepared just for Miss Delta by the butchers at Olympic Provisions. And while the Southern Stack sounds like a big pile of flapjacks, it’s not. Rather, it’s a formidably tasty breakfast sandwich so massive (two eggs, buttermilk-fried chicken, cheddar cheese, thick slices of bacon and sausage gravy between large buttermilk biscuit halves) that it’s served in a bowl with a serrated knife. Plus, you can even swap your stack filling for barbecue pork or a vegetarian version with tomatoes, okra and collard greens. If you’re looking for something a little tamer, you can’t go wrong with Oliver’s Cajun-style jambalaya, the South’s answer to phở as a common hangover remedy. If you want to liven it up, Miss Delta bottles its own (very tasty) hot sauce. Dash some in, or just ask for the peppery house Bloody Mary, served in a pint glass with Portland’s own Hot Monkey vodka. Once you’ve settled the check, walk it off with a lazy stroll down the shady side of North Mississippi and call it a day. Brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Brunch at Radar

    Jonathan Berube and Lily Tollefsen's restaurant is essentially an open love letter to Tollefsen's father, Skip Radar Tollefsen. His middle name dubs the space, his artwork graces the wall, and even the bluefish, which they use for their inspired brunch pâté, is his: It’s sourced—and overnighted—from the same Long Island fishermen who supplied Skip with the fish he served at his East Coast seafood spot. About that brunch pâté: It’s smoky, salty (but not too salty), and so silky smooth that it's almost more mousse than pâté. Order some—it comes with a hard-boiled egg and palate-cleansing pickled vegetables—and spread it on a Pearl Bakery demi-baguette. The plate looks small, but it easily fills you up without stuffing you. And while you can order a cup of Ristretto Roasters drip, you really should try Radar's Voddie Mary—a singular, unrivaled, rather addictive morning bracer made with Karlsson's Swedish potato vodka, tomatoes, Tapatio, black pepper, and roasted garlic. If you're looking for a friendly, quiet, easy-on-the belly brunch in a cozy, naturally well-lit space, this is the place for you. Brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Happy Hour at Interurban

    Interurban’s happy hour menu has a diverse bench that runs deep. Your only task whilst sipping on a draft beer or a glass of the slyly named Sword Fight (a Kentucky Mule made with Fighting Cock bourbon and Cock’n  Bull ginger beer) is to figure out what exactly to order. Do you try the bone marrow (with grilled bread, salsa verde and Maldon sea salt), the rather addicting polenta croquettes (also with salsa verde, shaved Manchego and a tart, bitey Calabrian chili coulis), or the weekly “fresh baked”—an expertly executed sandwich made with a baked-to-order roll that seems like it will never keep the whole thing together but somehow, miraculously, does. They’re all worth sampling, but then again, so are the crunchy, spicy, sweet and meaty hot wings (rolled in honey, ginger, soy and slivered garlic) and the Stouffer’s-sized personal pot pie (pork loin, carrots, celery, onions and cannelloni beans), which you can upgrade, rather affordably, to include an imperial pint of rotating cask beer. Your best bet? Bring a couple of friends, start with what we’ve listed here, then explore your way through the rest of the menu. Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10 p.m. till the doors are locked on Sunday nights.

  • Breakfast/Brunch at Silver Moon Crêperie

    While New Hampshire natives and longtime crêperie veterans Chris and Theresa Therrien don’t necessarily do brunch, you can make the argument that most, if not all, of their 45 crêpes could neatly be categorized as brunch-ish. To make their crêpes, the Therriens start with a batter base, and then split it in two, adding to each batch either savory or sugary elements. With its cinnamon sprinkles and whipped cream cloud, their seasonal autumn pumpkin crêpe tastes exactly what a slice of holiday pie would taste like (and possibly even better seeing that it’s lighter on your tummy than a traditional slice), while the peanut butter-like speculoos version (made with a Belgian ginger cookie paste) gives you the chance to taste something you’re not going to find on too many menus around town. But, perhaps what the crêperie does best (besides a rock-solid savory egg, ham and Swiss cheese crêpe) is letting its personality welcome you from the moment you step inside. This is definitely a kid-friendly space—from the brightly painted walls and the open kitchen (watching how crêpes get made, after all, is part of the show)—but with enough knowing nods to make adults feel at home too. (See the small statue of Ganesha and the recreation of The Creation of Adam in which Adam dips his finger into God’s jar of Nutella.) Silver Moon Crêperie’s open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

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