City Cast

Get to Know Kerns (the Neighborhood)

Rachel Monahan
Posted on October 5, 2022   |   Updated on June 9
The ‘Death Star’ keeps company with the ‘Fair Haired Dumbell’ on the Kerns skyline. (Rachel Monahan/City Cast)

The ‘Death Star’ keeps company with the ‘Fair Haired Dumbell’ on the Kerns skyline. (Rachel Monahan/City Cast)

That guy who still has blue hair — you see him around, but don’t know his name — he’s a little like Kerns, a central eastside neighborhood almost everyone has been to, but few know by name.

It’s not one thing. From an industrial section of the neighborhood wafts the fresh smells of baked bread, thanks to Franz Bakery, while a giant bread loaf twirls on top of the factory. The neighborhood, which runs from the Willamette River up to Laurelhurst, mostly north of Burnside, is an urban mix of industrial blocks and new apartment towers along with residential homes and some of the best food and drink options in the city.

Here’s where to go when you visit (again):

What to Eat
For a reliably tasty meal that never fails and doesn’t break the bank: Pollo Norte has spicy rotisserie chicken, with fresh corn tortillas and sides including a potato salad and a vinegary coleslaw.

What to See
Kerns has two of the most distinctive buildings on the east side’s newer skyline — you’ve seen them. Critics call the dark glassy 21-story apartment building at the end of the Burnside Bridgethe “Death Star.” Next door is the shorter bright red-, blue- and yellow-splashed art project of a commercial space officially christened the Fair-Haired Dumbbell.

Where to Shop
Visit the resident free-ranging dove at Artemisia. Shop for potted plants and sundries. The store offers classes on making your own perfume and on building a terrarium.

What to Do
It’s getting to be that season. If you’re up for a clothing-optional Old Portland hippie adventure, stop in at Everett House for a soak, a steam, a sauna. It’s like Central Oregon’s Breitenbush Hot Springs, only in the city.

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