The lovely city in Oregon is known for many things, including its starring role in Portlandia. But it’s the wildly creative, ever-expanding brunch options that get my motor running south from Seattle a few times a year. Yes, the wait for a table for that weekend morning/afternoon meal can be crazy long (the subject of one of those awesome Portlandia skits, in fact). Be patient. It’s so worth it. Here are 6 reasons brunch lovers should get to PDX PDQ! Oh, and I’ve also included links to recipes that should address any cravings this post creates.
1) Brunch Burgers
Get ready, people, this is a trend that’s picking up steam. It just makes so much sense because, you know… burgers! Nobody does ’em better than Besaw’s, which stacks a porky patty on top of a brioche bun. The ultra-juicy sandwich goes over-the-top with strips of crispy beef bacon and a sunny side up duck egg. Oh, and those big fat fries served on the side? They’ll make you forget about hash browns forever. Huge bonus: Brunch served every day of the week.
Try it at home: Easy Breakfast Sausage Burgers
2) World’s Best Fried Chicken
Yes, chicken and waffles for brunch is a huge deal from coast-to-coast, but at Muscadine in Northeast Portland, Mississippi-born chef Laura Rhorman doesn’t even go there. Instead, she focuses on the bird, Anson Mills grits, collard greens and a biscuit on the side. And after eating about a million versions of it, I can testify that this fried chicken is the absolute best. It’s perfectly seasoned, juicy and so crisp, the golden skin practically shatters when you take a bite. Go early, because when the day’s batch is gone, it’s gone.
Try it at home: Chef John’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken
3) Put an Egg on It, the Hummus Edition
Tusk describes its menu as locally sourced Middle Eastern cuisine, and the weekend brunch menu has loads of flavor-packed surprises including a Pistachio Ooey Butter Cake so good you won’t want to share, Za’tar-spiced biscuits and a brilliant rice porridge that shines with curry seasonings. But it was the spectacular hummus topped with a soft-yolked egg that blew away every idea I’ve ever had about hummus being boring. Accompanied by beautiful, from-scratch pita bread, soft and warm from the oven.
4) Amazing Porridge
Rightly famous Pok Pok‘s sister booze palace, the Whiskey Soda Lounge, wakes up early to greet brunch fans with Asian-inspired morning meals that include Jook, a cousin to Congee. This exceptional porridge can be ordered with seafood or chicken, both versions served with a soft-cooked egg and Youtiao, the savory doughnuts for dipping. If you’re up for a short day trip out of the Rose City, porridge purists will definitely want to make the pilgrimage to the world famous Bob’s Red Mill HQ in Milwaukie, where a no-frills cafe serves various hot cereals all day, every day.
Try it at home: Chicken Jook with Lots of Veggies
5) There’s Brunch Way Late
If you think breakfast all day is cool, then brunching until 10 at night is going to make you as happy as a French fry dipped in fancy ketchup. Yes, they have that at Brunch Box, a teeny cafe in downtown Portland that’s breakfast sandwich central. The snug kitchen cranks out breakfast sandwiches with names like the Lumberjack with a lot of style and at prices that will make your wallet fatter. The Omelet Sandwich is pure genius, especially if you order it on Texas Toast. The two-egg omelette keeps sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions neat. American cheese contributes the right amount of melt-y gooey goodness. Just the thing to soak up all those artisan micro-brews from the nearby Bailey’s Taproom.
Try it at home: Omelets
6) Life-Changing French Toast
There are a ton of reasons to adore Mother’s Bistro, also known as the comfort food center of the universe. Go ahead and dive into the cinnamon rolls, a soaring stack of fluffy pancakes, the addictive breakfast nachos and the massive omelettes. I’ll be over here, stuffing my pie hole with the incredible French Toast, made crunchy by the addition of a cornflakes crust on the outside of the custard-y challah bread. Maybe that sounds a little strange, but the contrasting textures are pure genius.
Try it at home: French Toast (add your own cornflakes!).