I have lived in the Hawthorne district for 2 years now. It is in SE Portland. It is a community of young people (lots of hippies mostly) and some young professionals too. We all seem to comingle without much trouble.
Most of the action takes place on the Hawthorne Blvd itself. This is a 12 block strip that is lined with shops, bars and restaurants. Some of my favorites:
- Cafe = coffee people (portland's answer to starbucks)
Breakfast = it's a tie, Cafe Lena and Cup and Saucer. Both very veggie friendly and cheap. Lena almost never has lines.
Bar = Bridgeport Ale House, which brews all its own beer, including some in the firkin. Their pizzas are gourmet and yummy. Come early; there is frequently a wait.
Fancy dinner - compass cafe- little known excellent food for a fancy night out. Be sure to try one of their wines; Oregon is known for its pinot noir from the Willamette Valley, about 90 miles from Portland.
organic groceries = the daily grind (not a chain! Down with Natures, etc).
Shopping is endless. Hawthorne has a lot of jewelery and trinket shops as well as a few great record stores. There is also a general Powell's bookstore as well as its Garden and Home branch if you can't make it to the big one on Burnside. Personally I find the staff at Powell's to be book snobs, which is irriatating. Their selection of new and used books, though, is truly great. IF you are looking for rare stuff, it's worth a stop.
The downsides of the Hawthorne area include lots of kids "spanging" (a.k.a. "Can you spare any change?"). It's still a little dirty, too, but there are a lot less yuppies to contend with. Parking along the main drag can be tough, but side street parking is still pretty easy to come by. There aren't many neighborhood parking restrictions.