Portland Travel Itineraries

South Waterfront Portland – My Mapped Guide

May 22, 2014

Last Updated:

My next installment of Portland Neighborhood Maps hits close to [my first] home – South Waterfront. I moved to South Waterfront in the summer of 2010. South Waterfront was one of those areas that was created out of “nothing” in the mid-2000s. Most of the high-rises were just being finished as the economy tanked in 2008 and all development and business expansion came grinding to a halt. By 2010, a couple of the condo buildings in South Waterfront were still pretty vacant and there were several real estate auctions. No pressure. I bought one, sight unseen.

My first couple of years in South Waterfront, the neighborhood was quiet. I would mostly just take the streetcar into downtown or walk through no man’s land to Waterfront Park and across the river. Then things started changing. The Elizabeth Caruthers park was finished. I joined the community garden by the river. The farmers market opened. A pedestrian bridge over I5 opened. Little Big Burger arrived. There went the neighborhood.

South Waterfront, Portland:

SoWa still has a long way to go to get that unique lived-in feeling, but as my “first” grownup neighborhood, I’m rooting for them. South Waterfront is officially part of the South Portland neighborhood. When I was designing my map, I debated about how close to zoom in. I ended up deciding to show the tangle of highways and onramps as it’s a big part of what boxes in this little neighborhood. Highways to the west and river to the east.

Here’s my mapped guide to favorite places in South Waterfront!

South Waterfront map

Eat, Drink, Shop, Explore:

Bambuza – A practically ancient restaurant, in Portland years, Bambuza has been in South Waterfront since 2008. They serve up consistently delicious Vietnamese food. Order the banh mi sandwich and fresh rolls.
3682 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Monday – Saturday 11am – 9pm]

Rip City Grill & Moody Food Carts – There’s a reason this place is slammed at lunch time. Everyone raves about the tri-tip steak sandwich, thankfully Clint also makes an awesome portobello burger with caramelized onions and blue cheese.
Docks at Moody Ave & Abernathy St [Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 2pm]

Little Big Burger – The long-awaited South Waterfront location of this Portland burger empire finally opened in 2013. As long as you don’t hit it during the OHSU lunch rush between 11-1 it’s a great bet.
3704 SW Bond Ave [Hours: 11am – 9pm daily]

Lovejoy Bakers – A Pearl district favorite since 2010, seeing a bakery finally land in this area (in May of 2014) is perfect. Since South Waterfront still lacks a grocery store, I can see them staying pretty busy from SoWa locals and the constant stream of OHSU employees.
3159 SW Moody Ave [Hours: 6am – 6pm daily]

Daily Cafe at the Tram – Nothing fancy here. It’s a solid lunch option and quick place to grab a coffee or a chai before you jump on the Streetcar.
3355 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Monday – Friday 7am – 5pm]

The Old Spaghetti Factory – Before Portland was the foodie paradise it is today, Old Spaghetti Factory was fine dining. While not its original location (which opened in 1969 at SW 2nd Ave & SW Pine St in downtown) , OSF has been holding down the fort in “South Waterfront” since before it was called South Waterfront (1984?)! It’s still worth a visit for the nostalgia, river view location and when you have kids in tow. Order the mizithra cheese!
715 SW Bancroft St

Greanleaf Juicing Co – One of South Waterfront’s newest additions, Greanleaf is in the Emery building by the tram. As you would expect by the name, they offer up veggie and fruit-packed juices and smoothies,  and some lighter items like soup and granola bowls.
3151 SW Moody Ave [Hours: Monday – Thursday 7am – 7pm, Friday 7am – 6pm, Saturday – Sunday 9am – 6pm]

South Waterfront Farmers Market – The farmers market opened in 2012 and was a welcome addition to this supermarket-less neighborhood. Every year it gets a little bit bigger!
Elizabeth Caruthers Park [Hours: Thursdays 2 – 7pm – June to October]

Frank Wine and Flower – Another 2014 addition to SoWa, this inconspicuous little shop is a wine bar meets gift shop and is pretty adorable.
3712 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Sunday – Monday 12 – 8pm, Tuesday – Thursday 11am – 9pm, Friday – Saturday 11am – 10pm]

Urbana Market – an almost-yuppy convenience store. It’s tiny, but saves the day when you need something basic for a recipe, or a snack, or a $5 bottle of wine.
3550 SW River Pkwy

South Waterfront Greenway & Osprey Nest – A few years ago this was a great grassy stretch to walk and sit by the river, with a few DIY trails down to the water.  It’s currently under construction to add in retaining walls, restoring the river bank, adding water access etc. Probably a smart idea to support the growing neighborhood. Expected completion winter 2014. It’s bordered on the north by the Dahlia field a great place to get giant gorgeous flowers, which I’m guessing won’t be here too many more years with all the new development. And was bordered to the south by the Community Garden (which is now planning to be developed as “Block 37” a 6-story apartment building), which has now been moved closer to Macadam.

Elizabeth Caruthers Park – The park is named after a pioneer woman, who was a fascinating note in history (1850 Donation Act, a woman – married or not – had the same property rights as a man). Finished in 2010, the park is home to a bocce court, hilly grass, a short boardwalk and some neat fountains. Summer movies in the park, a few concerts, a cider festival, and the weekly farmers market keep the park busy – in the summer months at least.
3508 SW Moody Ave [Hours: 5am – midnight daily]

Waterfront Trail – Perfect for running and biking, the trail starts by the old trolley station at Moody and Bancroft St. It follows the river all the way through Willamette Park and the Sellwood bridge, where you can cross and connect with the Springwater Trail to either loop north up to the Eastbank Esplanade or towards East Portland.

Go By Bike – I think the only transportation option we’re missing now in SoWa is boating (the shipyard doesn’t count until they offer us boat rides). There’s now a massive bike valet at the base of the tram, also repairs and bike rental.
SW Moody & SW Gibbs [Hours: Monday – Friday 6am – 6:45pm]

Coming Soon:

-Cha! Cha! Cha! – another Portland chain that is promising to open sometime in June.

-Tilikum Crossing Bridge– Despite the boring name, we will all be happy when it opens in the fall of 2015. The pedestrian and transit bridge will bring much needed access to the east side of the river.

-Rumors of a pub opening in the fall in the old Soho sushi place.

Any other favorites in South Waterfront?

PS. If you missed my first mapped guide, it was Hosford Abernethy (& Ladd’s Addition).

  • Bennett
    April 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Hello, I wanted to say thank you for creating this map. I actually use it a lot for my work and so I wanted to ask if you have an updated version. Or is there a way you can direct me to make a map like yours? THanks