Tasty n Sons
The good vibrations of Tasty n Sons’s high-ceilinged, energetic space don’t mask the seriousness with which Chef John Gorham takes his food. If you score a spot at the bar instead of a table, take the opportunity to see for yourself. The wide-open kitchen, a central element of the restaurant’s floor plan, showcases the kitchen staff in occasional huddles, inspecting the air-crisp edges and jiggly sunshine yolk of every fried egg that goes out the window.
Tasty n Sons
Starting on the liquid side of the menu, any one of the five $8 Mary variations are worth making the day-drinking plunge. The Tasty Mary classic is expertly executed, but the gingery spice of the Dim Summore (vodka, tomato, sriracha, lime, hoisin, and freshly grated ginger) is hard to pass up.
Tasty n Sons
The chocolate potato doughnuts ($1.50 each) fly out of the kitchen in twos and threes, but to take full advantage of the kitchen’s outsized talents, order a few plates to share. Don’t miss the popular potatoes bravas with house aioli ($7) or the Burmese red pork stew ($10). For the latter, skewered hunks of pork belly sizzle on the grill until the edges are crisp, then go into the pan for a thick, sticky coating of hoisin-heavy sauce. Short-grain white rice catches excess red sauce and yellow yolk, and the salty hint of chopped preserved egg white balances out the sweet fattiness of the rest.
It’s safe to say that Broder’s smoked trout hash ($12) is too big to fail. No matter how many times you’ve seen this dish—called pytt i panna on the Scandinavian-inspired menu—earn rave reviews in everywhere from The Willamette Week to The New York Times, that oiled iron skillet of tiny cubed potatoes, peppers and onions, lovely hunks of smoky trout, and tender beet-stained baked eggs still adds up something like heaven.
Another favorite are the aebleskivers ($9). These spherical Danish-style pancake bites are airy and light, with a hint of buttermilk and an oven-golden exterior that waffle loyalists will love. On the side, the house’s winey lingonberry jam is a must-try.
Riffs on Southern fixin’s are trending right now, but few offer thoughtful takes on grits, benedicts, and pimiento cheese quite like Screen Door. Nicole Mouton, who opened the restaurant in 2006 with her husband David, grew up in Louisiana and seeks to preserve, rather than imitate or riff on, the rich culinary traditions of her home region.
When you make it inside, order a plate or two of the praline bacon ($4.75) for the table to start things off. Featuring a few slices of cured side meat still hot from the griddle and covered in a loose gravel of gooey, buttery, caramelized pecan bits with just a touch of cayenne, it’s a perfect pairing for fresh black coffee.
The fried chicken and sweet potato waffle ($12.95) is the restaurant’s party trick. You’ll see plenty of servers hauling plates stacked tall with three battered breasts and a waffle thick as a paperback, the handle of a giant steak knife jutting from the top like a toothpick. While it represents the ultimate Southern-style brunch indulgence, a couple of sleeper hits on the menu are even better. Keep your eye on the specials menu, which you can usually count on to have the incredible huevos rancheros ($12.75, pictured here) or, even better, the brisket nachos. Both come blanketed in the Screen Door’s incredible, tender-chewy, Carolina-style pulled pork.
At Toast, you’re apt to find yourself brunching next to parents sharing French toast and bacon with their kids, or a group of seniors passing time over coffee. This friendly neighborhood spot nails the casual brunch joint vibe, but you won’t find a greasy spoon in sight. Choose from a menu of mostly savory dishes that have been rechristened with quirky names like Dismal Times (ground hangar steak, white cheddar, greens, and fried eggs served open-face, $12.50) or the Bad Ass Sandwich (fried eggs, bacon, goat cheese, and field greens on toast, $9).
The granola-and-yogurt option can feel like an afterthought on some menus, but Toast’s Hippies on Parfait ($6) is a stand-out. Artful layers of loose, crisp house granola (oats with raisins, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, bee pollen, and a dash of cinnamon) are sandwiched between big, tart dollops of plain Greek-style yogurt and fresh seasonal fruits and jams.
Sweedeedee was Portland’s best-kept secret for about five minutes. This bright and airy café opened in the residential Northeast in late 2012 and it might as well have been magnetized, drawing crowds and resulting in a lovable, but admittedly disorganized, atmosphere during peak hours. The menu is simple, from-scratch and unaffected, yet composed with an elegance on handmade pottery that gives these honest foods a particular glow.
The fluffy corncakes ($10.50)—served with two baked eggs, pleasantly dry bacon, and sautéed collards—are one of those rare brunch dishes that can swing savory or sweet depending on whether you grab the ramekin of real maple syrup or a bottle of the local habanero-based hot sauce. Speaking of hot sauce: the breakfast burrito ($7.50), stuffed with eggs, cheddar, greens, and potatoes, is a staff favorite.
Mother's Bistro & Bar
In the heart of downtown, Mother’s offers the kind of brunch you take your parents to when they're in town. You’ll be joined weekday mornings, when you’re sure to get a table, by business suits starting the day with coffee and refined American classics beneath crystal chandeliers. The windows let as much light in as Portland will give them, resulting in a fresh, bright atmosphere that gleams on gilded mirrors and white tablecloths.
Mother's Bistro & Bar
This dining room may be classier than the one we remember from childhood, but chef and owner Lisa Schroeder is on point in her celebration of mama's home cooking. There’s something to push everyone’s nostalgia buttons on the menu of scrambles, frittatas, lox platters, pancakes, and hashes. But—particularly if you’re originally from anywhere near or below the Mason-Dixon, as I am—it’s hard to get anything but the biscuit breakfast ($9.95). Mother’s thick country-style sausage gravy, which obscures a couple of tender buttermilk biscuits and nearly overcomes the side of eggs-your-way, is arguably the best in town.