BREAKFAST, to me, is potato, egg, and sausage on the same fork, coffee in steady supply, and thimble-sized creamers for stacking in uncomplicated ways. Wire racks of Concord jelly and two kinds of Tabasco are a good litmus, and whipped butter in a pleated cuplet sets my mind at ease. If the hash browns fall somewhere between flat-topped and butter-braised, I'll be back. Here is a list of some local standbys that cradle my simple tastes like a ninth-grader charged with pretending a chicken egg is her baby. Would my Depression-reared grandfather enjoy these places? "You're goddamn right I would," I conjure from the memory of 100 fishing breakfasts we shared.

  • Photo by Katie Swezey


Extraordinarily basic diner food, booths, and coffee. It's cheap, the waitress will openly tell you that she smokes inside her house, and they know how to cook eggs. Never a wait, never a thrill, my kind of place for when I don't want to talk too much. Denny's without the pizzazz. 3871 SE Division

  • Photo by Katie Swezey


My girlfriend said she once saw Elliott Smith in here nursing a watery scotch and soda at the breakfasting hour. I can still feel the pain, and I think I can smell him. Regardless, during a recent visit, the cook came out halfway through my breakfast with a fresh plate of over-mediums, because he'd been hairshirting himself over how one of mine had popped. I hadn't noticed, but that's the kind of thing that makes you like the place. Bonus points: He looked like the guys from the Proclaimers. Both of them. 1430 NE Sandy


The legendary 24-hour Javier's Tacos is where up-too-late meets up-too-early for the kind of taqueria fix-all that discounts the future against the joys of the present. See a goth skitter away as you go, unwisely, for that 4 am chimichanga. It's the right place for those times you don't brag about. 121 N Lombard

  • Photo by Katie Swezey


If Mike Ness ever comes to town, we're getting violent on some O'Briens and chicken-frieds at this dark, perfect dive of a rock 'n' roll afterlife. Spacious private booths, basic classics, and bar, they're exactly the wrong kind of cooks to be playing at bell-pepper cookery—but the spirit of Reno runs deep, and the jukebox warms my pre-Jane's Addiction heart. 523 SE Grand


It's one of those places where they tell you that white people don't usually order the pizzle. If you ask what the pizzle is, they say a boy cow has (had?) one. So, go for the consommé-like, spiced pho with any cut of beef besides the cruelest one, and round out the table with the banh hoi dac biet, a build-your-own-roll grilled meat, vegetable, vermicelli, and fixings plate that would feed two as a main, and four as a plaything. 6236 NE Sandy