Originally farmland, East Portland’s Powellhurst-Gilbert is named for a pair of 1800s settlers, Jackson Powell and William M. Gilbert, whose names also appear on a trio of neighborhood elementary schools. As the city grew, residential development claimed much of the land, but pockets of flora and fauna as well as urban agriculture still exist within and nearby today’s Powellhurst-Gilbert. Consistently an area for new Portlanders, the population has transformed from the initial pioneer families to the present-day diversity where Asian, Hispanic and black citizens make up more than one-third of the area's residents, a characteristic that’s plainly reflected in the ethnically varied businesses.
SHOP: The International Markets
Powellhurst-Gilbert is home to a glut of markets that primarily cater to various Asian populations but are also popular with adventurous eaters and holistic health practitioners all over Portland. With the Fubonn Supermarket, Tin Seng Trading Company and Chang Fa next door to Tin Seng (which has been called a mini Fubonn), you can find a vast array of packaged goods and Chinese herbal medicines as well as a selection of fresh produce, meat and even live seafood. The substantial Fubonn (self-proclaimed "the largest Asian shopping center in Oregon") also provides shoppers with a proper mall experience where you can find bubble tea, a bakery, restaurants, a jewelry store, gift shop, bookstore, spa, salon, clothing stores and more inside the building. Focused on traditional Chinese medicine, the nearby Wing Ming Herbs offers additional herbs, spices, teas, ginseng and so on, while the Eastern European Roman Russian Food Store features a deli and bakery with a much raved about honey cake and other pastries.
Fubonn Shopping Center, 2850 SE 82nd Ave., Ste. 80, 503.517.8899
Tin Seng Trading Company, 8350 SE Division St., 503.777.8203
Chang Fa Market, 8310 SE Division St., 503.788.8882
Wing Ming Herbs, 2738 SE 82nd Ave., 503.775.9895
Roman Russian Food Store, 10918 SE Division St., 503.408.7525
EAT: From The South to Southeast Asia
Slow-cooked, wood-fired meats in a “genuine Texas barbecue pit,” the same chef has been cooking up Campbell's southern-style recipes, including pies, homemade cornbread and classic sides (black-eyed peas, candied yams, mac and cheese, red beans and rice), since 1989. Head just a bit north on 82nd Avenue for a taste of South America from Salt & Pepper, a Peruvian food cart that offers traditional fare like anticuchos, papa a la Huancaína, and Inca Kola as well as some Mexican dishes, before moving on to sip a midday soup at Hà VL, where the menu rotates daily with two Vietnamese noodle soup options available until they run out—which often happens before noon.
Campbell's Barbecue, 8701 SE Powell Blvd., 503.777.9795
Salt & Pepper, 2998 SE 82nd Ave.
Hà VL, 2738 SE 82nd Ave., Ste. 102, 503.772.0103
PLAY: Seek Skate Nirvana
Named in honor of statesman and community activist Ed Benedict, the almost 13-acre park that bears his name features the standard amenities (basketball, soccer, walking paths, picnic tables, playground) as well as an 18,000-square-foot skatepark with ledges, rails, stairs and banks. Artistically designed to feature Dan Garland’s multifaceted concrete art installation (“which provokes thought regarding the intersection between natural and man-made environments”) and constructed using recycled and sustainable materials, the skatepark features native landscaping and on-site stormwater treatment. It’s even “considered to be the first environmentally sensitive skate plaza ever constructed,” according to Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R).
Ed Benedict Park, SE 100th Avenue and Powell Boulevard
RELAX: Seek Tranquility
At the east end of Ed Benedict Park away from traffic is the Portland Memory Garden, which was specifically “designed for people with Alzheimer's disease and other memory problems,” according to PP&R. As “one of eight memory gardens in the U.S., and one of only two built on public land,” the nationally recognized site is fairly flat with paved paths and plenty of spots to take a seat, including a cobblestone courtyard where you can relax while you admire “four seasons of plants and flowers in raised beds that have been chosen to stimulate the senses and to spark past memories,” according to Friends of the Portland Memory Garden, or watch gardeners working in their adjacent community plots.
Portland Memory Garden, SE 104th Avenue and Powell Boulevard
LEARN: To Farm, You City Slicker
A nonprofit urban farm with a mission to promote “sustainable food systems, environmental stewardship and local economic development,” Zenger Farm creates opportunities for future farmers of all ages to learn about “sustainable agriculture, wetland ecology, food security, healthy eating, and local economic development,” according to its website. With 10 acres of wetlands next to its 6-acre organic farming operation, you can attend workshops on food preservation or healthy eating on a budget, schedule a farm field trip for kids and adults alike, or tend to livestock. There's plenty of time to become a proficient farmer while you volunteer, but if you don't feel like getting your hands dirty, you can always support the farm by subscribing to its CSA program, which even accepts SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.
Zenger Farm, 11741 SE Foster Rd., 503.282.4245
Want to learn more about Portland's Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood? Visit the Powellhurst-Gilbert page on Neighborhood Notes for events, photos and a local business directory. If you live or work in Powellhurst-Gilbert, helpful notifications like land use notices and liquor license applications are also included.
Have you recently checked out Powellhurst-Gilbert? Share your stories, tips and fave destinations in the comment section.