Is Brunch in Portland Just a High-Calorie Spectator Sport?

Our Senior Editor shares the trials, tribulations, and unexpected bonuses of curating a list of the city's best brunches.

By Kelly Clarke April 27, 2015 Published in the May 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Amy Martin

I’ve been a very popular person around this office for the past few months. Coworkers stop me in the hall to lobby for their favorite neighborhood diners. Near-strangers graciously offer to spend weekends with me, gorging on fermented coconut pancakes and pulled pork Benedicts. And, come Monday morning, my desk has become a debriefing center devoted to egg-and-potato play-by-plays and heated debates on whether a kimchi waffle with Beecher’s cheddar should exist. (Answer: no.) 

Brunch just does that to Portlanders. It’s a high-caloric spectator sport that rates right up there with watching a Timbers match. Sure, our line-waiting hordes are skewered on Portlandia, and some cultural commentators bash the whole concept of a leisurely late-morning sit-down as an elitist racket. I get that. On the other hand, eating baroque, bacon-topped dishes paired with booze in the lazy, sun-streaked gulf between breakfast and naptime is a hedonistic food vacation everybody ought to indulge in occasionally—like getting a hot-stone massage, or watching Starship Troopers. It’s a meal that connects our favorite people and foods for no good reason beyond the fact that we really, really like them. That’s worth celebrating. 

Even better, Portland’s restaurant brunches have gone global, mashing up traditional Lebanese fare with American greasy-spoon standards, or plucking deftly spiced morning foods from India and China. With our roundup of 10 hot new(ish) destinations, local brunchers can sample the dishes that mean comfort, care, and family to eaters half a world away. Just want the CliffsNotes? We’ve included a list of our 55 favorite brunches right now, with wait times and signature dishes.* Don’t want to risk a wait at all? We also nabbed a smorgasbord of recipes from some of our favorite chefs in town so you can cook up your own memorable brunch spread at home. Don’t own a stove? Join us at our Country Brunch to gorge on Bloodies and brunch bites from Levant, Tastebud, the Sudra, and other restaurants on Sunday, May 3, at Castaway.

Now, excuse me. Like any pro-bruncher, I’m going to go take a nap. Wake me for dinner.

Senior Editor

*Check out an expanded list of our all-time favorite Portland brunches here!

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