Artists Tell You Where to Go

Recommendations for the best food and drink spots on First Thursday

Artists Travis Wade and Shannon LewisIf you visit the First Thursday Street Gallery, you might get hungry or thirsty. And who knows better about where to eat and drink than the dedicated people who spend a six-hour stint on the streets of the Pearl every month? Here are a few suggestions from the UAN crew.

Food and Drink

“I’m always a fan of Paragon. They have a little fire in there,” says artist Brian Echerer. Spoken like a man who has felt many a Street Gallery-induced shiver. He recommends the gin martini with bleu cheese olives.

UAN president Jennifer Kapnek seconds the Paragon fandom. She credits the bar and restaurant with being a long-time supporter of the street gallery. “They’re almost familial with us,” she says. “We might be their crazy cousin they’re looking out for.”

The Paragon restaurantPainter Shannon Lewis favors the beer and atmosphere at Streetcar Bistro and Taproom on Northrup and Eleventh. “The truffle fries are sensational,” she says.

Coffee

Shannon Lewis and Travis Wade can’t say enough good things about Urban Grind. In addition to serving good coffee, owner Kevin Crawford supports the arts. “He really should get a shout out,” says Travis. “He genuinely loves art.” Shannon and Travis are showing their collaborative work at Urban Grind through May. “It brings out the best in both of us,” they say of their joint effort. “It makes a nice little stew.”

Several artists mentioned how much they love Barista. Painter Stephanie Brockway, who has an opening at Guardino Gallery in NE Portland on May 30, recommends their Valrhona chocolate mocha. This concoction is 20 grams of 61 percent bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee in an eight-ounce cup. Besides, Barista has a national champion for pouring designs atop your latte.

Photographer Verone Flood used to drive all the way from Sellwood to the Pearl for a cup of Barista’s coffee. “They do it the best. You can’t believe that anyone else serves this other stuff,” she says derisively of the rest of the world’s coffee

Dessert

Painter Angela Raines prefers the cookie dough cupcake at Cupcake Jones. “The icing is so good I ordered a pint to spread over a bunny cake,” she says. If you’re a person with more self-control than 99 percent of the population, you can get a single mini cupcake. Otherwise, you might want to order a dozen.

Terry Eidsmoe recommends the Tea Zone’s lavender lemon cookies. “The great thing about Tea Zone, it’s open late,” he says. Wash down that cookie with a Smokey Robinson – lapsang souchong tea mixed with whiskey.

—By Teresa Bergen