Ladd's Addition. While not exactly a neighborhood, it's one of those places like Mt. Tabor or NW 23rd that everybody knows about but few can navigate successfully. (Have you tried parking on 23rd lately? Good luck.)
The Wiki says it was originally farmland owned by William S. Ladd, who in 1891 decided to subdivide it for residential use. Inspired by Pierre L'Enfant's plan for Washington, DC, Ladd designed it based on a diagonal street system surrounding a central park.
I love cutting through it on my way home from parts south, with its incredibly beautiful trees and residences both stately and homely. Plus it's always a challenge to find your way out if you get off on one of the side streets. One of the landmarks of this area is a little dessert and coffee bar called Palio that sits on the central circle and has just expanded into an adjacent space, an airy and windowed room that seems bright and cheery even on dreary days.
You can choose from a daily soup, salads or savory tarts for sustenance, but the focus here is on some incredibly decadent cakes that lie in wait like fluffy, deadly things that will drag you to your doom should you be tempted to order one. But my ambivalence about desserts aside, this place is so sweet and quiet, it begs for a book or a good friend to sit with and while away an afternoon. With or without one of those desserts.
Details: Palio Dessert & Espresso House, 1996 SE Ladd Ave. Phone 503-232-9412.