Mississippi Ave – and a world of salt

Back to my original plan to take you on a stroll along Mississippi Avenue in North Portland, but first I suggest that you visit Digging to see Pam’s tour of the greatest fall display I have ever encountered.

the old and the new

This is one of those areas that has been in transition for a number of years. Unlike the urban renewal model, the process has been organic, leaving old houses like this one, complete with a yard full of roses, to cozy up next to a brand new building housing shops and businesses.

new apartments (condos?)

New housing complexes raise the density along the street,

bamboo-lined alley

complete with a bamboo-lined pedestrian alley that extends the storefront shopping experience.

funky style store-front

Many of the storefronts have a funky, reclaimed quality about them, like this Mexican restaurant.

untouched remnant of old neighborhood

A few remnants of the old neighborhood remain untouched.

alley food cart

Food carts are a big deal in Portland. Since this one is on private property, it can build some covered seating for its customers without running afoul of city ordinances.

art gallery

Art on the street runs the gamut, from this minimalist gallery presentation

metal sculpture farm animals

to these farm animals strutting their stuff on the sidewalk.


SunLan carries nothing but light bulbs. You never saw so many light bulbs…of every size, shape and description. It almost resembles a curio shop.

sleek entry

While across the street a new building sports this sleek entry

sophisticated planters

with modern, sophisticated planters. You wouldn’t think that the disparity of styles would work, but it all seems to hold together and exude personality in a way that monocultures like malls try so hard for and miss by a mile.

portal to ?

This brand new covered portal would seem to suggest something coming soon to this currently almost vacant lot, but on Mississippi you never can tell. It may have been built entirely for its own sake.

stone balls

Most of a block is lined with new shops fronted by a courtyard punctuated by these large stone orbs.

The Meadows

One of the shops is emblematic of the quirky nature of the street. The Meadow is devoted almost exclusively to the world of salt. A selmelier is to salt what a sommelier is to wine. They have one.

wall of salt

Yep, that’s a wall of salt, all right. There are tester jars of each variety, and little cups of water to clean the palate between tastes.

Himalayan salt blocks

Those handsome slabs in the foreground are Himalayan salt blocks. They can be heated or chilled to serve a variety of foods while imparting a delicate hint of salt.

flowers and chocolate

To round out a true gourmet shopping splurge you can pick from a nice selection of flowers (while I was there last summer, a biker type in studded leathers chose a perfect, small red rose, had it beautifully wrapped in tissue, tied with a ribbon and off he roared…presumably to his lady love, but it might have been his mom (there was that tattoo). The Meadow also has a selection of high end chocolates, wines and bitters.

bagging it up

Having guided me through a tasting session, this delightful young woman is bagging up my purchases: smoked Malton finishing salt, truffle sea salt and a tiny silver spoon (suspicious if I am ever in a drug bust). The salts are expensive, but potent. They are used at the end of cooking or at the table, and the tiniest bit packs a wallop. So you see, Wendy, I did wind my way around to a little bit in this post that justifies linking to your Garden to Table Challenge. I guarantee you these salts will bring out the best in anything from your garden or farmers’ market.

12 thoughts on “Mississippi Ave – and a world of salt

  1. Thanks for a wonderful post about one of my favorite local streets. I tend to go to the same tried-and-true places (ReBuilding Center, Cup and Saucer, Por que no?, Pistils, Laughing Planet) and you found a few new things for me to enjoy!

  2. Pam~I was so knocked out by your post that I just had to share…on Facebook, too.

    Loree~I think it counts as putting your foot on the path to salt snobbery.

    Malar~I think this innovative shop was a surprise to most.

    Jane~What a fun area to call home.

  3. I was most intrigued by the light bulb shop! What fun it would be to peruse those aisles. Love that bamboo-lined walk. What a charming area of Portland. Thank you for the tour.

  4. What fun to be able to walk down Mississippi from all the way out in Sheridan. You hit several of our favorite places although you didn’t get the Thai Laundromat (or at least what we call Thai Laundry). Ingrid lives close to that neighborhood so we visit fairly often and have found solutions in the lightbulb shop that we have been unable to find anyplace else. Scrap is another fun place to visit. They seem to be able to save all the cool stuff that I can’t justify storing. Thanks for telling us about your blog. Wonderful!

  5. We have a lightbulb store at the foot of our hill. Fun place, but they don’t have the cool bulb-on-a-string thing going that yours does. If we had a salt shop nearby I’d be hanging out there for sure. Now that’s an interesting idea for a store! I wonder if the interest in different varieties of salt has seen its day, though, and this store will end up wishing they’d sold Beanie Babies instead. I hope not. The slabs of Himalayan salt are super cool. Where else would you be able to find something wonderfully offbeat like that?

  6. James~The owner of The Meadow has such passion for all things salt that I think he will outlive whatever fad appeal has been driving the salt craze. After starting in Portland, he has opened a second store in New York City.

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