Eliot Neighborhood Guide
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Features of Eliot Neighborhood
Eliot is a diverse community striving to hold on to its history while fending off too much commercial urban redevelopment. Many of Eliot’s residents have lived here a long time, contributing to the sense of neighborhood pride and history of the area. There is a mix of residential and commercial property in Eliot, and the residential areas are generally attractive, quiet, and livable, while the commercial areas are being actively redeveloped, bringing an influx of interest and energy that has both positive and negative aspects for the community. The residents are proud and protective of their special neighborhood and will actively fight any undesirable influx of commercial business that aren’t viewed as beneficial (witnessed in the past when McDonald’s tried, unsuccessfully, to move into the area). Given Eliot’s excellent location to downtown, it will be interesting to see how the area continues to grow and develop. Some speculate the East side of the river holds even more potential than the former warehouse area now known as The Pearl District because there is more affordable single-family residential housing available.
Eliot is in a fantastic location for both commuting and getting to many other great Portland neighborhoods. Major freeway ramps located near Eliot include I-84 and I-5. Drive west over the Broadway bridge to get downtown or to the Pearl District in mere minutes. Or head northeast to Alberta or Beaumont-Wilshire, northwest to the Boise and Historic Mississippi Avenue neighborhoods, or southeast to get to the Belmont and Hawthorne neighborhoods. The bike corridors along Williams and Vancouver contribute to easy bike commutes.
Commute Times: About 7 minutes to downtown by car, 11 minutes by bus/train, 13 minutes by bike (depending on traffic and time of day).
Eliot Neighborhood Businesses of Note
Eliot is full of popular dining establishments and coffee shops, many of which are located along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Due to the compact size of the neighborhood, it’s all within relatively short walking distance for most.
The northeast location of this much-loved casual coffee spot is in Eliot serving locally roasted, fair trade Water Avenue coffee. Tiny’s offers a wide variety of drinks and light eats, like sandwiches, bagels, soups, and salads, as well as locally made pastries with vegan and gluten-free options. The venue also embraces local art by showcasing the work of Portland artists. And if you’re a fan of Portland’s brunch scene, check out Tiny’s and enjoy it with a delicious Bloody Mary.
Sip and munch on the roomy outdoor patio, or hang out inside the bright, spacious indoor area. It’s an ideal spot to meet up with friends on a lazy Saturday morning or show up solo to get some work done. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the iced mocha alone is worth the trip.
Tiny’s Coffee—2031 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Queen of Sheba
Established in 1995, Queen of Sheba has brought exotic Ethiopian cuisine made with a variety of delicious spices and flavors to Portland. Since its first opening, the simple, no-frills environment has served Portlanders and visitors to satisfaction with family-style meals, including vegetarian options. In addition to meeting their customers’ lunch and dinner needs, Queen of Sheba also vends food products, like their teas and chais, in health food stores and ethnic businesses across Oregon, the country, and the world.
Queen of Sheba—2413 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Billy Ray’s Dive
Billy Ray’s Dive is a long-time, cash-only Eliot neighborhood hangout with standard bar fare, draft beers, and pinball in a dimly lit atmosphere. Inside, you’ll find local artwork on the walls, and outside, you can enjoy food, drinks, and socializing on the roomy patio.
Billy Ray’s Dive—2216 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
McMenamins White Eagle Saloon & Hotel
One of Portland’s legendary McMenamins locations and one of Portland’s oldest bars, the White Eagle is a much-loved venue for nightly live music, tasty fare, and handcrafted ales, wines, spirits, and ciders. Whether you stop by for lunch or you come by to blow off some steam at the end of the day with friends or co-workers, you can enjoy a pint in the beer garden on the outdoor deck.
Also on the premises, just upstairs, is the Rock ‘n Roll Hotel, a perfect solution for your staycation plans or out-of-town guests. That is, if you or your guests aren’t afraid of ghosts. Legend has it that the aura that infuses the space with a supernatural air belongs to several spirits—and we don’t mean the kind you imbibe—who live in the space alongside workers, performers, customers, and guests.
After a long and fascinating history, the White Eagle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Shortly thereafter, in 1998, the venue was purchased by the McMenamins brothers, adding to their collection of historic buildings, which they transform into the quirky and memorable spaces Oregonians have grown to love and revere.
McMenamin’s White Eagle Saloon & Hotel—836 N Russell St
Widmer Brothers Gasthaus
Portland is full of gastropubs, each one offering its own unique ambience and vibe. Widmer Brothers Gasthaus is a long-time staple for locals who love craft beer and delicious, diverse food in a welcoming, comfortable space. Whether you want to tour the brewery, established in 1984, or settle in for the evening at the Gasthaus winding down and catching up with friends, you’ll leave happy and satisfied, looking forward to your next visit.
Widmer Brothers Gasthaus—929 N Russell St
Originally built in 1914 for the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a Catholic Youth Organization, what we now know as Wonder Ballroom has served as a space for the Portland Boxing School, the American Legion, and the Collins Center, a community center. Due to the building’s architectural and historic significance, it was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, after being purchased and transformed into a music venue.
Earthy tones and gothic-style sconces and chandeliers maintain a historic vibe while the Mark Woolley Gallery inside the venue, which houses works by local artists, bring a modern touch and pave the way for the many musical acts that come through and provide memorable entertainment for Portlanders.
Wonder Ballroom—128 NE Russell St
The People’s Pig
Known for its scrumptious smoked meat sandwiches, The People’s Pig is a favorite Portland laid-back BBQ spot with classic sides, beer, and cocktails. How does a smoked lamb sandwich with fennel aioli and spicy vinegar on a sourdough roll sound? Or how about an Italian style roast pork belly with fennel pollen and lemon? Whatever makes your mouth water, you can pair it with a delicious side, like their creamy coleslaw, macaroni salad, collard greens, black eyed peas, or cornbread.
If you’re planning a party, Pig vends their delicious smoked meats by the pound, too. You can get your food to go, have it delivered, come dine inside, or get comfy on the outdoor patio while you quaff your favorite beverage and bring your canine buddy with you… Pig is dog-friendly!
The People’s Pig—3217 N Williams Avenue
This quaint spot blends everything Portland loves: coffeehouse, bar, and live music venue that serves two-dollar tacos. The drinks alone are enough to bring you back time and again. The PDX Paloma features house-infused peppercorn orange tequila, and the Waypost Mule blends ginger-honey bourbon with cinnamon and ginger beer.
It doesn’t matter which night you visit, you’ll be greeted with a fun and memorable theme: trivia and comedy nights, dancing, and more. Step inside Waypost, and you’ll quickly see why it’s the go-to Eliot neighborhood hang for so many.
Waypost—3120 N Williams Ave
Started as a catering company in 2008 (called Mayahuel Catering), Tamale Boy has grown to include a food truck and three brick-and-mortar locations, one of them being in Eliot. When you’re in the mood for fun and affordable, head to this Portland eatery featuring Mexican cuisine and cocktails. To keep things interesting, the menu shifts and changes with the seasons with the focus reflecting various regions throughout Mexico.
Start off with the signature guac, salsa, and chips, or maybe some pork cracklings or the Queso Fundido, a cheesy blend topped with chorizo, grilled onions, and poblanos. Finish filling up with delicious tacos, a quesadilla, or how about a tortilla-less burrito? Wash it all down with a Mexican Coke or one of their rotating beers.
One of Tamale Boy’s goals is to keep their food affordable, but if you’re on a tight budget, check them out at Happy Hour, where you’ll find some of their classic options, along with specialties, like the Taquitos Caseros—crispy taquitos stuffed with mashed potatoes, topped with cabbage salad (and more)—or make a whole meal of the decadent Nacho Fries.
Tamale Boy—668 N Russell St
In allegiance to the beast of burden that weathers the weight of plough pulling to till the soil, OX features wood-fired NW fare with an Argentinean flair. Chic and up-scale, but still maintaining Portland’s energetic, casual vibe, this highly ranked restaurant showcases local meats and fish, along with fresh, seasonal produce.
Make your reservation on a Wednesday through Sunday, and ease into the evening with a mouthwatering starter, like the Dungeness Crab Bruschetta or the Spicy Braised Beef Tripe and White Beans. For your main course, give the Maple-Brined Pork Chop or the Grilled Maitake Mushrooms a try. Ox’s garden-based offerings alone can make a whole meal, like their nettle and ricotta dumplings or sauteed mushrooms and foie gras. Pair your meal with one of Ox’s signature cocktails or a regional beer or wine. Finish off the evening with the Warm Hazelnut Torte or Olive Oil Chocolate Cake and a digestif or dessert wine from their list. Or how about an after-dinner cocktail, like the Absinthe Root Beer Float? A night at Ox will make you see why Portland is known for its foodie scene.
OX Restaurant—2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Seven Bridges Winery
Focused on producing premium, flavorful red wines, Seven Bridges uses labor-intensive, manual production techniques using handpicked grapes, sourced from Oregon and Washington, fermented in small lots, then gently pressed. Their wines are aged in French and American oak barrels. Their name and label were inspired by Portland’s seven bridges, which can be seen from their downtown winery.
Reserve a spot in their vintage urban chic tasting room for an intimate experience while sampling a few selected vintaged from the 2500-4000 cases of wine they produce each year. There’s plenty of space for groups of up to six or more intimate seating for two. The cost for a tasting is $20, but they’ll waive the fee when you buy two bottles. Three samples in, and we were sold. Their Syrah and Dirty Rose are divine.
Seven Bridges Winery—2303 N Harding Ave
Cartside Food Carts
One of Eliot’s newer additions, Cartside is home to seven food carts ranging from sushi burritos, Thai, and Italian street food. Grab your food and go, or stick around and enjoy ample seating, both indoors and out, along with flat-screen TVs, and free WiFi. Sip a brew or savor a glass of wine with your food on the new deck and take in beautiful views of NW Portland. In addition to the ground bound Cartside Taphouse, truck vendors include Areli’s, Let’s Roll, Poblano Pepper, Ko Sisters Seoul Food, Yaba Yabaa, PP Thai Food, and Mumbo Gumbo.
Areli’s is especially good with the freshest ingredients and options, including their homemade soft corn tortillas. Grab a taco or two or three and see what we mean. They’re open to switching up what goes inside upon request, and the prices are just as delicious as the food. A bonus: the owner is one of the kindest people you’ll meet.
Cartside Food Carts—1825 N Williams Ave
Eliot Neighborhood Parks
Eliot Neighborhood Community Garden
Eliot Neighborhood Community Resources
Eliot Neighborhood Schools
Eliot Neighborhood Stats
Zip Code 97227
Eliot Neighborhood Vibe
One of N Portland’s hottest, up-and-coming neighborhoods, Eliot is growing into a vibrant areas with plentiful eateries, bars, and trendy shops, not to mention parks and music venues.
Eliot Neighborhood History
Located in the old center of what was once the City of Albina before it was annexed by Portland in the late 19th century, Eliot has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations, historically. Settled in the mid-1800s by ship workers, Eliot was initially a bustling community with downtown businesses and public transportation. Due to the rate at which this area grew, Vanport (originally called Kaiserville), a public housing complex headed up by shipyard industrialist Henry Kaiser with the assistance of the U.S. Maritime Commission, was built within a mere 110 days to accommodate 42,000 people, many of whom were Portland’s early Black residents, in 1942. But the success of the housing was short-lived. Built on a flood plain, Vanport was wiped out in the massive 1948 flood, taking the lives of many and displacing the rest, forcing them into the Albina-Mississippi area, with some moving to Eliot.
Later, in 1964, when I-5 was built to cut through the neighborhood and Emanuel Hospital was expanded, also in the neighborhood, Eliot declined drastically. Around the same time, the Central Albina Study was completed and recommended that the neighborhood be demolished to become a locus for industrialism. By the late 1980s, urban decay overtook Eliot. Street crime, drugs, and abandoned homes were rampant.
Thanks to the Mississippi Historic District’s revitalization project in the 1990s and fiercely committed residents, Eliot has been on an upswing ever since. Public safety improved with the installation of street lights and traffic diverters, housing was upgraded with the help of home improvement loans, and businesses cropped up and flourished, also with the help of loans.
How did Eliot Neighborhood Get its Name?
Eliot neighborhood was named in honor of the Reverand Thomas L. Eliot, one of Portland’s pioneer ministers. Eliot was originally from St. Louis Missouri and moved to Portland shortly after he married Henrietta Robins Mack and graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1865. When a new chapel was dedicated in Portland in 1867, Eliot was asked to be the church’s minister.
He took his position and calling seriously, working with mentally ill patients and preaching at local jails in Portland. He served as the Multnomah County superintendent of education and was known for his commitment to improving the city’s schools.
It’s also reported that although Eliot had serious vision problems, he was relentless in the work he believed in, which included activism for women (including the suffrage movement), children, and the Pacific Northwest’s Native American communities.
He was called the “conscience of the community,” believing that children should be taken care of by society. He established the Children’s Home, a local orphanage, and organized the Boys and Girls Aid Society, a reform school to help adolescents in the juvenile justice system and abused children re-enter society.
In the late 1990s, the city proposed that the planned MAX light rail system would run along Russell St. linking Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and lower Albina, one block from Vancouver Ave. But Eliot residents had other ideas. Why? Because to do so would have meant negatively impacting up to 148 businesses and removing many residences in Eliot and nearby Boise and Humboldt neighborhoods. They foresaw the future: loud train noises along Broadway and Flint Aves., with Flint becoming inaccessible.
The neighborhood had already seen 57% of its housing removed between 1960 and 2001, when the current MAX line went in along Interstate Ave., a decision made in 1998.
In hindsight, some believe the neighborhood would have been better served with the original plan, with 97% within a half-mile of the MAX stop. Now, the rail system serves about 4% of Eliot’s residential area within a quarter-mile. That said, though, buses run frequently through the neighborhood, making getting around pretty easy for most. And speculation is that the current bus lines would likely have been merged had the original MAX plan come to fruition.
Today, Portland’s TriMet buses 4, 24, and 44, the Yellow MAX light rail, and the A Loop Streetcar, which has a stop at the southernmost boundary of Eliot, all service the neighborhood.
Friends We’ve Lost (Business Closures)
- Toro Bravo—A popular restaurant featuring Spanish tapas and featured in Willamette Week and Portland Monthly, closed it doors in July, 2020.
- Gold Rush Coffee Bar—One of Eliot’s go-to coffee shops that served the divine Illy brand coffee.
- Bridges Cafe & Catering—After two decades, this beloved neighborhood breakfast/brunch spot closed in November, 2020.
- Echo Restaurant—A high-end comfort food spot known for their great happy hours and late-night dining.
- Russell St. BBQ—A long-time and notable Portland BBQ spot that served tasty ribs and other delicious meals.
- Mint / 820—Mint, the place for tasty Nuevo Latino cuisine and excellent cocktails, along with its sister bar 820, closed in 2017.
- Under Wonder Lounge—The much-loved venue beneath the Wonder Ballroom that served cocktails and satisfying comfort foods with a subtle twist.
- Awash Ethiopian Market—A small neighborhood market that sold goods and ingredients for African cuisine, known for its great prices and friendly staff.
Eliot Neighborhood Real Estate
Located close-in on the east bank of the Willamette River across the water from the Pearl District, Eliot is an urban neighborhood with cultural diversity. Home styles in this area consist of older Victorian cottages and other older East Portland styles that have historic charm and character you just can’t find in the newer ‘burbs. While some streets are still rough around the edges, there are many charming homes tucked into the Eliot neighborhood. Here, you will still find the early 1900s sidewalks imprinted with the names of the original craftsmen, with metal curb rings for tethering horses along the streets. There are also fairly recent infill houses and condos in the area, so you can actually find a newer home if that’s your preference. Eliot is conveniently located for an easy commute, and it’s popularity is growing as people rediscover North/Northeast Portland—especially since the TriMet light rail expansion that brought the Streetcar to the edge of the neighborhood.
If you are interested in buying or selling a home in this Portland neighborhood, visit our Portland Real Estate Page for more information, or visit our Portland Real Estate Map to search the RMLS for neighborhood homes for sale.
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Eliot Neighborhood. Blog/Association Newsletter. Eliot neighborhood history. Accessed May 20, 2022.
Eliot Neighborhood. Blog/Association Newsletter. Imagining a Different Course for MAX. Accessed May 25, 2022.
Oregon Encyclopedia. Thomas Lamb Eliot (1841-1936).