The little neighborhood of Montavilla comes alive when they host a big jazz festival and street fair every year. Even when it isn’t festival time, the Montavilla area can be a nice way to spend an afternoon. Located just off I-205 on the east side of Portland, the area is easy to get to, yet easily overlooked even by locals. There are a surprising number of good restaurants and small shops to explore in this up-and-coming area.
Monticello Antique Marketplace
I started my visit at the Monticello Antique Marketplace – my favorite antique mall for wandering. It keeps an ever-changing variety of items to browse through, so every visit is unique. I enjoy their well displayed stalls – each with its own personality, but all are uncluttered, prices are well marked, and all items are carefully curated so you won’t be scrounging through a hodgepodge of dusty bins. I grabbed a coffee at the attached Monti’s Cafe with its old-library feel, mismatched tables and chairs, bookshelves – a perfect companion to an antique store. I found a few treasures while wandering I just couldn’t do without, then continued on down the street to have lunch at Ya Hala.
Ya Hala is a Lebanese restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinners, and all packed with tons of flavor. The interior has long flowing drapes to set the scene, dark wood tables, and appropriate music to set the mood. I had the baked Za’atar – a vegetarian sandwich wrapped in a warm pita. I’ve had their chicken shawarma before (which was excellent) and their falafel (also excellent.) If you like garlic, order a side of their toum sauce for dipping – it’s to die for. I think it’s worth a separate trip just to do the turkish coffee and desserts!
Hungry Heart Bakery
I debated whether to finish with a turkish coffee at Ya Hala or try the bakery next door. I opted for a chai to-go at Hungry Heart Bakery – something for the drive home to cut the after effects of all that yummy garlic. This small little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop feels like the ultimate neighborhood hangout. They specialize in miniature cupcakes – just enough to get to experience the flavor without feeling too guilty about the calories. Although with their tempting flavors like Almond Joy (chocolate, almond, coconut,) the Elvis Lives! (banana, peanut butter, bacon,) the Johnny Cash (chocolate whisky buttercream,) or the Buzzkill (dark chocolate with espresso ganache and caramel,) you might as well get a sampler and try two or three!
8600 SE Stark St, Portland OR
8005 SE Stark St, Portland OR
414 SE 80th Ave, Portland OR