SOMETIMES an adventurous brunch takes you too far afield from your pancakes-and-eggs comfort (food) zone. If you're homesick for your old brunch standbys, look no further than these old-school purveyors of classic Bloody Marys, bottomless cups of coffee, every starch 'n' meat breakfast combo imaginable, and the wonder that is the taco omelet—typically without much of a wait time at all.

Original Hotcake House
1002 SE Powell

Also referred to as the 24-hour Hotcake House, this SE Powell mainstay is as loyal as the most steadfast hound; it is always there for you. And regardless of the condition you may be in when you arrive, the Hotcake House never judges. Whether slogging in at 11 am with a hangover, or finishing off a night of libations at 4 am, the long savory menu hangs above the open grill and cash register like a beacon guiding you home. Order heaping plates of eggs ($2.20), famously crispy bacon ($3.50), made-from-scratch pancakes ($2.75-9.50), and hashbrowns ($2.75), or my personal heart-stopping favorite, the country sausage gravy atop two big honkin' biscuits ($7.95). Or hell! Just have one of their gigantic handmade milkshakes ($4.25) and follow it with a big, thick, sloppy Double D burger ($6), which will parachute into your stomach, soaking up all that excess alcohol like the war hero it is. No matter the hour, the Original Hotcake House is a lifesaver... and a reviver. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Brunch hours: daily 24 hours, $

The Cruise In Diner
7731 NE 33rd

The worst part of the car-owning year is the day, two months after your tags have technically expired, when you have to take your car to the DEQ and get its emissions tested. The best part of the car-owning year is the Cruise In Diner. It's right next to the DEQ, so you can't miss it, but just in case, they fly giant roadside flags advertising cold beer, burgers, and liquor. Your friends might be surprised that you want a DD at the DEQ, but if you have a friend schmucky enough to sit sober in your car while you drink and eat at the Cruise In, bring 'em along. Otherwise, grab a coffee (they even do espresso) and scan the menu briefly to pretend you're not there for one thing and one thing only: the chicken-fried steak burrito ($6.25). It's exactly what it sounds like: chicken-fried steak, eggs, and hashbrowns in a flour tortilla. It's as thick as the air after a failed exhaust test, but you can eat it with one hand while driving zero miles per hour through the DEQ line. Just roll your windows up—nobody wants to hear your grunts and groans of pleasure as you wolf this greasebomb down. THOMAS ROSS

Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-9 pm, Sun 8 am-2 pm, beer, wine, and cocktails, $

Fuller's Coffee Shop
136 NW 9th

Fuller's Coffee Shop is one of those ageless, no-frills diners that seems to have been transported from the East Coast to its better half, legit diner counter and perfect comfort-food menu intact. If you want to spend brunch feeling like you're inside an Edward Hopper painting, you can't do better elsewhere. And if, like me, your Waterloo of breakfast is deciding between savory and sweet, go for the breakfast special ($4.25)—with one fluffy, face-sized pancake, two thick strips of bacon, and an egg, it has it all! Add a side of crunchy, classic hashbrowns ($3.50) if you're feeling frisky. There are tables outside, but the gem of Fuller's is its counter, which brings a sense of remarkable efficiency to the whole operation—and makes an especially good spot for a solo brunching alongside loyal regulars and slumming Pearl District yuccies alike. In other words, it's perfect. MEGAN BURBANK

Brunch hours: Mon-Fri 6 am-3 pm, Sat 7 am-2 pm, Sun 8 am-2 pm, no cocktails, just generous coffee refills, $

Genie's & Genie's Too
1101 SE Division, 4800 SE Hawthorne

Longtime Southeast Portland brunch hotspot Genie's is a basic thing, and luckily, the same menu is available at their new Genie's Too, in the old Space Room location, without the godawful wait of the Division spot. Genie's menu is like a microcosm of the American brunch landscape, serving everything from French toast and pancakes to scrambles and hash, with rotating drink and food specials. A surprisingly balanced and refreshing blueberry-infused vodka and lemonade ($8) was a recent drink special, as were Red, White, and Blue Pancakes: white chocolate chip pancakes topped with seasonal berries and whipped cream ($7.50). Although the biscuits and gravy ($8.25) were a bit pedestrian, the huevos rancheros ($9), topped with a zippy ranchero sauce, were delicious and came out fast and piping hot. Vegan and vegetarian options abound. Bonus: Genie's Too offers a patio for sun worshippers, and pitch-black bar dining for those who can't even. HEATHER ARNDT ANDERSON

Brunch hours: daily 8 am-3 pm, cocktails, beer, and wine, $$

Holman's Restaurant
15 SE 28th

This old-school dive bar has been a Kerns neighborhood institution for more than 80 years. Most of the food leans toward wood-chopping fare—groaning platters of protein and starch under a blanket of cheese and/or gravy, as in the aptly named Morning Mess (in this case, hashbrowns, a sausage patty, and fried eggs draped in sausage gravy and cheddar; $9.25). Everything else comes with fried spuds of some variety. Daintier eaters can opt for the Monte Cristo (go for the strawberry jam; $10.95), but my money is on the taco omelet ($10.50): It's everything you love about an American taco (seasoned taco meat! Melted cheese! Chopped tomatoes! Shredded iceberg!), subbing the tortilla for a tender omelet and topped with delicious globs of salsa, sour cream, and jalapeños. If you prefer that your brunch come in a pint glass, you're in luck: Holman's is the home of Portland's Original Bloody Mary Bar. HAA

Brunch hours: daily 8 am-2:30 pm, cocktails, beer, and wine, $$

My Father's Place
523 SE Grand

It's exactly like visiting Dad: small talk if you want it, comfortably stony silence if you don't; nostalgic beer ads and knickknacks of questionable taste lining the walls; and the option to get roaring drunk at 7 am if you really need to. My Father's Place is the kind of joint that's a family restaurant and a dive bar at the same time. At 6 am on a weekday on SE Grand, you've got a particular crowd to contend with over your country breakfast (two eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, biscuit and gravy; $8.25), and about half of them just got up, while the other half haven't been to bed yet. If the balance starts to swing the wrong way, grab one of the various house-infused cocktails (featuring three $6 Bloody Mary options: bacon vodka, garlic-cilantro vodka, or habanero tequila) and try to blend in. TR

Brunch hours: daily 6 am-2:30 am, beer, wine, and cocktails, $

Nite Hawk Café & Lounge
6423 N Interstate

The Nite Hawk technically eschews anything as newfangled as brunch—they just serve breakfast all day. The food is straight-up, hearty fare served with the assumption that if people are here they have appetites: The rib-eye steak and eggs ($12.95) and pork chops ($10.50) provide a notion of how heavy duty the menu can get. There's lighter fare as well, with the omelets probably falling mid-range—the veggie ($9) was fluffy and stuffed with bell pepper, onions, spinach, tomato, and mushroom. It was gloriously unsophisticated and tasty, and too big to finish, especially with the accompanying half-plate of crispy country fried potatoes. Good coffee, an oldies station playing, and a worn-in, vintage feel to the place only add to the charm. It can get busy, but it's the perfect no-hassle, unfussy brunch, whatever the time of day. MJS

Brunch hours: Sun-Thurs 6 am-8 pm, Fri-Sat 6 am-9 pm, $$

Cameo Café East
8111 NE Sandy

The exterior of the Cameo is fairly ordinary, with a sign proclaiming that they have "pancake and steak." This might lead you to believe it's a standard American-style greasy spoon. But Cameo is not like that at all. The interior resembles a rhinestone-encrusted music box—the kind that would sport a pop-up ballerina twirling slowly while plinky music plinks away—with crystal chandeliers, pink wallpaper, and miniature replicas of statues like the Venus de Milo and Michelangelo's David. Cameo's owners have peppered their American diner-style menu with various Korean flourishes. I had the New Korean Breakfast Special ($12), with eggs, rice, sausage, and kimchi. The eggs and sausage were fine, but the actual Korean part of the special was excellent. The rice was soft and fluffy and soaked up the egg yolks nicely. Cameo isn't for anyone looking for a standard steak and pancake breakfast, but if you're into kimchi (and you should be into kimchi, it's delicious), it's worth it for that. JOE STRECKERT

Brunch hours: daily 6:30 am-3 pm, $$

Original Pancake House
8601 SW 24th

There are only two things I require for my birthday—sexual gratification of a certain variety (you can fill in the blank), and a trip to the Original Pancake House. While they have locations scattered around the country, their corporate headquarters are right here in Portland—and they are Portland, through and through. Decked out in knotty-wood pine and hanging dishware (just like your Nana's house), this bustling breakfast joint delivers the most solid pancake-based menu you're likely to encounter anywhere. Hot syrup joins perfectly cooked and fluffy pancakes in various scrumptious forms ($10.25-11): banana, coconut, bacon (Yes! Bacon pancakes!), and Georgia pecan, as well as Swedish and even Hawaiian-style. And while their egg dishes and corned beef hash rise to the summit of perfection—at the top of that mountain you will find the OPH signature dish... the Dutch Baby ($12): a ginormous sweet popover made from eggs, flour, sugar, and milk that is the epitome of all breakfast treats. Bow before it. WSH

Brunch hours: Wed-Sun 7 am-3 pm, $$

The Overlook
1332 N Skidmore

This classic Greek American diner is a staple of N Interstate family fooderies. Even on weekday mornings, the restaurant side of the Overlook is hopping. Families fill the tables and kids roam the floors, and ordering a $4 Bloody Mary pint at 8 am on a Friday earns a slightly judgmental look from an otherwise chipper-as-all-get-out middle-aged server (even though literally the first thing on the breakfast menu page is "May we suggest a morning cocktail?"). Luckily, the lounge opens as soon as the restaurant does, and it is a sight to behold. Smoky stained-glass windows, booths and tables at odd midcentury angles, all in colors that stopped existing elsewhere in the late '70s. Wherever you sit, beware: Portions are enormous. This menu doesn't offer chicken-fried steak and eggs, it offers two chicken-fried steaks and eggs ($12.95). Or three pork chops ($13.45). The French toast isn't just French toast—it's cinnamon roll French toast ($10.50). And yeah, you can get a Greek omelet ($9.75) here, but you can also get the classic diner breakfast of a "taco omelet" ($9.95) This place feels like home even if it's nothing like where you came from. TR

Brunch hours: Mon-Sat 5 am-9 pm, Sun 6 am-9 pm, beer, wine, and cocktails, $

  • Aaron Lee

Pig 'N Pancake
12110 NE Glisan

For those enjoying beach time, the four coastal locations of Pig 'N Pancake are the stuff of delicious legend. Is it because other beachside restaurants blow by comparison? I say thee NAY, because we have P 'N P right here on the Northeast outskirts of Portland, and it is an old-school diner of exquisite beauty. While their menu boasts delightful entries such as apple crêpes ($9.25), strawberry blintzes ($10.25), French toast ($8.25), and potato pancakes ($9.75), along with your standard-issue pancake fare, do not miss one of the greatest breakfasts I've ever had in my life: the chicken-fried skillet ($11.25). Tender chicken-fried steak on top of hashbrowns, ladled with two scrambled eggs and sausage gravy. OH DEAR GOD, YES. I would've had a heart attack—but my heart couldn't bear to miss one delicious bite. WSH

Brunch hours: daily 6:30 am-3 pm, $$

Tik Tok
3330 SE 82nd

Tik Tok will serve you eggs at 3 am or get you drunk at 10 am, and do a damn fine job of it. The Tik Tok Scramble ($9.95) is a gigantic pile of eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, and vegetables, which you can have topped with gravy for another buck in a display of artful decadence that's worth waiting in line for—except you don't have to wait in line. It has everything. The highlight of Tik Tok's brunch menu (which they call "breakfast") is their Bloody Mary bar ($6.50). The server supplied me with a pint glass filled with ice and a substantial amount of vodka (I think I said "holy fuck!" at the sight of it), and then gave me the run of various pickled vegetables, hot sauces, and tomato drink mixes. I piled my icy glass with Secret Aardvark, Worcestershire sauce, whatever was in Tik Tok's house drink mix, and pickled olives and asparagus spears. Alcohol and capsaicin both made their presence known as I mopped up the scramble, which was too big to finish. JS

Brunch hours: daily 24 hours, $

Tom's Restaurant
3871 SE Division

At the corner of SE César E. Chávez and Division marked by a sign with Tom Jones' '70s Vegas font, Tom's Restaurant celebrates 40 years of serving traditional breakfast and lunch fare that hasn't changed much since the day it opened. The whole "bacon and eggs" thing is what Tom's is all about, only here it's bacon (or sausage or ham), an egg, and pancakes (or French toast) for $4.85 on weekdays until 11:30 am. For three bucks more, get a heart-attacking, stomach-filling, smile-inducing plate of chicken-fried steak. It's not topped with Jacobsen salt or artisanal harissa, but with gravy. Plenty of hammy bits in it. Plus a slab of hashbrowns, two eggs, and toast. Other upsides include never having to wait in line, a coffee cup that will never hit empty thanks to attentive waitstaff, and something called a butterhorn, described by one waitress as, "Like an apple fritter without the apple." BRIAN YAEGER

Brunch hours: Mon-Sat 7 am-9:30 pm, Sun 7:30 am-9:30 pm, cocktails, beer, and cider, $

The Trap
3805 SE 52nd

Populated by an early morning crowd of day-drinkers, gambling addicts, and folks just off the graveyard shift, the Trap is an old-school haunt that doesn't give a fuck about what Carts on Foster is doing for the neighborhood. Sure, you could go through the "Family Dining" entrance, where you'll be met with the silence of an empty room, or you could sit at the bar, where the experience is more authentic. Omelets are straightforward ($6.25-8.50), but they use sliced sausage links instead of crumbles, which can be a bit jarring to look at first thing in the morning. If you're looking for the best-kept secret in Portland, this might not be it. But if you're looking for a Bloody Mary ($5) and very serviceable chicken-fried steak and eggs with crispy hashbrowns and margarine-smeared toast ($8) in Foster-Powell, you could probably do worse. HAA

Brunch hours: daily 7-11 am, cocktails and beer, $

  • Aaron Lee

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