Sugar-crusted conchas, plump xiao long bao, and earthy massaman lamb curry are just a few of the dishes that can be found steps from one another on North Williams Avenue’s densely packed dining strip. Only a few decades earlier, though, the neighborhood thrived but looked quite different.
Like nearby Mississippi Avenue, the modern North Williams Avenue rests on a legacy of harm done to the once-majority Black neighborhood and the decades of gentrification that followed. Then known as the “Black Broadway,” a swath of Williams and the surrounding neighborhood — including Black-owned homes and businesses — was seized and razed by the state in the early 1960s to construct Interstate 5, a generational wound with which Portland is still reckoning.
Today, targeted public and private investment is returning to the area — from federally funded infrastructure projects to cover portions of I-5 and a $400 million pledge from Nike’s own Phil Knight to Black-led art projects that seek to keep the memories of a lost neighborhood alive. In the meantime, North Williams’s identity has continued to evolve with a diverse array of celebrated bars, cafes, and restaurants — including nationally lauded Chinese and Thai barbecue restaurants. Here now, the most compelling places to eat and drink on North Williams Avenue.Read More