ANY LONGTIME PORTLANDER with half a fork in the food scene can admit that our mornings used to need a little love. Lunch and dinner have distinguished themselves as the city’s fussed-over firstborns, now warmed to the spotlight of the nation’s critical acclaim; breakfast, not so much.

We always had our favorite early-morning diner, of course, or our trusty Sunday brunch spot where, OK, we can admit it, we were more into the idea of brunch than the food itself (let’s just say mimosas got us through many a bad eggs Benedict). Overall, though, breakfast never held up as the destination meal in Portland.

Yet as the dining scene improved in general, poor little breakfast’s gravy boat also began to rise.
When we recently scavenged the city for morning’s best meals, we found more than sixty restaurants with stellar breakfasts—more than enough for every weekend of the year. Not only that, we found a scene: power players hatching business deals over gourmet hash, cooks guarding honest-to-God secret recipes, and folks who didn’t mind burning an entire Saturday morning to wait in line for biscuits or bacon or dim sum or you name it.

“Breakfast sort of fits with the whole storefront mentality of Portland—it’s very neighborhood,” says Karen Brooks, who has covered the dining scene for the Oregonian for twenty years. “I suspect Portlanders love breakfast for the same reason they love bookstores: it rains here a lot, and people like places where they can hunker down. Breakfast has that cozy factor.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Portland’s best:

Waffles,Eggs, Biscuits, Hash, Coffee, Pancakes, Bagels, Omelets, Pastries, Doughnuts, Dim sum, and more

Espresso Excellence Alex Pond’s winning brew is for judges only, but he knows where else to get great joe.

Pork-Drunk Love How to treat the sexiest breakfast meat right.

Wake and Slake Don’t be ashamed. Booze for breakfast is perfectly acceptable.

The Royal Family of Breakfast Old-world recipes and generations of family focus keep the pancakes fresh (and the breakfast lines long) at the original Original Pancake House.