By LESLEY MCLAM & ANDREW WILKINS
From the Mojo Crepes and Li Min Bakery at SE 85th Avenue to the Dutch Bros and Dairy Queen at 136th Avenue, to the Powell and Kelly Butte Nature Areas, there are plenty of sweet and little-known local nature spots, to check out in this neighborhood.
Powellhurst-Gilbert‘s northern boundary is defined by SE Division Street from 92nd Avenue to 142nd Avenue. There are many types of businesses along this stretch of Division.
Some include: Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant, the Portland Nursery, the Roman-Russian Food Store, the Bird Hut, Five Zero Trees, Whelan’s Irish Pub, All That Glitters pawn shop, Final Table Poker Club, Caye’s Aquarium, Cruiser’s Drive-in Diner, and a number of nail and beauty salons.
East Portland’s Jade District is a Asian Pacific-focused economic development district stewarded by APANO. At the corner of Division Street and 82nd Avenue, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon “has worked for social justice for over 15 years, and continues to evolve as Oregon’s leading Asian and Pacific Islander grassroots advocacy organization”.
Stay involved with APANO’s monthly “Cultural Work Roundup” by signing up here, or learn more about getting involved at their website. Orchards of 82nd, an affordable housing community and event space built through a partnership of non-profits has been an attractive addition to the area.
Just across Division Street, Portland Community College Southeast Campus offers a variety of course work to the community including GED coursework, small business development, and a variety of other skills development.
Tik-Tok Restaurant & Bar is a longtime late-night Portland staple. It is located at 112th Avenue and SE Division Street, just at the northwestern edge of the neighborhood.
It’s wide selection of American food options ranging from breakfast to steak and mashed potatoes, as well as it’s cozy atmosphere and late-night hours, begs for it to be included in this neighborhood tour. Fair warning, despite the good-sized menu selections, they unfortunately do not carry milkshakes; I checked.
More service opportunities
If you’ve made it this far in the story, you obviously care about Powellhurst-Gilbert. Why not get involved, and help your neighbors improve everyone’s community?
The Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association is a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the neighborhood. The meeting are a crossroads for the neighborhood’s organizations and a good way to meet people working hard to make the community a better place to live.
If you like to get your hands in the soil and improve a valuable natural resource, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council might be a good opportunity. They have frequent service events in Powellhurst-Gilbert and East Portland.
Unite Oregon (1390 SE 122nd Ave) is a non-profit that is:
“… digging in on the issues that our members have prioritized for us, including reducing disparities in public education, raising wages for workers; continuing racial justice work like ending police profiling; fighting for justice and dignity for immigrants and refugees; and addressing the affordable housing crisis.”
Become a volunteer or donate at their website.
The Syrian Lebanese American Club (11610 SE Holgate Blvd) is an organization that offers community to Americans from that part of the world, by service work and annual events. They also have a venue available for the community to rent.
Along with what we listed, there are numerous community organizations, schools, and houses of worship that could use a helping hand making the community a nicer place to live.
Nature in the city
The eastern side of the neighborhood shares the entire bordering edge of the Powell Butte Nature Park, until just shy of Foster Boulevard, before arcing over towards 122nd Avenue, south of the Powell Villa Plaza.
The Springwater Corridor Trail passes through some of the southern parts of this neighborhood, as well.
Kelly Butte was the home of the now-abandoned Kelly Butte Civil Defense Shelter, a facility built as an emergency headquarters for local leadership during the height of Cold War fears.
Now it serves as a little used park tucked away in the city. Watch indie creator Tigers on the Town‘s take on the butte and its history. It’s a lot of fun!
Nearby, Powell Butte is also an amazing green escape in the city of Portland. There are many access points to the butte, but this four-and-a-half mile hike lets you explore a lot of what makes the 23-acre park a East Portland favorite.
Leach Botanical Gardens, Zenger Farms, and Johnson Creek are other opportunities to enjoy nature in the neighborhood. Zenger Farms is a great community resource that educates neighbors about sustainable agriculture and healthy eating.
On 111th Avenue is the Beggars Tick Marsh, a deciduous shrubland wildlife refuge. Some of the plant varieties in this tiny wetland include Weeping Willow, European Hawthorne, Chicory, Himalayan Blackberry, Morning Glory, Oregon Ash and Waterpepper.
A walking path through the wildlife refuge allows the casual visitor to enjoy a small piece of undisturbed nature in the middle of such a big city.
Fun with cannabis
Head East (located at 13250 SE Division St.) is another longtime Portland staple. This store has been operating since 1972 and is towards the northeast corner of the Powellhurst-Gilbert area claims the honor of being “one of Portland’s oldest family-run head shops, established in the early 70’s by Bob Smalley“.
It has the feel of a classic head shop, complete with colorful shirts on racks, hemp products, a variety of gifts, kratom, tapestries, and a wide selection of ‘tobacco’ smoking devices and tools.
Artistic glass pipes in the shapes of dragons and elephants, colorful water-pipes (AKA bongs), hookahs, and dab tools with all the trimmings, fill the store. The staff is often extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. Glass-blowing demonstrations have also been known to happen here from time to time.
And if you need something to put in your pipe, you have many options.
Cannabliss & Co. – The BLVD (8701 SE Powell Blvd) is the company’s fifth location and third in Portland Metro. Green Remedy (12507 SE Powell Blvd) is another option, and Oregon Bud Company (5515 SE 122nd Ave) even allows you to order online!
However, the biggest intersection with the most happening near it could easily be considered to be SE 122nd Avenue and SE Division Street, at the top-center of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.
The local Crunch Fitness, Petco, Grocery Outlet, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Whelan’s Irish Pub, and Dotty’s deli & video-lottery lounge are all located right there. Whelan’s often has live music on Thursday and Saturday nights and serves a whole host of adult beverages.
Division Plaza even has a large clock attached to one of the anchor buildings, making the intersection easily identifiable.
If you want a snack, there are plenty of choices right at, and within a couple blocks of this busy intersection.
Along with several fast food spots, there is a Taco Time, Thai2Go, the Vegas Chinese Restaurant, Pizzayaki, the SOMUS Boba & Cafe, Pizza Baron, the Golden Horse Bar, and Rachel’s Bar and Grill.
According to the bartender Ryan, Rachel’s Bar and Grill used to be the popular Mama-sans Restaurant.
When the former elderly owners chose to retire, the current property owner, Rachel, bought the business located at 11510 SE Division Street and put her own name on the place.
It has a decent selection of spirits, video slot machines and two pool tables, as well as a small, partially-covered outdoor patio out back. This laid-back local haunt likes to throw seasonal holiday parties for the regulars, such Halloween and New Year’s themed evening specials.
It’s obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, but nearby Scarlet Lounge (12646 SE Division St) is a friendly bar and one of Portland’s world-famous strip clubs.
Southward on 122nd, and further into the heart of the neighborhood, the Powell Villa Plaza hosts a few basic stops for the citizen on the go.
There is even a billiards hall, for those who enjoy playing pool, with an all-age arcade area.
Back up to Division Street, and just past the Dutch Bros and Dairy Queen at 136th Aveue, near Head East and the Cruiser’s Drive-In 50s style diner, the line encompassing this neighborhood turns south.
Foster Boulevard between 122nd & 111th Avenues is the southernmost boundary of this neighborhood.
The southeast Portland Pick-n-Pull location can be found at the intersection of 111th Avenue and Foster Road, along with a Plaid Pantry, 76 gas station and the Golden Dynasty Chinese Restaurant & Bar, which also does take-out.
Pick-n-Pull can be amazing for a DIY-inclined vehicle owner, only charging $2 for daily admission into the parts-yard. When trying to replace a simple part on your vehicle, it is often worth checking to see if they have a sale going on. They even sell used tires!
At Harold Street, north of the wetland, the neighborhood borderline snakes west until it hits 104th Avenue, then continues northwards to the intersection at Holgate Boulevard.
Slightly further north, up 104th Avenue, is the Ed Benedict Park and skatepark, on Powell Boulevard.
The Ed Benedict Skatepark is one of only five skateparks in the City of Portland and “is considered to be the first environmentally sensitive skate plaza ever constructed,” according to Portland Parks & Recreation.
This 12.75 acre park boasts an accessible play area and restroom, basketball court, paved and unpaved paths, picnic tables, skatepark, soccer field, public art, two designated parking spaces with street parking, and a reservable wedding site.
Within a few blocks to the east of the skatepark, on Powell Boulevard, is a Memorial Garden, the Hop Sing Bar & Food, Ukrainian Credit Union, VIP Flowers, and Jenni’s Sacred Grounds coffee shop.
The Portland Parks & Recreation Department describe the Portland Memorial Garden as “one of eight memory gardens in the U.S., and one of only two built on public land. The garden is a national demonstration garden project, created as part of the 100 Parks, 100 Years centennial celebration of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).”
Whether running errands, grabbing dessert, or riding your skateboard while enjoying the beautiful natural areas that Southeast Portland has to offer, this neighborhood has a lot going on.