There’s an episode of the series Portlandia, a show that pokes fun at Portland’s famed hipster culture, in which the line for a brunch restaurant gets so long, everything descends into chaos. This satire isn’t far off from the reality of how seriously locals take their brunch in Portland. Restaurants geared toward the 10 a.m. audience are both extremely abundant and incredibly diverse, with grilled-cheese burgers, kimchi and jalapeno waffles all making menu appearances. Best yet, because each spot has to compete with so many others, superior quality is all but guaranteed. In a crowded field of favorites, these five choices are well-worth the inevitable wait.
With its international flavors and small-plate options, it makes sense that this brunch spot is owned by the same chef as Toro Bravo, one of the city’s top tapas restaurants. In addition to breakfast interpretations of traditional Spanish cuisine, including fried potatoes bravas and pork cutlets with over-easy eggs, the menu travels from Japan (house-made kimchi with brown rice and a sunny-side up egg) to Burma (red pork stew) to Manhattan (New York-style sausage omelet) and beyond. Try a bit of everything for an around-the-world experience, then top it all off with a good-in-any-country French toast sundae.
Forget maple syrup and a square of butter –here, waffles come with bold ingredients both savory and sweet. Feeling adventurous? Try a version with jalapenos, thick-cut pepper bacon or brie cheese. In a traditional sugar mood? Dig in to a variety topped with Nutella, granola or banana caramel sauce –or spring for the waffle sundae with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. Seasonal specialties, including a wintertime pumpkin-pie variety, are also worth splurging on. Waffles are Portland’s current food-of-the-moment (move over, donuts), and this locally beloved restaurant is a big reason why.
No trip to Portland is complete without a food truck stop, and Brunch Box expertly delivers the best of this experience, from affordable prices and sizable portions to quality grub and a sense of humor. For breakfast, try the meat-stuffed "OMG," which pairs a fried egg and American cheese with bacon, ham and spam. Or kick it up a notch for the "OMFG," with sausage thrown in, too. Another fun dish is the aptly named "Monstrosity," a burger stuffed between two grilled-cheese sandwiches. The food truck has a sister sit-down restaurant as well, but for sheer Portland-ness, we recommend a trip to the cart instead.
This lovely restaurant is graced with fresh flowers and closely packed tables that lend it an air of intimacy. Dining here feels like cozying up at a small European café, which is appropriate, since the menu is largely Scandinavian. Brunch dishes (listed on the menu under frokust for breakfast) include Danish pancakes, a Norwegian potato crepe and Swedish hash – cubed potatoes sprinkled with bell peppers and onions and served with regional specialties such as smoked trout. With just 12 tables, this place gets packed, so grab a coffee next door at Savoy’s Tavern while you wait.
With a name like "screen door," it should come as no surprise that this restaurant is all about Southern cuisine, with the best of Lowcountry, Cajun and Creole flavors spicing up a hearty menu of egg and griddle dishes. Yet this being Portland, there’s also a local, organic focus and veggie influences, including fresh spinach, mushrooms and caramelized onions in an otherwise traditional bowl of cheddar grits. The restaurant also has a keen sense of what’s trending in the culinary world; the praline waffle, for instance, is layered with bacon, current food du jour for salting up sweets.