Brunch

There is only one thing more “Sunday” than church here in Portland, and that is Brunch. The holiest of holy traditions, I’ve seen many a miracle when it comes to brunching in P-town. I’ve seen the sick healed (by Cricket Cafe’s Blood Gary), I’ve seen the mute speak (when it’s time to order Genie’s tasso ham benedict), and I’ve seen the almost dead rise and stand (at 11 am, to get in line at the Screen Door). Here are a few places where you’re almost sure to experience a Brunch miracle, like seeing the Virgin Mary take shape in the syrup drizzle you poured on your massive stack of Gravy’s pancakes.

Accanto

accantocrepesNot just a pretty happy hour and dinner face, this cheerful, casual counterpart to schmancy neighboring sister restaurant Genoa serves a delectable brunch as well, and with so many dishes in the single digits dollar-wise, you can afford to go on both Saturday and Sunday. If the buckwheat crepes with seasonal compote are on the menu, order them at once, because you’re never going to find a better use for $7, unless of course, you count the crispy prosciutto-garnished Belmont Bloody, grapefruit mimosa, or Accanto Coffee made with Old Overholt rye whiskey, Cointreau, coffee and cream. Those are also very good ways to spend $7.

Arleta Library Bakery and Cafe

arletabakerysquareNearly obscured by trees and parked cars, it’s easy to miss Arleta Library Bakery and Cafe, and I suspect the regulars like it that way. A beloved resident of the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, this cozy cafe is the sort of place where the server knows your coffee order by heart and the cooks sing along to the radio over the sizzle of frying thick-cut bacon. The locals beat a well-worn path through the front door, hungry for hearty three-egg scrambles, tender semolina buttermilk griddlecakes served with whipped honey butter and organic maple syrup, or a hunk of Arleta’s heavenly fresh-from-the-oven “Blue Ribbon” coffee cake. One of the most popular items is the proudly named “Portland’s Best Biscuits-n-Gravy,” two biscuits with house-roasted pork loin drowned in rosemary sausage gravy–a formidable hangover cure come Saturday or Sunday morning.

Ataula

ataulafritterFrom the moment you touch down in this cheerful Northwest tapas bar and are served your first glass of sangria—lent considerable complexity thanks to a fruit and brandy sous vide—you realize something bueno is about to happen here, in this bright, breezy, wood beam crossed space, open and welcoming like a wide grin, dotted with vivid abstract art and fresh flowers and lorded over by skylights that make the room glow long into the evening in summer. And if you’re here for brunch, that something bueno is the Xuxos de Crema, a perfect golden pillow of fried homemade pastry stuffed with crema catalana. Have one while you’re deciding whether to order the tortilla de patata or chorizo, have one with your brunch paella, have one with your café con leche, and have one boxed to go.

Beast

beasthashsquareOnce I was playing the “oh yeah, but have you eaten here?” game with a friend. The topic was brunch, and we ran though the usual suspects, getting increasingly aggressive, until we both shouted at the same time, “BEAST!?” Sheepishly, we both admitted we’d never partaken of the Beast brunch. “I’m frightened,” she whispered. “I can barely make it through their six-course dinner, and I don’t eat all day in preparation. What if it’s too much brunch for me?”  “We need to be brave,” I said sternly. “And maybe start fasting on Thursday.” We made a reservation for the 10am seating on Sunday. And four divine courses later, as we floated back to our bicycles, we agreed–you can never have too much of a good brunch.

Besaw’s

besawseggIf lines around the block are the windows to a brunch’s soul, then you know this 111-year-old Northwest Portland institution’s morning repast is a good egg. It also dishes up platefuls of good eggs, like the house-smoked wild salmon scramble, classic huevos rancheros, garlicky farmer’s hash, and egg-topped breakfast burger. All best washed down with one of Besaw’s infamous Bloody Marys, either in the charming dining room or out on the much sought after covered patio, from which you can hardly even hear the famished moans of the yet-to-be-seated masses. Brunchers with kids–they’re always welcome, and even moreso on Easter, which plies wee diners with egg hunts and appearances by the Besaw’s Bunny.

Bijou Café

bijoucafehashsquareWith its loyal cadre of regulars and old-fashioned counter seating, this homey cafe is a small town throwback in the heart of the (little) big city. But beyond the aw shucks facade, you’ll find a progressive menu that transcends good old bacon ‘n eggs (although you’ll certainly find those too) in favor of impeccably-sourced, seasonal fare with a strong Pacific Northwest bent, like the oyster omelette, gruyére and blackberry marmalade grilled cheese, and cauliflower Lacinato kale hash. A warning to the hungry and short-tempered–lines can get hairy pretty quickly, so go early, but if you end up waiting, use your time wisely, and by wisely I mean to pop next door to Stumptown for a cappuccino and a Roman Candle Baking Co. kouign amann.

Broder

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 7.21.23 PMThis minimalistically funky and exceedingly popular Clinton Street cafe’s long narrow confines let you get cozy with the tight-tshirt-clad boys in the kitchen, who never stop moving as they calmly and swiftly turn out rows of Breakfast Boards and smoking hot cast-iron skillets filled with potato-studded smoked trout hash, baked duroc ham and Swedish farmer’s cheese scrambles, steaming piles of freshly made abelskivers–pleasantly dense little pancake orbs accompanied by tiny dipping bowls of lemon curd, lingonberry jam and maple syrup. The grapefruit mimosas, served in plump stemless wineglasses, are the perfect balance of freshly squeezed citrus and sparkling wine, and soon render the sometimes prohibitive wait for a table a distant memory.

Byways

bywaysborrowedWith a charming retro feel that sticks out like Velveeta at a Brie party in the otherwise posh and polished Pearl District, this beloved diner dishes hearty breakfast classics to a never ending stream of regulars that are perfectly willing to put in their time in line during rush breakfast/brunch hour. Known for their delicious coffeecake (the chocolate sour cream and raspberry cream cheese versions are keepers), chocolate icebox cake, Amaretto French toast and juicy burgers, the kitchen also serves up healthy fare in the form of organic blue corn pancakes, steel cut oats, fresh salads and veggie scrambles–combine one with a hunk of coffeecake and you’ve got the best of both worlds, and a morning meal worthy of a long Sunday afternoon nap.

Clyde Common

clydecommondiningroomThis downtown gastropub’s beautiful high-ceilinged dining room’s long wooden communal tables seat somebodies next to nobodies, suits next to hipsters, locals next to hotel guests just passing through town, all eating what Clyde calls simply “domestic and foreign cooking,” dishes like rabbit terrine with pickled beets, sweetbread ravioli, pork cheeks with snap peas and trout roe, and come weekends, sophisticated brunch fare like fried oyster breakfast sandwiches with bacon marmalade and hash browns drenched in béarnaise. Drinks are some of the best in the city, Clyde only employs the crème de la crème of the mixology world, and the wine list is pretty much infallible, so get a bottle and share it with all your tablemates/new best friends. But, if you are feeling anti-social, by all means request a table upstairs in the loft.

Coquine

coquinealbacoreWell past the bustle of Belmont’s commercial core, where the popular Southeast thoroughfare meets 69th street, sits pretty Coquine, joint venture of husband-wife, chef-manager team Katy Millard and Ksandek Podbielski. The surrounding Mt. Tabor residents seem pleased as punch by their new neighborhood joint, and rightfully so, considering that the kitchen opens at 8am every morning with bowls of chanterelle and Shishito pepper hash and hazelnut cocoa nib granola, then come evening, turns out refined dishes like oil cured Oregon albacore with new potatoes and sorrel-scallion vinaigrette, black pepper molasses glossed short ribs, and carrot cake with rosemary crème anglaise and smoked almond brittle. Pre or post-meal walk around Mt. Tabor: optional, but recommended.

Country Cat

countrycatsquareI don’t know what I found more compelling about my last meal at Country Cat Dinnerhouse in Montavilla—my Sweet Briar Farms Hog three ways (rolled belly, brined chop, and dark red perfectly seasoned shards of smoked shoulder on South Carolina Grits with sweet plump Brooks plums) or watching a particularly precocious 4-year-old try to unscrew her little sister’s head, in her own words, “like a ketchup cap.” Being a neighborhood restaurant and all, Country Cat goes out of its way to woo Montavilla inhabitants of all tastes and ages, with a comfortably sophisticated big person dinner menu, a savvy children’s menu, and a killer brunch menu that woos with cast iron skillet fried chicken and toasted pecan-bacon spoon bread, lemon ricotta pancakes, and the famous weekends-only cinnamon rolls.

Cricket Cafe

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 10.41.05 AMThis bustling Belmont cafe holds its own in the competitive Bridgetown breakfast arena, turning out consistently satisfying first-meal fare for an appreciative audience willing to spend a goodly portion of Saturday morning in a human clump outside the front door, chatting, sipping coffee, or just trying to stand upright after a particularly enthusiastic Friday night. Inside, servers briskly deliver coffee pots, plates of eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, Truck Driver breakfast burritos, signature Carmen Miranda’s hat-esque fresh fruit bowls, and a rapid succession of much-needed Bloody Garys–jalapeno or habanero-infused Monopolowa vodka with Cricket’s signature mix, a skewer of pepperoncini, sweet red pepper, garlic clove stuffed green olive, pickled asparagus spear and green bean, and finally, the requisite stalk of crisp celery.

Daily Cafe

dailycafebreakfastsquareThis Pearl District stalwart is a lot like that old boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse that’s still secretly/not-so-secretly in love with you–they’re always there for you when you really need them. Breakfast and lunch seven days a week, rain or shine (probably rain), better or worse, in sickness and in health (if you’re sick, do NOT cough on my chamomile-roasted apricots), if you have to move…oh wait, actually I don’t think I should be promising that the Daily Cafe will help you move. They’re too busy crafting Stumptown lattes, doling out Bakeshop pastries, cooking heirloom tomato benedicts and roasted tomatillo chilaquiles, and making house-cured corned beef sandwiches and albacore tuna salads for the omnipresent line of regulars. But don’t worry, you can call your ex, they’ll be there in a jif, with boxes and packing tape and wearing your favorite cologne.

Din Din

dindintableYou never know exactly what to expect from chef Courtney Sproule’s fantastical weekend supper club adventures, which is of course, part of their considerable charm. Perhaps the proceedings will begin with sparkling Vouvray, deep-fried mussels and mingling, until everyone is ushered to whimsically-decorated communal tables, where savory madelines with speck, peaches and brandied cherry tomatoes magically appear, followed by gooseberry sorbet and lamb tartare with currant and dried fennel. Once upon a time, Din Din venues varied with the menu, until Courtney found a permanent home for her moveable feast, a small, exquisite space hidden in the depths of the inner Northeast industrial district, where she also serves a light breakfast and lunch “Fee Fee” menu on weekdays, as well as a decadent Sunday brunch.

Genie’s

geniesstandinEver since I discovered Genie’s mind- (or is it sinus?) blowing Genie’s Bloody, I actually look forward to the lengthy Sunday wait at this relentlessly popular Division Street cafe. A step up from the cafe’s traditional Bloody Mary, the Genie’s Mary stars your choice of house-infused vodkas–a boggling list that includes jalapeño, habañero, horseradish, cucumber dill, lemon, basil, rosemary, and (drum roll please) bacon. It’s no wonder that sometimes when the hostess finally calls my name, I’m asleep on a bench outside, smelling suspiciously of horseradish and vodka. If you need some food to go with your breakfast cocktail, try the tasso ham Benedict, one of the myriad scrambles and omelettes, house-baked brioche French toast, or white chocolate chip and toasted hazelnut pancakes.

Gravy

gravypancakessquareBrunching at Gravy involves tough decisions. Like, do you get the Monte Cristo, the sweet potato pancakes, the berry oatmeal brulee (crème brulee’s hear-healthy cousin), or go with the obvious biscuits & gravy? See? Tough! Occupying a prime spot in the middle of the epicurean funzone that is North Mississippi Avenue, Gravy’s waits can be long, but once seated you don’t feel rushed, and thanks to the creative placement of a four-foot wall just inside the doorway, you won’t have to suffer the pained gazes of the brunch hopefuls you left in your wake. Sit at the bar–the stools are made of tractor seats, and you can watch your Bloody Mary being born.

Hazel Room

hazelroombrunchsquareCozy can take you far in rain-besieged Portland, and this Sunnyside tea lounge has cozy to spare. Sharing a vintage bungalow on SE Hawthorne with eclectic boutique Mag-Big, The Hazel Room serves up more than 30 Townshend’s teas (straight or booze-infused) by the fireplace, as well as locally-sourced coffee, wine, beer, cordials and absinthe, along with an array of elegant salads, soups and sandwiches like the four-mustard egg salad, tamarind pork, and citrus-spiced cucumber with herbed cream cheese. And even if you and your sweet tooth are currently quarreling, don’t pass on the homemade rainbow, Linzer, or sea salted chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Seriously. On weekends, completely bypass the brunch lines clogging the Southeast and step right up to an open table, an ice-cold Bloody Gina, a piece of spiced coffeecake, and a hot skillet of baked eggs with fennel, bacon and a flaky little buttermilk scone. And homemade cookies for dessert, don’t forget those.

Imperial

imperialbrunchsquareThose seeking a classy joint worth getting dolled up for are jazzed about Vitaly Paley and Ben Bettinger’s sensibly swank Broadway Street eatery in the Hotel Lucia, where seasonally-driven Northwest fare fuels a convivial downtown crowd. And if you end up getting the proverbial room after a few too many of the dangerously affordable signature cocktails, come morning, brunch awaits but a short elevator away–with hearty specials like the Imperial pastrami hash, crab croque-madame, and coddled eggs nestled in a pool of rich, spicy tomato sauce studded with dollops of warm goat cheese and a side of the kitchen’s signature fry bread. Plus a house Bloody Mary or Peychaud’s Mimosa, of course. (Either is just $7…see what I mean about dangerously affordable?!)

Interurban

interurbanextsquareIt might take a while to elbow your way through this crowded bar to order the whiskey chicken liver mousse, Murphy’s lamb stew, and Luger burger, but the 14 taps and excellent house cocktails make it worth the effort. If you manage to shake off the effects of last night’s bottled Manhattans and rise early enough, however, weekend brunch is a breeze–come at 10am and have your pick of upstairs tables or a breezy perch on the hidden back patio, then relax with what’s possibly your second Walk of Shame of the day (Interurban’s involves Rainier and a shot of Fighting Cock bourbon), the salted caramel French toast, fried egg-topped Breakfast Burger, and a skillet of steak and eggs-smothered johnnycakes.

Irving Street Kitchen

irvingstreetfloatsquareThe sort of place you can take almost anyone—dates, colleagues, family, friends, tipsy girls’ night out expeditions—and have an excellent time, this Pearl District restaurant’s creative Southern-influenced New American cuisine feels both sophisticated and hearty, with dishes like creamed white corn soup with chanterelles, maple-smoked brook trout and arugula salad, grilled duck sausage over gingersnap basmati rice, and divine desserts like the pecan skillet pie, strawberry soda floats, and legendary butterscotch pudding. Service is friendly and accommodating, and little curtained booths offer you sanctuary from the merry melee–if you’re a recluse, want to get romantic or just need a nap after downing the blackberry crème fraiche-smothered cornmeal waffle during brunch, you can close the curtains and hide/smooch/nap, whilst plotting how to nick the milk-bottle chandeliers. Read full write-up>>

James John Cafe

jamesjohncafebiscuitsThis charming old-school cafe nurtures the North Portland hamlet of St. Johns with its excellent coffee, fresh-baked pastries, a full bar, and satisfying eats like cassoulet, roasted vegetable bread pudding, smoked trout hash, biscuits ‘n gravy, and a half dozen sandwiches. The unassuming, black awning-sheltered storefront opens up into a big, peaceful café with soaring pressed-tin ceilings, well-worn sofas framing a coffee table strewn with NYT sections, and a vintage bar lined with hipsters sipping Stumptown coffee, fresh-squeezed lemonade and PBR. The décor is sparse but interesting—deer heads hang on the walls above muted still-lifes of fruit, and an antlered rabbit with a saucy expression is mounted above the doorway to the kitchen.

Junior’s Cafe

juniorsscramblesquareA longtime Ladd’s Addition morning mainstay, Junior’s is that quintessential little neighborhood brunch spot that’s always there for you, starting at 8am, seven days a week, pretty much every day of the year. Capturing your affections with its sparkly gold booths, vintage mirror collection, and tiny window bar perfect for rubbing knees with your Sunday morning squeeze as you wait for a mug of hot coffee and a fresh scramble–it’s the sort of breakfast nook that will invariably make a regular out of you, even if you have to brave the Ladd’s labyrinth hungover to get there every weekend.

Lauretta Jean’s

laurettajeanssquareSure, we all got teary-eyed/openly wept when Pix Patisserie departed their longtime Division digs in search of bigger Burnside pastures, but fans of new tenant Kate McMillan’s dreamier than thou treats danced a cherry lattice jig, because now the pastry case is filled with her fresh-baked fruit pies, chocolate cream sliders, swirly apricot almond scones, savory quiches, and good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. Brunchers, this is one of the city’s best kept Saturday and Sunday morning secrets, most times you’ll sail straight into a seat during prime brunch time for a peaceful plate of smoked ham benedict, warm baked egg-topped breakfast galette, or ethereal housemade biscuit with strawberry preserves.

Ned Ludd

nedluddbrunchSome folks have one tried and true dining love, a restaurant where they take absolutely everyone, from friends and visiting family to colleagues and dates, while other people tailor their eating experiences to their companions’ tastes, and I can suggest with utmost confidence that the next time you are supping with a gastronomically-savvy lumberjack, Ned Ludd is your target destination. And if your lumberjack has Sundays off, by all means treat them to the brunch, where you’ll sip Krogstad aquavit-laced Ludd’s Blood cocktails and feast on stump-sized fresh-baked berry muffins, cornmeal pancakes, and skilletfuls of baked eggs swimming in chanterelle cream. If the weather’s agreeable, eat on the roomy picnic-table lined front patio, so you can slip Babe bites of summer vegetable hash.

Olympic Provisions NW

opmeatboardPortland is full of interesting secrets—secret catacombs, secret kebabs, secret gardens, secret creperie-speakeasies, and Secret Society, to name a few. Then there’s Olympic Provisions Northwest, which isn’t technically a secret, but unless you’re a particularly thorough wanderer, prone to getting lost, or have business in the industrial wilds of Northwest Portland, you’d be hard-pressed to stumble upon it. Walking through the deli’s front doors, you’re immediately confronted by one of the finest meat counters around—brimming with fresh sausages, frankfurters, patés, rillettes, Sweetheart hams, bacon, and a full range of Olympic Provisions’ acclaimed salami–all housemade on site. Orbiting the deli case is an intimate kitchen-facing marble bar, a few tables for two, and two boisterous communal tables—so you’re covered, whether you’re having salami sandwiches and cold microbrews for lunch with friends, or sharing one of the peerless rotisserie chickens with Schmaltz potatoes and a bottle of rosé with a hot date. Read full write-up>>

Olympic Provisions SE

olympicprovisionsbenedictWith its trademark blinking MEAT sign, “Meat Here” motto, and menu punctuated by hearty carnivore-pleasing dishes like the ethereal pork rillettes hand pie, choucroute garni, and melt-in-your-mouth rotisserie chicken, it’s no surprise that quite a few of the dishes on this sleek inner SE industrial district restaurant’s brunch menu are, well, meaty. But balance is everything here–sure, go for the kielbasa-spiked hash and decadent Sweetheart ham-stacked benedict, but divert for a minute to take advantage of the meat-free house hot cakes with orange butter and chocolate chips (one of my top 10 favorite foods, ever) and sweet breakfast board with granola, yogurt, poached Seckel pears and soft cheese.

Oven & Shaker

ovenandshakerJames Beard-award nominated chef Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Genoa) and Aviation Gin co-founder Ryan Magarian joined their culinarily complimentary forces to open this sleek Pearl District hangout, where the white hot wood-burning pizza oven bakes and blisters a steady stream of thin crust Neopolitan style pies while hot bartenders shake up icy Anejo Manhattans and Pineapple Trainwrecks for a trendy crowd. Lovers of the widely-worshipped Nostrana radicchio salad, it’s on the menu, along with three other pretty young leafy things, and a handful of “finger and fork” small plates. On weekends, go off the beaten pizza path with the inventive brunch dishes like broiled grapefruit with brown sugar caramel, duck Eggs in Purgatory, and the prosciutto plate with pimento cheese and a biscuit. Weather permitting, have your wood-fired meal and White Lady cocktail outdoors on the beautiful sidewalk patio–you’re smack dab in the middle of some of the Pearl’s prime people-watching terrain.

PaaDee

PaadeenoodlesSophisticated cocktails developed to complement the bright, unique Thai flavors at this hip 28th Avenue eatery make for a well-balanced meal, and the long communal tables in the center of the dining room make for interesting random interactions over chive cakes, Sriracha and fish sauce-glazed fried chicken wings, grilled hanger steak with spicy tamarind dip, and bowls of hot noodles–pig lovers, the egg noodles in spicy lime and pork broth with fried pork belly, tender slices of red pork, and ground pork is the porkfecta of your dreams. On weekends, find fun brunch fare with an exotic twist, like the coconut French toast with tamarind syrup and fried chicken wrapped in ginger crepes.

Podnah’s Pit BBQ

podnahsbrunchmelangePodnah’s brunch packs a punch to the paunch, so dainty breakfast eaters beware. If you can finish Kyle’s Breakfast–two eggs, sliced brisket, a pile of potatoes, and a big fluffy homemade biscuit–you might not need to eat until sometime next week. Smoked trout hash afficionados have found their happy place, while those left ravenous after a long night on the town should investigate the huevos rancheros, chilaquiles rojos, or potato and chorizo breakfast tacos. Aforementioned dainty breakfast eaters take heart, you can opt for the Bob’s steel-cut oatmeal with pecans, or just get the biscuit basket with homemade jam. Read full write-up>>

Radar

radarinteriorsquareThose of us, er, you, who think nothing of stealing restaurant menus for their grubby little harissa and olive oil-spattered scrapbooks best bring your big handbag to this stylish Mississippi Avenue bar and dinner den, where  the placemat-sized cuisine crier offers up three large-font columns of signature cocktails, beers, “non beers”, and creatively seasonal small plates like roasted radishes with brown butter and beef cheeks with Orca beans. After dinner, hone in on the housemade frozen dessert delicacies—it’s hard to pass on the salted licorice ice cream or grapefruit tarragon sorbet. Fútbol fans–there’s always a match playing on the telly above the bar.

Raven & Rose

ravenandrosebrunchmelangeOn weekends, this posh downtown restaurant set inside a historic carriage house dishes up a swanky brunch; start sweet with brioche French toast smothered in cherries and Chantilly cream, and a few of the ethereal house pastries with preserves, then move into savory territory with the smoked trout plate, crab and shrimp cakes, cornbread pudding with pork belly, Croque Madame, or Carriage House burger. In a nod to the owner’s time spent cooking and studying in the UK, you’ll find a full Irish breakfast (with both black and white puddings), corned beef hash, and the brunch menu’s shining star–the Full Bloody Irish, a rather life-changing take on the classic brunch cocktail that involves local New Deal Distillery’s Hot Monkey pepper vodka, Guinness, mescal, house Worcestershire, and freshly-grated horseradish. Read full write-up>>

Screen Door

screendoorsquareThe clear winner in Portland’s ‘who can command the longest brunch line’ contest, Screen Door’s is a sight to behold–around the corner and halfway down the block people wait, in twos, fours, and mores, some with entire flocks of children in tow. Whether here for the stomach-warming Southern brunch or the absolutely massive portions, it’s hard to say, it’s probably a little bit of both. A “survey of the south,” the menu’s inspiration spans everything from South Carolina lowcountry cuisine to Cajun one-pot cooking to the fancy French Cajun food in New Orleans, with some soul food in between, resulting in dishes like the Cajun scramble with cheddar grits, fried oyster Benedict, fried chicken waffle, Bananas Foster French toast, and praline bacon. Yes, praline bacon.

Simpatica Dining Hall

simpaticahashsquareOnce, someone asked me to recommend a few brunch spots for their visiting friend, so as always, I went into full meal matchmaking mode, requesting a complete rundown of their favorite foods and cocktails. “He’ll eat anything,” they shrugged. “He’s an editor at Bon Appetit magazine, you know, a foodie.” I sweated over the list long into the night, hit send as the clock struck midnight, took a deep breath, then went to bed to dream about fried chicken ‘n waffles and grapefruit mimosas. Sunday afternoon, an email arrived in my inbox from the editor, and all it said was, “OMG Simpatica!” And really, that says it all. Cherry pancakes with Chantilly cream, smoked salmon Benedict with dill hollandaise, chimichurri-marinated hanger steak, Cardoncello mushroom and fava frittata–OMG Simpatica! is the perfect Sunday morning mantra.

Suzette

suzettebrunchsquareThey don’t come any more oh-lá-lá than this Belmont creperie, which produces some of the most thoughtfully-constructed savory and dessert crepes in town—I lust after the lemon butter-drenched, cider poached apples-topped Normandie. The prix-fixe weekend brunch menu (for those opposed to prix fixe confines, the full menu is served as well) is three courses—if you count a mimosa as a course, and I certainly do. As you watch your drink’s construction (perfectly proportioned at 7/8 champagne, 1/8 juice), you’re served a sweet, nutty housemade French almond teacake, followed by your choice of crepes–the prosciutto, Gruyére and caramelized onion, or roasted mushrooms, chevre, caramelized onion and mushroom cream sauce—both topped with a still-quivering fried egg and crème fraîche squiggle. Le sigh.

Sweedeedee

sweedeedeesquareAs fun to say as it is cute, funky, and downright delicious, this petite light-filled space sits quietly in a previously breakfast-barren stretch of North Albina Street, and from the moment they open the doors at 8am, the staff is cutting slices of ethereal homemade honey pie, doling out gooey sticky buns and blueberry cornmeal muffins, pouring hot cups of Extracto coffee into mismatched crockery, and dishing up  hearty breakfast and lunch plates as fast as they can, to overjoyed neighborhood residents and gastro-tourists alike, all whom pack themselves into the handful of tables and window bar like happy hash-devouring sardines. Try the baked egg-topped corncakes, smoked trout plate with pickled vegetables, cream cheese and thick slices of rye bread, and any of the the exquisitely fresh salads and sandwiches.

Tasty n Alder

TastyandAldersteaksandwichIt’s not always easy to catch a glimpse of a genuinely heart pounding hunk of beef in Portland, unless you have the time and lack of shame to blatantly loiter outside fire stations when it’s truck-washing time. Find a happy medium at chef/restaurateur John Gorham’s downtown sister restaurant to North Portland’s popular Tasty n Sons, dubbed Tasty n Alder, where the fried onion-topped smoked coppa steak sandwich, hazelnut romesco-slathered Alder Burger, steak ‘n eggs-centric Cowboy Breakfast, and cinnamon-laced Budapest coffeecake will leave you with a whole new kind of beefcake lust.

Tasty n Sons

tastyandsonsbrunchsquareJay-Z touts the Empire State of Mind, Steinbeck opined that Texas is a state of mind, and here in Portland, well, Brunch could probably be declared the official state of mind…and few restaurants here do brunch as well as Tasty n Sons. The menu is nothing if not diverse, try the Breakfast Board–a something-for-everyone spread of chicken liver mousse, pickled beets, six-minute egg, thick chewy bacon and housemade labneh, Auntie Paula’s French Toast (dredged in ice cream batter before it hits the frying pan), and the Shakshuka, a savory red pepper and tomato stew with Merguez. Or, just get the Tasty Burger with smoked blue cheese and call it a day. Brunch drinks are serious business here too–champagne cocktails top the list, followed by a stable of Bloodys like the tequila-kissed Tasty Maria, gin-based Tasty Snapper, and beef jerky-accessorized Tasty Jerk. Or, you know, just have orange juice–they’ve got that too.

Toast

toastoniontartletsquareWoodstock’s best neighborhood breakfast joint boasts a mean brunch menu spanning the gamut from impressively embellished granola (aka Hippies on Parfait) to the much-loved egg, braised greens and Beecher’s white cheddar breakfast sandwich on a housemade English muffin to seasonal specials like the Dungeness crab eggs benedict, all best washed down with a hot ‘n spicy Bloody Mary with MoonBrine pickles. And since brunch is served seven days a week, you never have to pause and try to remember which day it is when slightly bleary from an evening of excess and in need of a bottomless cup of Courier Coffee and Belly Belly hash.

Woodsman Tavern

woodsmanseafoodWoodsman’s got a knack for memorable dishes that are both rustic and innovative—like duck drumettes with Sriracha-laced kumquat sauce, a Lacinato kale Caesar with rye croutons, whole roasted trout in “crazy water”, biscuits and sausage gravy with pickled collards, the majestic Woodsman burger, and the formidable bone-in ribeye for two, while at the bar, spirits sorcerer Evan Zimmerman crafts puckery Omaha Sours and 24kt gold-accented Bentley cocktails. Next door, the European-style Woodsman Market sells fresh produce and farm eggs, cheese and charcuterie, exceptional wine and other genteel sundries, as well as hearty housemade sandwiches and a chocolate pudding so exceptional, you will want to buy it by the barrel (you can’t though, sorry for getting your hopes up).

Xico

xicohuevosrancherosLike most Portlanders, I love a good brunch, but unlike most Portlanders, I won’t squander 10 percent of my weekend standing in line for it, because I have way too many other things to squander my weekend on, like laying face down on the sofa regretting 100% of any decisions made about Jell-O shots the previous night. Which means that I either rise with the roosters on weekend mornings to beat the brunch crush, or hunt down that most elusive of creatures—the great-brunch-sans-100-person-waitlist. And even rarer, the near-mythical great-brunch-sans-100-person-waitlist-WITH-PATIO. Enter Xico, which affords you serene patio digs on which to sip hibiscus tea mimosas and margaritas, and down plates of cinnamon sugar dusted sopaipillas, pork belly carnitas hash, and chile lime hollandaise drenched sopas Florentine, all minus the mad brunch rush. Ay ay ay!