Turns out San Francisco is a mighty expensive place to live, so to help us save up for a big trip, we made 2015 the year of small adventures. This means lunching at ethnic food restaurants, local [free] festivals, or weekend camping trips, but when the chance to go to Portland came up, we jumped on $160 flights faster than Kanye news spreads on Twitter. Daniel has spent tons of time in Oregon, but as devoted snackers and beer drinkers, we knew that this would be no ordinary trip. We went to see a friend’s band, first and foremost, but we also went with a mission – to eat Portland.
We decided to make it a jogging-free adventure in gluttony, full of cereal-covered donuts, hoppy craft beer, greasy food truck fare, and most important of all… all kinds of otherwordly brunch. I’ve never met a breakfast sandwich I didn’t like, and this was the time to prove it.
It was kind of an accident, really, that nearly all of our meals clustered around this arbitrary time of day called “brunch” falling anywhere from 10am-3pm. Late nights with Ninkasi and too many breakfast donuts changed any real dinner plans, but we were always ready by the time brunch rolled around.
Are you heading to Portland, land of bearded men, bridges, and brunch? Look no further, because here’s where you’ll find the best brunch in Portland, as curated by our very-Portland friends.
Where to Find the Best Brunch in Portland
Tasty N Sons:
With endlessly high ceilings, and modern design, this “new American diner” serves up inventive everything-but-what-you’d-expect from the average greasy spoon. Tasty N Sons has menu offerings ranging from the Dim Summore Asian-inspired Bloody Mary to a Burmese Red Pork Stew. You can sit down with 7 of your closest friends to order [nearly] everything on the menu — things come family style! If you’re true to the traditional breakfast, you can always just settle on bacon and eggs or a Dutch Baby to share. Either way, it’s going to be tasty! (sorry…)
located at 3808 N. Williams, Suite C
Tin Shed Garden Cafe:
If you’re seeking a brunch spot with a more communal feel, head to Tin Shed Garden Cafe. The cafe endorses that “energy travels through food”, so their goal is to “give the food a good ride from farm, to grocer, to the Shed, and to you.” What does that mean for you, exactly? Well, besides one of the best salmon scrambles and breakfast curries in town, it just means really exceptional, thoughtful food.
located at 1438 NE Alberta Street
Pine State Biscuits:
Believe it or not, the biscuits here are pretty good. You can pop in for a BBQ biscuit sandwich, biscuits & gravy, or better yet, an order of the fried green tomatoes. Self described as a restaurant based on “old-style Southern goodness and modern restaurant professionalism” you can go here for some authentic, lovingly made, and wholly Portland brunch.
located at 1100 SE Division #100
If you’re not into the brunch scene, head to Brunch Box where you can dine on breakfast sandwiches reminiscent of Sonic drive-thru lunch with dad. With names like “Monstrosity” and “Redonkadonk” on the menu, you can anticipate the food will be equally ridiculous. How do you feel about a bacon cheeseburger with TWO grilled cheeses for buns? You’ll find it here. This is not a place for detoxers (or those with heart problems, for that matter).
located at 620 SW 9th
We’re finishing off this list of best brunch in Portland the only way we know how — with a big fat side of Gravy. Located in a cute little space that looks like your pottery teachers urban loft, you can enjoy an unpretentious brunch with modern interpretations of breakfast classics. Pick from a long list of custom omelets, gear up for the braised-pork shoulder, and green chili in their Chili Verde dish, or order “straight eggs” if you’re done with this whole brunch thing.
located at 3957 N Mississippi Ave
alternatives to brunch in Portland
We did it! We survived the Voodoo Doughnuts line!
After hearing legends of the raspberry-filled Voodoo Doll and licking frosting from a friend’s Maple Bacon Portland-souvenir, I knew it had to happen at some point on the trip. We slipped over to the Voodoo Doughnut location near the Saturday Market (on a Monday) and waited in line for a slim 15 minutes. When we got inside, we wasted no time in ordering 4 gigantic donuts. While we ate [almost] all of the donuts, they had the buffet effect — as soon as you finish, a cloak of regret sneaks in, and the sincere belief that you may never eat again takes over. Well, what did you expect from a doughnut covered in Cap’n Crunch?
located at 22 SW 3rd Avenue (+ other locations)
Blue Star Donuts
For every tourist that references Voodoo there is one local that stands by Blue Star as the true “best donuts in Portland”. They have more sophisticated options like the Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Creme Brulee because — let’s be honest — we’re all adults here. Their donuts are made with a classic French brioche recipe that takes 18 hours to make (!), so I’d highly recommend stopping by for a cup of Stumptown Roasters coffee and an [adult] donut, and making a morning of it.
located at 3549 SE Hawthorne (+ other locations)
If you’ve spent 45 minutes trying to decide on a brunch that everyone can agree on, and then decided too late to get in the door before 4pm, perhaps you’ll just be best heading to Missisippi Marketplace — it’s a roundup of 10 of Portland’s best food trucks. With trucks featuring southern BBQ, pizza, or Asian fusion, there’s something for everyone here. We wound up at Native Bowl, where vegan food doesn’t taste like vegan food. You can order a jasmine rice based bowl piled high with Asian style tofu, garbanzo beans, or whatever vegetable fantasies your heart desires.