The Hawthorne/Belmont area is one of the hipper enclaves in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Situated around two major streets, Hawthorne and Belmont, the neighborhood is a good mix of retail and residential, making it very pedestrian- and bike-friendly. You can find libraries, schools, parks, community gardens, coffee shops and grocery stores all within easy reach.
The neighborhood first began to flourish in 1888, when a trolley line was built through the area. However, Hawthorne Boulevard existed long before then, only under two different names. It was originally called “U” Street, then was renamed “Asylum Avenue” in 1862, when a psychiatric hospital moved into a building on the street.
This asylum, the Oregon Hospital for the Insane, remained on the street near SE 12th Avenue for about 20 years. It closed its doors in 1883, after a state-owned psychiatric hospital was built in Salem, and funding for the privately-owned Oregon Hospital dried up.
Five years later, as the neighborhood began to attract more residents, the street name changed once more. Asylum Avenue was replaced by the more elegant Hawthorne Boulevard, after the physician J.C. Hawthorne, who had founded the Oregon Hospital. This new name matched the neighborhood’s growing population and reputation as a fantastic place to eat, shop and live.
By the turn of the century, a variety of beautiful homes had been built in Hawthorne and Belmont for the families and professionals moving into the area. For example, this stunning Craftsman home was built in 1906 and is perfectly suited for both a family or a classy urban couple. It has an elegant design with spacious rooms for entertaining and living, including 4+ bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. It was an ideal home for Hawthorne residents a hundred years ago—and it’s still a wonderful place to live now.
Although the neighborhood has changed through the years, its distinct, liberal atmosphere and array of local businesses still draw young urbanites to the area. Both streets are destinations for shopping, dining and overall fun. Hawthorne has many interesting and retro stores, while Belmont has more artisanal foods, handmade housewares and upscale clothing boutiques.
To give you an idea of the neighborhood’s eateries and shops, here’s a very small sampling of places that would be within walking distance of your Hawthorne or Belmont home.
The Waffle Window
Get incredible sweet and savory waffles at this popular little spot in Hawthorne. Options include creative waffles like “The Three B’s” (brie, bacon and basil) and classics like the chocolate-dipped waffle, made with Guittard dark chocolate.
Prefer pancakes over waffles? Then head to Slappy Cakes, where you can create your own pancakes on their tabletop griddles. Their toppings range from staples like whipped cream and maple syrup to more specialized ingredients, like lavender honey and local goat cheese.
This restaurant is known for having some of the tastiest pizza you’ve ever tried. You can make your own or order one of the house classics. You’ll want to arrive early, thought—the line tends to be long.
3 doors down
With a simple mission of serving delicious food that will have you coming back every week, this restaurant has been around for a long time and the owner even still cooks there.
One of the more popular destinations in Portland for eating out, the Southeast Division Street area offers a wide variety of must-try restaurants; Travel Portland has a great article that discusses all types of food on Division Street.
Red Light Clothing Exchange
Experience the retro vibe of Hawthorne at this one-of-a-kind “fashion emporium” and local favorite. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in their large inventory, you can always go to Buffalo Exchange or Crossroad Trading Co. down the street for more fashionable, secondhand clothes.
“A person’s place for things” is an apt description for Noun, which sells treasures of all kinds, both new and old. You’ll find everything from vintage typewriters and candlesticks to beautiful notebooks and Japanese tea sets.
Tender Loving Empire
This community-based shop revolves around local art. It’s an art gallery, record label, screen-printing studio and gift store all in one.
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
With over 10,000 square feet of retail space and 200,000+ used and new books, the smaller counterpart of the popular City of Books has weekly author readings and provides a relaxed environment that’s perfect for families.
Lucky Labrador Brew Pub
Love dogs and good beer? Then check out this pub on Hawthorne. It has high ceilings, a rustic atmosphere, and excellent craft beer—and you’re welcome to bring your favorite canine.
Bagdad Theater & Pub
One of the iconic landmarks of Portland, and certainly a must-visit in the Hawthorne District, the theater presents a beautiful interior of brilliant mosaics and ornate wrought-iron fixtures, luxurious rocker seating, and a casual pub with outdoor seating in the summertime.
Get a cup of single-origin coffee at this local roaster. Coava sources its beans straight from coffee producers and builds relationships with individual farms, leading to all-round better coffee.
Happy Sparrow Café
The owners of this local hub come from Texas, where they learned to make scrumptious kolaches—a sweet, filled bun originally introduced by Czech immigrants. Come for these and other sweet treats and stay for the cozy, artsy atmosphere.
Walk along Hawthorne Boulevard and Belmont Street, and you’ll find many more stores, restaurants and coffee shops to love in this neighborhood. Buy a lovely home nearby, and you’ll be living the quintessential Portland life. View our Hawthorne/Belmont listings to see more.