You'd think they were a dime a dozen, here in the land of purported twee, and in a way you'd be right: Portland, Oregon has a well-deserved reputation as a home to drop-dead adorable specialty coffee bars, and today we've got a new one to tell you about. Din Din is a lovely new multi-use restaurant, cocktail bar, and cafe space in Portland's emerging NE industrial neighborhood, nestled in among the warehouses, photo studios, and all-weather outdoor hanging deer antlers. It takes a lot to stand out in the new cafe game these days, and Din Din does.
The vibe is provincial French, but the presentation is ever-changing, as Din Din shifts its theme and interior design feel monthly. When we visited, the space was decked out in pastel blues and whites, with frame clusters on the back wall and immaculate table settings.
The coffee bar is just one part of the concept at Din Din, which includes private events, Monday-Friday public cafe hours, a Thursday cocktail hour in the evenings, Sunday public brunch, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday dining services, described on their website as being “like a dinner party, but with strangers!” Evenings at Din Din are overseen by Courtney Sproule, a well-regarded Portland chef who has thrown dinner party events under the Din Din name for the last half-decade. This space here at NE Glisan is her first brick-and-mortar.
Coffee service at Din Din is handled by Keia Booker, a longtime Stumptown Coffee veteran, whose previous gig saw her managing Stumptown's busy, neighborhoody Belmont Street cafe in Portland. Booker is the coffee director at Din Din, but she's also the space's art curator – a dream come true for her after years spent volunteering and exhibiting in the Portland art community. The current show at Din Din features interiors and photography by the artist Holly Andres; for October, Booker will transform the space into an art deco New Orleans style riff on October spookiness, including a tarot card reader, Orleanian classic cocktails, and tastefully ghoulish pieces from Paxton Gate.
Coffees served at Din Din come from locals Sterling Coffee Roasters, whose own white tablecloth take on Portland provincial French can be found across town, at their NW 21st and Flanders cafe. We like to imagine that there exists some magical Pacific Northwest Francophile version of Portland, somehow issued 21st arrondissements status and wholly populated by the likes of Sterling, Din Din, Gabriel Rucker's excellent Le Pigeon and Little Bird restaurants, and St. Jack, just to name our first round draft picks. In a nod to modern Paris, all five serve excellent coffee.
It's a quaint and cute scene, to be sure, but with a dedication to product quality that seems to be in the water out here in Portland. If you're wondering if this cafe is style over substance, we assure you, it's got both. And as for the events – avant variety talk shows, cocktail spectacles, wine dinners with renowned Italian producers, upside down mountain ranges – well, Portland twee or not, we dare you to find a more creative cafe / restaurant space anywhere right now.