Bamboo Sushi NE
1409 N.E. Alberta St., Alberta
Bamboo Sushi has four locations spread among Portland's quadrants: SW, NW, NE, and SE. Each location varies slightly; they all have a casual vibe and really good sushi (in addition to hot Japanese dishes). You can make table reservations but seats at the sushi bar (always fun) are first come first serve. What makes Bamboo different than most other sushi restaurants is that they take a lot of steps to be as sustainable as possible. For example: They don't serve fish from endangered populations; their seafood is caught by fishermen who operate under environmentally ethical principles; and their meat comes from ranches in Oregon/Idaho, and is grass-fed, hormone-free, and free-range. Bamboo Sushi use renewable energy sources, reusable teak wood chopsticks, biodegradable to-go containers, and so on.
Salt & Straw
2035 N.E. Alberta St., Alberta
The small-batch ice cream business, which cousins Kim and Tyler Malek launched out of a single neighborhood ice cream parlor, has grown into a family of shops, including three in Portland (here in Alberta, and in Nob Hill and Richmond), plus a stall in the Pine Street Market. The focus at S&S is on inventive flavors: salted caramel cupcake, pear & blue cheese, avocado & strawberry sherbet. On the flip side, their single-origin vanilla is some of the best we’ve ever had. For those who aren’t fortunate enough to live near a shop, the seasonal Pints Club, which sets you up with five unique pints every month and delivers them right to your door, is an excellent option.
The Waffle Window
2624 N.E. Alberta St., Alberta
Mom Mary O’Rourke started making her famous waffles (a unique variation on a Liege-style sugar waffle) after her sons came back from a European trip and begged her to recreate what they’d eaten abroad. Today, they serve them out of the previously abandoned service window of the family's restaurant, Bread & Ink. The menu features the original sugar waffle as well as savory options (ham and cheese; bacon, brie, and basil) or dessert-style (Nutella and banana, blueberry cheesecake). There's a second location in Sunnyside, and two more opening this summer.
2039 N.E. Alberta St., Alberta
Helmed by veteran chef Troy MacLarty (formerly of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and Portland’s Ned Ludd), Bollywood Theater is a go-to for fragrantly spiced street-style food MacLarty discovered during his explorations in India—dishes like savory lamb samosas and rich, creamy curries. The original restaurant on Alberta in Northeast Portland, spacious and decked out with Indian imagery (including a projector for screening Bollywood films), has a fast-casual vibe: order at the counter, get a number, choose your seat. The location on Southeast Division, an even larger space with an open-concept kitchen, also features a retail market stocked with dry goods, fresh spices, rice, ghee, and more.
Case Study Coffee
1422 N.E. Alberta St., Alberta
With three locations in Portland, Case Study is kind of a classic study space. The best drink here is the espresso—the owners started out with a catering company devoted exclusively to espresso, so they definitely know what they’re doing. All three locations offer community tables with plentiful seating and strong WiFi. There's also a location Downtown and in Sandy.