Friends gather around the table to chow down on seasonal brunch fare. Photo by katjung/Flickr.
By Jon Shadel
Many cities have their signature dish — Philadelphia’s cheesesteak, New York City’s thin slice and New Orleans’ muffuletta, to name a few. But here in Portland, we just can’t keep ourselves to a single course. We lay claim to an entire meal.
In this town, brunch isn’t just another reason to dine out. Our trailblazing chefs elevate the midmorning meal, transforming it into a leisurely ritual and a communal celebration of everything that makes the city a culinary hotbed. And while there’s no shortage of great places for a late breakfast feast (though the huddled crowds outside some establishments might make you think otherwise), a handful of standout restaurants put the same effort into creating their midmorning service as they do dinner.
To save your sleepy self from making one more groggy decision, we highlight a few of our favorite brunch hotspots serving up seasonal fare guaranteed to get you going.
If you don’t mind a wait, Northeast and North Portland boast some of the town’s most buzzed-about establishments. Try Screen Door (2337 E. Burnside St.) to give your taste buds a culinary trip through the Deep South. Here, you’ll experience a restaurant as famous for the hour-plus wait (yes, it’s worth it!) as its buttermilk fried chicken and waffle. For a cozier affair, twee café Sweedeedee (5202 N. Albina Ave.) cooks up home-style American breakfast standards. Be sure to order the famous pies made with a crumbly, all-butter crust.
Broder, one of Portland's most celebrated brunch spots, serves Scandinavian breakfast fare. Photo by Gina Collecchia/Flickr.
Trendsetting restaurants in Southeast serve brunch dishes prepared with fresh Pacific Northwest ingredients and full of global flavors. For savory Scandinavian fare, saunter into Broder (2508 S.E. Clinton St.), and sit down at the bar for a helping of Danish pancakes with lingonberry jam. Every Sunday at Ya Hala (8005 S.E. Stark St.) the kitchen serves up traditional Middle Eastern breakfast fare with a classic American twist. A clear favorite is the Lebanese country breakfast plate, which pairs house-smoked lamb bacon and spicy soujouk with a fried egg and mint-potato hash.
Across the Willamette River, restaurants in Southwest and Northwest also deserve their fair share of culinary acclaim. The adventurous chef behind West End’s Tasty n Alder (580 S.W. 12th Ave.) — sibling to the famousTasty n Sons (3808 N. Williams Ave.) — cooks up all-day, family-style brunch feasts with dishes defined by international influences. In the upscale Pearl District, Verde Cocina celebrates colorful Mexican traditions with a farm-to-fork fiesta of steamy, fresh vegetables. Mother’s Bistro (212 S.W. Stark St.), in the heart of Downtown, remains one of the city’s favorites for its refined take on homemade classics.
Now, brunch needn’t be anything too fancy. If you want to stay in your scrambled-eggs-and-bacon comfort zone, you’ll find plenty of old school cafes and no-frills diners to satisfy that hankering for classic morning eats. In the heart of Old Town, Fuller’s Coffee Shop (136 N.W. 9th Ave.) has a blue collar-friendly vibe with its U-shaped counter and photocopied menus, each a little sticky with maple syrup. No matter what hour your craving for breakfast strikes, head over to the 24-hour Original Hotcake House (1002 S.E. Powell Blvd.) for stacks of pancakes. But don’t confuse that last one with the Original Pancake House (8601 S.W. 24th Ave.), a 1950s breakfast spot that inspired the national chain, which has its headquarters here in Portland.
You’ve heard it said: Portlanders are obsessed with brunch. And although it’s been repeated to the point of cliché, it doesn’t make the fact any less true. You’ll find dozens of restaurants cooking up delicious breakfast feasts, but here we map out few of our favorites to get you dining sooner rather than later.
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