Breakfasts of Champions

The 12 Best Breakfasts in Portland

Start your morning with the ABCs of breakfast: aebleskivr, breakfast tacos, and cao lầu.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton, Karen Brooks, and Conner Reed

The city’s culinary creativity extends to morning hours, too. An omelet gets swirled in a tornado-like shape over Spam fried rice; a fried egg sandwich is spiced up with local Aardvark sauce; and a Vietnamese noodle soup, obscure in most of its home country, charms with its chewy noodles and crisp crackers. 

French toast / Sweedeedee 

The famed corn cakes are RIP. Moan if you like; I certainly did. But at this reborn North Portland gem, a new morning glory has risen: French toast in full beast mode. Behold, three triangles of custard-soaked bread, hot-seared until every inch is thunderously toasty and charred. When in season, chunky berry jam, seeds and all, erupts over the top like a rogue berry cobbler. The whole plate shimmies with raw, smoky Okinawan sugar beads scattered everywhere. And yet, nothing is too sweet. Killer. 5202 N Albina Ave 
—Karen Brooks

Breakfast sandwich / Matta

Shall I compare thee to the Matta breakfast sandwich? You wish. This drippy, flavor-packed wonder has become a weekly ritual for me (it’s only available Sundays 11–2). The nutty, bright-green pandan bun might be the star of the show, laying a rock-solid foundation for a ginger-flecked meat patty (beef or pork, and I go for the latter), runny fried egg, and a curried hash brown puck, all smothered in melty American cheese and pungent dac biet sauce. It’s so messy that you find yourself racing against time after the first bite, but it’s so good you want to make it last as long as possible. 807 NE Couch St 
—Conner Reed


Image: Celeste Noche

Dim sum / HK Café

Wake up to the bustle of dim sum carts rattling past you, and pick a table near the fish tanks so you can see the food coming out of the kitchen hot and fresh. Top dishes here include the massive, succulent siu mai and the ham sui gok, fried glutinous rice dumplings with a slightly sweet, chewy tapioca starch shell and juicy pork-mushroom interior. A must-order are the baked pineapple buns, so named for their crispy top that resembles a pineapple, filled with egg custard and a surprise chunk or two of actual pineapple. 4410 SE 82nd Ave 

Cao lȃ̀u / Rose VL

Before Rose VL began offering this signature Saturday-only special in 2017, it was nearly impossible to find cao l
ȃ̀u in restaurants outside Hoi An, a former trading port city on the central coast of Vietnam. Even in the dish’s birthplace, only one family is responsible for making all the noodles from local well water and tree ash. Rose VL, of course, uses different ingredients, but the results are delightful: thick, slick, chewy tapioca flour noodles, like extra-bouncy udon, topped with slices of barbecue pork, chicken, fried garlic, a mountain of herbs, and bubbly fried crackers, zigzagged at the edges as if cut with pinking shears. A small bowl of clear pork broth comes on the side, but the real flavor is at the bottom of the noodles, a gold mine of sweet-salty soy sauce. It’s a dish every pork-eating Portlander must try. 6424 SE Powell Blvd —KCH


Image: Michael Novak

Brunch tacos / La Osita

Mill Park
Bacon lovers, eat your heart out: each breakfast taco at this little cart comes loaded with an entire strip of crisp, thick-cut applewood bacon. But it’s certainly not the taco’s only draw—a toasty corn tortilla, zippy pickled red onions, a frilly-edged fried egg, gooey Tillamook cheddar, sweet strips of bell pepper, and cilantro-loaded pico de gallo leave no stone of flavor or texture unturned. 1515-A SE 122nd Ave 

PozoleSahuayo Taqueria

North Tabor
Seven days a week, this taqueria nestled in the back of a convenience store serves up one of Portland’s most potent and delicious hangover cures: pozole. Will it be the red pozole loaded with pork, its broth full of rich bone flavor and a heat that rests on your tongue and builds up slowly? Or does this morning call for the tangy green version, your choice of chicken or vegetarian? Either way, the hominy is perfectly al dente, the generous toppings of lettuce, cucumber, lime, and radish add freshness, and just a flick of extra chile powder on top will leave you sweating out last night’s festivities, ready to face the new day. 4438 NE Glisan St, 503-719-5374 —KCH

Æbleskiver / Broder

Hosford-Abernethy, Boise, Garden Home
Broder’s æbleskiver, colloquially known as pancake balls, have stolen the hearts of Portlanders since the restaurant opened in 2007; there are now three Broder locations across the city, plus one in Hood River, and for good reason. After all, these spherical dough babies sit right between two of the city’s favorite breakfast treats: pancakes and doughnuts. The golden-brown crust has a delicate crisp to it; the interior is eggy and fluffy. There’s an option to add maple syrup, but really, you couldn’t ask for better than the included lemon curd, buttery and bright, to wake you up. Multiple locations —KCH

Chicken and sweet potato waffle / Screen Door

Kerns, Pearl District
Seemingly every brunch place in town has tried its hand at chicken and waffles, but few come as close to perfection as Screen Door, in the game since 2006. Admittedly, there are things about this combo that gave me pause before I tried it—the use of boneless chicken breasts, the inclusion of sweet potato when a regular waffle never did anything wrong. Yet the chicken is surprisingly succulent, served in massive pieces and coated in a flaky, pepper-laden breading. Drizzle the house hot sauce, a more piquant, less vinegar-forward take on Crystal, for maximum effect. The sweet potato adds honey-like notes to the crisp waffle, which is laced with cinnamon and cloves. 2337 E Burnside St & 1131 NW Couch St 

The Yolko Ono (with upgrades) / Fried Egg I’m in Love

Downtown, Sunnyside, Boise
Believe the hype. This is the breakfast sandwich that helped this adorably named breakfast spot catapult from a single food cart to a mini-Portland institution with two carts and a Hawthorne restaurant. There’s no arguing with buttered sourdough bread, toasted until golden, layered with a generous smear of pesto and a house-made pork sausage patty, plus the requisite fried egg. But take the menu’s suggestion to add on the havarti and Aardvark aioli help this sandwich transcend into a gooey, creamy affair with a whisper of heat. Multiple locations 

Image: Thomas Teal

Omurice / Toki


What happens when you take a super-rich butter-egg sauce—beat that, hollandaise—and meld it with omurice, a Western-style Japanese omelet over fried rice? Underneath the custardy egg, twisted up “tornado-style,” lies a mound of chef Peter Cho’s kimchi fried rice, loaded with salty chunks of Spam. Play with flavors by mixing in the drizzled sweet ketchup and tangy Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce artfully drizzled on top. 580 SW 12th Ave —KCH

Ricotta hotcake / Proud Mary

With rotating toppings that might include scattered flower petals and shards of delicate, lavender-colored ube meringue, this pancake, which looks like it was assembled in some sort of Alice in Wonderland fever dream state, is almost too pretty to eat. But unlike the disappointment that often sets in upon biting into a too-sweet fondant cake, this hotcake tastes just as good as it looks—fluffy with a hint of tang thanks to ricotta and yuzu, with a sweet-sour orange syrup, balanced by a touch of umami and nuttiness from the miso-sesame crumble. 2012 NE Alberta St 

Breakfast burrito / Enchanted Sun

Downtown, King
Along with purple sprouting broccoli and every heirloom apple under the sun, the Portland Farmers Market is also a hot spot for Portland’s finest breakfast burrito, a New Mexico–style number that draws steady lines to its stand. The menu at Enchanted Sun is no-nonsense: every burrito comes with fluffy green chile eggs, crisp-edged potatoes, and melty cheddar; add crunchy bacon, juicy sausage, or both (our rec). Getting extra green salsa inside the burrito is a must, but you can also add on the red for a festive Christmas-style burrito—and asking for an extra container on the side never hurts. 1803 SW Park Ave (Sat); NE Seventh Ave & Wygant St (Sun) 

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