By Abby Morgan
On a clear morning, as the sun traces a path from east to west, the light eventually breaks out over the treetops of the Eliot Neighborhood, slips under the freeway passes and spills sunshine onto North Russell Street. Still a quiet strip that’s surely poised to grow, right now it’s a mix of industrial shops peppered with business storefronts.
It’s during this time of day, at about 7:30 A.M. that you’ll want to make your way over to Bernstein’s Bagels. In the winter of 2018, Bernstein’s grew into the space that was formerly home to Mint, one of Portland’s mainstay cocktail bars. A labor of love and dedication, the renovation at 816 North Russell by owners Noah Bernstein and Peter Hurteau, features plenty of seating room and hand-painted wallpaper by Melanie Nead.
In fact, Nead’s studio that focuses on custom wall treatments and ceramic objects, Lonesome West Studio, sits beside the bagel shop. Her Arts and Crafts Movement inspired designs bring a coziness to the space and certainly do the historic property justice. All things boiled and baked dough, the frieze pays homage to the venerated everything bagel. Concentrate on it closely and the subtle ingredients begin to pop out: sea salt, barley, wheat, and poppies.
Even as they bid farewell to their firstborn, a location in St. Johns, a whole year after moving into the Eliot, Bernstein thrives. They continue to serve up delightfully hearty bagel sandwiches. However, the old adage rings true: the early bird catches the worm. Except, in this case, it’s bagels and they are very popular. They are “hand-rolled, boiled, and made onsite twice daily.” Looking for a classic lox combination? You got it. Schmear not, their spreads change from time-to-time. Flavors you may know—cinnamon raisin, herb, and strawberry—tossed in with wildcards like carrot cake and once upon a time even pizza. The bagel is merely a blank canvas; how you dress it is up to you.
Arrive eagerly and on time—your weekday and weekend windows to visit vary. Hot bagels come out of the oven at 7:30 A.M. Monday through Friday and at 8:30 A.M. on the weekends. Stop in or check out their Instagram (@bernsteinsbagels) for updates on specials.