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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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36 Hours in Vancouver’s Uptown Village

The Sunday New York Times features 36 Hours in… (Paris, Bangkok, Nairobi, fill in the blank) each week but has yet to spend 36 hours in a Southwest Washington community. This is the first in a series to do just that.

Vancouver’s Uptown Village feels like a small town center with way more to see, do and eat than 36 hours allows. But we tried to squeeze in a LOT during a HOT July weekend. Just a few blocks from our home, this historic business district of shops, restaurants, bars and a fine local museum is a great way to spend time. Out of towners will find the Briar Rose Inn within walking distance.

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Friday Night
6 p.m. Dinner at Mint Tea (2014 Main). It’s 90 degrees plus but fortunately Mint Tea’s wide front porch is on the shady side of the restaurant. We order coconut-poached Wild Alaska Salmon with curried potatoes and garden veggies and Morrocan fresh vegetables on millet pilaf which are served with fabulous chilled mango raspberry and creamed asparagus soups, each with a stunning surface design. It’s too hot for wine, although Mint Tea serves one of my favorite local wineries – Benke Cellars (of Felida) but the hot basil mint tea (with dessert cookies) is surprisingly cooling. Owned by Abdul Akdi and Jenna Eckert, this restaurant and import store is a thorough gem.

7:30 p.m. Just down the street, Pop Culture (formerly Moxie’s on Main) (1929 Main), the band is blaring for a young crowd. This non-alcoholic club carries 300 kinds of sodas including my favorite – HotLips Raspberry Soda.

Saturday
9 a.m. The neighborhood is starting to wake up. A vociferous boxer (dog, not a pugilist) is discouraging us from entering the Tip Top Tavern but no matter because we are heading for crepes at Mon Ami (1906 Main) A few earlybirds are hooked into their wifi and caffeine while we order one savory crepe – vegetarian with smoked Swiss cheese, baby spinach and tomatoes with a mixed green salad and a sweet crepe— peanut butter, banana, honey and cinnamon and what has to be the strongest (translate: really good) cups of house coffee in the Village. The outside patio is a perfect place to read the paper and observe the awakening street.

10 a.m. Up the street, Old Glory Antique Mall (2000 Main) opens. Fifty antique dealers operate individual booths in a packed 6,000 sq. foot shop. I find a pair of adjustable, metal roller skates that attach to your shoes and understand why I never mastered them as a child. I don’t buy them. Too many bruises and bad memories. The store, however, is filled with collectibles and enough tea pots and blue and white china to satisfy my interests.

10:30 a.m. Molly and Gabe, last names unknown, are hawking Molly’s charming bracelets. At 15, they can’t find summer jobs so they are taking Molly’s talents to the streets. I buy a well-designed bracelet with navy and white porcelain beads for only $5, their first sale of the day. Across the street, the Discovery Shop (2010 Main) offers great deals on clothing and household goods. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

1 p.m. ecolution nw (1709 Broadway) Eco-friendly flooring, tiles, various gorgeous countertops made from recycled glass, newspapers and cement and other environmental products are available in Uptown Village at ecolution nw. Heidi Olsen and Dan Plaza have recently opened their sales and installation shop and also consult on construction and decorating projects.

2 p.m. Clark County Historical Museum (1511 Main Street) the past lives on Main Street at the Clark County Historical Museum. Housed in a former Carnegie Library, permanent exhibits include a 1900s doctor’s office, home kitchen and country store, and astonishing Native American baskets. An exhibit on Women’s Suffrage in Washington (July-December 2009) illustrates the struggle for the vote for women starting in 1848 at Seneca Falls NY, continuing to 1854 when women’s suffrage legislation was defeated (by one vote, 8-9) at the first session of the Washington Territorial Legislature to current day to 2005 when Washington State became the first state to have a woman governor and two US senators. The Boomer Exhibit continues through the end of the year. Artifacts range from assorted toys and political buttons to commercials from the 1940’s-1960’s and leisure suits. The museum, which has a research library, also offers Lillian Pitt jewelry and masks for sale.

2:30 p.m. One World Merchants (2315 Main) David Schmitz and Elizabeth Halili own my dream business – an import store. Their products are primarily from Southeast Asia and India plus creations of local artists. They love to travel so, when the former Country Peddler shop vacated their space, they started a store that reflects their interests. Even their dog looks happy as he naps on a stack of imported rugs. Scarves, wall hangings, bags, clothing, jewelry, furniture – I could drop a lot of money in here.

4 p.m. Ice Cream Renaissance (2108 Main) I order my favorite – Officers Row with five scoops of ICR handmade ice cream (Coffee Addict’s Choice, Coconut Luau, Honey Vanilla, Peanut Butter Blitz and Strawberries and Cream). Our friend, Kelly, controls her calories with a coffee with ice cream in it. Gary gets a decadent banana split. Life is good (and fattening).

8 p.m. Main Street from 39th Street to Mill Plain is literally crawling with classic cars and their fans who have turned out “Cruise the Gut.” The street is lined with families sitting in lawn chairs and on blankets. The teens who cruised the gut in Vancouver’s past now have gray hair, expensive collector’s cars are loving to show off their classic autos. “There goes another car I shouldn’t have sold,” my husband laments for the fifth time. Most of the autos are from the 1940s-1960s. A couple of pickups have flame throwers on the back. Interesting! Safe? Haven’t a clue.

Miraculously, we score a front patio table at La Bottega (1905 Main) where we ogle Detroit’s oldest and finest and consume the small plate versions of Smoked Mushroom Ravioli with a Baby Spinach Salad with chevre, beets and spiced pecans salad, Bucatini Marinara with a Fresh Fig Salad with Greens and plenty of the red wine special for the evening—a Marchesi di Barolo Barbera. Fortunately, we are on foot so we can saunter home past the cruising cars and the crowd that has amassed at Dairy Queen, the gathering place for cruising in the 1970s. The Columbian estimates that the event drew 1,200 cars and 5,000 onlookers.

Sunday
9 a.m. Still recovering from last night’s dinner, we tough it out for one last meal. At Dulin’s (1708 Main) we slide into a booth behind the celebrity diner of the morning, John McDonagh, Publisher of the Vancouver Business Journal. He’s eating a healthy bowl of oatmeal whereas we cut loose with my favorite, the Vegetarian Killarney Special with potatoes, spicy black beans, Tillamook cheddar, salsa fresco and sour cream and an El Paso Omelette with black beans, avocado and sour cream.

There are so many more Uptown Village shops to visit and meals to consume like at Provecho (1801 Main) with its tasty Mexican food and a new pub with Guinness to try down the street. What about the Main Street fudge? And a winery is opening in September at Cellar 55 (1812 Washington) The list goes on…for another time and another 36 hours.

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6 comments

1 Eliza { 08.24.09 at 3:44 pm }

I love the ham and brie crepe at Mon Ami–and the fact that owner Claire knows that my drink is a 12 oz. hazelnut mocha. Shopping and eating local isn’t just great for the economy–it’s good for the soul!

2 joiede { 08.24.09 at 9:00 pm }

So happy you featured Mint Tea. Wonderful food, wonderful atmosphere, love the proprietors.

3 hafidha sofia { 08.24.09 at 9:57 pm }

Thanks for this review … I’m going to print this out and spend a day in uptown village with my hubby.

4 Sheri { 08.25.09 at 11:57 am }

Nice photos!

5 Jilayne Jordan { 08.25.09 at 12:03 pm }

Awesome snapshot of this fine neighborhood! I have to say that I was very disappointed by the changes over at Moxie/Pop Culture during the last year or so. The amazing variety of sodas they once had has been drastically reduced (I can find most of them at New Seasons, Whole Foods or Zupans), and the name change was completely unnecessary.

6 Dana Greyson { 08.28.09 at 5:50 pm }

Katlin — You’ve done a beautiful job on this, through an through! The writing, the photography, etc. And I look forward to sharing with both visitors and for “staycation” ideas.

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