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Picnic tables sit outside on the street of St Johns’ Stormbreaker in Portland, Oregon

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A Guide to Portland’s Temporary Plazas for Outdoor Dining

Which city blocks Portland has closed off to traffic, so people can freely eat in the street

Stormbreaker Brewing in St Johns
| Stormbreaker Brewing/Official

As the coronavirus continues to impact Portlanders’ health and safety, restaurants continue to shift their models in the face of the ongoing social distancing regulations. For restaurants that want to open to onsite diners, outdoor dining spaces are safer than dining rooms, due to the natural ventilation of open air patios and sidewalk cafes. However, many Portland restaurants don’t have patios, rooftops, or courtyards, which makes serving customers outside difficult.

The City of Portland decided to help these restaurants create these sorts of dining spaces using public streets and sidewalks: Early this summer, the Portland Bureau of Transportation released the Safe Streets Initiative, which included a new license called the Healthy Business permit. These permits allow restaurants and bars to expand their outdoor seating across sidewalks and into parking lanes. Additionally, a few businesses managed to take over entire streets, closing them for cars and opening them for bikes, pedestrians, and additional outdoor dining spaces that far exceed what the restaurants previously were able to sit. At the moment there are only a few, but business owners and advocacy groups like the Portland Promenade Project are working with their neighbors and PBOT in an attempt to add more for the remainder of summer before the rains return. Below, find a guide to the full, curb-to-curb plazas across the city, including the restaurants and bars serving diners within them. For those seeking a full list of the various outdoor dining spaces in Portland, this Portland Bureau of Transportation map includes the 600+ sidewalk cafes and parking lot dining rooms. This guide will be updated with more plazas as they are approved.


SW Harvey Milk

On a stretch of Harvey Milk between SW 12th and 13th streets, two restaurants have opened up their patio seating, separated only by the bike lane. Occasionally, live musicians will play in the street, from singer-songwriters to sax players.

Restaurants and Bars:

Jake’s Famous Crawfish: It’s not a stretch to call Jake’s a Portland institution, and the restaurant is currently serving shellfish and wine outdoors and inside the restaurant. To reserve an outdoor table, call (503) 226-1419.

McMenamins’ Zeus Cafe: This cafe is currently serving its burgers and Cajun tots at the restaurant’s outdoor tables. As a part of the Crystal Hotel and Ballroom, Zeus Cafe will often host live musicians outside.


SE Clinton Street

The block between 25th and 26th at SE Clinton street is closed off to traffic, excluding a bike path through the center of the street. This plaza gives the many popular restaurants and bars on both north and south sides of the street some much-needed additional space for dining.

Restaurants and Bars:

Magna: The Filipino restaurant just hit its one year anniversary of being open, and diners are now able to enjoy its silky noodles, crispy lumpia, and variety of rice and protein dishes outside. Technically, it still is offering takeout that can be eaten out on the patio furniture, and diners can place orders at the website or at the counter inside.

Dot’s Cafe: An institution for the residential neighborhood, Dot’s Cafe is well-loved for its diner-meets-lounge vibes, its slushy cocktails, and its eclectic and dietary-encompassing menu of souped-up bar food. Dot’s is open for takeout and outdoor patio seating, with walk-up orders.

La Moule: The Franco-Belgian restaurant known for its innovative cocktail program and bowls of mussels, La Moule has mixed things up a bit — the food menu is smaller with a more classic French bent, while the cocktail menu is similarly simplified with a focus on summertime sippers. La Moule takes orders via walk-up, the online site, and by calling (971) 339-2822.

Broder Café: One of the pioneers of Portland’s rampant brunch scene, the Scandinavian restaurant is serving its ableskivers, lefse, and baked eggs outside now. The cafe uses the seats in the morning that La Moule does in the evening, as the restaurants do not overlap hours. Broder takes walk-up orders for takeout or outdoor dining.

Clinton Street Pub: A consummate dive bar with cheap drinks and pinball, it feels a bit odd to take Clinton Street pub out into the judgement of the open sky and passersby, but it’s far preferable to it not being open at all.

Lucky Horseshoe Lounge: An unassuming and friendly little pub next to the Clinton Street Theater, Lucky Horseshoe Lounge is open for drinks and food with seating on the sidewalk and a few out on the street.


SE Ankeny Street

A major bike thoroughfare, Ankeny Street is closed from 27th to 28th to all cars, with a large rainbow stripe painted down the center. The plaza seats diners at three establishments, all owned by Travis Preece. And while they’re each a technically different space, Preece is using an ordering system developed in Eugene called Porter. Visitors can enter their table number as a single tab, and order from each location at their individual websites, with servers bringing orders to the table.

Restaurants and Bars:

Taco-Ish: A taco restaurant that specializes in taco fillings not usually associated with Mexican cooking — items like lemongrass beef, hoisin-braised pork, and tangy orange soy curls — Taco-Ish is open for take-out and dining on the Ankeny Plaza.

Ankeny Tap and Table: A tap house with frozen cocktails and a menu of pub staples like nachos, burgers, wings, and tacos, Ankeny Tap and Table has both its wide wooden patio as well as the street seating.

Gorges Beer Co.: Preece’s brewery Gorges Beer Co. opened in the diminutive space previously home to Coalition Brewing just weeks before the pandemic shut everything down in Portland. Now, visitors can enjoy its Northwestern ales out on the patio or plaza.


NE 30th Avenue

NE 30th Avenue, just to the north of Killingsworth and across the way from Beast and Dame, is closed off to traffic and parking, and is an open, public space where people can hang out and relax. It doesn’t offer too many restaurants but the few that are there are worth the trip, especially for neighborhood residents, and the tables are spaced around eight to 10 feet apart for optimal social distancing.

Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars:

Extracto: A cute and colorful coffee shop and roaster, Extracto has its own patio, and shares the street seating in the morning for those who want a little more social distancing with their morning brew. Visitors can order at the window and seat themselves.

Wilder: An inventive-yet-approachable cocktail bar that’s home to a pretty unassailable burger, Wilder is a neighborhood institution. While the inside is far too cozy for safe dining, diners can now visit with its affable owner while enjoying his creative drinks outside. To keep things organized, Wilder is providing table service.

Biga: Biga is a much smaller, more personal affair than owner and pizzaiolo Marc Frankel’s massive local chain Pizzicato, and an opportunity for him to get back into the kitchen serving people directly. Visitors can order at the counter and find their own seats outside.


NE Flanders Side Street Plaza

Two restaurants have taken over a half-block of Flanders between NE 28th and 29th, where two restaurants have created outdoor dining spaces. The restaurants play music through the outdoor dining space, serving cocktails and food within the area. Traffic is not allowed through the half-block.

Restaurants and Bars:

Epif: This vegan restaurant and pisco bar is serving small plates like empanadas and causas alongside pisco sours and zero-proof cocktails. Outdoor diners will get full service at those tables, but the restaurant suggests that people make a reservation by calling (971) 254-8680.

Montelupo: Montelupo is serving bowls of pasta, negroni slushies, and burrata out on its picnic tables, with a grab-and-go market inside, limited contact for outdoor diners, and contactless ordering for takeout.


SE Division

Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom grabbed a curb-to-curb license for a stretch of SE 31st, but it has opened up the space as a weekend community plaza, with booths from local community artists and makers. Customers can grab pints from the bar for the outdoor tables, but the beer bar also welcomes takeout from some of the shop’s neighbors.

Vendors:

Imperial Bottle Shop: The beer bar has several beers on tap, including brews from Ninkasi, Pfriem, and Georgetown. Food Field Trip is also offering cheese and charcuterie to pair with the shop’s beer, wine, and ciders. Customers can walk up to a takeout window to order, without entering the store.

D Street Village: A number of restaurants are located within the same building, offering takeout that can be enjoyed in the plaza. That includes frozen yogurt from Eb & Bean, kati rolls from Bollywood Theater, and nacho-cheese-filled burritos from Tight Tacos.

Other neighbors: Across the street from Imperial Bottle Shop, PDX Sliders is also offering takeout that can be eaten within the plaza; call (503) 719-5464 to place a takeout order. Those craving Thai can find it at Esan or Kati, both within a minute’s walk.

Rotating artists and vendors: Each week, a different group of artists set up within the plaza for certain periods of time — for instance, Taimani Emerald Reed of Emerald Creative, Boiled PDXNuts, and Simple Sundries have been on the roster so far. Citizen Ruth, Imperial’s neighbor, has been working with the bar to highlight female, queer, and marginalized artists within the space. Imperial Bottle Shop’s Instagram is the best place to keep an eye on who will be at the plaza when.

Zahara: Technically this is not a restaurant; it’s a boutique. However, the shop has started displaying dresses and clothing in the plaza for weekend shopping.


Business-Specific Plazas

Some restaurants and bars were able to nab chunks of city blocks just for their own use. These are just some of the spots serving outside in brand-new plazas.

Stormbreaker Brewing

Local brewery Stormbreaker has not one, but two streets in town sectioned off for outdoor street. The Mississippi Avenue location already has an impressive front patio, which is expanded by taking over a block of Beech Street that abuts Mississippi. The location in St Johns has a much smaller sidewalk seating area, but has added a host of seats by taking over the block of N John Avenue. Both locations offer full dining service, with hosts bringing diners to their tables, digital menus, and orders placed directly with masked servers.

McPeet’s

This Fremont pub has closed off a chunk of 45th for outdoor seating, pouring mojito slushies and frose and slinging mozzarella sticks and burgers to the groups seated on the street’s picnic tables. Umbrellas provide a little shade on extra-hot days.

Jam on Hawthorne

This Hawthorne breakfast haunt has opened a plaza on a stretch of SE 23rd, where customers sit and chat over plates of eggs Benedict and huevos rancheros. Customers need to reserve a table to visit this way; otherwise, customers can order meals to-go.

Bailey’s Taproom

In the tangle of streets down by Southwest Broadway and Burnside, Bailey’s Taproom has taken over the “Ankeny Alley,” a little nub of SW Ankeny Street between Broadway and Park. The beer bar is pouring pints for those who want to sit and relax.

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