Dahlia Café

3000 NE Killingsworth, 287-4398

The Dahlia Café is bright and friendly and has a perfectly manageable number of selections on the menu. They serve breakfast all day, a godsend for those who like to enjoy a three-hour run before a satisfying havarti, spinach, and sundried tomato omelet. Tasty choices include the Northwest Eggs Benedict complete with huge slabs of fresh flaky salmon and a light, creamy hollandaise. If you're really hungry, go for the giant, two-egg, hashbrowns, meat of choice, and pancake breakfast--a perfect medley of salty and sweet. And if you're leaning towards lunch, the fluffy polenta lasagna is damn good. It looks like a giant piece of cake layered with eggplant, mushroom, and airy polenta ladled with a zingy, chunked tomato sauce. KS

Café Castagna

1752 SE Hawthorne, 231-7373

While the menu and alcohol selection aren't nearly as comprehensive at the café as they are at Castagna proper, they're all still wonderful. The spectacular starters range from oysters on the half-shell with mignonette to cheese plates with brindamour cheese and olives. The entree list features standbys like pizza and hamburgers, as well as more traditional, Castagna-like dishes such as the bouef bourguignonne with noodles. The hamburger is one of the best I've ever had--beef that's a rosy, medium rare, sweet, and smoky. And the fries... Brine-soaked before they're cooked, they're served hot and crisp, with almost no detectable, excessive grease, and yet still, sinful and delicious. KD

Saigon Kitchen

835 NE Broadway, 281-3669

There's one dish in particular--stir-fried vegetables with vermicelli noodles or "number 62" (on the menu), or "the poor kid's feast" (on the street). For a measly $5.95, it comes in a humongous bowl that will yield at least one more meal of leftovers. Clumps of skinny rice noodles are piled with crisp broccoli, snow peas, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots cut in an attractive zigzag shape, and crispy pillows of tofu. The vegetables are all stir-fried flawlessly and full of crunch and flavor, adding to the dish's delectable simplicity. JS