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In the Neighborhood: Portland

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In the Neighborhood: Portland

Portland is the largest city in foliage-full Oregon; famed for its unique culture, eco-friendliness, food scene, coffee houses, and microbreweries along with the more expected parks, bridges, bike paths, and breathtaking beaches. We asked two of our favorite local tastemakers, Joy and James Fitzgerald, where they like to spend their time in the city and where they’d send those who plan to visit.

Joy is an illustrator, calligrapher, and stylist who recently put out an art and photography book entitled, August to August, with her husband, James, and their young son. James runs a photography house with his brother called Ransom, Ltd. whose client lists include Nike, Margaret Howell, Kinfolk, and Monocle Magazine, among many others. They both have great personal style and an excellent eye, which immediately brought them to mind when looking for Portland natives to share their tips and the places they frequent.


Where are you from?
James: I spent the majority of my life in a small town called Monument, in Colorado, near Colorado Springs.
Joy: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, in California.

When did you move to Portland, why?
We both moved to Portland over five years ago - Joy in November 2010, James in May 2011. 

Joy: We met for the first time only 2 weeks after James moved here. His brother, and now business partner, already lived in Portland. My parents lived in the next town over. We both had extreme life changes right before moving here and were looking to be physically close to our family to begin a new chapter in our lives. 

Do you see yourself staying put, moving elsewhere – if so, where?
Joy: We absolutely love Portland and have never felt this loyal and connected to a place before. Portland is home and we can’t picture ourselves moving elsewhere within the US. We do flirt with the idea of living internationally, short-term, possibly in Japan or Korea. Most of James' clients are in Tokyo and I’ve always had this desire to connect with my heritage.

What’s a typical weekday like for you?
James: I wake up, read the news at our dining table before anyone is up, then share the morning with Joy and our son over breakfast. My workday varies a lot, but it typically includes all the necessary, but not-so-glamorous, essentials to running a business. There is a lot of time committed to brainstorming with my brother as well - we are always reevaluating our business and finding new ways to grow and challenge ourselves. At the end of the day, I’ll have dinner and spend some intentional time with our son or help Joy with anything she’s busy doing at that time.

Joy: James is my human alarm clock - it's so much better than a real alarm! I make a cortado and have some quiet time before our son wakes up. Once he's awake, I start cooking breakfast. Things are slow paced until breakfast is done. Then it's go-time! We all scramble to get ready and out of the house for an errand or an activity that's devoted to my son's development. We head home in the afternoon for my son's nap where I get to catch up on work and house chores. If I'm lucky, I'll spend some of that time reading. Then it's dinner prep and family time.

What do you like to do on a Sunday?
Joy: Sunday is the one day of the week where we don't really plan anything (except to go to church in the morning). We really value reserving this special time where we allow our moods to dictate the flow of our day without any obligations.

Coffee or tea? 

Homebody or adventurer?

Loyal regular or always trying new spots?
James: I’m definitely a loyal regular. Joy has her favorite spots, but really enjoys trying new places.

Describe each day of the week with one word.
Monday - Preparation
Tuesday - Marriage
Wednesday - Community
Thursday - Reconnection
Friday - Relief
Saturday - Leisure
Sunday - Rest

10) What’s a long weekend or quickie vacation like in Oregon – where do you escape to, if you do?
James: Our weekend getaways have almost always been spent on the Oregon coast. We have a favorite spot in Manzanita where we’ve spent our wedding night, anniversaries, and birthdays. It's so quiet and there's almost nothing to do there which forces us to unplug and have some undistracted conversation.

Favorite Local Spots:

2713 SE 21st Ave Portland, OR 97292


Joy: This is our heaven! There isn't another place like it. It's a spa with multiple sauna rooms. As soon as you walk in the door, you smell of cedar, eucalyptus, and who knows what else - it's absolutely heavenly. Every detail is perfect. If you're on a budget, there's no need to get a spa treatment. You can just pay $25 to enjoy the sauna, lounge area, and cooling room. Who doesn't want to hang out in a white waffle robe for hours, sweating out stress in a beautiful space?


Monograph Bookwerks 
5005 NE 27th Ave, Portland, OR 97211


Joy: This is a place we go in search of inspiration. They have such an amazing selection of beautiful books and oddities. All the books have a handwritten tidbit describing what the product is about. It's such a personal and intimate touch. If you're introverted and love quiet spaces, it's the perfect place.


Hilary Horvath and Alder + Co. 
616 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97205


Joy: I love being greeted with fresh florals as soon as I walk in. It's a place I’ll often go alone when I feel like browsing and taking the time to look over all of the special products. I don’t really have much time to kill, so a visit is fairly rare and special. This store happens to be a very short walk from Steven Alan. Anyone who loves all things Japanese, French, and high quality will appreciate coming here. It’s also a great place for gifts.


Never Coffee 
4243 SE Belmont St #200, Portland, OR 97215


James: This coffee shop just opened up in our neighborhood and happens to be owned by some of our friends. We are so grateful for more businesses like theirs in the neighborhood. They have really great signature drinks and their matcha latte is an obvious go-to. We almost always run into someone we know, so it's a natural spot to reconnect with community and friends we haven't seen in a while.


Mount Tabor 
14 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232


Joy: Mount Tabor is famous for its view of the city and all of the beautiful trees. It's honestly hard to imagine so much of our day-to-day life without Mount Tabor. I go weekly with our son, to get his energy out. The walk from our house is entirely uphill, which is great exercise. Once we get to the base of the park, we typically make a stop at Coquine for coffee and a treat. Mount Tabor has an amazing playground with so many different activities for our son as well as little trails to explore.

We also love to have picnics at the top of the mountain, with friends, overlooking the city. This is the perfect place for visitors to experience some nature without having to leave Portland – that being said, you have to take a day trip to visit the Columbia River Gorge if you’re in town and have time. It’s breathtaking.


Nong's + Korean Twist Food Carts
1003 SW Alder St + SW 10th & Alder St. Portland, OR 97205


James: These are our go-to's for quick bites downtown. We are always in the mood for Asian food that tastes home cooked. Nong's food is simple - rice, chicken, and the best sauce on top. Next door is Korean Twist where you can get Bulgogi burritos. These carts also happen to be a short walk from Steven Alan, if you’re out doing some shopping.


Angel Face 
14 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232


Joy: When we want a great date night, we go to Angel Face. It feels like Paris and there is something so beautifully old-worldly about the space. Their signature pink walls and horseshoe bar are so lovely. There isn't a drink menu - you simply order your base alcohol and tell the bartender what you're in the mood for. Next-door is Navarre, owned by the same people, our favorite romantic dinner spot. It’s also across the street from Laurelhurst Theater where you can catch a cheap movie that isn't playing at major theaters anymore.


Steven Alan
1029 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205


Shopping for clothing is rare for us so we appreciate an experience that’s least overwhelming. Steven Alan weeds out the things you don't want and strips it down to a manageable, edited selection. You may walk out with only one item, depending on your budget, but it'll be an item you never stop wearing and never get rid of.

Photos by: James Fitzgerald , Ransom Ltd.