It’s a big moment for Portland brunch. From a new food cart slinging the best breakfast tacos in town to Portland stalwarts finally tackling that Sunday morning rush, here are five new brunch spots that should be on your AM itinerary.
Matt’s BBQ Tacos
Matt Vicedomini is a straight hustler. For those keeping score, this is the second time this month his barbecue has graced this food page. This time I’m repping his new barbecue taco cart at Southeast 32nd and Hawthorne, and specifically, his breakfast tacos.
The flour tortillas that hug the eggs, potatoes, and barbecue are made in-cart, with lard. They are the very best tortillas in the city: pliant with just a few bubbles and a perfect pull-to-chew ratio. Breakfast tacos are served until 11 am (with regular barbecue tacos served ’til 7 pm) for $3.50 and up. Vicedomini’s champion brisket is the best choice, but don’t miss the migas taco, available all day and packed with tortilla chips, eggs, beans, and guac.
Vegetarians and gluten-free folk aren’t missing out, either: Matt “imports” corn tortillas from Little Conejo, which shares a cart pod with the original Matt’s BBQ in North Portland, and the smoked mushroom topping is juicy and great.
3207 SE Hawthorne, Wed-Sun, breakfast tacos 8-11 am, regular menu 11 am-7 pm
Fried Egg I’m in Love
Any place that names a sandwich Yolko Ono has my heart forever. Now that this quintessential breakfast sandwich spot has moved to a brick-and-mortar space just up Hawthorne from its old cart (now home to Matt’s BBQ Tacos), Fried Egg I’m in Love is showing what it’s really about. Prices are still super reasonable: $4.50-$9.75 for mains, with vegan Just Egg available for a bit extra.
FEIIL, as they call it, also has a fryer now, providing $2 hash brown patties that blow McD’s out of its greasy paper sack (you can also add them to any sandwich). The $9 Al Greens, a salad with two sunny-side-up eggs, parmesan, and a slice of toast, is satisfying without being a gut bomb. As spring rains hang on, it’s nice to sip a mimosa inside their sunny yellow walls rather than scarfing a sando on the sidewalk.
3549 SE Hawthorne, 8 am-4 pm daily
Tasty n Daughters
This successor restaurant to Tasty n Sons is largely the same—with the addition of a few instant morning classics.
Old favorites like the shakshuka and potato donuts are still on the menu, but owner John Gorham’s globe-trotting tastes have brought in a few more geographical gems. I’m a big fan of ordering brunch items for the table, and the new Pide Turkish Breakfast Pizza ($14) is made for sharing. A boat of dough is twisted on both ends and topped with feta, eggplant, red peppers, and onion, while a just-runny baked egg oozes richness over the whole shebang.
The revamped former Woodsman Tavern space is bright and sleek, and the new location has far more space, including a bar next door for waiting out the inevitable brunch line. Tasty n Sons was already Portland canon; it’s heartening to see the Gorhams keep tweaking perfection.
4537 SE Division, brunch 9 am-2:30 pm daily
After getting comfy with lunch and dinner service, chef/owner Doug Adams hung his shingle on weekend mornings, and immediately improved the central city’s brunch outlook.
Bullard’s taken a few hits for being spendy, but a table of two can walk out stuffed for under $20 each. The signature plate is smothered hash browns ($14): think breakfast totchos but barbecue. Topped with brisket-filled Texas red, dollops of sour cream, guacamole, pickled jalapeño, and a sunny-side-up egg, it’s a whole lotta breakfast. Share a plate of perfect flapjacks ($10) with warm maple syrup and salted butter.
Bloody Mary pickle skewers ($5) and a pull-apart croissant with orange glaze and hazelnuts ($11) go oh-so-well with a cup of coffee from Good, located in the adjacent lobby. Get a reservation (bless) and tuck in—Mother’s Day is May 12, y’all.
813 SW Alder, brunch 10 am-3 pm Sat & Sun, reservations accepted
St. Jack’s chef/owner Aaron Barnett will readily admit he’s not a fan of breakfast food, but this only makes his take on the format—launched last month on Sundays only—more nuanced than tired scrambles.
Crepes Suzette ($14) arrive tableside with orange slices and whipped ricotta before being set ablaze with Grand Marnier—who else is doing that at 10 am? The French pride themselves on omelettes ($13) and St. Jack does them honorably, serving a perfect cloud of fluffy egg garnished with gruyère cheese and herbs, made better with fresh crab ($4).
While $11 may seem extravagant for a cinnamon roll, the towering spiral of brioche is a monumental bakery achievement. Avoiding the usual cinnamon roll problems of being too dry or too sweet, St. Jack’s roll has maple syrup and calvados caramel with a fat dollop of cream cheese icing, served warm and gooey on the inside. Sacrebleu!
1610 NW 23rd, Sunday brunch 10 am-2 pm, reservations accepted