Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s phased reopening means for you. And remember to bring your face covering, as in Oregon face coverings are required for all public indoor spaces and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Here’s what to know about Oregon’s outdoors right now.
As a Black Oregonian, I cannot even walk into any salon because stylists have told me they don’t know how to “do my hair,” despite their schooling and training. That’s where Black-owned businesses come in — but not just for Black people. Throughout Oregon, you can find an array of cuisine, from African and Caribbean to Southern and Pacific Northwestern, put forth by Black business owners. You can find friendly shop owners welcoming to all. They deserve your support.
Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to be rejected for loans, and if they are accepted, they are less likely to receive full funding and more likely to receive higher interest rates. They are also less likely to receive federal aid relief. Many mainstream media regularly neglect highlighting Black, Indigenous and other people-of-color-owned business and restaurants.
However, the exclusion and discriminatory issue stems deeper than that, from microaggressions to police profiling. It is not the job of the Black community to solve racism — they didn’t create it. All of us need to take an active step in including every member without prejudice.
Change, especially that which demands long-term justice and reform, does not happen overnight. But as an individual, what can you do — right now — to help? Buy from Black-owned businesses, creatives and restaurants. What does that look like in Oregon? It means acknowledging the Indigenous lands and confronting Oregon’s racial biases, both conscious and unintentional, and showing love to Black businesses in all regions around the state. Here’s where to start.
North Willamette Valley: In McMinnville, Maison Noir Wines’ owner André Hueston Mack has earned the title “Best Young Sommelier in America” and worked as a sommelier at world-renowned restaurants around the country, including Per Se and The French Laundry. Mack is also featured in “Red, White & Black: an Oregon Wine Story.” Stop by to pick up your own bottle of wine and souvenir merch.
If you’re looking for BBQ, head over to G&W Caribbean Smoked BBQ in Newberg. Their standout dish is their smoked mac and cheese and pulled pork, but with every single dish made fresh every morning, you’ll want to add on a few sides as well.
Mid-Willamette Valley: In Salem Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails specializes in mid-Atlantic and heartland American cuisine. Must-eats are their famous crab cakes and vegetarian pierogies. And while they have a mouthwatering Philly cheesesteak, their menu is equally vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. Epilogue Kitchen also has a free book-rental program with literature written by Black authors. Check out Salem-based Dirty Radish Travel Company for wine tours, wine events and group travel. Flourish Spices & African Food is an African mart that also hosts cooking classes and catering.
Housed in an artfully restored historical building, Silverton Wine Bar & Bistro serves inspired dishes from a deck overlooking Silver Creek, with fun board games to entertain the group while you finish off your wine. Also in Silverton, The Old Oak Oven is an artisan pizza food cart using sustainable and local products.
Uncle Troy’s BBQ holds down barbecue in Keizer, while JoJo’s Soul Food & Memphis BBQ food cart satisfies taste buds in east Salem. For stylish cuts, braids, sew-ins and other services, head to Q’s Corner Barbershop and Sanders Styles.
South Willamette Valley: People of Colour Clothing, founded by Darius Northern in Corvallis, uses their fashionable pieces to empower students in the community and generate conversations on racial identity, racism and discrimination. Displayed on their comfortable T-shirts and hoodies, they pose questions like, “What does it mean to be white? How would your life be different if you weren’t?” Their content isn’t meant to “white shame” but rather as a challenge to self-educate. In Albany Styled by DaraLyn is a trendsetting salon that also provides event makeup services.
Eugene has its own incredible taste of the Caribbean at Irie Jamaican Kitchen, a family-owned food truck in West Eugene and also at the Eugene Saturday Market. Grab yourself their Jamaican jerk chicken, braised oxtail and curry goat. For a taste of the homeland, visit Addis Ethiopian Cuisine in Springfield. Known as some of the best Ethiopian food in the valley, the restaurant has an exciting rotating menu that includes authentic favorites like misir wot (spicy red lentils), fasolia (sauteed green beans) and doro wot (simmered chicken drumsticks). The menu has a range of vegetarian options.
Also in Eugene, Equiano Coffee is a specialty-coffee tasting room and cafe that serves unique single-varietal coffees in a garden environment. Noisette Pastry Kitchen makes incredible wedding cakes and everyday pastries. Once Famous Grill is a food truck focusing on cheesesteaks and catfish. And Made With Sol makes delicate paper and crochet goods.
Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge
Set among the fertile lands of the Gorge, Mudbone Grown is a farm that goes beyond growing food. Farm managers Shantae Johnson and Arthur Shavers host farm-based programs for local teens, young adults and low-income communities to help develop career skills, among other community-building efforts. While you’re in town, attend one of their events or panel sessions to learn more about agriculture and positive community impact. It’s one of just a couple of Black-owned farms in Oregon.
In Ashland the Chautauqua Center welcomes visitors to what the city is known for worldwide: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Tyrone Wilson, the center’s director, has been an actor and a teacher with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1994. While the festival — led by artistic director Nataki Garrett — has been canceled for 2020, look for Wilson’s curated all-inclusive experiences in 2021. They include tickets to several plays, several nights’ lodging, meals and visits backstage with the artists.
Hungry diners in Ashland should head to Northwest Pizza to try one of their signature pizzas. Or, if you’re brave, test your will against their super-spicy “Angry Sauce” chicken wings. Roseburg is home to the Wild Rose Lounge, a casual sports bar owned by De Andre Harmon with a fun and welcoming environment to all. In Klamath Falls, stop for a haircut at Sammy’s Parlor, where local legends will leave you with a fresh lineup.
Jason Graham, aka MOsely WOtta or MoWo, is a musician and artist based in Bend who uses his voice and art to spark conversations and action in his community and beyond. His music is the perfect soundtrack to any Oregon road trip, so jam out to his songs on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music or whichever streaming site you prefer.
If you are ready to make your own tunes, pop into Outdoor Ukulele to find a high-tech musical companion, specifically designed for backpackers, campers and other outdoor adventurers. These revolutionary instruments are made of durable polycarbonate, a first in the music manufacturing world, so even stopping by the shop is a must-do in Central Oregon.
What started as a pop-up in 2016 led to a beautiful storefront on the Astoria riverfront a year later. Now The Naked Lemon — owned by native Astorian Aleesha Nedd — is moving to the Astor Building in the heart of downtown Astoria. When the new shop location opens in mid-July, look for her handmade French macaroons, cakes, cookies and creative pastries — from kid-friendly s’mores cupcakes to decadent marionberry cinnamon rolls.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Fat Cupcake in Oregon City as well as Happy Valley and Southeast Portland. With a seasonal selection that rotates regularly, you can indulge in a new flavor every day of your trip. On the west side of Portland, the Hayat Somali Restaurant is a family-run restaurant that is 100% Halal and is a pillar of the Beaverton food community. In addition to Somali cuisine, Chef Ibrahim also specializes in East African and Middle Eastern food as well. Eleni Woldeyes, founder and manager of Eleni’s Kitchen Ethiopian Food, serves up her authentic Ethiopian flavors at her food carts in Beaverton, Milwaukie and the OHSU Farmers Market.
There’s never a bad time for chocolate, and the perfect place to satisfy your cravings is at Portland Chocolate Laboratory in Portland. Their ethically sourced cacao beans and perfected fermentation process are just some of the reasons why they are not to be missed. They also offer CBD chocolates and “sleep butters.” A Portland artist who goes by the name Destinee is the creative brain behind Portlxndiia, a photography company based in Portland. While you’re in town, you can book her for a photo shoot in the City of Roses’ most iconic spots.
America’s Hub World Tours leads Portland city tours as well as tours around Oregon for unique travel experiences. Donut Queen is a favorite for doughnuts, and the fritters are a must-try. Hashi Halal Market is a grocery store and market for Halal ingredients. Akadi offers authentic West African cuisine. Koken Market is a liquor store where you can also pick up all the local microbrews. Support Abbey Creek Vineyard’s Bertony Faustin, Oregon’s first Black winemaker and vineyard owner, who just opened a tasting room in downtown Portland to complement his North Plains tasting room. West of Portland, Mamancy Tea Co. sells a curated collection of luxury teas, chocolate and fine goods from around the globe — all easy to order from the online store. Get your locks styled by a pro at one of the hair stylists featured on PDX Black Unicorn.
The new Come Thru Market (every other Monday) is a BIPOC-centered outdoor market created as an incubator for local BIPOC-owned business and farms. Check out more than two dozen vendors, offering everything from garden starts to art, skincare, baked goods, Brazilian food and more. All are welcome to shop and show their support. It happens at The Redd on Salmon Street in Southeast Portland; see the market’s Facebook page for the latest information.
Find even more ways to support Portland’s Black-owned businesses.