Eggs Benedict at Navarre
Eggs Benedict at Navarre Suzette Smith

Now that the sun is back and will never ever go away, Portland is back on its brunch scene with a vengeance. Many braved the snows to sup on mimosas and Eggs Benes, but now we'll never have to deal with that, because it will never rain or snow again. And EVEN IF IT DID (it won't!) here are two brunch spots with covered, heated patios bent on making your weekend morning a triumph of coffee, cream, and brunch-brunch-brunch!

Navarre

One of the longstanding, underrated brunches in Portland, Navarre presents almost everything I'm looking for from a weekend breakfasty-lunch experience: Small plate dishes to share, busy thoroughfare people-watching, simple (but surprising) flavors, and a pleasant, knowledgable staff that will—none the less—leave me alone.

Navarre's ordering method trips some people up. The waiter brings a paper form to the table and lets diners check off which plates they'd like—often over lengthly deliberation and gluttonous compromise (Okay, we'll just get ALL the egg dishes. Will that SATISFY you, Suzette?).

A word of advice: Don't overlook the small stuff. Navarre presents a seasonal, inspired menu—drawing from French, Italian, and Spanish cuisine—that changes frequently, but don't get so caught up in new main courses that you forget things like the bread, the greens, the french butter, and the jam! Their housemade jam is always out-of-this-world. And you probably want more greens than you think.

Multnomah County (with Clackamas, and Washington) recently loosened COVID restrictions around indoor dining, but Navarre elected to keep their services to-go and outdoor only. Their covered, street-side seating sprawls across both Navarre and their next door cocktail bar, Angel Face. Angel Face recently reopened for cocktail / dining hours, but for Saturday & Sunday brunch-time, the space is all Navarre.

Another unusual (should-probably-be-usual) safety precaution at Navarre: They request diners keep a mask nearby to wear when speaking to waiters. That makes so much sense that I'm surprised it isn't requested at other places as well.

Navarre, 10 NE 28th, (503) 232-3555, navarreportland.com

Breakfast Dumplings from My Vice
Breakfast Dumplings from My Vice Suzette Smith

My Vice Food & Spirits

Over the summer, I kept seeing mouthwatering to-go feasts on social media, beautifully plated in pizza boxes. They were the innovative attempts of a local catering company, called My Vice, at staying afloat in the wreckage of a COVID-destroyed wasteland of summer events.

Before I could score one for myself though, the boxes went offline. My Vice Catering shifted their focus to a brick and mortar, into the former hotspot of brunch power that was once SE Portland’s Trinket. You had to get up PRETTY EARLY in the morning to avoid a long wait at Trinket, but thanks to the county-wide expansion of indoor eating indulgences, and to their beautiful outdoor patio, My Vice Food & Spirits has thus far remained doable. And if you get takeout you probably won’t have to wait at all.

Most of My Vice’s brunch fare appears to be en vogue US traditional—avocado toasts and breakfast sandwiches—but my experience with their novel Breakfast Dumplings proved extraordinary in terms of buttery crave-ability. The puff pastries were darn-near overflowing with ground pork, egg, cheese, and peppers. And they were tasty as heck.

Their house hot sauce is also deserving of praise. Is it the lime, the habanero—the NUTMEG?—that makes it so great? Whatever it is, this sauce completely blew me away with flavor and spice, without setting ye aulde mouth aflame. It’s no wonder they’ve started serving that tangy ambrosia in to-go bottles.

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The name was a bit of a hiccup for me, as what could be BAD about FOOD, but owner Tarl Heddleston explained that there's nothing too mysterious going on. "The concept of My Vice came from us growing up in the food and beverage industry. It's a lifestyle that we have fully committed to and in some ways it's our 'vice,'" he wrote over e-mail.

Like other restaurants, My Vice likes to keep things fresh with dedicated menus for special holidays (like their recent Valentine's Day feast). One thing they're hoping will work out is an annual crawfish boil on the Fourth of July. "It's hard to know what events will look like by then," Heddleston says. But this weekend they've got their eyes on a special mezze meal. And if you saw that mezze pizza box from the first paragraph, you know that'll be something worth chewing on.

My Vice Food & Spirits, 2035 SE Cesar Chavez, (503) 477-4252, myvicepdx.com