BREAKFAST AT ANY of Portland's best bakeries is the way to go. These people get up hours before we do to expertly craft sweet baked goods for our purchasing pleasure, letting us circumvent questionable service, long waits for tables, and the other wild cards that sit-down restaurants often serve along with your eggs. Here are my picks for Rose City's finest in carb production:
TONALLIS DONUTS AND CREAM
The ridiculously low price point and friendly service at Tonallis Donuts and Cream—NE Alberta's staple for longer than you've been frequenting Last Thursday—only complement the incredible fried treats themselves. Offerings range from standard glazed doughnuts to a banana-buttermilk bar to a bear claw as big as your head. I'd pass up the menu fare and sub-standard ice cream options (however vast—think over 25 flavors) and stick to what they do best, as doughnuts are freshly made throughout the day and are half the price of more famous doughnuts in town.
2805 NE Alberta, daily 7 am-midnight
TIENDA SANTA CRUZ
Far from the artisan fare almost exclusively appreciated in Portland, Tienda Santa Cruz's bakery offerings are all about the most bang for your buck—if you can find larger pastries at a smaller price within city limits, I'll eat my proverbial hat. Head out to this St. Johns treasure for giant bolillo, sugar-topped and obscenely colored conchas, and a jalapeño pastry with a questionable cheese filling that will cure most hangovers and only gross you out a little. Most pastries cost about 50 cents a pop—they're yeasty and have zero-to-no nutritional value, but there's a time and a place for cheap bread, right?
8630 N Lombard, daily 9 am-10 pm
Bakeshop owner and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Kim Boyce is a genius: She makes beautiful pastries with dried fruit, heritage grains, and other ingredients generally considered "healthy," but manages to make everything taste rich and delicious. This is, all too often, really difficult for many "healthy" bakers and cooks. Thank god Boyce is so good at it, and moved to Portland to grace us with her brilliance. Grab a sweet and salty cookie at her retail spot on NE Sandy or try a figgy buckwheat scone at various local cafés. The menu rotates seasonally, but these rustic offerings are consistently unique and delightful.
5351 NE Sandy Blvd, Wed-Sun 7 am-2 pm
RANDOM ORDER COFFEEHOUSE AND PASTRY
Where else can you find award-winning homemade pie baked throughout the day, superior coffee, and a decent morning cocktail menu? Random Order's notoriously hip yet earnestly accomplished concept has made their café famous, and the pies speak for themselves. The salted-caramel apple is most popular, but by no means a show-stealer considering the abundance of talent in neighboring pies. Seasonal fruit stars year-round, at least a couple of cream pie options can generally be found, and there's also savory fare for anyone who hasn't heard that dessert can not only come before, but actually completely replace primary courses.
1800 NE Alberta, Tues-Sun 6:30 am-11 pm, Mon 6:30 am-8 pm
WOODLAWN COFFEE AND PASTRY
Tucked away in Northeast Portland is this gem of a bakery and café that only neighborhood folk seem to have discovered. A stellar selection of breakfast pastries are baked fresh every morning with standard fruit muffins, quick breads, and daily creative offerings—the standout of my last visit being a beautifully flaky scone with black pepper, black cherries, and goat cheese. Cookies and pies just like your grandmother used to make, a brief breakfast menu offering oatmeal and eggs and such, and Stumptown espresso—it's just our luck this place is content to be a neighborhood favorite and doesn't draw visitors from across town. Yet.
808 NE Dekum, Mon-Fri 6:30 am-4 pm, Sat-Sun 7:30 am-4 pm
LITTLE T AMERICAN BAKER
Good bread is a blank canvas for a breakfast fanatic—toasted, battered, and grilled, or just dipped into a jar of peanut butter—and Little T American Baker simply offers the best yeasted product in town. Full disclosure: I worked here a number of years back, and for good reason. Dare to venture beyond the (admittedly awesome) baguette and try the pretzel bread, their mouth-wateringly chewy slab (a focaccia-style bread with or without olives), or a spelt roll with dried fruit. Sweets are no waste of calories either, as owner and baker Tim Healea's award-winning viennoiserie skills mean only incredible croissants can be found in the case at Little T every morning.
2600 SE Division, Mon-Sat 7 am-5 pm, Sun 8 am-2 pm
NUVREI PÂTISSERIE AND CAFÉ
You can find Nuvrei's flaky croissants and lush canelés in coffeehouses across town, but you'd never dream of how extensive their offerings have become until you visit their tiny storefront quietly tucked away in the Pearl District. Inside you will find French macarons in every color and flavor, their classic pretzel bagel, a large list of hearty, refined, and delicious breakfast sandwiches served all day, and a quality cup of local favorite Coava coffee.
404 NW 10th, Mon-Sat 7 am-5 pm, Sun 8 am-5 pm