Officially, Portland boasts only two major league sports: soccer and basketball. But any resident will tell you there’s a third game in town — brunch. Faithful believers queue up for tables in waits so epic they’ve been fodder for Portlandia. For a morning meal worth the wait, try one of these favorite spots:
Mother’s Bistro & Bar: For breakfast like mom used to make, head to this inviting downtown restaurant. Comfort food is the mantra at Mother’s, where chef and owner Lisa Schroeder is likely to stop by your table to say hello. Enjoy standbys from crunchy French toast to house-made lox. If you visit on the weekend, try the rich eggs Benedict. And for something special any day of the week, order a recipe from the featured “Mother of the Month.”
Screen Door: The wait can be daunting at this perpetually packed East Burnside standout. But like a gracious Southern belle, the down-home dinner menu here rarely fails to please guests. Try the fried oyster eggs Benedict, or enlist a friend to help tackle the jaw-dropping plate of crunchy fried chicken breasts stacked on a sweet-potato waffle. On the lighter side, rotating seasonal specials highlight fresh ingredients like heirloom tomatoes and peaches. Whatever you order, pair it with a side of praline bacon.
Tasty n Sons: The eclectic menu at this industrial-chic restaurant flaunts international flavors — think Burmese pork stew, kimchi with rice, Israeli shakshuka and a full English breakfast — as well as classic brunch favorites like thick-cut French toast with luscious blueberry compote. Chef John Gorham sends plates out family-style, allowing diners to taste a wide variety of his signature flavors. If you love libations with brunch, try one of the restaurant’s six takes on the Bloody Mary, with creative additions like beef jerky and beer. Spin-off restaurant Tasty n Alder boasts the same industrial chic taste, but a slightly different menu draws daring diners looking for highlights like the Korean fried chicken served under a fried egg or the potatoes bravas with eggs over-easy.
The Country Cat: Adam Sappington is a pioneer of Portland’s meat-centric cuisine, and his homey brunch menu is a love letter to local pig, lamb and beef. Don’t miss the chicken-fried steak with Worcestershire gravy. Its dishes are the product of the restaurants in-house butchery and hand-picked findings from local farmers’ markets, making for an ever-changing menu. But once staple is bacon — they make more than five tons of their house-cured “meat candy” every year.
Tin Shed Garden Café: An Alberta Arts District staple, this funky little shack is notable for its rib-sticking fare such as fluffy biscuits drenched in apple-wood-smoked bacon gravy and crisp potato cakes topped with free-range eggs and a veritable riot of organic veggies. The cozy garden seating has an outdoor fireplace and is dog-friendly, adding to the convivial feel.
Pine State Biscuits: Pine State Biscuits is a magnet for fans of North Carolina-style buttermilk biscuits and gravy. Every morning, rain or shine, locals line up for counter orders, then snag a table at the pint-size biscuit house (or just take a seat right on the curb). The ultimate treat here is the Reggie Deluxe, a biscuit sandwich of fried chicken, cheese, egg and bacon, smothered with sausage or mushroom gravy. If you can’t get out to the original Alberta Street location, they have a stand that can be found at the Portland State University Farmers Market, a location on Division Street and a walk-up window.
Broder: This sunny little café in southeast Portland’s Divison-Clinton neighborhood offers light scrambles in cast-iron skillets, plus something a bit unexpected: Scandinavian specialties. Forget IHOP and go international with some aebleskivers — crispy golf-ball-sized pancake puffs with lingonberry jam — or bords: house-smoked fish, salami and cheese medleys served with hearty walnut bread and seasonal fruit yogurt.
Bijou Café: The legendary Netarts Bay oyster hash at the Bijou Café is a Portland institution unto itself, with local oysters coated in cornmeal flour and sautéed with shaved onions and potatoes. This downtown fixture also turns out brioche French toast and fluffy omelets accompanied by steaming cups of direct-from-the-grower Peruvian coffee.
Beast: If you love luxurious brunch fare, the reservations-only Sunday brunch at Beast in northeast Portland is a must. Communal tables and stiff French-press coffee promote bonhomie over chef Naomi Pomeroy’s four-course prix fixe meals. The menu changes weekly but might include peach crêpes with maple-shellacked bacon or a lemon chiffon cake with huckleberries to finish.
The Original Pancake House: While you’ll find more than 100 franchises of this chain across the U.S., this is the original. Founded in 1953 (and lovingly maintained to look the same today), this hotcake hot spot cuts no corners, using butter, whipped cream, and fresh fruits in its fluffy pancakes and waffles. Their enormous Dutch Baby is the house specialty — made with granny smiths and a cinnamon glaze, it’s delicious and gargantuan.
Slappy Cakes: Embracing Portland’s DIY culture, this popular breakfast spot has installed griddles at each of their tables, allowing eaters to make their own pancakes, with a selection of batters and toppings including everything from lavender honey to chocolate chips. Fun and filling, the kid-friendly eatery’s only downside is that the items on their full menu are so good, it can be hard to save room for your own creations.