At Cason’s Fine Meats in Northeast Portland, visitors can find a full counter of fresh and smoked meats to go, as well as a tasty menu of daily specials like fish tacos, fried chicken, Philly steak and ribs, with sides of mac ’n cheese and cornbread, for dine-in or takeout.
The shop is one of several Black-owned businesses located in the Alberta Commons development in Portland’s historically Black Alberta District. “This is a momentous time for our community,” owner Theotis “Uncle Theo” Cason said in 2019 when the butcher shop moved into Alberta Commons. “It is time for us to celebrate our return to the heart of the neighborhood.”
The Rose City is full of dynamic Black-owned businesses. Here are several excellent ones to support — during Black History Month in February and all year long.
A Shave and a Chat
More than just a place to get a straight-razor shave, beard trim or haircut, Champions Barbershop is about community. The sparkling, open space invites families in for conversation and relationship building, the way barbershops used to be the gathering space of any downtown area. Jamaal Lane and his wife, Christina Lane, both grew up in Northeast Portland and aim to be mentors in their community, modeling professionalism, customer service and hard work.
Brunch, Barbecue and Community
If you like chicken and waffles, Po’Shines Cafe de la Soul serves up a killer brunch in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood. But the restaurant is about more than just food. It’s a longstanding work-force training program through its nonprofit, Teach Me to Fish, that sprung from the nondenominational church Celebration Tabernacle. Founder E.D. Mondaine sought to empower local youth with work readiness and culinary-arts trainings, employing them at the cafe. It began in 1990 with coffee; today it’s a full-service restaurant with Southern breakfast favorites, brisket, shrimp, po’ boys and catfish served all day. Trap Kitchen and Kee’s Loaded Kitchen are both Black-owned food carts with huge followings and fans like Snoop Dogg and Kobe Bryant.
Ethiopian, African, Caribbean and Haitian
There’s nothing like tearing off a piece of fresh injera (Ethiopian flatbread) and scooping up bites of food. Find one of the city’s top Ethiopian spots at Bete-Lukas in Southeast Portland, an artsy space with a veggie-centric menu, plus tasty sambusa (fried pastry with a savory filling). Also in Southeast Portland, Spice of Africa dishes up modern Kenyan and Ethiopian classics for lunch and dinner. If you love the cuisine, you can sign up for a cooking class taught by Kenya-born chef Wambui Machua, who founded Spice of Africa in 2008 as a cooking school to raise funds for a library, community center, community kitchen and other economic development projects in rural Africa.
Bole Ethiopian Restaurant on Northeast Alberta is hard to miss with its bright green facade, serving up vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights at every spice level. Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine on North Killingsworth is a go-to spot for mouthwatering jerk wings, island-style curries, stews and Jamaican sodas. And Portland’s newest and most lauded addition to the scene is Haitian restaurant Kann, featuring cuisine by James Beard Award-winning chef/founder Gregory Gourdet. Since opening in August 2022 the live-fire restaurant — which shares the story and flavors of Haiti through its food and drink — was named The Oregonian’s 2022 Portland Restaurant of the Year and America’s best new restaurant by Esquire. Reservations must be booked far in advance; check the reservations page early.
Coffee, Tea and Wine
Old Town Portland’s Deadstock Coffee Roasters is a great spot to get a cup o’ joe — and soak up the sneaker culture that owner Ian Williams, a former sneaker designer, imbues throughout the space. You can’t buy sneakers here, but Williams is happy to recommend some of his favorite spots. West of Portland, Mamancy Tea & Chocolate sells a curated collection of luxury teas, chocolate and fine goods from around the globe — all easy to order from the online store. In North Plains, the tasting room at Abbey Creek Vineyard is decidedly hip-hop, with music, bold colors and a distinct swagger to the typically buttoned-up experience of wine tasting. Owner Bertony Faustin is known as the first Black winemaker in Oregon and produced the documentary “Red, White and Black” to inspire other people of color to pursue their entrepreneurial passions.