Like most nine-to-fivers, every week I get just two opportunities to enjoy brunch—my favorite meal of the day—so taking advantage of Portland’s finest offerings ranks high on my weekend to-do list. These are some of my best loved destinations for that most sacred meal, my go-tos for when I want tasty food, great atmosphere, and a full belly.
1. Local 188
Excellent coffee served in mismatched thrift store mugs (even the decaf is quite good), Caribbean spiced hash that makes your taste buds zing, and a prime West End location make Local 188 one of Portland’s stand-out brunch locales. Perpetually busy, Local 188 seems to be one of the few restaurants in town with a parking lot. The giant sticky bun lives up to its name, and you can expect similar proportions of the pancake.
2. Artemisia Cafe
Cozy, bright, and a just a tad artsy, Pleasant Street’s Artemisia Cafe is a comfortable neighborhood brunch spot that’s often overlooked. Away from the main Congress Street strip, there’s plenty of on-street and metered parking (bring quarters) and rarely a wait. Enjoy a pot of tea served with a floral cup and matching saucer or a mug of Mexican spiced chocolate as you anticipate the flavors of your Oeufs en Meurette benedict or kielbasa hash.
3. Hot Suppa!
My boyfriend loves their French-style omelette with mushrooms and chevre, and swears no restaurant in town does it better. I’m partial to their highly regarded corned beef hash, which Bon Appetit magazine praised as “Portland’s best breakfast dish.” And now that the backyard patio is open, it might take you a little less time to get a table and start savoring the “from scratch” cooking philosophy Hot Suppa! has stuck with since it opened in place of the Friendship Cafe in 2006.
Like Bigfoot, Nessie, and Norwegian trolls, the Caiola’s brunch is a rare and elusive creature. I’ve tromped through icy streets on more than one Saturday to find the doors barred, cursing myself for forgetting once again that it’s Sunday morning, not Saturday they’re open. If you’re lucky enough to catch them for brunch, the coffee cake of the day never disappoints, and while I’m a fan of the traditional eggs benedict, vegetarians swear by the veggie benedict. The oyster po’ boy is an unexpected and welcome menu item. But with offerings such as almond lemon tea cake with almond streusel, a house made “pop tart,” and lost bread (pain perdu, a Cajun-style French toast) the morning breads are where it’s at.
5. Bayou Kitchen
Recently expanded, there’s still usually a wait for this Forest Avenue staple, a popular breakfast hub for those living off the peninsula. Cajun flare abounds—a life-size gator scales the wall, Mardi Gras paraphernalia festoons, and the cornbread permeates the air with a rich, buttery aroma. Shelves of hot sauce ensure those with discerning palates can concoct a new flavor combination with each visit. The Mud Bug Madness is the most satisfying way to get your dietary dose of crawdads, especially when ordered with a side of bacon (not your average floppy slices—these cuts are thick). The huevos rancheros are also a big hit; order the eggs sunny side down for a change.