Many cultures have elaborate breakfast cuisine developed over hundreds of years, although as an American I am very partial to American-style breakfast, and its spiritual antecedent, English breakfast. The ideal American breakfast is hearty, involves grease, and has tons of room for improvisation. There is something quintessentially American about it that is hard to pin down. Hearty breakfasts are meals intended for people who 1) get up before 11 o' clock and 2) require significant amounts of energy before lunchtime. For example, cowboys would fall pretty solidly into this category, as would captains of industry and farmers.
My relationship with breakfast is a little complicated. Perhaps it is because for most of my life I have neglected to eat breakfast at all that I have now fallen in love with the concept of breakfast. Likewise, as I primarily eat healthily, a fried egg with a slab of bacon and sourdough toast with a pat of butter on top, all, of course, made with saturated fats, and a big cup of milky, sweet tea on the side makes me crazy. My ideal breakfast is in the middle of nowhere, America, off the side of a major roadway, likely just before we set off again. There's something about food on the road that can't be duplicated, and breakfast on the road is doubly so, whatever it is.
But in my spare time, I try to get as close as possible, and that is why I now bring to you a quick review of my favorite Portland breakfast spots:
Cup & Saucer Cafe, 3566 SE Hawthorne Blvd
The Cup & Saucer is one of those places which contains the distilled essence of Portland. It has 'Northwest' style dishes, organic veggies, caters to vegetarians and vegans, and the waiters look like they're trying to pick up some extra cash on their time away from the carnival. The food is solid, and they have two strengths: scrambles with basically every combination of ingredients you could possibly think of, and scones. Goodness gracious, the scones. The scones are the best scones I've ever had. Is it because they're fresh? Is it because they're made with love? I don't know. Please give me some more scones.
Toast, 5222 SE 52nd Ave
I'm going to be honest with you: I don't like Toast. I like that it's down the street from me, but in my opinion, it's unoriginal and overpriced. Their drinks are also not great and the service is slow. However, my friends like it and they didn't throw us out when we had a loud, prolonged conversation about the American justice system. They also give you coffee to drink while you're waiting outside forever because the service is slow.
Classiness: purported 4
Jam, 2239 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Jam is always crowded. It is far nicer-looking than Cup & Saucer, but the fare is pretty similar. Jam also does scrambles, although they are much more traditional than C&S's. Jam is always crowded, so get there early. Of course, in Portland 'early' means, like, 'nine o' clock'. Jam has awesome drinks. They're scrumptious. And if the line's way too long, you can always walk across the street to Grand Central Bakery.
Zell's Cafe, 1300 SE Morrison St
Zell's is pretty tight. You can get a straight to order breakfast here, and the bacon is crispy. Big points there. This is also really crowded, so again, get there before the hungover hipsters crawl out of bed and roll downstairs to get breakfast. Zell's also does the more 'experimental' side of breakfast, creating seasonal dishes. It's yummy. I really liked their potatoes.
The Original Hotcake House, 1002 SE Powell Blvd
THE HOTCAKE HOUSE. 'Early' at the Hotcake House is 10 pm. By 1 am the place will be totally full with lines out the door. I have never been to the Hotcake House while the sun was still up because they are open 24h/day. They say they have the best pancakes. They are right. The Hotcake House is the closest I get to my magic road trip breakfast, perhaps because there is the same kind of hopelessness present here as there is in a small dead-end town kept alive only by passing cars. Life's a bitch, so let's make hashbrowns.
IHOP, 4931 SE 82nd Ave
|1.||Head north on SE 82nd Ave toward SE Liebe St|
|2.||Turn left at SE Powell Blvd|
|3.||Turn right at SE 8th Ave|
|4.||Take the 1st right onto SE Woodward St|
|5.||Take the 1st right onto SE 9th Ave|
|6.||Turn left at SE Powell Blvd |
Destination will be on the right
1002 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97202