field guide: Alder Street

SW Alder Street: The English Dept. & Canoe

I never left my apartment all weekend, which was bliss. However, a couple weekends ago, feeling more than a little cooped and restless after a similar homebody Saturday, I headed out at dusk with my camera to stroll down Alder Street, one of my favorite streets in Portland. These are not my best photos, some even slightly blurry, but they capture (I hope) the evening mood, time when the world starts going quiet and still, internal, like birds at roost.

church steeple and birds over ginkgoes at dusk

Alder & Co. sign

Alder & Co. interior

If new to town or just visiting, be sure to pop into Alder & Co. and Canoe to browse home goods at two of the loveliest stores in town. Find luxurious yarn to whip up handmade holiday gifts down the street at Knit Purl.

Canoe interior

Adonde dinnerware in Canoe window

Alder Street sidewalk sign

wall of scissors in hair salon window, Alder Street, Portland

Get your hair done. Find a warm coat at Mercantile. Try on a new pair of boots at Johnny Sole. Then when hungry, graze globally down at the 10th Avenue food carts or, to escape the drizzle, duck inside Tasty n Alder, downtown cousin to Northeast Portland's excellent Tasty n Sons and Toro Bravo. 

Johnny Sole window, Portland, OR

Mercantile Portland window display

lion head gracing building entrance, Alder Street

Moonstruck Chocolate Café window

Have dessert at the local Moonstruck Chocolate Café or—and this I recommend—detour just one block over to SW Morrison and 6th Avenue to pick up some luscious European pralines from Leonidas, flown in fresh each week from Brussels, where I first had them at age 18. Do try the Manon Blanc, a hazelnut-and-coffee crème within white chocolate—mmmmm. But be forewarned: Leonidas closes early on weekends, at 5 p.m. Then walk off all the food and chocolate people-watching while heading down towards the river or over to Pioneer Square.

Leonidas storefront, SW Washington Street at SW 6th Avenue (one block from Alder)

You will rarely find me buying anything on Alder Street myself, but window-shopping and daydreaming are always free for poor folks like me.

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